June 17, 2013

Govt Targets Chwezi Sites To Promote Tourism

The nearly forgotten sites, ‘‘Munsa za Kateboha’’ and the Semwemwa caves, are located some 3 kilometers north of Kakumiro trading centre off Mubende-Kibaale road. One of the significant features at the site is a hole in the rock measuring 2 metres deep which is referred to as Kateboha’s beer pot. The trenches were used by the legendary great King Kateboha who is believed to have reigned in the 14th century AD during the Bachwezi Dynasty in the then Great Bunyoro Kitara Empire.
The central government and Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom are in the process of renovating the Bachwezi cultural sites in Kakumiro Sub County, Kibaale district in a bid to promote tourism industry.The nearly forgotten sites, ‘‘Munsa za Kateboha’’and the Semwemwa caves, are located some 3 kilometers north of Kakumiro trading centre off Mubende-Kibaale road. One of the significant features at the site is a hole in the rock measuring 2 metres deep which is referred to as Kateboha’s beer pot.

The trenches were used by the legendary great King Kateboha who is believed to have reigned in the 14th century AD during the Bachwezi Dynasty in the then Great Bunyoro Kitara Empire.

The Bachwezi are believed to have ruled the Great Bunyoro Kitara Empire between the 14th and 15th centuries.

In a statement from the office of the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of trade, tourism and industry issued last week, the ministry informs Kakumiro Town council of the plans to gazette and develop Munsa Earth Works Trenches.

The tenches on the site were used to guard against enemies from gaining entry into the King’s palace which was located in the same area.

Nassan Lubega, a 74 year-old resident in the area, notes that the name Munsa was derived from the Banyoro expression Mu-esa, which means ‘place of trenches’.

Besides the “beer pot”, the earthworks consist of a network of V-shaped trenches which are seven metres wide and three feet deep. They were excavated as defensive lines to safeguard the Bachwezi from possible outside attacks.

The primordial Semwemwa caves, located on top of Bikakate hill just half a kilometre from Munsa trenches, were also used as hiding places for King Kateboha. The sites are believed to be only second in size to Bigo Byamugenyi archaeological earthworks in Sembabule district.

Lubega says the historical sites have been turned into shrines by cult practitioners and traditional healers making them less attractive.

Lubega says that the news of developing the sites has brought back a smile on his face saying if it is successful, he will trap much from the tourists who will be thronging the area.

Banabas Nsamba, the Bwanswa sub county speaker led a team of officials from Kakumiro town council to visit the area. Nsamba, who headed the inspection of the area, says that the sites which are recognized by UNESCO will be modernized to attract local and international tourists.

In a document dated June 04, 2013, the Kakumiro town council officials are asked to sensitize people encroaching on the sites to vacate. However, the document, a copy of which was seen by redpepper, did not indicate the costs of the proposed developments.

At least 15 people have encroached on the Caves at Semwema and Munsa trenches for settlement and farming.

Ronald Isagala Araali, an opinion leader and Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom cultural development advocate for Kibaale district, welcomes the development stressing that as kingdom officials they were cash-strapped.

According to Araali, the move is being expressed at a time when Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom is laying strategies for promoting trade, agriculture and tourism using the available means.

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