Situated on 7 rolling hills some 10km inland of the lake, Kampala, the economic and social hub of Uganda, is the archetypal African capital, more verdant than many of its counterparts, not quite so populous or chaotic as others, but essentially the familiar juxtaposition of a bustling compact high-rise city centre rising from a leafy suburban sprawl, increasingly organic in appearance as one reaches its rustic periphery.
Facts and Figures
Nicknames: K’la, The Happy City, The City That Never Sleeps, Pearl of Africa (For Uganda too)
Languages: English (main) Kiswahili, Luganda
Size: 180.1 sq kilometers
Division: Kampala Central Division
Environment: Kampala is one of the greenest cities in the world with acres of green areas. There is no a problem of air pollution, the air quality is always good through the year.
Governance: The Kampala Capital City Authority is the main administrative body that manages the city. It’s headed by the Executive Director, the city also has a mayor. Kampala is also the seat of parliament of Uganda, state house and all government ministries.
NB: Uganda won its freedom from the United Kingdom on October 9, 1962. Ugandans celebrate Independence Day as a public holiday each October 9.
Initially Mutesa I, the Kabaka (King) of Buganda chose the area that was to become Kampala as one of his favorite hunting grounds. The area was made up of hills and wetlands. It was an ideal breeding ground for various wild animals, particularly a species of antelope, and the impala, in whose name the city was named Kampala (the area of Impalas).
The city grew as the capital of the Buganda kingdom, from which several buildings survive, including the Kasubi Tombs (built in 1881), the Lubiri Palace, the Buganda Parliament and the Buganda Court of Justice. Severely damaged in the Uganda-Tanzania War, the city has since then been rebuilt with constructions of new buildings including hotels, banks, shopping malls, educational institutions, hospitals and improvement of war torn buildings and infrastructure.
Traditionally, Kampala was a city of seven hills, but over time it has come to have a lot more.Kampala was initially built on seven hills, although this is now the city has spread over several hills and villages beyond Kampala boundaries. The earliest 7 hills that make up Kampala include;
Old Kampala Hill, (also known as Old Kampala), the hill of the Impala is where the ruins of Lugard’s Fort are. Its also the seat of one of Africa’s biggest mosque (Gadaffi Mosque).
Lubaga Hill, where the Rubaga Catholic Cathedral is, and was the headquarters of the White Fathers.
Namirembe Hill, home to the Namirembe Anglican Cathedral. The Protestants were the first of the Christian Missions to arrive.
Mengo Hill, is where the present Lubiri (Kabaka’s Palace) is and the Headquarters of the Buganda Court of Justice and of the Lukiiko, Buganda’s Parliament (Bulange).
Nakasero Hill, This hill houses the State house for the president of the republic of Uganda and is reserved for public administration.
Kololo Hill, is a reserved and preferred residence for the top Government officials and those that hold high and top jobs in the country including the Rich and Foreigners.
Makerere Hill, is reserved for the highest institution of learning and the most prestigious university in East Africa (Makerere University) and Mulago neighboring it as the epitome of public health (the national referral hospital).
Kampala is the capital and largest city of Uganda. The city is divided into five boroughs that oversee local planning: Kampala Central Division, Kawempe Division, Makindye Division, Nakawa Division, and Rubaga Division. Surrounding Kampala is the rapidly growing Wakiso District
These days, Kampala is practically unrecognisable from the dire incarnation of the mid 1980s. The main shopping area along Kampala Road might be that of any African capital, while the edge of the city centre has seen the development of a clutch of bright, modern supermarkets and shopping malls. The area immediately north of Kampala Road, where foreign embassies and government departments rub shoulders with renovated tourist hotels, is as smart as any part of Nairobi or Dar es Salaam. Admittedly it’s a different story downhill of Kampala Road where overcrowded backstreets, congested with hooting minibus-taxis and swerving boda-boda drivers, reveal a more representative face of Kampala the city as most of its residents see it.
Kampala is not only smarter than it used to be but considerably larger. These days it covers almost 200km² as the population has risen from 330,000 in 1969 to at least 1.65 million inhabitants today a figure easily ten times greater than any other town in Uganda.
Best Time to Visit Kampala
If you’re looking for ideal weather, the best time to visit Kampala is between May and September as well as December to February with average temperatures in the low 20’s.
However, Kampala generally has the nicest temperature all through the year with low precipitation and humidity. This also makes for the perfect game viewing in the National Parks, as animals concentrate around the local water bodies.
What you shouldn’t miss while on a Tour in Kampala
The Buganda Royal Mengo Palace: This is the former home to the king of Buganda and this was constructed in 1885 and is still an important political and religious building. The interior cannot be visited due to hidden reasons but the underground old prison operates daily tours that are worth trying out.
By Emmanuel Gambarombo