Kasubi Tombs

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UNESCO World Heritage Site
Kasubi Tombs
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Kampala Kasubi Tombs.jpg
Type Cultural
Criteria i, iii, iv, vi
Reference 1022
UNESCO region Africa
Coordinates 0°19′45″N 32°33′12″E / 0.32917°N 32.55333°E / 0.32917; 32.55333
Inscription history
Inscription 2001 (25th Session)
Endangered 2010–present

The Kasubi Tombs in Kampala, Uganda, is the site of the burial grounds for four kabakas (kings of Buganda), and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On 16 March 2010, some of the major buildings there were almost completely destroyed by a fire, the cause of which is under investigation. The Buganda Kingdom has vowed to rebuild the tombs of their kings and President Museveni said the national government of Uganda would assist in the restoration of the site.


The royal enclosure at Kasubi Hill, also known as the Ssekabaka's Tombs, was first built in 1881. The circular site contained many structures, including the royal tombs of four Kabakas of Buganda. The tombs were held in straw thatched buildings. The site remains an important spiritual and political site for the Baganda people.[1][2] In 2001, the Kasubi Tombs were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site .[2]

The kabakas buried at the site were:


The interior of the Muzibu Azaala Mpanga included relics and portraits of the buried kabakas
The structure containing the tombs was located at the end of a large courtyard
Plan view of the Oluyga Courtyard, using data from the laser scanning project in early 2009

On 16 March 2010, at about 8.30 pm local time, the Kasubi tombs were destroyed by fire.[3] The cause of the fire is as yet unknown. The Buganda kingdom has promised to conduct independent investigations into the fire, alongside the national police force.[3]

John Bosco Walusimbi, Prime Minister of the Buganda kingdom, stated on 17 March:

The kingdom is in mourning. There are no words to describe the loss occasioned by this most callous act.

— The Guardian[4]

The remains of the kabakas are intact, according to Walusimbi, as the inner sanctum of the tombs was protected from total destruction.

On 17 March 2010, His Majesty the Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, and the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, visited the site of the tombs.[5][6] Hundreds of people have also travelled to the site to help salvage any remains.[6]

During the President's visit, riots broke out. Security forces shot dead two rioters and five were reportedly injured.[7] The Ugandan soldiers and police also clashed with rioters in the capital city of Kampala. Forces used tear gas to disperse rioters of the Baganda ethnic group.[8]

The destruction occurred in the midst of an awkward relationship between the government of Uganda and the Buganda kingdom, particularly in light of the September 2009 riots.[3] Ahead of these riots, the king of Buganda Ronald Mutebi Mwenda was stopped from touring parts of his kingdom, and several journalists who were allegedly sympathetic to the kingdom and the rioters were arrested and are awaiting trial.

Aftermath of the fire[edit]

The administration of the Buganda Kingdom has vowed to rebuild the tombs and President Museveni said the national government would assist in the restoration.[9][10]

A commission was set up to determine the cause of the fire and the civilian deaths in the following days. This commission handed over a report to the Ugandan government in March 2011, but as of April 2012 it had not been released to the public.[11] As of December 2012, a plan to restore the Kasubi tombs had been launched with the help of foreign aid [12] The Buganda government has now put emphasis on security measures during the restoration that will restrict entry to the tombs. [13]


  1. ^ "Kasubi Tombs website". Kasubitombs.org. Retrieved 17 March 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Uganda army deploys after fire destroys historic tombs". AFP. Retrieved 17 March 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c "Uganda's Kasubi royal tombs gutted by fire". BBC News. 17 March 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2010. 
  4. ^ Rice, Xan (17 March 2010). "Three killed in Kampala clashes after royal mausoleum destroyed by fire". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 17 March 2010. 
  5. ^ "Kabaka Mutebi II visits Kasubi tombs". The New Vision. 17 March 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2010. 
  6. ^ a b "Kabaka, Museveni, Besigye visit burnt Kasubi tombs". Daily Monitor. 17 March 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2010. 
  7. ^ "'Two dead' in protests after Uganda tomb fire". AFP. Retrieved 17 March 2010. 
  8. ^ "Riots after fire guts Uganda tombs". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 17 March 2010. 
  9. ^ Maseruka, Joseph (17 March 2010). "Kabakas still intact, says Katikkiro". New Vision. 
  10. ^ "Government to help restore Kasubi tombs". Uganda Media Centre. 17 March 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2010. 
  11. ^ Lubwama, Siraje (15 April 2012). "Lawyers Sue Government Over Kasubi Tombs Fire". The Observer (Uganda). Retrieved 16 June 2014. 
  12. ^ Musisi, Frederic (3 December 2012). "Plan To Rebuild Kasubi Tombs Starts". Daily Monitor. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 
  13. ^ Semakula, John (2 February 2013). "New Security Measures for Kasubi Tombs". New Vision. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Kasubi Tombs at Wikimedia Commons