The Nakayima Tree-Culture-Legends-Traditional Beliefs
The Nakayima Tree in Mubende is locally called the Nakayima Witch’s Tree.
The Nakayima Tree in Mubende is a Cultural Heritage Site where the Traditional Beliefs of the old are still practiced today. It is a must-visit Cultural Heritage Site for those interested in traditionally African Cultural Ways. It is also a revered site by several Ugandan Ethnic Groups, including the Baganda. Its beginning goes back to the area’s early history, including the mythical Chwezi Dynasty.
The Nakayima Tree is located on Mubende Hill off the Kampala-Fort portal Road. It is a short distance of four kilometers from the town of Mubende, and it is a perfect stopover to or from Kibale Forest and a beautiful place for a picnic lunch.
The perfect stop on the way to or from Kibale Forest. The ancient Nakayima Witch’s Tree, as it is called, is estimated to be 400 to 600 years old. Its unique root system catches your eye as you approach the tree.
Over the years, the tree has formed nooks and fissures. Today, there are spaces in the tree called rooms dedicated to Ddahula, Nalongo Jajja Mukasa, Jajja Musoke, and Kilunda. The tree with its rooms is an unusual but quite impressive sight.
Presently, the Nakayima Tree is a traditional belief and cultural site, and it is located on a flat table-like top with scenic views of the area. The site is believed to have been a fort for the Chwezi dynasty in Uganda from 1350 -to 1400.
This area was the residence of Nakayima, a Princess to Ndahura, the last King of the Chwezi empire. She came here during a Smallpox outbreak, and she is still celebrated as the one who healed the suffering people in the area and way beyond. Princess Nakayima is the subject of legends and tales that have been handed down orally by wandering storytellers and elders in villages far and wide. Legends are still being repeated to this day, drawing people to the Nakayima Tree even during the present time.
The Nakayima Tree – was not created to be a tourism site, and it is an authentic, practicing cultural and traditional Belief Site. A place where many come each day seeking answers to their problems. Notables such as President Yoweri K. Museveni and his wife Janet and Kabaka Ronald Mutebi have visited the site and shown their respect, each in their way and tradition.
You will not find many other tourists here. However, you will be welcomed and guided back in time by a knowledgeable person who will introduce you to the ways and traditions of the Nakayima Tree of Mubende. An appropriate donation is almost obligatory, allowing your driver-guide to handle it.
The Nakayima Tree remains a traditional cultural shrine for many Ugandans who come from far and wide, including the President of Uganda and the traditional leader of the Buganda Kingdom, the Kabaka (King)Ronald Edward Frederick Kimera Muwenda Mutebi II.
The Nakayima Tree in Mubende – a Must-Visit Cultural Heritage Site
The Nakayima Tree is believed to be a sacred tree by many in the surrounding area and far beyond. This ancient tree awaits you along with its keepers, spirit priestesses. Locally they are called witches, and people with needs seek them out.
The requests brought to the tree range from physical ailments to wanting to bear children. There is even the Spirit of the hunt, where offerings are brought before someone goes out to hunt. It is a place for those looking for a miracle in relationships and good fortune. They come and pay respect and appeal to the spirits past and present, the living medium at the Nakayima Tree.
They bring offerings from cash to beer. The witches or witch doctors will smoke special pipes. The smoke is supposed to allow them to communicate with the spirit world. Often wafts of smoke drift to those seeking a miracle, including Tourists and other Visitors.
A visit here is a window into the paradox of devout Christian and Muslims attending their houses of prayer and worship on Friday or Sunday. Then during the week, return to the traditional and cultural ways of old. Faith is a blend of the two, even with Westerners who go to Church on Sunday and see a Tarot Card Reader on Monday.
In the Kiganda Traditional Beliefs, which is the Religion of the Baganda. There is Katonda, and he is god and the creator who allows people to live life as they want it. In Mubende, at the Nakayima Tree, people will hang on to tradition. At the same time, an embrace of religions. Islam and Christianity were brought to Uganda by Arabs and Westerners.
You will have a well-versed guide on the history, legends, and myths of what some consider the Sacred Nakayima Tree. He will explain the different spirits people appealed to by people from the Bunyoro Buganda Kingdoms that continue today.
The guide will take you around the tree and show you the various rooms and large crevices in the tree’s large roots. “Of these, there are four rooms for Ndahura, some for Nnalongo Jajja Mukasa, two for Jajja Musoke and Kilunda.”
Whatever one hears while visiting the Witch’s Tree at Mubende must be heard and seen in the context of local traditions. Keep in mind that legends were passed on orally and not written down in much of Africa’s history. When it comes to the Nakayima Tree, there are various stories and myths passed down, and below is just one of them.
The various legends of the Banyoro and Baganda tell of a traditional ritual site that had been on Mubende Hill since the earliest rulers of Bunyoro-Kitara. Excavations seem to verify that such a traditional religious site existed.
There was a settlement long before the ancient dynasty of Bito rulers of Bunyoro-Kitara. Following the local traditions and stories and legends of the Banyoro and Baganda, tell of a ritual site on Mubende Hill since the earliest rulers of Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom. The function that this traditional ritual center played was an important one.
Before the Bachweezi Kingdom in the Bito line of kings, a Muhima sorceress called Kamawenge. Mubende Hill initially knew that she came from Butiti (now in Toro) to settle in Kisozi. Her two sons became the local leaders of the hilltop center, gaining some importance far and wide.
Later, the place became a residence for the Bachweezi’s most exceptional leader, Ndaula, also called Ndahura.
Small Pox came and visited the land. The Bachweezi’s Kindom’s influence over the Hima pastoralists collapsed. The clan’s power waned, and the new dynasty of Bito rulers came into being. The Ritual Center and residence of the Bachweezi King came to be known as Mubende, meaning “there is another one.” Not another person or ruler but a complete change in the ruling power of the broader area of now Uganda.
Mubende Hill reverted to its original status as the abode of a sorceress, but with a difference. The memory of Ndaula, the Muchweezi leader who had become defied as the god of smallpox, was perpetuated here. At the site of his compound, through this woman. She assumed the name of Ndaula’s wife, Nakayima. She was also referred to as Nyakahima.
Every successive priestess has been better known by this title rather than by her name. It was so to the demise of the last holder, Nyanjara, in 1907.
In a nutshell – what most will agree upon – A princess called Nakayima resided there. Her greatest miracle was said to be the prevention and cure of smallpox. She consulted the highest and the lowest people about fertility and general ills. As you will see during your visit here, the traditions continue today, as people come with their ailments to find a cure for them.
If you spoke to those who flock here searching for a miracle, you would find that many of them might be Christians or Muslims but still revert to traditional ways when all else fails.
Let us know if you want to include the Nakayima Tree in Mubende on your Safari.