While tour buses predominate in most world capitals, they seem noticeably absent from the streets of Kampala. So when my favorite boda boda driver told me that his company gives tours around the city, I gathered a few friends together and charged up the camera.
We started at the Baha’i Temple, which crowns Kikaaye Hill north of Kampala. The Baha’i leaders established the Mother Temple of Africa here because Uganda is considered the “Pearl of Africa.” The Baha’i value the unity of religion and believe that Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Siddhartha Gautama, Zoroaster, and others are all messengers of God. Their Sunday morning worship featured readings from the Quran, the New Testament, the Old Testament, and the sacred scriptures of the Baha’i.
After leaving the Baha’i Temple, we went to the Kasubi Tombs, an UNESCO world heritage site where four of the kings of Buganda are buried. The kings’ tomb rests below a thatch-roof house, which was burned down by an arsonist in 2010. The Ugandan government and cultural leaders of Buganda have no idea who lit the blaze, but UNESCO, the Japanese government, and President Museveni have finally gathered enough money to start rebuilding the tombs later this year.
Apart from seeing a burned-down house, the most exciting part of the tour was the torrential rain and the traditional Bugandan art. We spoke with several artists in the compound who specialize in colored paintings on bark cloth. I intend to buy a lot of their work before I return to the U.S.
The next stop on the tour was the Gaddafi National Mosque, a crowning jewel of Kampala. Even if you aren’t a fan of the mosque’s namesake, you can’t deny that he donated a beautiful mosque to Uganda. The mosque sits on Kampala Hill at the very heart of the city and the minaret juts into the sky, offering visitors “the best view in Kampala.” On Fridays, the mosque fills with thousands of worshippers who pray on its beautiful carpet.
After lunch, which was included with the tour, we visited the Rubaga Cathedral and the Buganda Palace. We didn’t get to go inside either location—the cathedral was full with evening mass and the palace was on the verge of closing when we arrived. Nonetheless, we witnessed some fun cultural dances outside the palace, in which school children were shooting a video for the Bugandan king.
Overall, the boda tour was a success and it was a good way to see some tourist destinations in a few hours. If you are interested in scheduling a tour, contact Ricky T.R. at email@example.com or 0779 447 223.