UNESCO removes Kasubi Tombs from list of endangered heritage sites

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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO) announced it had removed the Kasubi Royal Tombs from the list of endangered World heritage sites saying it was satisfied with restoration effortsat the ongoing convention in Riyadh, Saudi’s capital.

The kasubi tombs is the official burial grounds for Buganda kings and other members of the royal family.

On Tuesday, September 12th 2023, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said that the Kasubi Royal Tombs had been taken off the list of endangered World Heritage Sites since the restoration work had met its standards.

The ground-breaking decision on the Buganda Tombs was passed by the World Heritage Committee at the ongoing convention in Riyadh, Saudi’s capital.

“This reconstruction is a collective success: that of the Ugandan authorities, Ugandan heritage professionals, but also the local communities who were at the heart of the process,” said UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay.

“This is excellent news for the entire international community, as we have made it a priority for World Heritage to give more space to African sites,” he added.

The Buganda kingdom reacting to the news warmly welcomed the move anticipating a resurgence in tourism activity that had been on hold, which they believe will generate employment opportunities across the tourism value chain.

Owek. Kazibwe Kitooke, Minister of Information for the Buganda Kingdom reflecting on the challenging over-a-decade period stated last month that; “The fire in 2010 left us in a state of despair, and UNESCO declared the site endangered to facilitate its restoration.”

Owek Kitooke said the reopening of the tombs will serve as a catalyst for reviving tourism and contributing to the economic growth of both Buganda and Uganda.

“The removal of the endangered status will not only re-ignite cultural pride and historical significance but will also provide an economic boost to both Buganda and Uganda Through the over 2 million daily projected revenue gate collections,” Minister Kitooke says.

Housed in grass-thatched buildings on a hillside in the capital Kampala, the Tombs of the Buganda Kings have been undergoing reconstruction with the help of international funding since the 2010 blaze.

The World Heritage Site comprises around 26 hectares (64 acres) on the Kasubi hill in the city of Kampala, about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) northwest of the city centre.

Most of the site is open agricultural land that is farmed using traditional techniques. One corner contains a royal palace built in 1882 by Muteesa 1, the 35th Kabaka of Buganda, to replace a palace built by his built by his father, Ssuuna II in 1820. The new palace became a royal burial ground on his death in 1884.

The site is one of 31 royal tombs across the Buganda kingdom since the kingdom was founded in the 13th century.

Traditionally, the body of the deceased king was buried in one place, with a separate shrine for the deceased king’s jawbone, believed to contain his soul. Unusually, in a break from tradition, the site in Kampala contains the royal tombs of four Kabakas of Buganda:

Last month, the UN cultural agency UNESCO recommended that the tombs which act as a burial site of royal traditional leaders in Uganda should be removed from its list of endangered heritage.

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