The Nakayima Tree is situated in Mubende hill. The tree has been existing since the ancient times and is considered as a witch tree, the tree base has got large tree buttresses and its hooks can easily be seen on top of the Mubende hill from Mubende town which is 4 kilometers west of the hill.
The ancient palace used to be on this flat topped hill, the tree is said to be about 400-500 years and stands 40 meters high on the ground. This tree is named after the first wife of the Bachwezi kingNdahura whose wife was known as Nakayima.
Before the Bachwezi king Ndahura took over the hill it’s said that, the was a magician known as Kamwenge who hailed from present day Mbarara he had two sons who established themselves as local rulers though they rapidly grew their territory, the Bachwezi king Ndahura took over and stayed there for several years more than they had settled.
When Ndahura retired to his birth place near fort portal, he gave the place to his son Wamala the exact truth is not known about their settlement but scientific archeological have some proof that there must have been a settlement on the hill at the time Ndahura lived
Today locals visit the shrines to pay homage to Nakayiwa of the Bachwezi dynasty, the Bachwezi were said to be demi gods and this tree is said to be home of all their spirits they were respected by the Buganda and Banyoro people.
The root system of the Nakayiwa tree has formed three spaces that the locals believe to be bed rooms of Jjaja Musoke, Kilunda, Ddahula and Nalongo Jjaja Masaka. The hill is believed to have been the official residence of Nakayima and acted as a fort of the Bachwezi dynasty. The guide will take you through eighteen rooms
Nakayima was the princess the daughter to the last Bachwezi king Ndahura. Nakayima is said to have disappeared in the tree and today the locals believe that the tree has got healing powers, good health and fertility plus solving many of the local’s problems.
It’s claimed that Nakayima was not only the keeper of the tree but also acted as a mediator between the king and the community, she could get possessed by Ndahura spirit and get small pox for a number of days until the spirt left her body. She also had powers to treat people infected with small pox.
When the locals visit the Nakayima tree they take sacrifices such as money, animals and many more other items in order to gain favor from the gods
At the time when there was an out break of small pox, the Bachwezi influence on the Hima pastoralists came to a stand still and the clans powers were no more a new dynasty of Bito rulers was formed and the Bachwezi king’s residence came to be known as Mubende to mean “ there is another one” not another king or person but another ruling power.
In the year 1988 when there was a religious conflict between the Buganda and Banyoro, the incumbent NakayiwaNyanjarawas forced to flee only to return a year later and all the seven huts had been destroyed and the graves of predecessors had been defaced . King Kabalega visited Mubende hill to pay tribute to Nyanjara in 1899.
Later on Mubende hill was placed under a chief known as Muganda Saza by the indirect colonial rule of the British government this was in 1902 this made Nyanjara to shift to Bugogo where she died in 1907 and she was the first Nakayima not to be buried in the traditional cemetery near the sacred tree.
Today the Uganda national museumcontains Nakayima Nnyajara regalia that was captured, she was buried at the base of Mubende hill one of the items in her regalia are two large ancient pots. From her death it’s up to 1926 when a Muhima sorceress took her place but after ten years a young Ankole girl spent several nights at the base of Nakayima tree but later disappeared where she came from.
Mubende can be reached from Kampala within 3 hours drive and ascending the hill takes about 20 minutes