Do You Know the Biharwe Eclipse Monument?

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Biharwe Eclipse Monument

Situated along the highway before reaching Mbarara Town is the spectacular Biharwe Hill where the gigantic 1520 AD Eclipse Monument sits. This is one of the most significant Historical Sites in the western Uganda district of Mbarara. This site is not just an ordinary site but full of culture and history, that you will discover when you visit the place. Why not embark on a cultural safari in Uganda, and tour with us this great place that peers into the rich history of Uganda’s past kingdoms?

Before you climb to the top of Biharwe Hill, you cannot even imagine the actual size of the Monument because it appears smaller from far yet actually bigger the moment you come closer to it. This huge structure was set up and unveiled to revive the memory of the total Eclipse that dates back to 1520 AD (estimated at 500 years ago).

Presently, there are two Eclipse Monuments in Uganda, one being the recently unveiled one on Biharwe Hill and the other (Hybrid one) erected November 2013 at Owiny Primary School. You can therefore visit it while on a safari in Uganda, especially within West Nile region.

According to the Legends, Bunyoro Kingdom was the strongest in territorial and military control of all the smaller Kingdoms in Uganda. At the start of the 16th Century, the King (Omukama) of Bunyoro Kingdom Olimi I Rwitamahanga started raiding the surrounding Kingdoms and rustling their cattle which caused great famine known as “Eijuga Nyonza in Runyankole and this apparently happened during the reign of Omugabe (title for King in Ankole Kingdom) Ntare V Nyabugarobwera. Omukama Olimi later invaded Buganda Kingdom and assassinated Ssekabaka (late King) Nakibinge who was later succeeded by his eldest son known as Mulondo. King Olimi also raided Mpororo in Rwanda and other places. Sadly on his way back, he encountered an Eclipse within Biharwe while looting in the current Mbarara District.

The mystery is that when darkness eventually fell, King Olimi fled for his life leaving most of his warriors and cattle behind. He thought the spirits of the people they had killed during the wars had appeared to haunt them. He ordered his warriors to leave everything on Biharwe Hill so as to run easily and save their dear lives. Interestingly, the locals took the abandoned items including cattle and divided among themselves. They later referred the cattle as “Empende ya Munoni and Enduga Mwiguru meaning cows that were sent from heaven hence the reason the Ankole people owned their herds of cattle again and till now. Based on the reigning Kings of that time, the historians estimated that the Eclipse actually occurred in the year 1520 AD.

The Biharwe Eclipse Monument was built on Biharwe Hill in 2015 to commemorate the Eclipse. This Solar Eclipse being the only scientifically dated event in the history of the Great Lakes region makes it a recognized legend in Ankole, Bunyoro and Buganda Kingdoms and has become a benchmark to determine the lineage of the Kingdoms.

This spectacular Monument was designed by Joseph Ssematimba from Makerere University School of Art. It has three Pillars that represent the three Kings of that time and their Kingdoms and these include Omukama Olimi I Rwitamahanga of Bunyoro, Ssekabaka Nakinge of Buganda and Omugabe Ntare V Nyabugarobwera of Ankole. On top of the Monument is an Eclipse-like feature and also comprise Egyptian writings, symbols and pictorials as well as different features such as Spears, drums and shields used from different regions.

Most interestingly, Biharwe Hill offers tourists with the phenomenal views of the surrounding areas including Igongo Cultural Center. The structure has attracted a number of important guests including the President of the republic of Uganda-His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and the First Lady.
In conclusion, the Biharwe 1520 AD Eclipse Monument is one of the exceptional Historical Sites that can visited while on Safaris. The most interesting thing about this feature is that it represents a rich history about the three main kingdoms in Uganda.

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