Away from Uganda’s famous attractions, (Gorillas, chimpanzees, and other natural attractions), in the district of Kumi a few kilometers off the Eastern Safari Circuit, are six rock shelters on a rock out crop with Art created by ancient tribes of Uganda-The Nyero Rock Paintings. These the finest of the several rock art sites and other archeological sites scattered around Uganda and they are recognized by UNESCO World heritage and are on its tentative list.
Nyero Rock Paintings are Uganda’s oldest rock art, painted on the granite outcrops of Moru Ikara with figures that consecrate circles, animals, canoes, and other shapes. The site is 10km away in the west of Kumi town. The paintings date from 1250 CE and the research that has been made on the paintings indicate that they are formal in nature.
Formerly 3 of these were recorded and locals regarded and still regard them as shrines and they perform rituals here but archeological studies and ethnographic evidence has attributed the paintings on the rocks to ancient groups of the Batwa who are said to have once lived in the area.
The 1st of the 6 rock panels is a small rock hanging above 3 supporting rocks. It has paintings of the acacia pods and concentric circles. The 2nd and which is the main panel, is a vertical rock about 10m high and has an overhanging that protect the painting from the rain, sun and erosion. The red paintings on this boulder are dominated by the concentric circles, and has other different drawings (over 40) on it.
The 3rd is an inselberg perched on a supporting rock. The 4th and 5th on the western side of the site have few painting and the 6th is on top of a rocky hill with view of the surrounding area.
The rocks are an intangible heritage believed to be sacred places of the gods and are valuable by the Itesots. Clans and individuals hold prayers here seasonally to thank their gods. The rock paintings are also protected legally by the Republic of Uganda by an article in the constitution that govern the protection of cultural property and UNESCO World Heritage added it to its tentative list in September 1997.
Accessing Nyero Rock Paintings.
The site is off the Kumi-Ngora Road. It is about a Kilometer from Nyero town, 10km from Kumi town. It is clearly signposted and about 100m off the road and is open daily. An entrance fee of about 5 dollars gets you to this historical and cultural site.
A site guide will lead you as you tour around and as he recites the history of the place and taking you to the different panels with the different paintings.