Thousands ‘Mourn’ Historical Buganda Tree


HABARI DAILY I Kampala, Uganda I Whenever a person loses a loved one, they mourn. But whenever something treasured by thousands is lost, people grieve and nothing can stop their emotions from overflowing.

This was the same scenario when a century-old tree, which dates back to Kabaka Muteesa 1’s times, was felled by a downpour recently.

Monumental in many ways, the huge 10-foot tree that stood at Kyambogo University near the administration block was the same tree under which a colonial administrator Henry Morton Stanley and Kabaka Mutesa 1 sat in 1875 to write a historical letter to the then Queen of England, Victoria Alexandrina, inviting missionaries to come to Uganda.

“That same letter was then given to Colonel Linant de Bellefonds, who delivered it to the Queen in England. This is a huge loss to cultural heritage in the country,” said Prof. Elizabeth Kyazike, a specialist in archaeology and cultural heritage at the university.

She said the century old tree attracted a lot of attention from cultural heritage experts, since it is where Muteesa wrote the letter that brought education to Uganda. It is a monumental site for the nation.

“Because of the significance of the letter by the Kabaka by then, many national educational institutions are in close proximity to the tree, pointing out the Uganda National Examinations Board, National Council for Higher Education that are all situated around here. The place that birthed Ugandan education was located under the gigantic tree was here.

Known as a Canarium tree species and referred to among the Baganda as ‘Muwafu’ tree, it was one of Muteesa’s resting shades that was lying in the middle of his Banda palace before he relocated to the most prestigious Mengo palace in Kampala.

But all is not lost, since Kyambogo University has launched plans to preserve the tree. Dr Stephen Kasumba, the Director of the Institute of Distance Learning, said they  intend to plant another tree within the remains of this one to regenerate it.

He said it may not be the same as the previous one, but it will keep the significance of the tree intact,” he stated, adding that they intend to set up a monumental museum in honour of such a historical tree to beef up Banda palace cultural emblems.

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