Bunyoro Sites and Sounds-Karuziika Royal Palace



By; Atwoki Allan Bamuha (Owek)


Karuziika Royal Palace is one of the oldest palace still in existence in Uganda in particular and on the African continent at large. In the ancient times the palace had to be built facing the direction where the sun sets and this was the custom from the reign of late Omukama Isingoma Rukidi Mpuuga.


Karuziika Royal Palace derives the beautiful name from the the Kings servant who once build the the Karuziika main Shrine (House for the King), the servant was called Karuziika thus becoming a continuous name for the later palaces built in the consequent reign of other kings up to date


Karuziika Royal Palace it is supposed to be the biggest shrine in the palace but due to the modern times it is a well modern built storied facility, how ever other houses (shrines) have been maintained in the format of the ancient structure architectural plan.


There are over 400 shrines supposed to be dotted around the Karuziika Royal Palace housing various spirits and artifacts but some have become extinct in terms of functionality due to the Government national programs eg there are some shrines which belonged to Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom army (Abarusura) commanders like one of Nyakamatura it is no longer functional since the security of the Omukama is now handled by the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces and Bunyoro no longer exercise the duty of protecting her territories this is done by the government


Some of the shrines along side the Karuziika Palace building do include but not limited to the following Kabagarama, Rwengo, Kadebede, Kapeka, Icwamitwe, Kaitabadoma, Munkambi, Bakutumaki, Kapanapa, Kasenda, Kidoka, Kihukya, Kacwabwemi, Rwenyana, Karuhonko, Kabarwaire, Kyambukya, Kyokya, Ibandiro, Rwababiito, Kitoogo, Mucwa, Kamurweya-Kacwa magosi, Rwemigo, Mugabante etc.


There were other halls which were like courts including, Rwabagara, Kaiyohya, Barwara, Kyarubanga, Binyonyi, Kitanga Mucwa as explained below


Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom had arms of governance and amongst this was the Army (Abarusura) there are various commanders who had specific command posts in form of shrines dotted along the Palace Karuziika these included the following


Ekirwana, this specific command post or shrine was under the saza chief and Commader called Ireeta, the son of Byangombe and he was charged with the defense of the Congo border


Ekihambya, this was under fierce Commander Rwabudongo and he was the treasurer during the reign of the Omukama Kabalega he has one the best and accomplished commanders fully trusted by Kabalega, earlier during the battles to ascend to the throne Rwabudongo played an important role thus become one of the Kings most favorite personality.


Ekigwera, it was under Commander Kabagambe the son of Itera , this was charged with the defense of Busoga Bukidi and Buganda


Ekiporopyo, this was led by the Commander Kajura of the Badoli clan but this particular commander was killed during a certain was with the Baganda known as the Benga war


Ekihukya, it was under Commander Rusongoza son of Byontabara and later on under Muhenda Ruhanika son of Komubigo


Ekikabya, it was under commander Rukara son Kabaseke


Ekidoka it was under Commander Kyamuhangire Ruhimbya son of Majara


Ekibangya, this was first led under commander katalikabu son of Byamu and when he was discharged from the army his battalion was given to Rwansambya


Ekibanja, this was under Saza Chief and commander Kikukule son of Runego, it was charged with the defense of the border between Buganda and Bugangaizi


Ekibale, this was under saza chief and commander Nyakamatura son of Nyakatura


Ekitalya this was under commander Kasabe son of Rujoimoza it was charged with the defense of Mwenge


Ekikweya, this was under commander Rwamukika but it was taken away from him and given to another commander Kiiza son of Iteka his chief


Ekitikya, this was under commander Kibego son of Mucokoco and then it was given to Bikanga Kahuzi son of Nyamugabwa


Ekisigura, this was under Mucokoco son of Ndiga


In the ancient Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom there were other strategic house of importance these included but not limited to the following


During Kabalegas reign there existed order and governance there existed Crowns bestowed up on the Kings servants who had excelled in given fields or as the King pleased in his own wisdom as the ruler of the Kingdom notably was;


Karamaire shrine, this belonged to the crown wearer or Omujwarakondo Kanagwa of the Bacwa Clan his crown was kept here and was the head of this shrine


Isingoma lya Kabus shrine, This was near the Mugabante shrine that is at the main entrance into the Palace, Isingoma lya Kabu Kondo or crown was kept here, he was the chief executioner of all the crown wearers or Abajwarakondo who went against the norms of being a crown wearer, he was from the Abatonezi Clan


Kisindizi shrine, This belonged to the Katongole ka Kitatu a crown wearer and his crown was kept here


In the Karuziika Royal Palace further existed some halls and preserved forests which used for meetings and also there were small forests preserved for some daily and ritualistic functions some are expounded below


Barwara forest, this was the Kings court infact a form of a preserved forest inside the royal Palace where he heard and settled case brough to him by his chiefs and those of his servants including the Bahuma etc


Bamwenagaho forest, this was yet another preserved forest where the King met the deligations sent notably from the Kabaka of Buganda and the Kyabazinga of Busoga


Binyonyi forest, this was the forest where the Omukama met the deligations from the territories of Madi Ganyi and Bulega (now in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo)


Kyamunuma forest, this was a major forest where the Omukama met the deligations from the territories of Ankore and Karagwe and it was at this particular forest that a great spear called Kaitantahi was kept and this was where the heirs of the crown wearers drunk there milk during the milk drinking rite when they were being confirmed as the true heirs of the their fallen fathers, at this particular forest the King too settled cases of heirs to the crown wearers


Munkambi forest, this was located at the back of the royal palace in front of Kaitabasiru house, inside this wood were kept the royal properties eg ivory shells bundles of backcloth and many other royal materials


Some of the important hall included the following;


Nyamagambo hall this particular hall was very cardinal and noise was never tolerated around it, it was used for secret talks, eg secret intelligence which would trickle in may of other Kingdom planning to attack, such intelligence reports would be delivered to the King at this particular hall Nyamagambo


Mucwa Hall belonged to the Chief princess or Batebe all distputes pertaining the royal princesses were settled here and punishments were also given here by the Batebe


Kyakato Hall. This belonged to the Kato Kimera who rebelled against his brother Isingoma Rukidi Mpuuga, Kimera was sent to Buganda to check on Muhwahwa County (now Buganda) when he reached there he only sent a message back that he would never return and that he had founded his own Kingdom thus becoming the first King of Buganda as opposed theories advance in Buganda that their first King was Kintu


Kitogo hall, just like Mucwa belonged to the chief Princess or Batebe, Kitogo also belonged to the Chief Prince also known as the Okwiri, he is the head prince, all cases pertaining the princes were settled here by the Okwiri and those which he couldn't handle were advance to the King for a fair judgment


Nsika, this was a room inside the Karuziika Royal Palace and its where the King rested to enjoy a drink of milk


Nyakoka Kasoire and Mugabante, were interrelated shrines at the entrance of the Royal Palace, Mugabante was the main gate of the Royal Palace where as Nyakoka and Kasoira were shrines which belonged to two royal diviners for the King


Kyambukya, its where a royal ritualistic chair called Kabwizi was kept this chair was used during the installation of the new King


Kabagarama, the King bathed and also washed his face at this particular shrine and also there was a second wife in this particular hall who slept there


Kapanapa was a shrine where one of the most important wives of the King stayed she was of the Baitira clan, she was the only wife who witnessed the taking of oath of the King together with other officials like the Bamuroga, Nyarwa, Nyakoka and Kasoira


Kamurweya forest, during the Empango celebrations it was at Kamurweya where the King beat the Royal drum 9 times after it had left the antihill or hakaswa


Kasenda shrine, this kept the Kings smoking pipe it was a smoking pipe with an iron handle, it at this point where Bamuroga or the chief minister or Omuhikirwa picked the pipe lite it and handed it to Kasoira the diviner who smoked it in front of the King signifying the power and divine given to him by Rukidi


Inside the Royal Palace there were rooms of importance like the dressing rooms rooms for eating and drinking etc as expunded below;


Mu nsika, in this room the King rested to enjoy the milk, this was the only room from where he drunk milk


Mwihundiro, in this particular room the King was beautified by his wives with beads and other assortments on the arms neck legs chest etc to appear all round royal


Engoma z'omukama, in this particular place was selected drums of the King each drum with a different functionality, all were kept here,


Nyamwaro, this is the official room and the most important where the throne chair is kept and it is in this room that the King seats at the helm as the King of Bunyoro no any other person can sit on this particular throne chair


Omwijwekero, this was a room also inside Karuziika Royal Palace where, the King changed clothes removing the old ones to put on the new ones assisted by his assistants and wives


Nyalebe, this was a room which kept a special drum call Nyalebe it was left behind by the Bachwezi it was one of the sacred rooms as the Bachwezi were presumed to still be present in the invisible form


Hamusanga, this was the door to Nyamyaro and below it was an ivory during the installation of the King once he jumped over it and went and sat on Nyamyaro it would be he is now fully fledged King, further during the Empango Celebration the Omukama must jump over it


Hamulyango, this was yet another door to the Nyamyaro and it was the last door for one to access the royal throne room


Kihango Ky'omukama, it is at this open room that the King was served food and enjoyed at peace and pleasure in the Kihango Ky'omukama


Orubindi Nyamusika, this was an inner room where the King too enjoyed food at peace and pleasure without disturbance from and other person


Icundiro, the Royal Milk and other drinks were processed here for the King to drink and the room all round clean


Kaizireokwera, this was yet another royal room that housed a royal chair called Kaizire okwera, while seated on this chair one of his wives brought a pot which is used to make milk butter and pointed it to the King signifying that it was left to her by her grand fathers

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