By Spy Uganda Correspondent
The site of the Tombs of the Buganda Kings in Kasubi, Uganda is being removed from Unesco’s World Heritage in Danger List, the organisation ammounced on Tuesday.
The World Heritage Committee, which is meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia until 25 September, made the decision after successful restoration work carried out by Uganda with Unesco’s support.
The Tombs of the Kings of Buganda at Kasubi are inscribed on Unesco’s World Heritage List and suffered a huge fire in 2010.
Due to the significant damage to the site, it was placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, which enabled reconstruction to begin.
The plan was led by the Ugandan authorities, carried out in close collaboration with Unesco and with the financial support of the international community.
By this summer, the reconstruction programme was complete and the site deemed to be in a good state of conservation.
“This reconstruction is a collective success: the success of the Ugandan authorities, the Ugandan heritage professionals and the local communities who were at the heart of the process have succeeded,” said Audrey Azoulay, director general of Unesco.
“This is also excellent news for the entire international community, as our common priority is that African heritage is better represented on the World Heritage List.”
The World Heritage Committee praised the reconstruction of the Muzibu Azaala Mpanga, the main funeral building, and the restoration of the Bujjabukala, the guardian’s house.
The introduction of a sophisticated fire-fighting system and the training of volunteer firefighters from the local community to prevent a tragedy like the damage to the site caused by the blaze in 2010 from recurring were also noted by the committee.
The committee also congratulated the Prime Minister (the Katikkiro) of Buganda on the important work being done by local communities to pass on traditional skills to younger generations, and on efforts to include all inhabitants of the kingdom in the reconstruction process.
The tombs of the Buganda kings at Kasubi cover almost 30 hectares of hills in the Kampala district and were inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List in 2001.
Most of the site is farmland, cultivated using traditional methods.
Its centre, at the top of the hill, is the former palace of the Kabakas of Buganda, built in 1882 and transformed into a royal cemetery in 1884.
Four royal tombs are located in the Muzibu Azaala Mpanga, the main building, which is circular in plan and topped by a dome.
It is an important example of architecture using organic materials – wood, thatch, reeds and plaster in particular.
As well as being important for its architecture, it is a major spiritual centre for the Baganda people.
Key to the preservation of their beliefs and identity, it is a place in which traditional and cultural practices have been kept alive.
The purpose of the List of World Heritage in Danger is to raise awareness of the threats to the outstanding universal value of a property inscribed on the World Heritage List, and to mobilise all stakeholders to take action to save it.
Inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger prompts the development of a dedicated action plan and opens the door to international financial aid.