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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Uganda's Kasubi Tomb Ruins

Surrounded by the urban sprawl of west-side Kampala, UGANDA, the forested Kasubi Royal Tombs site experienced a mysterious fire on March 16th, 2010. Dedicated to the kings (kabakas) ruling over the Buganda Kingdom's Baganda people, the Kasubi Tombs were housed underground in a hilltop mausoleum since the 13th century. The latest mausoleum building was originally constructed in 1882 by Kabaka Mutesa I to be a palace and then was converted as a burial location two years later. This Muzibu Azaala Mpanga mausoleum was once the world's largest grass-thatched hut and was considered the site's main building. While the mausoleum was completely destroyed by flames, the cultural traditions and construction techniques of the Buganda Kingdom people persevered through time.

The Kasubi mausoleum building (Muzibu Azaala Mpanga) before and during a destructive fire

Utilizing information based on historic precedent, a replica building project was spearheaded in 2013 by UNESCO, a world-heritage organization which donated 2 billion Ugandan Shillings ($554,800 USD today) for the initiative. According to the Daily Monitor (Kamapala) (↗), however, the reconstruction process was recently halted. The "Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi" was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (↗) in 2001 and listed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (↗) in 2010. More information and photos pertaining to this site of destruction and rebirth — about the thatching technique, royal drums, mausoleum's floor plan, mausoleum's interior, etc. — can be found at the Kabaka Foundation's Kasubi Tombs website (↗).

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