"An account of past events in the development of Buganda Tourism"
At its founding, the Kingdom of Buganda had only a small territory consisting of the counties of Busiro, Busujju, Kyaddondo and Mawokota; as well as small portions of Ssingo and Bulemeezi counties. Most of the surrounding territory was the dominion of the Kings of Bunyoro. There was considerable rivalry between Bunyoro and Buganda, and constant fighting over territory. Gradually, Buganda was able to expand its territory at the expense of Bunyoro until it grew in size to the twenty counties that constituted Buganda at its pinnacle. The islands of Ssese were autonomous within Buganda right from its founding, being reserved as the islands of the gods. They were not directly governed by the Kings of Buganda until after the 1900 Agreement. The expansion of the Kingdom of Buganda was a goal seriously undertaken by Buganda Kings. Apart from a desire for the wealth typically associated with a large Kingdom, geography also favoured and tempted Buganda Kings’ aspirations to expand Muwawa (Buganda) at the expense of Bunyoro-Kitara. Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom, which originally included the present-day counties of Busujju, Gomba, Kyaggwe, was geographically too extensive to be governed effectively.
The Kingdom was too far flung from the centre of Bunyoro-Kitara to be governed, and militarily defended effectively. Hence the temptation of Buganda Kings to invade and annex these counties to their Kingdom. And this is exactly what happened. While Buganda and its Kings were growing in strength at the beginning of the 19th century, the same could not be said of Bunyoro-Kitara, which was plagued by a succession of weak Kings who could not militarily defend her borders.
The Buganda Kings embarked on an ambitious expansionist programme fully knowing that they could easily defeat the Banyoro at war. They periodically invaded Bunyoro-Kitara, seizing one county after another until they acquired the counties of Buddu, Gomba, Busujju, Kyaggwe, and Kooki. While these invasions led to unrest and tense relations, the respective royal families of both Kingdoms knew and recognised their common lineage. They knew they originated from a Luo woman by the name of Nyatoolo and they were of the Babiito Dynasty. An example of the friendly relations between the two Kingdoms is exhibited by the then Prince Kabalega enlisting the support of Baganda princes who supplied him with soldiers during the succession war with his brother Prince Kabigumire. Eventually Kabalega defeated Kabigumire partly because he had Baganda soldiers on his side.
It is an honour for me to preside over the unique heritage of the Kingdom of Buganda whose traceable history spans close to a thousand years. The longevity of our society’s way of life is neither accidental nor coincidental. Rather, the Kingdom’s life is premised on our beliefs held dear since our forefathers crystallized them during the reign of Kabaka Kintu.
These norms and traditions have weathered storms and have stood the test of time because they have built-in mechanisms for the sustenance of our values, right from the ordinary person all the way up to all segments of leadership.
In the present era, the sustainability of Buganda’s culture is tied to cultural conservation efforts, as well as being selectively adaptive to new systems and ideas.
Many countries around the world have seized the opportunities the tourism industry offers to improve the well being of their people; it is therefore important for Buganda to identify partners who can help promote efforts to show case our heritage to the world. We believe that the publication of “Buganda: Gateway to the Pearl of Africa” will go along way in reinforcing the cultural identity of the Kingdom of Buganda and its people, and will also serve as a key record for the preservation of our historical and cultural institutions, sites and artifacts.
As a reminder of the existence of the Kingdom of Buganda for close to a thousand years, the chorus and first stanza of the Kingdom’s anthem makes specific and proud reference to our glorious past.
The Kingdom fascinated its first visitors from within Africa as well as beyond and its history, leading to the present day, has continued to do so. This is seen in the form of traders, explorers, missionaries, administrators and tourists. Today, for the most part, when we refer to “tourists”, we tend to exclude from the term Buganda’s first visitors such as explorers, traders and missionaries to the Kingdom yet in actual sense, their curiosity is what drew them to visit the Kingdom - regardless of their ulterior motives. Tourism – whether it is cultural or agro in nature – serves to tell the history of a group of people, providing insights into their ways of life, their values as well as their norms and traditions. The Kingdom of Buganda has much to offer in this regard. Marketing Buganda as a tourist destination increases awareness, both within and outside the country, of the continued existence of one of Africa’s most powerful Kingdoms as well as offering innovative ways to improve the economy and the livelihood of people.
The tourist attractions in Buganda’s Counties, which are depicted in the Buganda Heritage and Tourism Board publication, “Buganda: Gateway to the Pearl of Africa” offer the opportunity for intercultural exchanges between Buganda and her visitors – both local and international. Exchanges such as these will go a long way in augmenting unity and cooperation between Buganda and its visitors.
Furthermore and, perhaps more importantly, Buganda’s tourist attractions can be harnessed as tools for achieving and enhancing economic and social development. This would be realized through the provision of jobs and income generating opportunities and thereby improve the livelihood of our people - particularly the youth who constitute the largest segment of our population.
The role of good governance and transparency cannot be over emphasized in the crucial role they play in propelling the limitless potential tourism has for taking both Buganda and Uganda ahead.
By seizing the abundant opportunities that Buganda’s unique history and culture accord it to market itself as a tourist destination, the Kingdom and the Ugandan nation at large, stand to make substantial gains.