Luggo: Buganda’s Magical Forest that Serves the Royal Mace

Buganda Kingdom will on 31st of July celebrate its Coronation Anniversary. The Kingdom has many items that leaves it unique before the rest of the world. Entebbe Post brings you some of these.

The Ssese Islands are commonly known as the Islands of the Gods. The lush hidden 84 islands are located in the archipelago annex the Bukoba Islands in Tanzania and South West of Entebbe. The Islands cover 9066 square miles amongst which 432.1 square miles are of land while the rest is water.

It’s Distance as measured from the main Island (Buggala) to Entebbe – Nakiwogo where the ferry docks is of 60 nautical miles. Almost any Island towards Kalangala signifies a principal in the Ssese culture and dialect most of which are covered with rocks and thick rain forests.

Any Katikkiro (Buganda Prime Minister) assuming office is given a stick commonly known as the royal mace as an instrument of power to help the King on the throne administer his kingdom. The recent incoming Kingdom Prime Minister Charles Peter Mayiga faced a crowd of people who witnessed his assuming of office as the Kabaka handled him the mace (Ddamula) to administer officially the Kingdom of Buganda.

The new Katikkiro given the royal mace (Ddamula stick) should keep it secure and secretly so as to remain in his hands, failure to do so, he/she does not possess the Instruments of power and is not fit to be a Katikkiro.

Ddamula is picked from a tree called Ddamula that is only situated in Luggo forest, Buswa Village along Mulabana Road, Bujumba Sub County in the Ssese Islands.

Luggo is a 5 acre privately owned forest surrounded by oil palm plantations. It has few and Unique tree species in it. It is privately owned by Ssegaluma Samuel. “The 5 acre situation of the forest is a preserve for my love for culture and heritage.” said Ssegaluma, the care taker of the forest.

The forest is a source of tourism revenue since many tourists are moved to know more of the Ddamula tree. A caretaker Samuel Ssegaluma is tasked with taking tourists around to show the tree whose specie is only found in the forest.

“At least 90 tourists flock the forest asking questions on whether they could take a branch for replanting in personal homes. What is funny is that many of them cannot believe that they Ddamula tree is only found in Luggo.” Ssegaluma says

Part of Luggo Forest

Residents in the nearby areas of Buswa and Kamwanyi use the forest as a source of firewood since they have limited access to trees that were cut down for oil palm growing. Many big and old tree species have been cut down for timber in different forests within the archipelago.

Ssegaluma however vowed to punish any person found red handed cutting down trees or encroaching on the land Since there isn’t security to guard the forest “Any person found there illegally, shall face it rough, this will become a shame that during my time, this forest was cut down” he said

The norms for the royal mace to be cut down from the forest are after the loss of the previous Ddamula stick “This reminds me of how for Buganda Katikkiro Joash Mayanja Nkangi kept the royal mace safely when Obote abolished all monarchies in Uganda. If it was lost, it would be a sign that he had failed his duties” Said Ssese Ssaza chief Fr Christopher Walusimbi.

The forest (Luggo) and the tree (Ddamula) in particular are a symbol of the uniqueness the Ssese County has in the Kingdom. According to the Ssese Ssaza Chief, Christopher Walusimbi says, these among many other cultural sites are rich in Buganda heritage.

“For all shrines in the Islands especially the Wanema Shrine on Bukasa Island double as tourist’s attraction and Buganda’s heritage sites. The disturbing part is that Buganda Kingdom doesn’t benefit from the tourism earning got from the forests.” He said

Surprisingly, many residents in the in the area know what the forest is a preserve but many still continue to cut down trees for firewood, area chairperson Meddie Kayondo acknowledged the fact that it is a forest that herbs many Buganda cultures but had to let residents get firewood to cook food for survival.

“Firewood is something basic that any Ugandan living remotely would love to have. It doesn’t mean we are cutting down the whole forest to demise” he said

Katindigwa Clan is that among the many clans in the Kingdom with authority to look after the forest that should be situated on a square mile of land. It should also prepare the royal mace (Ddamula stick) for a newly Katikkiro in case the old stick is lost.

“The stick is prepared by the Katindigwa Clan in case the old mace is lost due un avoidable circumstances.” said the Ssaza Chief Fr. Christopher Walusimbi. “When the Katikkiro is leaving office, he hands over the Stick (Instrument of power) back to Kabaka who delegates it to another Katikkiro that he may appoint on merit” he said

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