The positive legacy of Kabaka Mwanga ii: the Kabaka’s lake
At the mention of Kabaka Mwanga 11 the first thing that would occur to anyone who knows him will be the notorious ruthless holocaust of the Uganda martyrs. However like all humankind we all have a good side to us and so did he.
In Rubaga/mengo adjacent to one of the seven major hills of Kampala, only a few meters outside of the city centre A few kilometers from the city centre, is a magnificent jewel to the Buganda kingdom. A serene water body dotted with numerous birds like the little egrets is a positive legacy of Kabaka Mwanga ll- the Kabaka’s lake. The Kabaka’ lake is one of the few in probably Africa’s longest-surviving man-made lakes.
The Magnificent views of the lake are enhanced with the frequent the surrounding air later on settling on the green island in the middle and the outstanding Kabaka’s palace. Occasional crossing of people in dugout canoes is also evident on the lake.
In the yearly Buganda tourism expo (normally around august), as it is in Buganda the Kabaka appreciates to grace his subjects with his presence to officiate water sports on the lake. He is normally escorted by not only his solders (abambowa) clad in traditional attire and armed with local spears and shield but also with his ministers and other dignitaries. However with the changing times more trained security personnels have been added to his convoy.
Kabaka Mwanga ordered for the digging of this Lake for a number of reasons including an escape plan in case of any conflicts it would connect to Lake Victoria. Mwanga had two paces one in Munyonyo which was built by his father Mutesa and then the current one in Lubiri Mengo – he wanted an easier means of transport to connect to both palaces and digging a water channel seemed the most appropriate. The process of digging this lake was begun in 1885 by the King’s pages but was however interrupted by the religious wars and was never completed. In addition to creating a water way, the Kabaka also loved fishing and swimming.
The lake was dug all the way from Lubiri-Najjanankumbi- the king initially Kamya Ndikumulaga a well-built gentle because of his incompetence. Ll the 58 clans of Buganda was mobilized to take part in this exercise and encouraged them to dig the lake to the depth and width. However in the beginning the parish chiefs and princesses/princes did not take part in the project, so Ndikumulaga reported this to the Kabaka.
The Kabaka was not very pleased he thus took to the tusk himself and got himself dirty. Out of shame the chiefs and royalty had to join him as there was no alternative for them apart from digging along with him.
At the time when the project came to a hault, moulds of soil waiting to be carried away because most of the soil had been cleared for the lake. Today if you vist some of these areas like Ndeeba, you will notice some of the heaps.
Important points to note are that the lake has no river tributaries supplying water to it since 1885 but remains in full supply of water all year round regardless of whether it is a rainy or dry season and the water levels are constant. The lake is supplied by underground springs.
Today Plans are under way to renovate the lake and improve it for tourism. Future plan also include construction of a 5* hotel. Check it out on your next trip to Uganda.