Bigo Bya Mugyenyi translated as the “Fort of a stranger” is an extensive alignment of ditches and geographical features comprising of ancient earth works which are believed to have been put in place between the 13th and 17th centuries, located in the interlacustrine regions of south western Uganda in Mawogola County about 50km from Sembabule town Center. This place covers an area of about 10 kilometers squared and is believed to have been the first settlement for the Bachwezi group (duo–rule dynasty) of people also considered as the first settlers in Uganda between the 11th and 16th centuries as taught in social studies among the primary schools in Uganda. The inner part of Bigo Bya Mugyenyi is made up of 4 openings that pour into each other while the outer one trails and connects with Katonga River. According to stories from the locals and legends the historical site was dug out to shelter the Chwezi Empire to avoid incursions from other foreigners such as the Luo from South Sudan. The origin of these people is not known however, the historical site is preserved as one of the country’s culture treasures.
As you make your way into Bigo Bya Mugyenyi accompanied by an armed tour guide who will lead you through a place called Kabeho. This place has got some of the cultural tools that were used by the Bachwezi guards used before making their destination to rivers Katonga and Kachinga; these include arrows, spears, shields and many more. Tourists do fetch water from these spots for cleansing themselves before taking on the long treks to Bigo Bya Mugyenyi, the idea of cleansing is to seek for protection from the gods so that they don’t get annoyed with you.
After cleansing yourselves, you will proceed on with your journey to Bigo Bya Mugyenyi through the jungle which is believed to harbor dangerous wildlife such as leopards, bush bucks, water bucks and reptiles such as snakes which have never attacked tourists even if you have seen them. However it is believed by the locals that once it rains while still at the historical site it shows bad omen.
After along trail though adventurous you will enter into Bigo Bya Mugyenyi, this place is filled with numerous grass thatched huts which were set up to shelter the keepers and also have sight of a well maintained and fenced site where the locals go for prayers asking for blessings and wealth from the Chwezi gods .the Bachwezi people were believed to have mysterious powers, leave foot prints on rocks, vanishing in thin air and also flying with wind.
How to reach Bigo Bya Mugyenyi?
Bigo Bya Mugyenyi is 60km from Sembabule town Centre however, tourists are supposed to first visit the tourism office which is within a given distance from the site.