You may have been in Bunyoro for a tour or just to visit relatives, but have you explored all that there is to enjoy in this region? I bring you the best of Bunyoro-Kitara kingdom. The greater Bunyoro kingdom is comprised of the districts of Hoima, Masindi, Kibaale, Buliisa and Kiryandongo. The current king of the Banyoro is Omukama Solomon Iguru Gafabusa. He is the 27th king under the Babiito dynasty. Bunyoro region is East of Lake Albert and is one of the culturally diverse areas where many of Uganda’s tribes have found refuge.
Nyamyarro Royal Museum
A visit to the Omukama’s palace at Karuzika introduces you to the history of Bunyoro and her people. Inside the palace is the Bunyoro Royal regalia museum called Nyamyarro. This is where one can see the 1000-year-old traditional throne. The throne has nine legs, ivory tusks, ceremonial spears, ancient arrows, various types of traditional crowns and musical instruments.
Mparo tombs, the historical burial grounds for the kings of Bunyoro, is another place to visit. Notable among those who were laid to rest here is Omukama Chwa II Kabalega, who resisted colonial rule in this part of Uganda. Mparo is about 2km from the town on the Hoima-Masindi Road.
You can also visit a fort or cave at Katasiiha (2km from Hoima town) to learn about Kabalega’s escape route from colonialists.
Chimp Tracking: It is also recommended that one takes a morning forest walk in the chimpanzee forest under the guidance of the community-based chimpanzee habitat monitors. There is also a variety of wildlife, unique plants and large impressive trees. It is found about 14km from Hoima town. Here, you will enjoy the fresh air as you watch apes and birds play around. The forest is managed by Munteme Technical Training Centre and the Catholic parish.
Community tourism: Spending an afternoon learning to weave baskets and make crafts is another activity visitors can engage in. You can stay with the group for days if you want, and make your own crafts while enjoying their traditional food at a fair fee.
What’s With the Naming? While in Bunyoro, you might earn yourself a pet name (empako) as you engage with the locals. Empako is used in Bunyoro for greeting and culturally it is inconceivable that one would call one’s neighbor by their formal name. On first interaction, you are asked: “What is your empako?” In the subsequent interactions, one is addressed by his/her empako.
Okali is a pet name for only the king and Bala is for chiefs. Amoti, Akiiki, Aboki, Arali, Apuli and Adyeri are among the pet names given to ordinary people.
Dance time: While in Bunyoro, you may also engage in a traditional dances with a local group of men and women. Runyege and entogoro traditional dance are ceremonial in Bunyoro. It is also a courtship dance performed by the youth when it is time for them to choose partners for marriage. The dance was named after the rattles (ebinyege and entogoro) that are tied on the boys’ legs to produce percussion rhythms. The sound produced by rattles is exhilarating as it blends with the main beat, the songs and drum rhythms.
Continuing through Kitoba-Kigorobya on Butiaba Road, would lead you to the Albertine Rift Valley and when you reach the edge of the western Great Rift Valley, you can make a stopover and take photos of the beautiful landscape. It is really a fascinating experience. Descending to the bottom of the escarpment to Kibiro, a place where salt is extracted traditionally, using local tools and methods. In the same area is a hot spring a short distance to Lake Albert, which will provide yet another spectacular view.
From here, one can continue to Masindi, where Murchison Falls National Park is the main tourist attraction. Here we also find the Budongo Forest Reserve, the most extensive and ecologically diverse forest in East Africa. It has over 465 plant species
Polish settlement: For those interested in religious tourism, Nyabyeya Polish Catholic Church is another place. The site of a former camp built in 1942 for Polish World War II refugees who fled Germany due to persecution. The camp consisted of six small villages and hosted 3,635 Polish. As many of the Masindi Polish refugees were child war orphans, there were several orphanages within the settlement. Omukama Sir Tito Gafabusa Winyi IV of Bunyoro paid occasional visits to the camp. The church was built between 1943 and 1945.
There is also a cemetery with 60 graves of Polish nationals who died between 1945 and 1948. After World War II ended, most of the Polish refugees were resettled in England, Canada and Australia. The graveyard and church are maintained by the Catholic community in Nyabyeya
Omukama Andereya Bisereko Duhaga II’s residence in Buhimba sub-county. This house was one of the first modern houses to be constructed in the early 20th Century in Bunyoro.
Other important sites
Kigwara cultural site, believed to be the home of Bunyoro cultural music, Munsa Fort, an archaeological site for Uganda’s history dating back to between the 10th and 17th Century. Munsa is on a hill and features trenches, caves and underground containers carved out of stone.
Kakumiro, which houses the tomb of Duhaga, one of the early kings of Bunyoro.
Nyante River at Kikwaya is believed to be the point where all of Omukama Kabalega’s cattle perished.
Igayaza Chwezi historical site is a place with the footprints of Ndahura (the first Cwezi king) and that of his dog. Masaka historical site, contains the tomb of Omukama Yosiya Kitahimbwa. The site where St Andrea Kaahwa (commonly known as Andrew Kaggwa) one of the Uganda Martyrs, was born. There are also footprints of Andrea Kaahwa, and other unique features. Christians throng this area every May 26 to pray for Kaahwa and take the water to heal them from illnesses and give them blessings.
These are just a few of the outstanding attractions in Bunyoro region but if a person decided to take a Uganda Bunyoro Tour, they would really need a lot of time to exhaust both the reach culture and natural environment of this locality.