The Nakayima Tree-Experience Traditional Beliefs Practiced Today

Posted by on January 16, 2017

Ancient Traditional Beliefs still practiced in the 21st Century under the Nakayima Tree

Cultural Heritage Site – Traditions live on at The Nakayima Tree Shrine – called Locally the Witch’s Tree


The Nakayima Tree Cultural Site -Traditional Beliefs Practiced.  It is just three hours from The Nakayima TreeKampala and at the Beginning of the Crater Lake Trail which begins on the way to Kibale Forest.You can miss the site unless you turn off at Mubende and journey up the mountain to the to top where it is flat as a table top with great scenic views all around you, another reason for a visit this cultural heritage site in Uganda.

You can have our Tour Guide drive you there, or you can make it a hike up the hill with great scenery, villages, gardens and shambas. A most rewarding hike that most anyone can do.

The Nakayima Tree – was often bypassed by visitors to Uganda, but more and more are making the choice to come, see and learn from those who still practice the ways of old.

The Nakayima Tree an experiential Cultural Heritage Site


The Sacred Nakayima TreeThe Sacred Nakayima Tree, said to be between 450 and 600 years old awaits you along with its keepers, spirit priestesses, called locally witches and then there are those with needs from physical ailments, wanting to bear children, looking for a miracle in relationships or good fortune come and pay respect, appeal to the spirits past and present, the living medium there.  They bring offerings from Cash to beer, they smoke special pipes to communicated with the spirit world, one does not always know whether it is tobacco or ganja (marijuana) but wafts of smoke drift from those seeking a miracle to others including Tourists and other Visitors.

A visit here is a window into the paradox of a devout Christian and Muslim attending their houses of prayer and worship on Friday or Sunday and turn back to the traditional and cultural ways of old.  Faith here is a blend of the two as it is even with Westerners who go to Church on Sunday and see a Tarrot Card Reader on Monday.

In the Kiganda Traditional Beliefs – which is the Religion of Buganda. There is Katonda the creator who does not interfere much with the people and then there the semi-deities who deal with daily living, there is the spirit world and ancestral spirits, things that should have been set aside for Christians and Muslims, if you however dig a bit deeper in the rural areas of Uganda such as Mubende  you will find a hanging onakayima-shrine-page-2n to tradition and at the same time an embrace of religions brought to Uganda by Arabs and Westerners.

You will have a guide well versed in the history, legends and myth of what some consider the Sacred Nakayima Tree, explain the different spirits that are appealed to by people from the Bunyoro and Buganda Kingdoms that continue even today.

The guide will take you around the tree and show the 18 rooms, which are 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 reads, hears while visiting the Witch’s Tree at Mubende, one must keep in mind that in much of Africa history, events, legends were passed on orally and not written down, when it comes to the Nakayima Tree there are various stories that you might come across, below is just one of them.

The various legends of the Banyoro and Baganda tell of a traditional ritual site that had beem on Mubende Hill since the earliest rulers of Bunyoro-Kitara, Excavations seem to verify that such traditional religious site existed.

There was a settlement long before the  ancient dynasty of Bito rulers of Bunyoro-Kitara.  In accordance with local traditions and stories and legends of the Banyoro and Baganda tell of a ritual site having been on Mubende Hill since the earliest rulers of Bunyoro-Kitara, the nakayima-shrine-page-3function that this traditional ritual center played was important one. Even before t the Bachweezi ruling clan, the predecessors of the Bito line of kings, a Muhima sorceress called Kamawenge came from Butiti (now in Toro) to settle on Kisozi, as Mubende Hill was originally known. Her two sons became the local leaders with the hill-top center gaining some importance far and wide. Later, the place became a residence  for the Bachweezi  greatest leader, Ndaula, also called Ndahura.

Small Pox came and visited the land and 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.

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, also referred to as Nyakahima, and every successive priestess has been better known by this title rather than by her own name up to the time of the demise of the last holder, Nyanjara, in 1907.

In Nutshell – what most will agree upon – A princess called Nakayima resided at this place, and her greatest power was said to be the prevention and cure of smallpox. She was consulted by both the highest and the lowest people about fertility and general ills and the traditions continues to this day as you will see during your visit here, as people even bring replicas of their ailment to find a cure for them


If you would like to include the Nakayima Tree at Mubende in your Safari – let us know