Anyone who has never visited the Nakayima Tree during a safari in Uganda will wonder what is special about this tree that makes it worth exploring during a trip in the country. To a passerby, it might look like an ordinary tree but to the locals, it is a significant cultural and historical site that dates back to the origin of the Ancient Chwezi rulers.
This giant and old tree is found within Mubende District; at about 172 kilometers/3 hours drive from Kampala City, is supported by big and strong buttress roots, and said to be one of the oldest trees in existence today. It stands up on Mubende Hill allowing tourists to enjoy picturesque views of Mubende Town. Nakayima Tree dates to over 650 years ago and derives its name from a lineage of a Princess from the Royal family and said to be the wife of Ndahura, the local ruler of the Bachwezi. Interestingly, the buttress root system has formed four spaces that are said to be rooms for Kilunda, Nhadula, Jajja Musoke, and Nalongo Jajja Mukasa while the peak of the Hill features a flat table-like top that is said to have been the Fort for the Chwezi Dynasty (from 1350 to 1400) and an official residence of Nakayima.
Nakayima, a pretty spiritual Princess used to roam Mubende Hill and is believed to have disappeared into the Tree which is today believed to possess supernatural powers that offer healing, good health, blessings, wealth, and fertility solutions to locals that live around and far. This 40 meter-high tree is not very far from a Cave that features 18 openings (known as the rooms of caretakers as well as people who visit for prayers). People seeking prayers usually sit on mats or even grass and smoke pipes as a way of calling unto the gods but it’s not clear whether it’s marijuana or tobacco being smoked but all you will see is wafts of smoke drifting from their mouths and noses. Nakayima used to be the goddess of smallpox and the tree was named after a hereditary line of sorcerers.
Out of these rooms, four of them were for Ndahura-the popular King of Chwezi while some are for Nalongo Jajja Mukasa, two for Jajja Musoke and Kilunda. In one of the buttress, compartments is where the caretaker sits with a basket for offertory to Nakayima inform of beer, harvest, and cash.
Many things have been said or written about this mysterious tree but that’s all it remains-a mystery but what you need to know is that it stands at the heart of other smaller trees and is also at a crucial point of the once-powerful Chwezi Dynasty and at the exact point where King Ndahura conducted most of his traditional rituals. Surprisingly, this tree is said not to shed off its leaves even in the driest seasons.
Since the tree was said to be Nakayima’s place, her grave is not far from the site and locals of the area are said to be her children and grandchildren thus visit the tree to ask her for whatever they want-be it good health, good marriages, or relationships, wealth and healing from barrenness but she doesn’t give medicine. Also near this site is a Paradox of devoted Christians and Muslims attending their prayers on Sundays and Fridays respectively and they surprisingly go back to their traditional and cultural ways afterward. The guide you will meet at the site will take you around the tree and showing you all the features including the 18 compartments.
How to reach the beautiful and mystical Nakayima Tree
This Tree is found within Mubende District, at approximately 100 kilometers from Kampala and it takes another 15 minutes to climb to the top of the Hill where the Tree is actually found.