UNESCO officials were in Kampala last week to assess the situation surrounding the city’s only World Heritage Site, the Kasubi Tombs, which burned down a few weeks ago. The officials were meeting with government officials from the ministry of tourism, trade, and industry and with officials of the Buganda kingdom, to which the ancient burial site of former kings belongs.
The main structures were burnt to ashes, and many of the artifacts and priceless and irreplaceable mementos and collections of ancient tools, weapons, and exhibits also fell victim to the flames, making it a difficult challenge, even after rebuilding, to restore the exhibition to its former glory.
It is understood that UNESCO will support the rebuilding of the tombs, while the Ugandan government is set to contribute to the restoration of this national treasure. A major fundraising drive is currently underway across Uganda and abroad to secure sufficient funds for the task ahead.
The Kasubi Tombs, where four of the former kings were buried, was an essential part of any city tour for visitors from abroad and many dignitaries and visiting VIPs in the past were taken there as part of an arranged cultural program.
Uganda’s two other UNESCO World Heritage Sites are actually national parks and include Bwindi and the Rwenzori Mountains, although applications for more recognitions are pending. Once granted the coveted status, any such attraction is bound to draw in extra visitor numbers and add to the global appeal of a destination, something Uganda much needs in her efforts to promote tourism.