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May 24, 2024
Kampala Daily
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Historic tree under which the 1900 Buganda Agreement was signed collapses at Kyambogo University

A Canarium tree, also known as Omuwafu in Central Uganda, under which the 1900 Buganda Agreement was signed, fell down during the Monday night heavy downpour at Kyambogo University. The tree, which was estimated to be over 200 years old, was one of the landmarks of the university and a symbol of the history and culture of Buganda.

The 1900 Buganda Agreement was a treaty between the British colonial authorities and the Kingdom of Buganda, which formalized the relationship between the two parties and granted Buganda a degree of autonomy within the British Uganda Protectorate.

The agreement was signed under the Canarium tree by Sir Henry Hamilton Johnston, the British commissioner, and the regents and chiefs of Buganda on behalf of Kabaka (King) Mwanga II, who was in exile at the time1.

The Canarium tree is a large and majestic tree that yields edible fruits known as Empafu, which are enjoyed by both humans and animals. The tree is held in high esteem in Buganda, as it is believed that Kabaka Muteesa I, the father of Mwanga II and one of the most influential African rulers of the 19th century, had his palace situated here before he relocated it to Mengo.

Muteesa I was known for his diplomatic skills and his interactions with Arabs, Europeans, and Egyptians, as well as his expansion and consolidation of Buganda’s territory and trade.

The collapse of the Canarium tree has saddened many people, especially the Baganda, who consider it a part of their heritage and identity. Some have called for the preservation of the remains of the tree and the erection of a monument or a plaque to commemorate its significance.

Others have suggested that the tree should be replanted or replaced by another Canarium tree to continue the legacy of the historic site.

The cause of the collapse is still under investigation, but some experts have attributed it to the age of the tree, the soil erosion, and the impact of the heavy rain.

The university authorities have cordoned off the area and have assured the public that they will take appropriate measures to protect and honor the tree. They have also appealed to the people to respect the site and not to vandalize or loot the fallen tree.

The Canarium tree was not only a witness to a pivotal moment in Uganda’s history, but also a source of beauty, shade, and food for generations of students, staff, and visitors of Kyambogo University. Its demise marks the end of an era, but also an opportunity to celebrate and preserve its memory and meaning.

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