Gaborone, Botswana (PANA) - One of the caves in which victims of the regime of Idi Amin were tortured will be promoted as a tourism site, officials of Buganda Kingdom have announced.
Buganda is an ancient kingdom that was subsumed into Uganda and gave the country its name.
A visit to the cave in question is a fearsome experience. Blood stains from decades ago dot the ground and walls, and there are some frightening writings on the wall. One such writing goes: “I will never forget my husband who was killed here.” The person who scribbled it did not leave her name.
Amin ruled Uganda between 1971 and 1979 and his regime has been recorded as one of the most murderous in history, with an estimated half a million people said to have been killed by state agents, many on the direct orders of Amin himself.
Amin, even before assuming the presidency, was a key player in the immediate post-independence conflicts between the new Uganda government and Buganda Kingdom.
Buganda, which is centrally located, was accused of seeking to have a special status in the new country, and the fallout eventually led to an invasion of the kingdom’s headquarters by the national army, forcing the king into exile.
Milton Obote, the Independence prime minister, ordered a raid on Buganda Kingdom, which was commanded by Amin, who was army commander. Edward Mutesa II, who was the king of Buganda then and ceremonial president of Uganda, escaped after a fierce battle and fled to exile in London.
The kingdom was abolished and its properties taken over by the central government, with the kingdom’s headquarters becoming an army barracks. That was in 1966.
In 1971 when Amin turned against Obote and overthrew him, he got Israel to build an armoury near the former headquarters of Buganda Kingdom, and it is at this armoury where untold torture, according to accounts of survivors and writings on walls of caves. took place. Buganda Kingdom’s headquarters are located in Kampala, the capital of Uganda.
While announcing the decision to convert the cave into a site for ‘dark tourism’, as the kingdom has dubbed it, Kyewalabye Male, Buganda Kingdom minister for tourism, said: “Many Ugandans were tortured and lost their lives in there. The victims were mainly those who advised Amin against atrocities or those perceived to be Obote’s supporters.”
Buganda Kingdom was only reinstated by President Yoweri Museveni in 1993. But its powers were considerably reduced.
A number of its properties that were confiscated in the 1960s have since been restored to it, and it has a king, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, a prime minister and a cabinet. It also has considerable potential for tourism in its cultural sites, some built in the 1800s, to which it is looking to add Amin’s torture cave.
-0- PANA EM/AR 14Apr2019