How Uganda’s capital came to be called ‘Kampala’

Dear UAH,

I would like to correct a few people telling lies about insects called ’empala’. I am a student of African history from when Africa had no such thing as the Sahara Desert to the present time. I have not read anywhere that there was such insects in Buganda . Unless there are yet some books on Uganda’s history that has escaped my notice.

What I have read is that there were animals on the hill of what is now our capital city that the white man called ‘Impala’. There were so many everywhere that the white men kept referring to the place where these animals were as ‘the hill of the Impalas’. When translated to the natives it sounded like this: “Ako kasozi ka Mpala”.

After some time the words ‘akasozi’ were dropped and there remained the words ‘ka Mpala’. This was later turned into Kampala our present city. This story was narrated to me and other students at the Universsity of London’s School of African Studies (SOAS) by then Dr David Anderson, now Professor of African History at Oxford University. That story makes more sense than yours of insects called ‘’empala’’ because there is another town in Kampala called Bakuli. Do you know why? I will tell you.

There used to be a white man at this place who had a beautiful house and his name was Barclay. Whenever the Baganda passed his house they would marvel ata its beauty and it became known in Luganda as ‘ewa Bakuli’ which, when translated in English was ‘at Barclays’. Yet another story is that of what the Baganda call ‘Mandaazi’ (pancakes). The story goes that one day a white man was doing his rounds of women in the slums of Kampala and met this family that gave him what looked like pancakes. When he put them in his mouth and ate them, he was heard exclaiming: “Man does”. Excited Baganda heard him and told their friends; “He said it is ‘’mandaazi.” The name has remained since!

I think changing the name of Kampala would be a very silly mistake. It is a beautiful name with many sad and good memories for all those that have ever been there.



2 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Interesting, I had a similar conversation recently with a Boda-boda guy and I picked his brain for the origin of Kabalagala, Muyenga, Kansanga…pretty interesting stuff I must admit

  2. Grace,

    THis interesting

    So what does Kabalagala, Muyenga, Kansanga…mean. Iam ugandan and iam trying to know more about my country.
    I will be glad to learn.

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