Right along the border separating Kampala District from Kiira Municipality, lies Banda town. It largely sits on two slopes, and the valley in between, facing each other from either the side at the five kilometre mark of the Kampala-Jinja highway.
The hill on which Banda sits holds a special place among the Baganda. It’s home to one of the Kabaka of Buganda’s palaces. It is also home to some a number of historical education institutions.
According to Robinah Babirye, the LC1 Chairperson of Banda Zone 6, the place was originally called Bandabalogo.
At Banda, Muteesa 1 faced many ill fortunes, which he attributed to bad luck or witchcraft, hence the name Bandabalogo, (Wizards of Banda). He then went ahead and set up another Palace at Kyagwe.
However, presently, the reigning Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda upholds the palace at Banda with the entrance facing West as is the tradition.
Babirye says over the years, Banda has been host to many cultures of people with many Iteso and Acholi settling there. It led to springing up of many malwa joints, which at some point gave Banda the name Bandamalwa, coined from the very many malwa joints in the neighbourhood.
Banda is made up of 11 zones. It attracts large crowds of people because it is in the vicinity of Kyambogo Univeristy. Most of these are university students who seek accommodation in the area.
It is also home to many warehouses and car bonds in Nakawa.
Melting pot for classes
In Banda, two worlds merge, the slum dwellers that live in the lower run-down area with a collection of unplanned ramshackle temporary buildings, and, the comparatively well off, who live on the higher slopes.
A walk through these flooded slums opens up to poor and unhealthy living situations. With dirty water flowing right through the front of one’s door and rubbish littered all over the place. The high end, where the middle classes stay, is also characterised by scattered un-planned structures alive with small businesses.
In Banda, you can educate your child from Primary school all the way up to University. You will find schools like Waterford Nursery and Primary School, Nabisunsa Girls’ School (a public residential all-girls high school), Kyambogo College School (a mixed, public non-residential secondary school), and Kyambogo University, one of the five leading public Universities in Uganda.
Housing and development have grown in tandem with the advent of the University, which was formed from merging of Uganda Polytechnic Kyambogo, Institute of Teacher Education Kyambogo (ITEK) and Uganda National Institute of Special Education (UNISE.)
It has attracted many developers who have set up hostels like Bavana, Wilshere, among others and other commercial structures to support businesses such as internet cafes, pubs and stationery shops.
However, Moses Muhimbise, a businessman based at Banda, says business is struggling. This is especially in the holiday period when all the students go back home. Students constitute the biggest market. There are also supermarkets like Home Care supermarket and Banda Market, which serve the community with house hold and food items.
Accommodation in Banda is affordable with a single room going for as low as Shs150,000 a month. A two roomed house ranges from Shs70,000-100,000 in the lower Banda and Shs150,000 to Shs200,000 in upper Banda. The costs can also go as high as Shs250,000 to Shs300,000 and this depends on such facilities as having a bathroom and kitchen inside. A self-contained house in a fence ranges from Shs500,000 to Shs700,000 a month.
For the labourers and hawkers in town depending on which part of Banda you may choose, housing can go as low as shs50,000 and such units are many in lower Banda in small crowded units with drainage channels passing in front of your house door.
Land in Banda is very expensive, with a plot going for from Shs28m upwards and this keeps on increasing depending on the location and nature of the plot. There are mostly loose surface roads running through Banda.
However, the security in Banda is not good to the extent that you cannot even trust the people around your own neighbourhood, according to the L.C.I chairperson. She attributes the high theft cases to unemployment, with majority of the youth lounging around idly, which compels them to join gangs of thieves. Cases of death and robberies of shops, bodabodas are very common in Banda. The banning of traders from the city centre has also led to increase in the population of people who come around to seek market especially from the university students.
Banda is very easy to access as it lies along the major Kampala Jinja highway, with taxis charging as low as Shs1, 000 off peak and Shs1, 500 during peak hours from the taxi park. You don’t have to worry about feeling out of place because in Banda, all cultures are represented