Uganda does not possess examples of human archaeological remains of enormous antiquity value. There is, nevertheless, a rich assemblage of artifacts from stone age, pottery, earthworks, rock-paintings, royal tombs and shrines and forts (Langlands 1975, Uganda Museum 2008). Therefore the Albertine graben has a number of archaeological and historic sites of national heritage importance, besides the unique physical resources of the Rift Valley, Rwenzori Mountains, national parks and lakes, all of which are of great tourist attraction.
The oldest human bones found in this area are only 8000 to 10,000 years BP (before present), from Kikorongo crater near Lake George. Early Stone Age sites with Acheulian hand axes occur at Mweya Peninsula and at Paraa and are dated from 50,000 years BP, while Middle Stone Age sites occur at Chobe.
The Nkondo and Kaiso palaeontological sites on the eastern shores of Lake Albert form another category of heritage sites, particularly due to their 5.4 to 2.5 million years old mammalian fossils which are important for palaeontological research. Others occur near Kibiro salt processing areas. Most of the Stone Age localities are lacustrine, and are particularly associated with strand flats, terraces and caves from formerly more extensive lakes.
Historic and cultural sites
The caves in Nyakasura near Fort Portal are a result of weathering of a limestone (calcium carbonate) rock to form stalactites and stalagmites within the cave that are like drooping human breasts and locally named Amabere ga Nyinamwiru (Nyinamwiru’s breasts). These features in the caves together with local waterfalls have become a tourist attraction site. The site is also of cultural importance, that is, the local tribe of Batooro still believe that the place has the powers of the Bachwezi, the rulers of the past Empire of Kitara.
The Katasiha Fort and Cave located 3 km from Hoima on the Hoima-Butiaba Road are surrounded by a defensive trench established in 1894 by a British Colonel Colvile, when he led an expedition against Kabalega, the then Omukama of Bunyoro; while the cave was used by Kabalega to fight off the colonial invasion of the kingdom. The site is of tourism importance and is currently used for recreation.
Fort Kitana a former British Fort situated on the Kigorobya-Kibiro track, is a potential tourist site.
The Kibiro traditional sites, including a salt processing village are located approximately 1 kilometer down the escarpment, or 9 kilometers from Kigorobya town council, or 22 kilometers from Hoima Municipal town. This is a stone-age site, situated along the Eastern shore of Lake Albert.
Other sites of national heritage are the burial grounds for the former kings of Bunyoro and Tooro kingdoms. The Mparo tombs located 2km from Hoima town on Hoima-Masindi road contain the remains of the great Omukama Kabalega of Bunyoro Kitara. On the other hand, Karambi tombs located 6km on the Fort Portal – Kasese road contain the remains of the deceased kings of Tooro. These sites are of high cultural and heritage importance for tourism and historical research. The same kingdoms had palaces – the Kabarole Palace located on Kabarole hill within Fort Portal Municipal Council for the King of Tooro and, the Hoima Palace known as Karuzika for the King of Bunyoro Kitara located within Hoima Municipal Council are all of historical, cultural and tourism values.
The relatively rich archaeological and historic sites mentioned, are likely to be significantly affected by petroleum exploration and development activities, both positively and negatively. Positively, by increasing tourism activities by the growing population associated with the petroleum development activities and, negatively by likely risk of interference with and demise of the various sites.
A sustainable development strategy is necessary that will safeguard the integrity and continued existence of these sites.