Do you know the original names of Kampala’s suburbs?

1. Kitante.
The stream flowing from Katanga through Kitante Road (currently Yusuf Lule Road) to the Golf Course baptised the place. Cattle crossing the swamp then, used to get stuck in the mud. Some either died there while others were killed by thieves and shared the beef. It came to be known ekisenyi ekita ente (swamp that kills cattle). Kitante is the short for the place.

2. Nakulabye.
It was originally known as Bukesa, a name not as known as it was before.
Kabaka of Buganda, Mutesa I had a wife called Kabaseke in Bukesa. While at a hill called Kyakulide, he would see who was at his wife’s place across in Bukesa. One morning while sunbathing, Mutesa I called out for one of his subjects, who had earlier been seen at Kabaseke’s courtyard. The servant turned up late, regretting he had been far away. The king retorted, “Nakulabye emitala” [I saw you across the valley]. From that moment Bukesa became “Nakulabye” [I saw you].

3. Makerere.
The original name was Nyanja Elade. This used to be a good view of Lake Victoria, from Kabaka Jjunjju’s palace [1817-1819]. One morning while coming from Mugongo, present day Kyengera to meet one of his mistresses called Nalunga, daybreak found him at Nyanja Elade where the present Makerere Church of Uganda sits. His palace was in Mulago. He felt embarrassed and said “Olwalelo gano makerere” (day has broken before I am back in the palace) hence the name Makerere.

4. Bakuli.
It was originally part of Bukesa. Within the premises of the now defunct Hotel Regency was a restaurant owned by a one Pharkulo, a Goan who owned the restaurant known for serving in dishes, bakuli (dish). The restaurant became famous and the area got the name Bakuli from the restaurant. Though other accounts say it was because the locals failed to properly pronounce the name of the owner Pharkulo.

5. LunguJja.
It was known as Kikwandwa until when the first Arabs from Zanzibar came to Uganda, pitching camp there in 1844. They named their base Unguja after a trading post in Zinzibar. The Baganda corrupted the pronounciation to Lungujja than Unguja. The locals’ version stayed.

6. Nakawa.
Kabaka Mutesa I in 1854 built a palace at Banda. It is said he was very cruel, and he had ordered for the killing of many of his subjects for insubordination.
One day as he went through Nakabotongo, he inquired why the place had few inhabitants. He was told that they had heard about the order to kill them. He replied, “Nakaawa nyoo, Okuva kati tunatesa nga butesa, (I was very bitter, from today on we shall be sitting on a round table). The place came to be known as Nakawa.

7. Kyengera.
Before it became Kyengera, its name was Mugongo, but this was not its original name either. Kyengera is the name that came with Stanislaus Mugwanya’s reign as a regent. It is said he threw a huge party, where plantain trees with ripe plantain were used to decorate the roadside.
As people left the party, he said, “Those who are still hungry should pluck the plantain fingers and go with them”.
They left with full stomachs and carried home food. They called it “Kyengera” (a season of plenty), hence the name.
Another theory is held that Kabaka Mwanga (1884-1897) was scheduled to pass by the place. Baganda planted banana trees with their fruits to welcome a person they loved. Unfortunately, the Kabaka came a few days later and found the bananas used to decorate the roadside were already ripening. He said,“Abeno muli mu Kyengera,” meaning, “people here are in the season of plenty”.
As for the Mugongo name, it came about during the reign of Kabaka Suuna. While on his way from Karagwe, one of his men, complained of a headache while carrying luggage on the head. Suuna told him “Oba omutwe gukuluma biteeke kumugoongo)” [if you have a headache, carry the luggage on your back]. Mugongo means “back” in Luganda.

8. Kasubi.
Present day Kasubi Hill was originally known as Nakatema, when Suuna II became Kabaka of Buganda in 1824. He built his palace at Nakatema. From Nakatema, it became Nabulagala after the banana leaves that were used to wrap the king’s gifts.
When Prince Walugembe Mukabya who became Mutesa I, was still living in Kyaggwe. He had built a big house (hut) there, and was referred to as Walugembe of Kasubi. When he became Kabaka in 1854, he built his palace at Nabulagala not far his father Suuna’s. He asked to have the exact house like the one he had in Kyaggwe, for a new palace,. It came to be known as Muzibuazaalampanga, a big hut, thus a name Kasubi.

lubegah@ug.nationmedia.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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