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Ddada Budhagali’s candle burns out; to be laid to rest this Sunday

Busoga Kingdom continues to mourn Ddada Budhagali Nabamba, the oracle of the former Bujagali Falls in its entirety. Budhagali died in the evening on Saturday 26th October 2019 at Nile International Hospital.

Ddada Budhagali, it’s reported, was admitted to Nile International Hospital in Walukuba-Masese Division, Jinja Municipality. It is here that he was diagnosed with Intracerebral Hemorrhage (ICH), a life-threatening type of stroke. This condition we are reliably told resulted from unmonitored high blood pressure, diabetes and bacterial infection.

Until his death, the deceased has been the ‘encyclopedia’ of the Abaswezi (Oracles). He understood the importance of and supported the intangible cultural heritage Busoga has. This is definitely a big blow to the cultural and tourism sectors in Busoga. “Besides being able to recite Busoga’s early culture, Ddada Budhagali has been one of Busoga’s tourist attractions,” intimated Siraje Kinagoidhi, the Chairman of New Uganda N’eddagala Lyayo Traditional Healers’ Association (NUNLTHA).

Ddada Budhagali photographed with Owek. Hellena Namutamba, the Busoga Kingdom Minister of Tourism and Heritage in 2017. (P2BAM)

According to different cultural-based theories, Ddada Budhagali will undergo a couple of rituals before finally being laid to rest. He will be buried in Bujagali Village on Sunday 3rd November 2019 at 2:00 AM, 8 days after his demise. The rituals we are told last 7 days and during that time, preservatives like Formalin cannot be applied to the body to prevent decomposing. More to these rituals, nobody, not even his wife or children, will be allowed to his body.

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History and influence

Born Donozio Namunkanga Mukembo Zirabamuzale to Thomas Nume in 1914, Ddada Budhagali rose to national prominence sometime before the construction of the 250MW Bujagali Hydro Power Dam at Bujagali Falls. The Oracle insisted the falls and its environs were his spirits’ abode. If the government wanted to go through with its construction plans, they had to compensate him. His clout was later questioned when he failed to showcase his powers by sailing across the falls on goatskin to an audience that had travelled from far and wide.


Ddada Budhagali’s early childhood saw him study in a missionary school. He later dropped out in Primary Four to serve as an attendant in his father’s shrine. It is believed he became the Budhagali Nabamba in 1961 after the previous caretaker absconded from duty in the mid-1950s and was the 39th Oracle to pay allegiance to the spirits of Bujagali Falls.

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