On June 28, 2017, Mr. Boaz Muwanga, a member of the Uganda Heritage Group, told BugandaWatch in Kampala that he was very concerned about the physical state and security of the 32 royal tomb sites in Buganda. And he was totally dissatisfied by the casual way Mengo is handling this serious matter.
According Mr. Muwanga, in 2000 Buganda Government officials signed an accord on the royal tombs sites with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The terms of the agreement require that Mengo establishes a Buganda Heritage Advisory Commission, an independent body that would have full control over management of all the 32 royal tomb sites.
Mr. Muwanga pointed out, “Currently, many tomb sites have no secure boundaries. For example, 37.8 hectares were demarcated as the tomb site for Ssekabaka Ssuuna at Wamala in Busiro County. However, over 34 hectares or 90% of that land is now occupied by people who illegally settled on it.”
In Mr. Muwanga’s opinion, because Mengo neglected to implement the Buganda Heritage Advisory Commission, there is no proper oversight at most of the royal tomb sites. And the result is gross negligence and mishandling of valuable and sacred cultural assets.
Another major concern to Mr. Muwanga is the negative effect on local tourism in Buganda. He said, “Mengo has put all the attention of the Kasubi royal tombs and abandoned previous programs that promoted tourist visits to all the 32 royal tomb sites, especially for school children. The failure to complete Kasubi in reasonable time has only caused the other sites to lose all attention.”
He added that, if a one-mission Buganda Heritage Advisory Commission existed, it could also ensure higher quality and reliable supplies of the materials used in building and maintaining Baganda tomb houses. He mentioned essubi (spear grass), emmuli (reeds) as examples of key Baganda traditional building materials whose sources are unreliable.
When BugandaWatch asked him to suggest a way forward, Mr. Muwanga said, “I appeal to Mengo to implement the 2000 agreement with UNESCO and create a Buganda Heritage Advisory Commission. This time, ensuring that the commission members understand and have proven knowledge and experience in dealing with Baganda culture matters.”