Speaking at the launch of the re-thatching of Muzibu Azaala Mpanga, an ancestral Buganda kings burial building on Wednesday, Japan’s ambassador to Uganda, Junzo Fujita pledged his country’s continued support to the development of Uganda in line with the Vision 2040.
He said he hopes the two countries can work together to boost and conserve Uganda’s trade, culture and tourism. On Kasubi tombs, the ambassador noted that since the Japanese traditionally lived in straw-thatched houses, they have over time developed the human resource capability required to maintain traditional architecture.
“That’s why Japanese architects are here; they have been studying Uganda’s re-thatching techniques in order to reconstruct and protect this precious world heritage for the future,” he said.
On March 16, 2010, the Kasubi tombs main building was razed by fire and later declared a world heritage site in danger by Unesco. With Japanese partnership, firefighting equipment have been installed in and around the refurbished Muzibu Azaala Mpanga.
In addition, a Japanese team has embarked on training thatchers at Wamala tombs in Wakiso district. Since the incident in 2010, the site has gone through major transformation. A brick perimeter wall has replaced the original reeds fence.
Jonathan Nsubuga, the lead architect, said reconstruction had delayed due to lack of understanding of heritage ethos by the locals. He said some wanted the reconstruction completed within six months without realizing the dangers that would have on its future.
At the moment, the site is ready for thatching and that culturally has to be done by people from the Ngeye clan. According to Kaddu Kiberu, chairman of the reconstruction committee, thatching will start on June 1.
Japan’s Shs 1.5bn contribution to this cause involves rehabilitating the other houses at the site, as well as documenting the reconstruction phases which they think will help, in case thekingdom or country wish to build more thatched structures like that.