The loss of cultural heritage at the Kasubi Tombs is the most significant impact of a fire that occurred there last night, burning the burial site to the grounds.
Thousands of people have flocked to the tombs, not only because they are the most well known artifact of Kiganda tradition, but also because of the history contained therein.
Speaking to Uganda Radio Network, just days before the fire, Stephen Mpanga one of the tombs tour guides said Kasubi was home to numerous cultural treasures. He said that as a burial ground for Buganda kings it was a center of tradition and spirituality for the kingdom.
The Kasubi Tombs were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, giving them recognition equal to Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the ruins of Angkor in Cambodia, the pyramids in Egypt and the Taj Mahal in India. As part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Kasubi Tombs were internationally heralded as irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration, not only for Buganda, but for the world.
Four kings of Buganda are buried at Kasubi. They are Muteesa I, who built the site in 1882; Daudi Chwa III, who expanded and renovated the site; Kabaka Mwanga II and Kabaka Edward Muteesa II. Most of the other kings of Buganda are buried in Busiro, Busunjju, Singo and Kyaggwe.
During the Uganda Radio Network tour of the tombs, Stephen Mpanga, said the most well known feature in Kasubi was the large grass thatched structure, Muzibu Azaala Mpanga. It is this structure that was burned in last night.
Mpanga said the name Muzibu Azaala Mpanga was given to the tombs in honor of the mother of Kabaka Muteesa II.
The structure was the largest grass thatched building in the world and drew hundreds of tourists to it every year. The tomb reached a height of 20 meters and was 32 meters wide.
In addition to the graves of the kings, the tombs contained invaluable articles of Buganda heritage, best illustrated by the concentric circles engraved on the floor of the building to represent all 52 clans of Buganda.
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Mpanga said there were also 52 pillars supporting the massive roof of the tombs, which also represented the Buganda clans. All those pillars burned and collapsed in the fire.
The tombs also housed gifts from around the world given to the kings.
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The Kasubi Tombs were admired for their authentic design and layout. The main tomb and surrounding houses were placed in a semi-circle, enclosing a large courtyard, which is known in Luganda as oluggya.
Like the main tomb, the houses surrounding it are of cultural significance. They protect graves of the kabakas' wives, grooming houses and residences. There is also a structure that houses the royal drumbs called Ndoga-Obukaba.