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Kabaka’s lake at risk of vanishing

A section of Kabaka's lake

A section of Kabaka's lake

Kabaka’s lake, situated in Ndeeba between Nabunya road and Ring road, stands as Uganda’s largest manmade lake, holding international recognition from UNESCO as one of the world’s heritage sites.

The lake carries a profound history that dates back to 1885 when its construction commenced under the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II. The primary motivation behind the lake’s construction was Kabaka Mwanga’s desire to establish a link between it and Lake Victoria, envisioning it as an escape route during the British armed conflicts.

Additionally, the king sought to create a connection between his palace and Lake Victoria, a place where he often indulged in his pastimes of fishing and swimming. Kabaka Mwanga was deeply committed to this project, to the extent that he actively participated in the excavations.

However, the endeavor encountered obstacles, and progress had only reached Najjankumbi when religious tensions erupted in the kingdom. This turmoil led to the execution of Christian martyrs by the king’s orders, resulting in his downfall before witnessing the realization of his vision. Kabaka Mwanga was subsequently exiled, and his son ascended to the throne.

Although the lake’s construction remained incomplete, a significant depression had been formed. Eventually, this void was filled with water from underground springs, resulting in the formation of the present-day Kabaka’s lake. Today, Kabaka’s lake holds a prominent place as one of Buganda’s most renowned cultural sites, attracting tourists eager to explore the rich cultural and historical heritage of the Buganda kingdom.

This underscores the vital importance of preserving historical sites for the benefit of future generations, allowing them to appreciate and cherish their heritage.


The charm of Kabaka’s lake has been meticulously preserved, with the added allure of a significant island gracing its center, providing picturesque vistas. This splendid water body is teeming with a diverse array of aquatic creatures, avian species and lush vegetation. Along its shores, one can observe numerous individuals engaged in substantial fishing activities.

Visitors to this site are offered the unique opportunity to embark on a locally managed boat ride, an experience that includes a visit to the petite island nestled within the heart of the lake. It’s worth noting, however, that during my three-day stay, I did not encounter any other visitors.

On the opposite side of the lake, the presence of Pope Paul VI Memorial and Jevine hotels adds to the magnificence of this cultural site. These establishments not only provide splendid accommodations but also offer a window into the rich history associated with the lake.

According to the Buganda Tourism Board, an agreement has been forged between these two hotels to develop the lakeside area, with the aim of attracting a higher number of tourists. Allan Kakembo, an official at the Buganda Tourism Board, emphasized that this agreement was established to ensure mutual benefits for both parties.

He explained, “The kingdom benefits in a way that when tourists express their desire to explore the lake, we can direct them to these hotels for exceptional site viewing.”

This collaborative effort not only enhances the appeal of Kabaka’s lake but also contributes to the broader goal of promoting tourism and showcasing the cultural heritage of the region to a wider audience.


Kabaka’s lake enjoys a strategically advantageous location, situated just five kilometers away from the heart of Kampala’s capital. It is conveniently positioned near the kingdom’s Lukiiko (parliament) and in close proximity to the Mengo palace, offering significant potential for attracting tourists and generating revenue for the kingdom.

Notably, many of the kingdom’s historical sites are diligently guarded and require payment for access. For instance, enjoying the serene ambiance of the Mengo palace gardens comes at a fee of Shs 1000, while gaining entry and taking a guided tour of the Mengo palace entails a fee of Shs 5,000, with an assigned tour guide providing insights into the palace’s rich history and various historical sites.

However, Kabaka’s lake presents a contrasting scenario. A substantial portion of the lake remains open to the public, accessible without the need for a tour guide. Local residents often narrate the lake’s stories, a practice that doesn’t contribute to revenue generation and costs the kingdom a significant amount of money.

Over the years, pledges have been made to revitalize the lake, enclose it with a protective fence, and capitalize on it as a revenue source for visitors. Unfortunately, these intentions have yet to materialize.

Kakembo disclosed that the kingdom harbors ambitions to develop the lake into a global tourist attraction.

“We have plans to enclose the entire lake to prevent direct access and potential pollution, and also introduce a fee for tourists,” he explained.

He further noted that the funds generated through these measures could be utilized by the kingdom, including financing the regular maintenance and cleaning of the lake. However, Allan Kakembo acknowledged that despite these plans, there is currently no physical progress underway at the lake.


The escalating challenges of rapid population growth and urbanization pose a substantial threat to the continued existence of Kabaka’s lake, a man-made marvel. The proliferation of multi-residential buildings, slum settlements, churches, washing bays, and motor garages in the vicinity has significantly contributed to the lake’s alarming pollution levels.

Notably, the release of oils, lubricants and various pollutants into the lake from these sources has had detrimental consequences. Human encroachment, particularly on the Ndeeba side where St. Lawrence University is situated, has transformed the once-pristine lake into a veritable dumping ground, profoundly affecting both its water levels and overall appearance.

On this side of the lake, numerous drainage channels directly discharge their contents into the lake without prior filtration, compounding the pollution issue. Adding to the predicament is a significant drainage channel connected to the lake, channeling water directly from Lubaga hill and its surrounding areas.

This channel carries a substantial load of dirty water, silt and refuse, depositing them directly into the lake. The unregulated inflow of polluted water and refuse has resulted in a marked drop in water levels and the reclamation of a substantial portion of the lake by dry land.

This reclaimed area now sees the cultivation of crops such as yams. Moreover, water weeds and algae have proliferated within the lake. Inquiries into the authorization for the construction of this drainage channel have yielded no definitive answers, leaving the responsibility unclear.

Residents such as Tony, locally known as Badman, who has been selling second-hand shoes near Kabaka’s lake for many years, have witnessed the transformation firsthand. He recalls a time when the water reached the shoreline, and water levels were significantly higher than they are today.

However, the influx of running water laden with silt and refuse has dramatically altered the landscape, leaving what was once submerged now as dry land. Tony voiced his concern about the deteriorating state of the lake and implored the kingdom authorities to take action, warning that if left unchecked, this cherished cultural site could be imperiled in the future.


David Kakette, a police officer stationed at the police post near Kabaka’s lake, acknowledges that the responsibility of safeguarding the lake and monitoring criminal activities in its vicinity has been entrusted to the police. He explains that this decision was prompted by past incidents of criminal activities, such as robberies and hooliganism, that used to plague the area.

While criminal activities have significantly diminished over time, the police still face challenges when it comes to apprehending individuals who contribute to the degradation of the lake. Kakette points out that their limited manpower often leaves them outnumbered by the local population, making it difficult to effectively monitor activities in and around the lake.

Regarding the presence of a washing bay on the opposite side of the lake, he clarifies that their jurisdiction only extends up to the island within the lake. Beyond that point, it falls under the purview of the police station in Katwe, making them responsible for that specific matter.

Nonetheless, he underscores the importance of the kingdom devising strategies to safeguard the lake from ongoing degradation on the Ndeeba side. He emphasizes the potential of the lake as a tourist attraction that could generate revenue if managed effectively.


0 #1 Enseko Peter 2024-02-15 09:55
The Kabaka"s lake is a marvel that is testament to the ingenuity and true strategic planning of an African King.

That lake holds the potential of generating a lot of income from tourism for the Kingdom.

Since Uganda nowadays is inundated with old / aging fools who are completely incapacitated to plan for their children and grand children because of greed, and are devoid of situational awareness, IT IS INCUMBENT ON THE BAGANDA TO PROTECT THAT PIECE OF HERITAGE . It is the pride of Buganda Kingdom.
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0 #2 kabayekka 2024-02-15 11:39
So what good came out from paying out million of tax payer's money some months ago, to over 500 officials to go to the deserts of Arabia and discuss environment degradation of this planet?
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