More Hills of Kampala

Many people mistakenly think that Nakasero Hill is one of the Seven Hills of Kampala, but as I wrote in the last edition, they are: Old Kampala Hill, Kasubi Hill, Namirembe Hill, Rubaga Hill, Mengo Hill, Kisubi Hill and Nsambya Hill.

Nakasero Hill began its rise to fame with the building of a fort in 1900. Captain Lugard (who went on to become Sir Freder- ick Lugard, namer and Gover- nor-General of Nigeria – the name was his wife Flora’s suggestion!) was then employed by the British East Africa Company and needed a stronghold for his troops. He moved from the lower elevation of Old Kampala Hill to Nakasero where he had command of the whole area. Part of this historic building still survives, although another part was destroyed in the building of the hotel which is now the Pearl of Africa.

Climb Nakasero Hill Road, to what is now the back entrance to the hotel and you will find one of the oldest structures in Kampala. The fort was later used as a military barracks and a prison.

The name Nakasero apparantly derives from a time in 1938-40 during a drought, when people climbed the hill with baskets (akasero) to receive food hand- outs. More recently the fort served as storage facilities for the Ugan- dan Police. The remains could be a great cultural heritage site and tourist attraction!

The lower, southern slopes of Nakasero Hill were developed as the business and government heart of the city, with shops, hotels, markets and banks, min- istry buildings and parliament. Further up the hill is State House, and many embassiesandupmarketresidencesarespreadaroundthehill.However, the hill has now been rezoned as no longer just residential and is becoming more densely developed.

Across the valley of the Kitante Channel, straddled by the Uganda Golf Club, is Kololo Hill, now probably now the most famous hill with the expat community and where many live, shop and socialise.

The name is supposed to derive from the imprisonment, by the British, of an Acholi chief, Rwot Awich, in 1912. He was heard to lament in Luo ‘An atye kany kololo” which means ‘I’m here alone’. At this time the hill was wilderness and the police guarding him began calling the hill Kololo.

By the 1950s Nakasero Hill was becoming crowded so Kololo was developed to house colonial administrative staff, first the lower slopes and gradually higher up. The airstrip was originally intended to be the main airport, but was soon too small and became instead the ceremonial grounds. At the very top was a metereological station, but now it is a military barracks with radio masts

and not accessible. Just below the crest, new shopping malls have been built and the many coffee shops and restaurants are the regular venues for expat gatherings. However, if you don’t live in Kololo you can still enjoy the views by walking the curving streets which give ever changing views of Kampala and towards Lake Victoria in the distance.

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