Masaka District is a district in Central Uganda, situated about 37 kms away from the equator towards the south with an average altitude of 1150m above sea level. Its main town is Masaka, whose estimated population in 2011 was 74,100. It is bordered by Bukomansimbi District to the northwest, Kalungu District to the north, Kalangala District to the east and south, Rakai District to the southwest and Lwengo District to the west.
Masaka was Uganda’s second biggest town for a long time, today this status has changed as it was largely destroyed in the liberation war of 1979 and again in the 1981-1986 civil war which removed Obote 2 from power. So Masaka District is one of the districts in Uganda, which has suffered the terror of bad governance, epidemics and total collapse of the service delivery system. This bad situation resulted in bringing down Masaka to her knees both socially and economically between 1971 and 1986. The former local administration structures were all destroyed and a few which remained, were dilapidated.
Where is Masaka
Masaka District is situated about 37 kms, away from the equator towards the south and lies between 00-25 south, and 340 East, having an average altitude of 1150m above sea level. Bukomansimbi boards the district in the south east, Kalungu in the north, Rakai and Lwengo in the west and south, and Kalangala District in the east.
Masaka district has a total area of about 1603.3sq.kilometers of which land area is 803.5sq.Kilometers. The landscape and topography in general is rolling and undulating with vertical gully heads and valley bottom swamps including streams flowing to lakes and rivers. Most parts of the district are dotted with the hills.
History of Masaka
The origin of Masaka is not very clear, but the local traditions have two views on how Masaka got its name:
1. The Local traditions say, “that there were big shrubs which were found in the area commonly known as a masaka”. So from that they named the area as Masaka.
2. Others say, “that Long ago there was a famine in Ankole and so the Ankole people migrated from their home land looking for food, when they reached in this area, they found millet, which in their language called Omugusha”. So according to the presence of Millet or Omugisha as it was commonly known by the Ankole people, when they reached in the area they started asking for Omugusha (millet) to eat. But the people who were in this area were Baganda and they would not pronounce the word as the Ankole people, so they called it Masaka and that was the beginning of the word hence naming that word to the area.
Masaka District was first established in the 1900’s comprising what were the Kingdom counties of Buddu, Kooki, Kabula and Mawogola. Initially, Kooki and Kabula were peeled off to form Rakai District. Later, the northern part of Rakai District was removed to form Lyantonde District. In 1997, Mawogola County was split from Buddu and was named Sembabule District. Buddu remained as Masaka District.
During the colonial period Uganda was split into administrive districts and Masaka was one of them. The district has a rich cultural heritage. It has also a diversity of ethnicities of about 40 ethnic groups though the majority of the people are Baganda followed by the Banyankole, Banyarwanda and Banyoro. But most of the tribes practice Buganda culture. The main language spoken is Luganda and the staple food of the area is Matooke.
The major economic activities in Masaka include food crop agriculture for example matooke, sweetpotatoes, pineapples, and tomatoes. Cash crop agriculture including coffee and cotton, Animal Ranching consisting of cattle, goats, pigs and chicken. Further more there is also fishing on Lake Victoria and fishing farming. Some people earn a living in small scale industries like Coffee processing, manufacture of soft drinks, metal fabrication/welding and Retail trade.
Things to Do in Masaka
Lake Nabugabo Holiday and Conference Centre
The centre is situated at the shores of Lake Nabugabo in Masaka district, about 21 kms from Masaka town. The estate was originally sponsored by missionaries and later handed over to the Church of Uganda for use as a holiday resort and conference centre. There are a number of activities carried out and these include; canoeing, Sport Fishing and recreation on the sand beaches, Bird watching, swimming and camping. Besides camping they also have holiday resort accommodation facilities. The resort has enormous potential for development of modern water sports.
Sand Beach Nabugabo
This is situated about 23 kilometers from Masaka town, at the shores of Lake Nabugabo. It is popular for annual canoeing competitions. It is also popular for motor rallying events, fishing, and camping, beautiful bandas/cottages. Other activities include recreational activities like beach volleyball and beach football. It is an excellent place for family outings. Bird watching is one of the activities that were recently launched and this is done either around the lake area on the side of the beach. One can also take a canoe to an Island in the lake or on the other side of the lake across the beach.
The Sand Beach, like Lake Nabugabo Resort, also offers chance for development of water sports on Lake Nabugabo.
This activity has significant potential in the District, as a tourist attraction. Its market ranges from domestic to international tourism. The products include experiences regarding improved banana growing methods, cattle zero-grazing and other forms of sustainable agriculture.
Community tourism opportunities available in Masaka District include community trail walks, market visits and short-stays with communities. The gentle hilly terrain coupled with green cover offer good opportunity for nature walk.
The district is home to rich Ganda cultural performances. Already, many organized groups commercially conduct performances. Cultural performances, including storytelling, may be developed to enhance the menu of the over-night tourist package.
Bukakata Landing Site
This area is the tourist gateway to the tourist hub of Kalangala and areas of Lake Victoria. Development of tourist related service infrastructure such as crafts shops and lodges would enhance tourism activity within Masaka District.
Crafts and Souvenirs Industry
There are dedicated crafts/souvenirs shops found in Masaka Town especially along the main street. Masaka is endowed with a number of wetlands whose materials can be utilized for production of crafts for domestic market and export. Some tree plants, commonly grown in the district, such as the banana and back-cloth trees, provide raw materials that can be used by the crafts industry.
|Languages spoken||English, Luganda|
|Currency used||Uganda Shillings|