Igongo Cultural Center, Activities at Igongo Cultural Centre

Igongo Cultural Center is Igongo Cultural Centre has located exactly 12km along the Masaka-Mbarara road in Biharwe town. It was opened in 2011 by the president of Uganda president Museveni. It is set on the grounds of the former palace of the Ankole king. Igongo is a must-visit place for ardent cultural exploring tourists. This  Cultural Centre explores the people of south-western Uganda, particularly the Ankole, through artifacts and a typical homestead.

Igongo Cultural Center Igongo Cultural Center

While at Igongo Cultural Centre, you are given a brief history on how the place came to be called Igongo.  By the time the Bashambo led by Murari from Ndorwa in present Rwanda re-established their rule in the Mpororo kingdom at the beginning of the 18th century; it was ruled by a warrior queen called Kitami kya Nyawera of the Baishikatwa clan.

Kitami kya Nyawera is said to have been a fat and beautiful lady with renowned extraordinary powers of dining and rainmaking. Rumors about her powers circulated in the neighboring lands and this discouraged them from attacking Mpororo.

It is believed that a man called Murari was brought to the palace and she fell in love with him and they got married and produced a son called Kahaya Rutindangyenzi who later ruled over parts of Kigezi and Mpororo. It is said that Kitami died mysteriously and Murari succeeded her. Though others say that Murari forcefully removed Kitami and took over her throne.

When Igongo Cultural Centre was being started, they relied on the brains of a 96 old Eriyazari Bampaire whose was good enough to bridge between the past and the present. Therefore he is the brain behind Igongo Cultural Centre.

What to see ay Igongo Cultural Centre

The Centre promotes cultural heritage of the people of south western Uganda. That is to say the ankole-kigezi people. The center’s motto is “wisdom is rooted in the past.”

Within the Centre visitors find the museum which is known as the Erijukiro museum. It also has a restaurant where you can try local traditional dishes like millet bread (kalo), matooke and ghee with a local drink made from millet or sorghum.

Apart from the museum and restaurant, it has also established a crafts shop and a bookshop and also an eclipse monument. The eclipse monument was built to commemorate a victory for Ankole kingdom 500 years ago, following an eclipse that saw the invading king retreat in fear as day turned into sudden darkness.

A tour around the museum shows the evolution of typical Nyankore and Kigezi households. The cultural village showcases a traditional homestead complete with real milk gourds, calabashes, hides and skins and a fireplace together with grinding stones millet, flour and farming tools. The visitor also gets to look at different types of bananas and their uses, different musical instruments like the drums (engoma) and also the setting of a traditional Kiga home.

Visitors also get to explore how their grandparents lived as they get to view the historical artifacts brought to life with clay models. For example the sculpture of Mayenje ga Ishinjo which a war between Buhweju and Ankole are remembered on.

Igongo Cultural Centre also offers other activities that visitors may get engaged in and these include;

  • Hiking the eclipse monument
  • Cycling
  • Pool bar
  • Outdoor pool
  • Museum tour
  • Visiting Ankole’s royal tombs
  • Visiting former Ankole’s king’s palace
  • Traditional huts, milk processing, and millet processing
  • Traditional beer brewing

To get a rich cultural experience at Igongo Cultural Centre, contact us at info@jewelsafaris.com for a spectacular experience.

Nkwanzi Craft Shop and bookshop

Nkwanzi Craft Shop and bookshop-Igongo Cultural Center Nkwanzi Craft Shop and bookshop-Igongo Cultural Center

Nkwanzi Crafts and Bookshop is part of the Igongo cultural center where most of the prehistoric information, products can be viewed.  Stocked here are Art crafts, Souvenirs, and books rich in the History of Ankole and Uganda as a whole.

Cultural village / Itaramiro

The cultural village houses are divided into two that’s the herdsmen huts were called”Bariisa” and Crop Farmers “Abahiingi”

Mpororo  Court/ Kitami  Palace

Mpororo  Court/ Kitami  Palace-igongo Cultural Center Mpororo  Court/ Kitami  Palace-igongo Cultural Center

At the beginning of the 18th century, the Mpororo kingdom was under a rule of a queen called Kitami kya Nyawera of the Baishikatwa clan. She had a royal drum called Murorwa. The queen is perceived to have been a fat and beautiful lady who in rare cases were seen by her female-dominated subjects. She was credited with extraordinary powers of divining and rainmaking. Rumors of her power circulated around the neighboring lands, discouraging anyone from attacking Mpororo.

Legends say that a man called Murari was brought to her palace and she fell in love with him and they got married and produced a son, Kahaya Rutindangyenzi who later ruled over many parts of Mpororo, Kigezi, northern Rwanda, and parts of Congo.

It is said that Kitami died mysteriously. Some say, she was stung by a bee and as a result, Murari succeeded her. Others say that Murari forcefully removed Kitami and took over her throne.

As she was credited with supernatural powers, it is said that her death was held to be a bad omen and caused panic. Many disasters and unusual happenings such as earthquakes, epidemics, and violent storms scared the inhabitants which caused many people to leave the kingdom.

Murari was equally scared and as a result, he built a shrine where Kitami’s spirit was worshipped by many followers which later translated into Nyabingi as a religious movement. The Nyabingi cult which sprang up in reverence of her spirit subsequently developed into an anti-monarchical and anti-imperial force in southwestern Uganda and northern Rwanda and some parts of northern Tanzania at the beginning of the 20th century. It is presently followed in Ethiopia and the Caribbean.

With such cute stories, take time to come and listen to them boldly.

 Tourists Experimental Activities

  • Ankole farm tour
  • Pottery activities
  • Hiking the eclipse hill and the monument
  • Fishing and canoeing
  • Visit Former Ankole king’s palace
  • Visit Ankole royal tombs Museum tour

info@jewelsafaris.com has your trip ready to this rich of experiences’ Igongo Cultural Center. See you.

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