Katereke Prison Ditch is one of the most significant cultural sites on the Kabaka’s trail and in the Buganda Kingdom. What now exists as a ditch was actually a prison that is known for its violent past in the Kingdom.
It is said that the Ditch was excavated with the orders of the former Kabaka (King) of Buganda Kingdom-Kabaka Kalema in the 19th Century. This exceptional site dates from a deranged and brutal period in the history of Buganda Kingdom. The Katereke Prison Ditch covers an area of 70 meters in terms of diameter, and currently features as an interesting attraction that draws several enthusiastic tourists. This ditch turned into spectacular earthworks of about 10 meters from the bottom to top.
It is believed that in 1888, Buganda Kingdom was a political confusion, where some people pretending to be Muslims overthrew Kabaka Mwanga from his throne, and was succeeded by Kabaka Kiwewa. Unfortunately Kabaka Kiwewa’s reign was short lived and Kabaka Kalema was crowned the next King of Buganda Kingdom. From his crowning, Kabaka Kalema was always suspicious and uncomfortable with almost everyone around him including his own brothers and sisters who were proving to be potential political rivals to his throne. It wasn’t long before he shocked everyone by ordering the Kingdom Chiefs to build a prison and sentenced all his brothers and sisters-who were princesses and princes. The present Katereke Prison Ditch is the actual prison that they were imprisoned and murdered from.
Even after imprisoning his own brothers and sisters whom he believed were his enemies and political rivals, his life and throne was still threatened which prompted him to further murder the prisoners (a total of 30 of his brothers and sisters). He did this by giving another decree that they should all be slaughtered without mercy. This created fear among the Subjects of the Kingdom, who believed their lives would be taken away the same way-if for sure he could order the killing of his own siblings, who were they to survive his ruthlessness? After a whole year, Kabaka Mwanga returned back to the throne and exiled Kabaka Kalema who later died just some months later. It is also believed that other Royal prisoners were starved to death in the Prison ditch during the painful savagery period of Kabaka Kalema’s rule. Much as the Katereke Prison Ditch is not very deep, it is a breathtaking site that is rich beyond imagination in terms of cultural significance.
Besides the interesting history about this Katereke Prison Ditch, it is a wonderful birding destination with several bird species. Imagine when you visit the Ditch, you will enjoy the heritage and culture while at the same time relish the bird species that include the Marabou stork, the Speckled Mouse-bird, the White-headed Saw-wing, the Great-blue Turacos, the Red-chested sunbirds, the Green-throated sunbirds, Grey-headed Negro-finch, the African green Pigeon, the Grey Parrot, the Scarlet-chested sunbirds, the Olive-bellied sunbirds, the Yellow fronted Tinkerbird, the Black and White shrike Flycatchers, the African pygmy, the Superb Sunbirds, the Black shrike Flycatchers, the Great Sparrow-hawk, the Hadada Ibis, the common bulbul, the Lesser Honey-guide, African blue Buzzard, the Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, the Splendid-glossy Starling, the Ross Turacos, the Eastern grey Plantain eater, the Woodland Kingfishers, the Yellow rumped Tinkerbirds, the Brown-throated Wattle-eye, the Black and White Casqued Hornbill, the Yellow-billed Kite, the Red-bellied Paradise, the Lizard Buzzard, the African dusky, the Tambourine Dove and the black weavers among others.
How to Reach the Katereke Prison Ditch
This wonderful site is found on Masaka road, about 30 minutes drive from Kampala City on the road leading to Nsangi. You will branch off on a dirty murram road for about 1 kilometer until you reach the Prison Ditch.
In conclusion, the Katereke Prison Ditch is a site of cultural significance because it tells the pain some of the princes and princess of Buganda Kingdom suffered in the hands of Kabaka Kalema who believed they could take over his crown. Besides its cultural significance, the Katereke Prison Ditch is a perfect birding destination with a number of interesting bird species.