Omujinda in Luganda and Runyakitara was understood as a house for temporary shelter for someone in authority who had a government duty to perform around the area.
Built by colonialists before the independence of Uganda in 1962, they look too inappropriately designed to accommodate today’s family. Moreover, few people know for what purpose they were built. Those who do, do not have the time, space and energy to educate the public on these interesting but vital old homes found nearly in every county of Uganda.
However, although very old today, mijinda houses are still elegant to look at from both the exterior and interior. They are a perfect example of good quality construction techniques, let alone the fact that the materials used were of superior quality.
The basic layout of the house consists of: one big sitting room (4×4 metres) and one bedroom of similar size. The rest are only two tiny rooms (hardly 1×2.5 metres) suitable for a security man’s resting place or a bathroom for a bachelor village dweller. They were constructed using modern clay bricks, plastered and painted, complete with clay tiles and 26-gauge iron sheets for roofing. The house was complete with a wide verandah and a fireplace for cold areas such as Kigezi. There are commonly “outer quarters” of three bedrooms of a size of by 3 metres each and a tiny kitchen of 2×2 metres.
There was also an external pit latrine, placed at least 30 metres away from the building as per the old colonial health regulations. The homestead had a grass compound and trees around. All these were enclosed in a live hedge.
Today, most of these formally government buildings still exist. They were “privatized” mostly to the Anglican Church in Uganda and a few to schools. This was after the attainment of independence, when the sensitization slogan seemed to be, “Let us get rid of the muzungu’s hard way of governance.”
The sole purpose for which mijinda houses were built was to house key civil servants temporarily while they were on duty to monitor and evaluate government programmes all over the county in all sectors for social and economic development.
Mzee Erinasani Bisamunyu, formerly a Member of Parliament for Rukiga constituency in the 1960s, had this to say: “Oh yes, the district commissioner, veterinary, agricultural and health officers and government auditors would take turns to visit and inspect all government programmes in all areas down to today’s LC1 cells. Woe betide the gombolola chief, if he did not fulfil the measures for the social and economic development of his people. He was accordingly promoted or sacked based on his performance.”
The concept of Mijinda House was discarded as soon as Uganda got its Independence in the belief that this was a bad colonial idea to over demand from Leaders accountability