Ibanda’s pyramid of Galt

Friday March 23 2018

Authoritarian. As sub-commissioner of Western Uganda, Harry George Galt made his subjects carry him. COURTESY PHOTO.

The pile of stones that stands in form of a pyramid in Ibanda District may not strike you as significant. However, as Deus Mulinde, municipal mayor of Ibanda, will tell you, this is a historic spot that the district is planning to develop as a tourist site.
Now 112 years old, the spot called pyramid of Galt is the location where a former British commissioner was killed by the locals. Unfortunately though, the site is now so bushy that it has become a habitat for snakes.
The former tax collector and the sub-commissioner for the Western Uganda province, Harry George Galt was killed on May 19, 1905.
The first attempt to upgrade the pyramid-shaped pile of stones to a tourism site was by Ankole Kingdom in the 1950s, but this failed until kingdoms were abolished in 1966.
Later, when districts took over as administrative units, Mbarara District local government also tried to develop the site but never realised its dream until it lost jurisdiction to the new Ibanda District.
Galt’s reign of terror
Harry George Galt was a British colonial officer, serving as the Sub-commissioner of the Western Province of Uganda. Born on January 28, 1872 in Emsworth in Hampshire in Great Britain, his first assignment on arrival in the British protectorate of Uganda was as a tax collector for the Ankole Sub-region.
He was later appointed the sub-commissioner for the Western Uganda province. He is said to have been a cruel officer who treated the local people harshly.
On May 19, 1905 as the newly appointed provincial officer, Galt allegedly forced the local people to carry him on their heads from Fort Portal to Ibanda.
“When the people got tired they requested him to let them rest, he refused and ordered them to march on until they reached Ibanda - Paka Banda he said in his broken Runyankore, meaning, “Up to Ibanda.”
The porters complied up to Katooma, 3 km from Ibanda Town after the Kagongo Catholic Church where he stopped and rested in a Government house.
As the locals rehashed Galt’s cruelty, a man named Rutaraka got riled by the officer’s acts and he picked up a spear, headed towards Galt who was sitting in the government house compound and speared him in the chest. Galt died after a short time.
Plans for memorial
A street in Mbarara Town was later named after Galt starting from Stanley Road on Boma hill opposite the Public Library.
Rev. Can George Nkoba, one of the neighbours says that the pyramid is as old as 112 years and all the governments in Uganda have since neglected it and only promote Ibanda District negatively.
“People only say that people of Ibanda District are killers yet it is not,” he added.
Deus Mulinde, the municipal mayor and Aggrey Mushabe, the chairman of Kagongo Division where the pyramid is found said that they will start developing it the next financial year.