Fondly known as the green city in the sun, Kampala commercial and administrative capital of Uganda. Spread over more than twenty hills, it is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa.
Its architecture is a mixture of the modern, the colonial and the Indian. Its roads are its two million inhabitants.
Sitting at an altitude of 1,180m above sea level, it enjoys pleasant weather, with annual temperatures averaging 17 degrees Celsius (minimum) and 27 degrees Celsius (maximum).
To the south is Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest fresh water lake and the source of the longest river in the world, the River Nile.
The history of Kampala, like that of many other cities in the world, is wrapped in both folklore and historical facts.
According to folklore, swamps and hills dominated much of the area where it presently stands.
This made it an ideal habitat for Impala and other members of the antelope family. The animals grazed on the slopes of the hills and came down to the swamps for water. The palace of the Kabaka (king) of Buganda, located on the landscape rich in Impala herds. The king thus turned it into his hunting grounds.
Folklore merged with history when the British Empire builders arrived at the end of the 19th century.
“Impala” was the English name for that particular antelope family. So the British referred to the area as the “hill of the Impala”, which the Baganda translated into Luganda as “kasozi k’empala” and eventually “kampala”. Kasozi means hill.
So whenever the kabaka left the palace to go hunting his favorite game, royal courtiers would say “the kabaka has gone to Kampala to hunt”, thus the name was born.
The tag “the hill of the Impala”, however, specifically referred to the hill on which colonial victory, Captain Fredrick Lugard, of the Imperial British East African Company, established base in 1890.
Now known as Old K’la, this hill would be the administrative headquarters of the company (and Uganda) until 1894 when the administrative headquarters of the British Protectorate were transferred to Entebbe.
In 1962 upon attainment of independence, it regained its status as the capital of Uganda. From a small hamlet occupying 19 square kilometers, it had spread to seven hills by the time of independence, earning the tag “city of seven hills”.
The original seven hills are: Mengo, Rubaga, Namirembe, Makerere, Kololo, Nakasero, and Kampala (Old K’la).
Today, greater Kampala stands on at least 21 hills. We take you through the prominent hills that form the modern day capital and their signature to the city’s political and socio-economic life, starting with the original seven.
What to see
The Kasubi tombs – where the remains of the Kings of Buganda were buried Uganda, Namugongo Martyrs Shrine, Baha’i Temple, Local Markets, Uganda Museum, Nommo art gallery, National Theatre, Cathedrals – Rubaga and Namirembe, Parliament of Uganda (and Independence monument).