Igongo Cultural Centre – Mbarara, Uganda - Atlas Obscura
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Mbarara, Uganda

Igongo Cultural Centre

One of the most detailed and historically accurate collections of Ugandan artifacts depicting Bahima tribal history, culture, and daily life. 

The Igongo Cultural Centre and Museum is on the former palace ground of the local Ankole king, located in Mbarara District in western Uganda. The museum is the largest exhibits center in Western Uganda.

 The museum has a vast collection of artifacts, exhibits of the agrarian and pastoral culture, history of political changes as well as present-day modernization of agricultural activities in the region. 

The Igongo Cultural Centre and Museum highlight the way of life of the tribes in southwestern Uganda, including the cattle herding tribe, Bahima, and how adaptable the region has been to new technologies and life. The tribe has collaborated with the University of Basel, Switzerland, on cheese making and milk pasteurization, which the museum has documented extensively as a success story of new technologies from Europe reaching Uganda.

The museum is part of the Cultural Centre, which encompasses a state-of-the-art hotel with conference facilities. Day trips from the Centre include visits to the Biharwe Eclipse monument in Mbarara, honey farms, as well as evening entertainment and meetings with the Bahima tribespeople.

The museum staff can arrange bespoke events that include afternoon sessions with the local tribespeople in eshawbwe-making from ghee/clarified butter made from Ankole cow milk, and millet bread-making. Other activities include trips to the local Ankole cow farm for a hands-on milking experience. The Centre has two restaurants that serve local, authentic Bahima and Ugandan food.

Know Before You Go

A rental car (with a local driver) to the centre can take you directly to most of western Ugandan parks, and activities around the center. The museum staff can guide you to local mosques and churches trips as well as a two-hour museum exhibits tour. The museum has a book store with local Ugandan publications, Bahima tribe jewelry and fabrics. For bespoke local Ankole experiences including eshabwe or millet bread-making, or a local Ankole dance recital, inform the center prior to arrival.