18 May 2017

Uganda: Mengo Kakeeka Home of Idi Amin's Former Armoury

Photo: Colleb Mugume/Daily Monitor
The area has turned into a busy commercial and residential area due to the influx of students.
analysis

Despite Mengo Kakeeka's close proximity to the capital, most Ugandans are not aware of its history.

The area harbors Idi Amin's former armoury, though its former location is now occupied by Muteesa University. Buganda kingdom's old sub-county headquarters were also located in the space that Buganda Royal Institute currently occupies.

The name Kakeeka, which loosely translates into a mat was derived from the first visitors in the area, who noticed a football ground that resembled a mat. "It was among the few football grounds in Buganda and Uganda at the time," says Nicholas Ssewagudde, the area chairman.

Mengo Kakeeka is a sub-county in Rubaga Division. To the north, it lies on the borderline between the north and south constituency of Rubaga, and it is surrounded by Rubaga hospital to the south. It was initially a residential area but has since revolved into a commercial hub.

This is attributed to the educational institutions that have been set up consequently attracting businesses to serve the growing populace with students as the target audience.

Kakeeka is home to a number of educational institutions including Ndejje University law post graduate branch, Muteesa and Pencostal University, two Institutes; Buganda Royal Vocational I, and Radio, Television and Filming institute, one daycare-linear, Redrock and Kisakye Primary Schools.

"Businesses include but not limited to garages, metal fabrication shops, stationaries, hostels, boutiques, and bars. These have been set up to cater for the population that has since increased from 350 to 1,500 people as per the previous Kakeeka voters' register." Mr Ssewagudde says.

Buying land and renting

"During my time as chairman, I have not officiated over the sale of any piece of land because the land in the area is mostly owned by the Catholic church and families that have lived in the area for ages. It is very rare for any of them to sell," said Mr Ssewangudde.

Houses in the area are very pricy, which residents attribute to the area's close proximity to the capital and the large student population. To rent a one-bedroom house, you need to pay between Shs150,000 and Shs200,000 per month.

Hostels single rooms cost Shs450,000 and Shs600,000 while double rooms go for Shs750,000-Shs900,000 per semester. A three bedroom house costs Shs1m and over.

"The general road network has improved over the years. Kampala City Council Authority recently completed works on Kakeeka road, the major road in the area. For those intending to rent here, our proximity to the capital Kampala is an added advantage," he says.

Infrastructure

"Most of the structures in the area were previously residential but have been turned into rentals or hostels to cater for the populace that mainly comprises of students. The former army shop was later turned into Buganda Royal Institute after Buganda Kingdom repossessed its land from government. When the institute found a new home, it was replaced by Muteesa University," the chairman says.

Security

"Kakeeka has two black spots where lawbreakers commonly gather to plot mischief and take drugs," Mr Ssewagudde says, adding: However, security has tremendously improved over the years and we are working closely with police to fight insecurity."

Mr David Lutaaya, a technician and resident, describes security in the area as 'relative'. He says before Muteesa University was constructed at the former armoury, ammunition that had been left behind was spread all over the place and a number of bombs used to go off, adding that a friend of his, Annet lost her leg in one of the blasts.

Quick fact

The area harbors Idi Amin's former armoury. Buganda kingdom's sub-county headquarters were also located in the space that Buganda Royal Institute currently occupies.

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