A Cry For Our Beloved Capital City – Kampala’s Good, The Bad and the Ugly!

Posted March 12, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Events ~ 6,747 views


By Ronnie Mayanja, KAMPALA | Founded years ago, Kampala was King Muteesa 1’s favorite hunting ground, that was made up of several hills and wetlands that were quite ideal for wild game hunting most especially a family of antelopes called Impala, the Baganda eager to add new vocabulary to the luganda language translated ‘the hill of the impala’ to kasozi ‘ka’ mpala’. So whenever the King left his palace to go and hunt his favorite game, royal courtiers would say “the Kabaka has gone to Kampala to hunt”, hence the modern day name for which ‘Kampala’ is now known worldwide. Later it was the missionaries led by Sir Fredrick Lugard in 1890 who built a Fort at Old Kampala for the Imperial British East African Company, this same fort was to become the headquarters of Uganda’s colonial administration.

Over the years Kampala has been transformed both in shape and size as new structures have been added to the city made up of five boroughs that oversee local planning namely Kampala Central, Kawempe division, Nakawa division, Makindye division and Lubaga division.

This year I chose to return home to Uganda after enjoying a white Christmas in Boston. Of course upon arrival I was greeted with intense heat that January offers but many of locals seemed un-bothered by the dry heat and dust.

And as we set off driving back along Entebbe road to Kampala I couldn’t help but notice the changes that the dry spell was bringing onto this once ever green terrain. Evidently while flying over Kampala, the whole city had looked dusty and dry from the skies during our final descent to Entebbe. There is always a nolstagic feeling that grips we people living in the diaspora as we approach the final leg of their journey home. But also the grim reality of what awaits you you is never so distant and so very soon it was back to reality.

It was not long before piles of un-collected garbage started to appear, animals that graze in the middle of streets and of course traffic jams, portholes, lack of parking spaces, that has now forced many to resort to boda bodas that weave through the traffic maze like magic.

Of course years ago the Uganda Transport Company or UTC as it was commonly called had collapsed forcing those in the private sector to resort to the importation of personal mini-vans or ‘Kamunyes’ that now dominate Kampala’s roads ferrying many of the working population in and out of Kampala.

Shanty towns and slums dot some of Kampala’s suburbs with a few sky scrappers that have sprang up in last 20 years of stability. Some have actually wondered whether the many developments that spring up in and around Kampala are part of a blue print or grand plan of the city to help guide the hap-hazard developments on the rise. This is why the mayoral race and those in running should be scrutinized and their manifestos evaluated for the best solution to many of Kampala’s woes.

Kampala desperately needs a new direction at city hall and our technocrats need to come up with
a grand master plan to help de-congest our city or simply move the capital as has been recommended
by those who see no space for future developments in the remaining space. The latter having been done in Nigeria when the capital was moved from Lagos to Abuja in Central Nigeria.

The plan to appoint a new Chief Executive for the city is a welcomed gesture only if this position is not filled by another failed politician who get’s rewarded for his or her loyalty to the party in government. The same way I applaud the residents of Makindye division for electing a ‘muzungu’ Irish Ugandan Dr. Ian Clarke as the change they needed in their borough, we need to set politics aside and appoint those leaders that will help improve our livelyhood.

Some might say what makes Kampala unique or special are those things we all know about the city and for which little or no change ever takes place. I am reminded of story a friend once told of the most abused sign in Kampala city ‘Tofuka wano’ [Don’t urinate here] always the opposite did happen and in such areas you would be greeted with a heavy stench of urine and all the usual biological warfare that comes with it.

Others argue that moving the city or changing it’s location would kill those aspects that makes it uniquely the most happening city in East Africa with a vibrant social life. It’s no wonder so many artists both young and old have composed and written several songs expressing their love for this City.

Hopefully the few remaining city public parks will survive the new craze of getting dished out to would be investors that are expanding on Kampala’s ever growing list of new hotels and shopping malls. It is near to possible to secure a plot of land in Kampala today and those available cost over a million dollars plus.

The lack of a proper garbage disposal system, the absence of recycling plants for polythene bags/plastic bottles, failure to plant new trees, a blocked drainage system that often leads to city floods in and around Nakivubo channel and a lack of a proper sewer system to help treat the city sewage and its growing population all point to the looming dangers that lie ahead if our city planners and politicians continue to play politics instead of improving on the service delivery.

We desperately need a national campaign that aims at keeping our city clean and also introduce the imposition of heavy fines on those who litter the city. I propose the introduction of a Patriotic day among all the citizens of Kampala, that way we can put an end to the confusion that dogs much of the city and its five boroughs. We should not wait for Kigali to lead the way, we too can rise from the ashes and turn our capital city into the envy of African continent…

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.



    It is very wrong to imply that the name “Kampala” came from the game Impala that inhabited the land where Kampala now stands.

    Do you think that natives used to call those animals Impala? Or that they could add “Ka” to any English name? is there any similar instance?

    Kampala came from the Basoga who used to fear the animals (Leopard) in Lusoga called “empala” that feed on the abundant game. They feared the hill that the leopards used to rest on, “Akasozi ka mpala”. If you had check Nsimbi’s book about the names of Buganda you would have better informed about the name Kamapala.


    there several books that actually supprt Ronnie assumptions that the name came from “Impala”. that said wouldn’t it be nice to also discuss teh state of our town or call it a city? whatever the origins of the name – our city is roting and something need to happen. tomorrow we are voting for the mayor and hope we do a good job at it and get people who can clean the place. at the moment we just need a clean city and then we can start thinking about widenning roads, flyover, city airports, etc, am hearing people talking about. The least we can do is to clear what we have first of all…

    Mabel Musoke

    We need to join hands as a nation by intoducing policies to keep the city clean. Its not only the mayor’s Job but citizens can make small changes too by not throwing litter every where on the streets. Clean city means happy and healthy people. Thank you


    Who of you folks has seen an Impala in Uganda? more-less in Kampala? Entebbe zoo? Any one?

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