Wednesday October 24 2012

Najjanankumbi: Home to ‘Uganda’s most beautiful women’


Najjanankumbi is also home to Forum for Democratic Change’s headquarters Photos By Constance Obonyo 

By Constance Obonyo

Najjanankumbi is a suburb 4km south of Kampala, that lies astride the Kampala- Entebbe highway. It is bordered by Kibuye to the north, Kabowa to the west, Makindye to the south-east, Lukuli to the east, Ndeeba to the north-west and Namasuba to the south.
It is made up of two parishes. Najjanankumbi I consisits of Church Zone, Namuli Zone, Central Zone and Busabala Zone. Najjanankumbi II consists of Stella Zone, Quarters Zone, Masanyalaze Zone and Kizito Zone.

Hajji B. B. Katongole is the deputy Sub-county chief of Rubaga-Mengo in Buganda Kingdom and also LC 1 Chairman of Church Zone in Najjanankumbi. He moved to the area when he was 23 years old. According to him, before people moved into the area, it used to be inhabited by the Kabaka’s servants called Ba Musenero. They were charged with preparing the Kabaka’s banana juice. They did just that. They never dug or performed any other duties, because they were not supposed to touch the ground. They sat at home, while their wives worked.
And whenever a woman died, the handle of her hoe would be removed and the hoe buried under banana stems in her garden. The handle would then be taken to her kitchen and placed where firewood was kept. The significance of the ritual was that the woman had not died, but continued to dig and cook.
Whenever a passerby found the overgrown homestead and garden and asked why the situation was so, instead of saying his wife had died, the homeowner would answer saying, ‘Najja na nkumbi na sigaza muyini,’ meaning, “I came with a hoe, but I retain just the handle,” or “I came with a wife, but I am left with the handle of a hoe.” Hence the name ‘Najjanankumbi.’
Hajji Katongole also says the original name for Church Zone was Serinyabbi. The people who used to dig there did not want the farm soil to erode downhill. So they built many water channels criss-crossing it. Travellers found it difficult to cross the village, so they called it “Ekyalo eky’ebi nya nya ebibi,” meaning, “The village with many horrible pits,” or “Ekyalo kya seri nya bbi.”

New names
But that in 1986 when President Museveni took power, his people came with their own system of local government and practices. They did not ask the local people for guidance on the names of places.
So the people who were doing the demarcation named places according to landmarks, or whatever looked good to them. They named places according to churches, people’s names or if they found a village in the middle of other villages, they named it “Central Zone.”
He says although it helped them with local administration, that system erased the importance of many things in many villages. So from Serinyabbi, the place is now called Church Zone, although the parish is still called Najjanankumbi.

Land, rent, accommodation
The people are on bibanja and do not own land titles. There is another part that lies on Mailo land. These people have land titles. That a 50ft x 100ft plot can go for about Shs150m, if it by a road. If it is not by a road, it can go for about Shs100m.
A one-room bedsit goes for between Shs50,000 and Shs80,000 in rent. Whole houses range from between Shs250,000 to Shs500,000. And that some go for even up to Shs1,000,000.
According to Mr Tony Sekeba Luswata, a sales agent with Wilken Property Services Ltd., an acre of land in Najjanankumbi can go for between Shs700m and Shs900m, depending on its location. A 100ft x 100ft plot can be anywhere between Shs350m and Shs450m.
For rent, a one bedroom self contained house goes for between Shs200,000 and Shs350,000, depending on its quality and location. A two-bedroomed house goes for between Shs400,000 and Shs700,000, depending on its quality and location. A three bedroomed house goes for between Shs800,000 and Shs1.5m.

He says Najjanankumbi is a good place to live in, because it is near the Central Business District. He names the important landmarks as Kenjoy Supermarket, the FDC Headquarters, Stella Town, Freedom City Mall and Nyondo Pub, among others.

According to Hajji Katongole, the Police is trying to keep the place secure, but that wrong people form the majority of the population. He explains that the security system that came with the local government system, the LDU system, caused a deterioration in security. That at the moment, security is not good.
He advises people in the area to get home by 6pm, to be safe and although people walk around all night long, they tend to get problems. That those who are pressed should get home by 10pm, not walk along lonely spots and should get boda bodas from the roads to their homes.
Najjanankumbi also has a big number of refugees. There are more than 300 in Church Zone alone. They are from as far as Nigeria, Somalia, Eritrea, Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. They are said to attest to the fact that the reception they have received in Uganda is second to none.

Transport to and from Najjanankumbi is about Shs1,000 by taxi, although it is negotiable, especially if you are headed to town. During peak hours, it can shoot to Shs1,500, one way.