The Japanese ambassador to Uganda H.E Junzo Fujita has today announced that their government is to contribute US$60,000 (about Shs1.6 billion) towards the restoration of Kasubi tombs.
The Japanese architects today meant with Buganda Kingdom’s committee in-charge of the reconstruction of the Kasubi tombs.
The Japanese are providing funding and expertise in incorporating modern firefighting equipment into traditional 13 century architecture.
The Japanese firefighting method entails discreet heat sensors inside the tomb structures connected to sprinklers in trenches on the outside.
The Buganda Kingdom reconstruction committee led by their chairman, Mr Owek. Kaddu Kiberu showed the Japanese Ambassador around the construction site.
The Kingdom’s Premier, Charles Peter Mayiga said the reconstruction is going on with advice and some funding from the Japanese Government and UNESCO.
So far, the main structure of the Kasubi Tombs, the Muzibu Azaala Mpanga, is ready for re – thatching.
The Muzibu-Azaala-Mpanga was built as Mutesa I’s palace in 1882. It became a royal mausoleum in 1884. It was modified by Chwa II in 1938.
The architects who are advising on the innovative fighting methods include Sebastian Moriset, Karen Baker, Prof. Nito, Junichi Hasegawa and Shijeru Sugusawa.
They are experts in construction using vegetal materials. They have also documented the traditional materials used in construction.
At the meeting, Mr Sugusawa explained to Buganda delegates the importance of fire prevention and firefighting efforts in restoration of traditional sites.
The site is the major spiritual centre for the Baganda where traditional and cultural practices have been preserved. The Kasubi Tombs are the most active religious place in the kingdom, where rituals are frequently performed. Its place as the burial ground for the previous four kings (Kabakas) qualifies it as a religious centre for the royal family, a place where the Kabaka and his representatives carry out important rituals related to Buganda culture. The site represents a place where communication links with the spiritual world are maintained.
Four royal tombs now lie within the Muzibu Azaala Mpanga, the main building, which is circular and surmounted by a dome. It is a major example of an architectural achievement in organic materials, principally wood, thatch, reed, wattle and daub. The site’s main significance lies, however, in its intangible values of belief, spirituality, continuity and identity.