The Biharwe Eclipse Monument: A Symbol of Uganda’s Rich History and Enchanting Folktales

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The Biharwe eclipse monument lies along the Kampala-Mbarara road in the town of Biharwe. The monument was erected on Biharwe Hill in commemoration of the ‘Biharwe Eclipse’, which was dated by historians to have taken place in the year 1500.

The Biharwe eclipse monument is significant in the history of Buganda, Ankore and Bunyoro Kingdoms folklore.

It was once used as a religious shrine for people with different religious beliefs, like moon worshippers, sun worshippers, people who worshipped the spirits of the dead, and those who believed in the Bachwezi.

It is believed that the eclipse occurred on the King of Bunyoro’s return journey after raiding cattle from Rwanda and Mpororo. An eclipse appeared when the raiders had reached Biharwe. The King of Bunyoro, Olimi Rwitamahanga (destroyer of nations), was forced to abandon all his loot, which included cows, women, and slaves from Mpororo and Rwanda, during the reign of Omwami Ruganzi Ndori.

Omukama Olimi misconstrued the eclipse as a supernatural event from his enemies. The loot that was left behind was inherited by the King of Ankore, Ntare Nyabugaro Bwera. And the cows left behind were named “Empenda ya Munoni and “Enduga Omwiguru” (cows from heaven).

This was a great fortune for the Ankore Kingdom because it was greatly affected by the constant raids by the Bunyoro Kingdom and a severe famine called “Eijuga Nyoza,” where wild berries were used as dowry for brides.

After abandoning his loot, the Omukama of Bunyoro couldn’t go back to his kingdom empty-handed. Olimi Rwitamahanga chose to invade the Buganda Kingdom under the reign of Sekabaka Nakibinge. During the battle in Buremezi, King Nakibinge and his commander Kibuuka were killed after being betrayed by a Munyoro concubine.

The monument stands on three pillars because of the effects it imparted on the three kingdoms of Buganda, Ankore and Bunyoro.

There are three different trails that are used while hiking the eclipse monument, all done in different colours. The blue colour is for Buganda Kingdom because of its water bodies; the red colour is for Bunyoro Kingdom because of its thirst for blood through invading other kingdoms; and the yellow colour is for Ankole Kingdom because of the sunshine it receives yearly.

The Biharwe eclipse monument is a site where the history of the three kingdoms of Buganda, Bunyoro, and Ankole can well be felt and understood.

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