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Uganda's hilltop worship sites and churches keep European aesthetic

Around Kampala, as in many other parts of the country, Uganda is a city of hills. Churches and shrines are generally located on tops of those hills, even though this means it is a difficult uphill walk for many believers who live below. In pre-Christian times, worship to local deities was offered at the top of hills as well. Christian churches and Muslim mosques have largely supplanted those spots, though at one hilltop church a priest pointed to a nearby wooded hilltop where people, including Christians, persisted in worshiping local gods.

Meanwhile, Uganda’s churches, often made of brown brick, seem to want to root the church in the very earth of Uganda.

Many churches feature images of the Uganda Martyrs, but aside from that the imagery of Catholicism in statues and pictures tends to be very European, usually in a 19th-century devotional style. At Mass, the music often draws on Ugandan precedents, but the image of the clergy, including the vestments and crucifixes, is generally very European. 

Devotional objects such as rosaries, pictures and statues play an important role in Ugandan Catholic culture. These also overwhelmingly tend to be European in style, with no attempts to indigenize the forms.

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