cloth, was originally built in 1882 as a palace and then became a royal tomb. The building had been significantly repaired since its construction including the insertion of steel and concrete supports in 1938.
As a first response to this tragedy, the Director-General of UNESCO decided to dispatch a mission led by the World Heritage Centre and including experts from the African World Heritage Fund and CRATerre-ENSAG. The mission was undertaken from 7 to 9 April 2010. Its primary objective was to assess the extent of the damage, and discuss with the relevant
authorities actions to be taken, including the possible reconstruction of the Mpanga building. The mission observed that almost the entire building was entire vegetal structure (wooden poles, rings), the thatch, the bark clothes royal artefacts and kingdom symbols had been consumed by the fire.
Muzibu Azaala destroyed. The and part of the The steel roof
structure introduced in 1938 bent completely due to the poles which were supporting the steel structure were partition brick walls were still standing. The reed fence been also seriously damaged. The mission observed
high temperatures, and the concrete deformed. Only the peripheral and and trees all over the property have that many traditions and practices
could no longer be performed as a result of this are considered sacred were now exposed to traumatism amongst the people of Uganda.
destruction. In addition, outside elements such
The mission was informed that immediately after the incident, the State Party had established a Cabinet Committee, which has been requested to investigate the cause of the fire. The Buganda Kingdom which is the main site’s custodian also established a Technical and Building Committee to oversee the reconstruction process and organized a mourning ceremony and performed a series of traditional ceremonies in the tombs.
The mission supported the general agreement that the Muzibu Azaala Mpanga should be reconstructed.
The mission stressed the importance of not hastening the reconstruction. The mission considered that the overall reconstruction process should be seen as an educational and training opportunity. The mission particularly stressed the need for time to be taken with the reconstruction, in spite of pressure from the general public to see the place reconstructed as soon as possible, as an over-hastened reconstruction would be detrimental, because of the complexity of the structure, the intangible components associated with it, and the shortage of traditional skilled labour. It advised the State Party that reconstruction without proper studies could bring irreversible changes and might impair the remaining Outstanding Universal Value of the property. Therefore a reconstruction strategy, that clearly states how the building is to be constructed and the evidence base that is to be used would need to be agreed by both the Uganda Government and the Buganda Kingdom authorities.
The following recommendations were made by the mission team: 1) Emergency assistance request
The mission recommended that an Emergency assistance request be submitted by the State Party in order to allow implementation of the following activities:
Professional sifting of the wreckage ;
Construction of temporary shelters over the royal tombs to allow ritual ceremonies and practices to be maintained;
Mounting a temporary exhibition to present Muzibu Azaala Mpanga as it was before the fire incident;
National sensitization workshop on the reconstruction process and the implementation of the management plan;
State of conservation of World Heritage properties inscribed on the World Heritage List
WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add, p. 93