Mbale is a town in eastern Uganda, at the foot of Mount Elgon. The town was founded at the beginning of the twentieth century by a Muganda named Semei Kanungulu, who worked with the British to help establish the Protectorate.

Mbale means ‘hard rock’ in the local language, Lugishu, after a large rock where the town was founded. The area was largely uninhabited when Kakungulu created the town. He set about creating a settlement, building houses and bringing in trade. The British were impressed with his progress.

Kakungulu spent the last 15 years of his life in Mbale, and is buried there. He also founded the Abayudaya Jewish sect. There is still a small Ugandan Jewish community in Mbale, and there stands a synagogue built on land left by Kakungulu.

Mbale was situated on a trade route between Kampala and the coast, and traders moved in, including a large number from Asia, contributing to Mbale’s development and the town flourished. Milton Obote referred to it as the ‘Jewel of East Africa’.

The town suffered when the Asians were expelled from Uganda in 1972 – a declaration Idi Amin made in the neighbouring town of Tororo.

Experience the multicultural influence on the town on our Asian Heritage Trail tour.

About Changing Horizons

Changing Horizons is a tour company which specialises in travel to sites of historical interest in East Africa.

Our tours take you to places that are identified with past events and experiences, such as sites of great discovery, like the source of the Nile, or sites of great sacrifice, like the shrine of the Christian martyrs.

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