Rwenzururu kingdom, located in Kasese Town, has revealed plans to convert the Buhikira royal palace of Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu into a museum. The palace has been in a state of disrepair and was destroyed in November 2016 during an army-led operation, which also led to the arrest of King Charles Wesely Mumbere and several royal guards on charges including terrorism.
Omusinga Mumbere, after spending nearly seven years in prison, returned to the Kasese district recently. However, he cannot return to the Buhikira Palace due to the tragic events of the 2016 raid. According to Rwenzururu culture, it is forbidden for the king to revisit a place where blood was shed.
The Rwenzururu Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Mr. Joseph Kule Muranga, believes transforming the palace into a museum is a strategic move. He stated that the museum would serve as a constant reminder of what transpired and could also become a tourist destination, similar to Namugongo where the Uganda martyrs were killed.
Furthermore, Mr. Muranga pointed out that the development of the palace into a museum could generate revenue for the cultural institution, but this is contingent on whether Omusinga Mumbere approves the request.
For the new palace, the government has already acquired land in Kasese Town at a cost of Shs150 million, and construction is set to commence, with the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) engineering brigade overseeing the project. In the interim, the kingdom will initiate the construction of office spaces on the same land.
Omusinga Mumbere currently resides in a private residence on Mbogo Road in Kasese Town, although it remains unverified whether the residence was acquired by the kingdom.
Before the king’s return, the kingdom had initiated a fundraising campaign to collect Shs4.5 billion for Springs International Hotel in Kasese Town, which is intended to serve as an asset and a source of revenue.
Jovia Mbambu, the Kasese District tourism officer, emphasized that transforming Buhikira Royal Palace into a museum would significantly enhance the district’s tourism offerings. She also pointed out the potential for dark tourism, which explores areas with a history of tragedy, to draw tourists to the region.
Furthermore, she highlighted the educational and peace-promoting potential of the museum, not only for Kasese District but for the entire Rwenzori Sub-region. The museum could provide insights into preventing a recurrence of tragic incidents and serve as a center for training activists in conflict prevention and resolution.
Johnication Muhindo, the team leader at Creations Forum Afrika-CAF, a peace-building organization in the Rwenzori sub-region, also supported the idea of the museum as a center for peace and conflict prevention. He sees it as a creative approach to fostering sustainable peace in a community that has long suffered from conflict.