By Alex Baluku
KASESE, UGANDA —Kyiriba Kyathumba, situated in Kibenge cell, Nyakabingo II ward in Bulembia Division of Kasese Municipality, draw mammoth crowds where people with a variety of health complications come to immerse in the springs, believing the natural waters are healing.
Scene of people almost naked resting in water in a pond-like formation is the first to inform you that you have arrived at the healing place. Women and men of all ages seem to be enjoying the water in the spring. People with ailments on the body dip that particular part in the water to get healed.
There is no age limitation and the patients say everybody is entitled to the free healing powers, or the medication, of the waters. There is no case discrimination. Whatever illness one has, they all meet and mix in the same water for as long as they want. The spring welcomes many sick persons from different districts of Rwenzori Region and from different corners of the country however during this period of the Covid-19 Pandemic the numbers coming to the hot spring have drastically reduced from 100 to around 30 on a daily basis.
The Characteristic behavior at the waters is for everyone willing to soak in the waters strip off clothing and get into the boiling waters. “The shy do not get healed” one of the locals says.
The hot spring cleanses one’s body, as the waters are rich in a number of minerals, including calcium sulfate. Many patients do not care about the chemical composition of the water. What matters to them is they feel a lot better after soaking in the hot springs.
The people who come to soak in the hot spring refer to themselves as patients, although there is no doctor to diagnose the nature of their diseases and the science behind the healing powers in the hot spring remain unknown as it is not scientifically proved. To soak in the pools is 1000 and tis money was levied to clients for the purposes of maintenance at the hot springs. Also, one is subjected to massage upon request but at a cost of between 2000/= and 4000/= shillings.
Kyiriba Kyathumba, Theories
Theories are given by the local authorities regarding the formation of the hot spring. They say that the place simply happened as a creation of God to cure various ailments of many.
The second theory of the formation of the hot springs is a geographical one, which explains how hot magma forms in the mantle of the Earth.
A line of weakness formed in the Earth’s crust and forced its way out, spilling hot magma onto the Earth’s surface and as a result of the hot magma the outlet continues to issue hot water, connecting the Earth’s crust to the world above.
The healing powers at Kyiriba Kyathumba have been a surprise for this reporter who grew up in a Christian household where little is said about it. However, one of his favorite is now the hot spring that the people of Kasese believe have physical and spiritual healing powers predominantly for skin diseases.
According to this reporter, when he decided to do this story, he had backache but every time he visited the spring, he made sure he bath in the waters. He said that it’s so hot when you sit in the waters, but as time go on, you get used.
What is the historical background of Kyiriba Kyathumba as a cultural Heritage?
Kyiriba Kyathumba hot springs (also known as Kibenge) are valued by the Bakonzo and other ethnic groups for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Spiritual leaders, bonesetters and ridge leaders cleanse themselves in the hot springs before performing the rituals that keep the local communities thriving.
It is said that engaging in the immoral behaviors such as fighting, having sexual intercourse while in the waters, destroying the natural landscape and blaspheming the sacred names of the spiritual beings of the Bakonzo especially the water deity are seen as desecrating the site. Offenders risk punishment by the spirits which may affect them or their relatives today and in the future.
Visit Kyiriba Kyathumba
Take a boda boda from Kasese town, off Kilembe road to Kibenge, it will cost you 1000/=. The drive to the hot spring is about 4 kilometers.