About Mukono District

About Mukono district- the home of Ssamba Foundation. Mukono District is a district in Central Uganda. Like most other Ugandan districts, it is named after its ‘chief town’ – Mukono.

Location

Mukono District is bordered by Kayunga District to the north, Buikwe District to the east, the Republic of Tanzania to the south, Kalangala District to the southwest, Wakiso District and Kira Town to the west and Luweero District to the northwest. Mukono, the main municipal, administrative and commercial center of the district, is located approximately 27 kilometers (17 mi), by road, east of Kampala, the capital of Uganda and the largest city in this country. The coordinates of the district are: 00 20N, 32 45E.

Overview

Mukono District originally comprised the Buganda Kingdom counties of Kyaggwe, Bugerere and Buvuma. In December 2000, Bugerere was constituted into Kayunga District. In July 2010, Buvuma was granted district status, becoming Buvuma District. The remaining mainland Kyaggwe was also partitioned with the eastern portion becoming Buikwe District.

Mukono has a favorable climate, abundant rainfall, rich flora and fauna, and proximity to urban areas. Discover  Mukono with Wanderlust Adventures. The district has a lot to offer to the intrepid traveler from deeper culture experiences, to mind-blowing water falls, unspoiled rainforests and rare wildlife.

Historically, Mukono was one of the centres of civilization in Uganda. At the advent of the colonization in Africa, big Christian missions, hospitals, schools and colleges were established in Mukono.

In 1890, Bishop Tucker of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) from England established the Christian Mission and a hospital on Mukono hill. He also established the Bishop Tucker Theological College, which is now the Uganda Christian University (UCU).

In 1902, Bishop Henry Hanlon of the Catholic Mill Hill Missionaries from England established the famous Namilyango College.

In 1908, Uganda was declared “the Pearl of Africa” at Mukono on the hill which is known by the locals as “Ggulu” – “Heaven”. One early morning in 1908, when Sir Wilson Churchill, former British prime minister was on a tour of this part of Africa, he woke up to a very clear morning African weather.

He stood on that hill and looked eastwards. He saw undulating hills of Kyaggwe County, valleys, green trees and grass, which he had not seen anywhere else in Africa and he declared, “This is really the Pearl of Africa.” Mukono is the main gateway to Uganda from the east African coast.

Administrative Units

As of December 2013, Mukono District is made up of two counties: 1. Nakifuma County and 2. Mukono County. The district has within its borders, seven urban areas, namely: (a) Mukono Municipal Council (b) Nakifuma Town Council (c) Kalagi Town Council (d) Naggalama Town Council (e) Katosi Town Council (f) Kasawo Town Council and (g) Namataba Town Council. The district headquarters are located in Mukono, 27 kilometres (17 mi) east of Kampala on the Kampala-Jinja Highway.

Demographics

The 1991 national population census estimated the population of Mukono District at about 319,400. According to the 2002 national census figures, Mukono District had a population of about 423,100, of whom 49.8% were males and 50.2% were females. Then, its population growth rate was projected at 2.7% per annum. In 2012, the population of the district was estimated at about 551,000 people. By 2020, the population is estimated to be close or over 1,000,000 people.

District Leadership

The leadership is entrusted in the District Executive Council, composed of:

  • District Chairman
  • District Vice Chairman
  • District Secretary for Finance
  • District Secretary for Production & Natural Resources
  • District Secretary for Works & Technical Services
  • District Secretary for Islands (Buvuma and Koome)
  • District Chief Administrative Officer
  • Resident District Commissioner
  • Deputy Resident District Commissioner

Culture

Mukono district forms part of Ssaza Kyaggwe a Buganda Government headed by Ssekiboobo, with a cosmopolitan population. Major tribes include Baganda, Basoga, Bagisu, Bagwere, Bakiga, Banyankole, Banyarwanda, Lugbara, Banyoro, and Batooro. Luganda is the language commonly spoken. English is the official language.

Languages

The main languages spoken in Mukono District are Luganda and English. Luganda, one of the Bantu groups of languages, is largely spoken at home. Like other Bantu languages the nouns are made up of a stem and prefixes, thus from the stem Ganda, Buganda is the historical country.  Muganda is a native of Buganda, Baganda is the plural of Muganda, and Luganda is the language spoken by the Baganda. Uganda (the name given to the modern country as a whole) is the Swahili version of Buganda.

Uganda does not have a natural national language (unlike Kenya and Tanzania with Swahili) and there are over 50 tribal languages. So English has been made the official language of government and business. English is taught in Primary School and is the language of instruction in Secondary School.

Tourist attractions

As one of the fastest growing Districts in Uganda and with a rich cultural history and beautiful science, Mukono is now seeing the development of the District’s tourism sector with lots of existing and various potentials and attractive tourist sites. The district is blessed with a favorable climate, abundant rainfall, rich flora/fauna and proximity to urban areas. The major tourist attractions in the district include the following:

Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and the second largest fresh-water lake in the world. The lake is a lasting source of pleasure. Water sports available on the lake include: (a) Sport Fishing (b) Rafting (c) Canoeing (d) Cruising and (e) Sailing.

Sezibwa Falls

In the middle of the district runs River Sezibwa, believed by Buganda legend to have been born by one ‘Nakangu Tibatesa’ the wife of ‘Nsubuga Sebwaato’ in Kawuna, Ngongwe, around the time of the Christian biblical prophet Isaiah. The river flows into Lake Kyoga. The nature of its birth makes the river a cultural symbol of great importance to Buganda’s heritage.

The falls are located 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) off the Kampala-Jinja Highway, 7 miles (11 km) east of Mukono. The falls offer beautiful scenery for tourists and nature lovers. Next to the falls is a spacious ground for campers and holidaymakers. The site also has a natural forest reserve, which has forest trails and nature walkways for bird-watching and forest exploration. Over 100 bird species and some wild animals including rare species of monkeys may be found at this location.

Sezibwa Falls is also a cultural site of the Baganda and has cultural artifacts including caves, 100 year old trees and special rocks of deep cultural significance to the Baganda of Buganda in central Uganda. It is one of the official cultural cites of the Buganda Kingdom.-

Ngamba Islands

Imagine a postine East African 100 acre rain forest surrounded by peaceful waters, where you can experience the wonders of mankind the chimpanzees.

Ngamba chimpanzee sanctuary was established in 1998 to cater for orphaned and confiscated chimpanzees in Uganda. The sanctuary offers a unique opportunity to watch and learn about chimpanzees and over 120 bird species as otters monitor around its shores.

The sanctuary operates in an environmentally friendly in compost toilet system, rain water collection, solar system and proper waste management practice to minimize pollution and environmental hazards on Lake Victoria and environs. Ngamba is one of the koome islands, 23km from Entebbe and south of the Equator in Mukonod istrict. Its approximately around one and half hours drive on a traditional motorized boat and faster on a speed boat from Mukono main land or Entebbe. And there is plenty more to offer, sunset cruises on the equator, fishing trips, forest walks with the chimpanzees, bird watching and overnight trips to Ssese and as well as swimming in the Lake, Kayaking.

Historical Caves

Caves do provide an extraordinary diversity of creation to visitors. In Mukono, there are a number of caves in different areas though some cannot simply be visited due to cultural attachments. They have a huge history that is best explained by the guides on the site.

Cultural rocks

The cultural rocks here in Mukono district, are mainly natural features. However they have carried a lot cultural back ground for the Buganda Kingdom. These places are visited annually for special ceremonies by respective clans for prayers, cultural blessings and activities.

Different features connected to the cultural beliefs like fire (stove) places Alters of prayers, springs of water, spears, back cloth, animal skin and many others with respective specifically assigned cultural keepers stationed at these places like Dindo and Jjumba hills. The most famous are Dindo in Kasawo Sub County and Jjumba hills in Nabbaale Sub County.

Mukono Zonal Agricultural Development Institute (MUZARDI)

Started in the early 70’s as a District Farm Institute it was taken up by the National Research Agricultural Organization in 2005. It sits on 100 acres of land on the edge of Mukono town. It boasts of various research gardens and forest with birds and an eco-tourism site that has been developed to a standard touring centre. At MUZARD, a spacious venue for camping, forest reserve for birding, natural walks, well planned accommodation facilities and party grounds have been established.

Mabira forest

Mabira forest is the biggest eco-tourism attraction in Mukono, located about 306 sq kms of land. This 1900 establishment between the Buganda and British was first gazette as a reserve in 1932 it currently have about 86kms of trail, its located on Kampala Jjinja high way providing a unique atmosphere the only one that remains in the central Uganda. Mabira has 312 flora, 315 birds, 218 butterflies, 97 moth and 23 small known mammals and Mabira also brags of 9 bird species that are only to exist here.

Mabira forest reserve is found about 30km from Mukono town, along Jjinja-Kampala high way. Part of the forest reserve is developed into an eco-tourism centre, comprising trails, a composite and Bandas. It is located in Mukono and Buikwe Districts and famous for forest walks, picnics, cycling trails, over 100 species of moths and 315 bird species, 218 butterfly species, 97moth species, 23 small mammals and nocturnal species, these include statungas, wild pigs and antelopes to mention but a few.

Mabira forest is also popular for it’s for its rich 312 flora. It is located on a 306 square km of land. It was first gazette in 19932 as a forest reserve. Mabira has 9 species of birds which are endemic to these features alone. The forest is ideal for bird seeing, cycling, camping, forest walks and education supports among others. The key attractions at the reserves include mountain/forest biking walks. It is an ideal spot for tourists who love natural forests.

Transportation

All modes of transport can be used in Mukono district. The 5th largest district in Uganda is networked tarmac and murrum roads as the major mode of transport. Water transport is still maintained to the islands mainly due to the varsity presence of Lake Victoria waters. It has then been easy to move from places as to locate these attractions which are widely distributed in this district. 4×4 and air conditioned vehicles are encouraged and these services can as well be available by country’s tour operators. It also gives a chance to check out green land scape in the country sides.

Hotels

Accommodation is the major factor in travel and tourism. Hence, one should definitely consider the type of accommodation to stay many other areas in Uganda, Mukono has many accommodation facilities to stay in different types according to their services and prices and these range from range from budget accommodation to high class hotels. They are all in accessible places. The bandas or cottages are located in major tourist visited areas like Mabira forest to modern classic hotels especially in urban centers. It should be noticed that, Mukono is one of where homestay accommodation is encouraged and these are mainly in private homes of well to do families also encouraging interactions with the local life style.

The Name Mukono

Mukono is a Luganda word which means a hand or an arm. Origins of this name have differing attributions depending on who is giving the explanation.

First attribute: Mukono: means- “The King’s hand” – Back in the day, people from Kyagwe County in Buganda Kingdom used to take their gifts direct to the Kabaka. As the population grew, it became nearly impossible as the palace got over crowded. The Kabaka thus directed the people to give the gifts to the county chief who would deliver them to him. Since then, people started referring to the county chief as the hand (Omukono) that delivered their gifts to the Kabaka hence the name of the place, as Mukono.

Second attribute: When Ssekabaka Kintu, crossed to Buganda from Busoga through Mukono, he pitched a pass a camp at a place presently called Manjira, Nakibano parish, Nagojje Sub County. He came along with some other prominent persons, namely Kyagwe, Bulemeezi, Kyadondo and Ssingo. They fought Bemba Musota and took over Buganda. Kyagwe among the subjects was the closest to Ssekabaka Kintu he was therefore given the mandate to head present day Kyagwe which is a core part of Mukono.

Kyagwe was Kintu’s right hand man thus the name Mukono. Kyagwe in Buganda is very strategic! It is assumed to be the rear door to Buganda and greatly endowed with wealth. That’s the reason why Bishop Hannington was executed in 1885, for he wanted to use the rear door into Buganda crossing from Busoga. At his death these were his last words: ‘go tell Mwanga that I die for the Banganda and that I have purchased the road to Uganda with my life’. This asserts that this route is an entrance into Buganda from that direction.

The head of Kyagwe County (Buganda Kingdom) is addressed as Ssekiboobo. (Emboobo is the hairy rear part of the cow’s tail thus the name Ssekiboobo), it protects the cow from any intruding insects and acts as fun to regulate temperature. Kyagwe was always considered to be the wealthiest part of Buganda and thus the need for its protection. The headquarters of the Ssekiboobo have since then been and continued to be in Mukono town.

Third attribute: It is further alleged that during the leadership of Kabaka Ssuna the people who were residing in the present day Mukono had plenty of food and used to give it away generously. Giving a hand or lending a hand is literally translated Luganda as ‘okugaba oba okuwa omukono’. During food shortages the Kabaka would rather his subjects to Mukono for food. Thus the name Mukono.

Fourth attribute: Others contend that in the early days of white rule, there was a white tax collector whose arm was chopped off by disgruntled Black tax payers. This sparked off the mandatory levy of one shilling per tax payer to contribute towards the well being of the disabled white man. Since then this place was named Mukono in memory of the white man’s arm.

Fifth attribute: A few patronize with the belief that there was a Ssaza Chief (Ssekiboobo) who used to endorse land titles and other official documents using his toes rather than the fingers, the locals always referred to this as ‘oli atakozesa Mukono’ (signing without the arm). That since then this place was reffered to as Mukono.

For any question about Mukono district- please contact us: ssambafoundation@gmail.com