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Kasubi_Tombs The majestic Kasubi Tombs, before it was burnt down

According to

Situated on Kasubi hill, within Kampala, Uganda, the Kasubi Tombs site is an active religious place in the Buganda Kingdom. To the Baganda the Kabaka is the unquestioned symbol of spiritual, political, and social state of the Buganda nation. As the burial ground for the previous four Kabakas, therefore, the Kasubi Tombs is a place where the Kabaka and others in Buganda’s complex cultural hierarchy frequently carry out important centuries-old Ganda rituals.

On 16 March 2010, at about 8.30 pm, the Kasubi Tombs were destroyed by fire, causing alot of distress to the people of Buganda*. In the days that followed, the Buganda Kindgom aannouced a week of mourning, and on Friday March 26 thousands attended prayers presided over by the leaders of the biggest religious denominations in Uganda including Archbishop Luke Orombi of the Church of Uganda, Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga of the Catholic Church, Supreme Mufti Hajj Zubair Kayongo, and Alex Mitala (chairman of the National Fellowship of Born-again Pentecostal churches).

News of these prayers sparked off an interesting debate between some evangelical (born-again) Christians on one hand, and mainstream Protestant and Catholics, on the other. It all has to do with what the appropriate ‘Christian’ response should have been, in the wake of the Kasubi Tombs fire.

Michael Kizito, in an article appearing in the New Vision writes:

The prayers that were held at Kasubi tombs on Friday March 26 proved to us that our spiritual fathers are actually spiritual politicians. I was shocked to learn that even Apostle Alex Mitala, the chairman of the National Fellowship of Born-again Pentecostal churches was also in attendance.

The Lord Jesus Christ warned us that we shall see these people by their fruits (Matthew 7:16) not by their cassocks, suits and barkcloth.

The burning of the Kasubi tombs is carnal and, therefore, unacceptable. However, there is no way a true Christian can pray to God to rebuild a stronghold where satanic rituals such as devil invocation, pipe smoking, ancestral possession, fire altars, ritual cleansing, worship of the dead, are practised.

(A direct response to Kizito’s article appeared in the New Vision two days later. It was authored by an Anglican chaplain who saw no problem at all with the prayers at the tombs)

So Michael Kizito is upset that religious leaders went to pray for the restoration of a site where purportedly ‘satanic’ rituals were taking place? Sigh. Some of these guys take their shit way too seriously..

Of course, contrary to what the religious leaders said during the prayers at the tombs, it is not ‘God’ that is going to restore the tombs – but the people themselves.

As an atheist who doesn’t believe in gods, demons, angels, spirits, and devils – all I’ll say is that.. I do feel bad for the people of Buganda who considered the tombs a very important part of their cultural heritage and are deeply distressed by its loss. I may not agree with the mysticism and rituals surrounding their customs and culture, but as a fellow human being, I share in their pain.

I do hope, however, that as they proceed with plans to rebuild the tombs, they take the necessary precautions – such as fire-proofing the grass-thatched roof, installation of 24 hour security cameras and providing adequate protection of the cultural artifacts – to ensure that this kind of incident doesn’t happen again.


*Buganda is the kingdom of the Baganda people, the largest of the traditional kingdoms in present-day Uganda (Central region). The 5.5 million Baganda (singular Muganda; often referred to simply by the root word and adjective, Ganda) make up the largest Ugandan ethnic group, representing approximately 16.9% of Uganda’s population.

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