Bwebajja is a residential hamlet on a large elongated hill, 20km south of Kampala. Situated along Entebbe Road, Bwebajja is far enough from Kampala and Entebbe town centres, to enjoy a special quiet that is almost reminiscent of country life, and close enough for the residents to commute to either town daily.
The westward side of the hill is a residential area for the middle class. On this side of the hill, the homes are regular, three to four-bedroom mansions similar to those in other nice residences in the general Kampala metropolitan area. Nothing special here.
What takes your breath away are the homes on the east-facing side. This is no ordinary village. This is not your usual rich people’s neighbourhood. The likes of Munyonyo, Lubowa and Muyenga are incomparable to this part of Bwebajja in terms of the quality of property. There is an air of aristocracy here. It is the millionaires club. It is the Hamptons of Uganda.
The houses here are not mansions in the classic sense of the word but rather, palaces fit for actual kings ruling over large prosperous kingdoms. Yet unlike actual palaces, they carry the aura of the vanity of an oligarch.
To say that these palaces are thoroughly intimidating is a glaring understatement.
There is a sense of lastingness that one would expect to see around the seat of a monarchy. Some of them are so big (20 bedrooms plus) and so expensive that an Arabian oil baron would marvel at the opulence of them.
The average size of the yard here is half an acre. The roofs so complex, the spires so many they remind one of the gothic cathedrals of medieval Europe. These are modern castles; citadels of economic power in a country that lives on handouts from China and the west, to put it lightly.
Bwebajja is a perfect vintage point for anyone that wants to see the hellish chasm that has grown between the rich and the poor.
A great number of the locals in Bwebajja have been left below the poverty line.
Nonetheless, they still mingle with the crème de la crème of the hill. They are mostly bodaboda riders, porters and such other trades. They know the owners of these palaces because most of them were here when the houses started coming up less than 20 years ago.
But when they mention the owners, their voices take a dip. A dread comes over their faces as though they fear that they might be under surveillance. You would think the whole hill belongs to a dangerous mafia.
“Everybody thinks such and such a businessman owns that palace, but really, it belongs to so and so,” they will whisper a government big shot. Hearing the names, you’d think Uganda is oligarchy.
The names belong to the inner circle in government.
A standard plot (50x100ft) here is in the range of Shs200m but according to locals, you would need serious connections in high places to get to own one.
Luckily, by this time next year, we will all be middle income status, so this may be the ripe time to start making the right friendships. Good luck.