Mpumwire Hill: King Kabalega's forgotten resting place

Thursday June 02 2022
Mpumwire Hill.

Mpumwire Hill has been neglected by Ugandan authorities. PHOTO | GILBERT MWIJUKE | NMG


Despite its historic and cultural significance to Uganda, Mpumwire Hill is one of the sites that has not been accorded the attention it deserves.

Located about 80 kilometres east of Kampala, it got its name from the iconic King of Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom Chwa II Kabalega’s last word — Mpumwire (meaning "I have rested" in Runyoro) — before his death on April 6, 1923.

On a recent visit to Mpumwire village, it took almost 30 minutes to locate the site where King Kabalega died as there is no signpost; worse, the people living around there know nothing about it.

It was only a boda boda cyclist who pointed to a small hill that rose gently nearby.

“Once in a while the king of Busoga visits that place and performs some rituals there,” the boda boda cyclist said.

To get to the actual spot where King Kabalega died, you have to pass through a cassava farm. The monument is just a heap of stones in an overgrown bush.


The stones were collected and piled here by locals from Butembe — one of Busoga Kingdom’s chiefdoms — on the orders of their chief following the king’s death.

King Kabalega is said to have commanded a lot of respect.

“The royal family of Busoga traces its origins from Bunyoro and King Kabalega is regarded as our grandfather,” said Andrew Ntange, Busoga Kingdom’s spokesperson.

Today, many people from Busoga, including the royals, believe that there are spiritual powers at Mpumwire Hill.

“People come and pray here because it’s where the grandfather of Busoga died. In fact, many people still confess that they get miracles from this site,” Mr Ntange said.

Mpumwire Hill is so sacred in Busoga that when kingdoms were restored in Uganda in the 1990s, this was the coronation site for Kyabazinga Henry Wako Muloki. The current king, William Gabula Nadiope IV, was also coronated here.