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DARIUS’ SEMEI KAKUNGULU HERITAGE EXPERIENCE. Part 2

In my previous episode https://bit.ly/2RerFfu I narrated how I had stepped my foot on Gangama hill. It’s on this hill that Mwanga and Kabalega were incarcerated, it’s on this hill that Semei Lwakirenzi Kakungulu finally settled, it’s on this hill that he died and was buried. In this episode I take you straight to what to see on this hill in the Semei Kakungulu Heritage Experience with Kakunguru Safaris a local company that has taken time to develop the itinerary.

TOUR SEMEI KAKUNGULU GRAVE.

Semei Kakungulu grave at Gangama Hill in Mbale.

Kakungulu died on 24th November 1928of Tetanus. Kakungulu is buried in a short distance from the main Abayudaya synagogue behind the unpretentious home which he lived during his last years of his life. He was buried inside a house. I asked Steve my guide why he was buried inside a house. “He built this house before he died and instructed his relatives to be buried there” Says Steve the soft spoken man with a lot of simplicity. We were allowed in by the care taker of Kakungulu’s grave and old house Mr. Hamis Nambale who looks like he is in his old 60s. As you enter, the immediate site is a front stone on the grave with words……..

“SEMEI LWAKIRENZI KAKUNGULU A victorious General, Saza Chief in Buganda, Administrator of Eastern province 1899 – 1905, President of Busoga 1906 -1913. Died 24th 11 1928”

His grave is surrounded by his tools of work that include spears that he used to take on his battle fronts. Each spear or tool there has its own meaning according to Steve.

SEMEI KAKUNGULU ANCIENT HOUSE

Darius – Show Host and Steve – Kakungulu Safaris standing infront of Semei Kakungulu House

VISIT ABAYUDAYA COMMUNITY

Under pressure from the British who wished to limit his holdings, in 1917 moved his residence a short distance further from Mbale town into a short distance in the foothills of MT elgon to a place called Gangama. It was there that he started a separatist sect initially called Ekibiina Kya Abayudaya abesiga Katonda (the community of Jews who trust in omnipotent God) which is made up of mostly Kakungulu’s Baganda following as told to us by Steve. When I visited the site, I could easily tell the difference with rest of the community.

In 1922, at Gangama, Kakungulu published a 90-page book of rules and prayers as a guide book for his Jewish community. “The book set fourth Jewish laws and practices as Kakungulu found them in the old testament as well” Says Rabbi Garshom Wambede who is the current Mbale Jewish community leader or teacher. I found out that despite this interest in Jewish practices, there does not appear to have any contact between Kakungulu and the Jewish practices before 1925.

According to Steve, many European engineers and mechanics who were employed by the British had a chance of meeting the Christian-Jewish community in Mbale in what appears to be chance encounters and then out of this Kakungulu was told about Orthodox Judaism. As a result his other Cristian values and customs were dropped and he adopted Judaism including practices of baptism.

From these encounters the community learned of citing Hebrew prayers, observing Sabbath on Saturday, slaughter meet in Kosher manner and also speak some Hebrew.

After Kakungulu death local sources say, the Abayudaya community was divided into those wishing to retain a toehold within Christianity and those wanting to break it completely. The Bayudaya remained a mixture of both Christianity and Judaism, with faith in Christ remaining in Kakungulu’s faith and beliefs.

Some of the young Abayudaya community members performing local dance for Darius

SEMEI KAKUNGULU UNFINISHED PALACE

Just few meters Steve leads me through a maize plantation walking through a small footpath with visible stones across on the same hill. “This man was ambitious, both in wars and establishing his dynasty” Says Steve as he looks at me firmly on the face. I nodded in agreement. I tasked Steve if he knew some of Semei daughters or sisters surviving and he told me there is one sister who stays near former president of Uganda Amin’s ware house in Lunguja, Rubaga Division, Kampala but they seem to have lost touch. If one of his children were still alive probably he would have finished this palace and ascend on the throne of Bamasaba, Steve re-affirmed me.

SEMEI KAKUNGULU COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

A kid traverses through Semei Kakungulu road that goes to the community school.

Some Baganda chauvinists believe and think Kakungulu was a great philanthropist who took religion and education in that area. They sometimes go as far as saying he took civilization in the area…………………. To be continued in the next episode

 

Please note that all views expressed in this blog are my own and from my experience. They not the views of my sponsors or my partners.

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