Nyero Rock Paintings

Nyero Rock Paintings in Eastern Uganda

Nyero Rock Paintings are found Kumi District in eastern Uganda, 8 kilometers west of Kumi town and about 250 kilometers from Kampala City. These rock paintings are among the most essential rock art in Uganda. This place is among the many cultural tourists sites in Uganda that the country is proud of for being a pillar for cultural tourism.

Nyero rock paintings date many centuries back and were first documented in 1913 and later researchers described them as fundamentally of geometric nature. The Nyero type of rock painting is a fragment of a similar belief repeatedly portrayed in red pigment, scattering across east, central and areas of southern Africa, corresponding with the distribution of the Late Stone Age collector culture.

The art of Nyero rocks is largely credited to Twa (Batwa) hunter-gatherers of the Pygmy origin. These presently live in Eastern Africa but in small groups near the Rwanda and Uganda borders and parts of eastern Congo. It is probable that the Twa hunter-gatherer societies at one time lived in these rock art places. The moved on possibly due to the coming of the present-day natives including the Bantu groups and Nilotic, Luo. The paintings augment the traditional distinctiveness of the people of Iteso in particular and Africa at large.

Nyero Rock Structures 

Nyero rock Paintings also among the tourist sites in Eastern Uganda have six shelters and these include Nyero 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 as elaborated below.

Nyero 1

It is tiny rock shelter shaped by a low swinging rock hovering overhead the three backup rocks. On the outside verge of the overhang, there are six sets of concentric rounds in white, together with paintings in the form of acacia pods.

Nyero 2

This one is the leading shelter and a 10 metre tall perpendicular rock against the back wall and an outcrop designed by the breakaway of a huge stone expected to weigh at least 20,000 tones. The overhang defends the paintings from rain. Whereas the rocks to the sides and in front protect the paintings from the sun. All the paintings are in red shades. The concentric circles dominate and more than 40 different depictions were recorded. There is a large Acacia Pod-like design that named a canoe. On the south-eastern part of the shelter, a thin route between the stones clues to a minor, dark shelter where there is a small hole called the ‘pocket’. In the pocket is where the early occupants used to give gifts to their idols appreciating any kind of help from them. Some folks in local public still do the practice of offering money there either earlier or after benefiting from the ancestral spirits.

Nyero 3

This one is at the far northerly edge of the Inselberg and roughly an eight minutes’ hike from Nyero 2. Nyero three shaped by a bulky rock hanging on top of the supportive rocks with no standing chamber. While in the artificial defensive wall, guests must bend low downcast to touch the far end where an extra non-natural wall makes it less risky and permits a widespread observation of the land lower. The painting at this shelter entails a white concentric circles; the external circles are encircled by twin-curved plans. Between the two are twofold lines separated into minor cubicles.

Nyero 4

This small shelter on the south-western part of the hill is where you find a few touches of the red finger-painted concentric circles of two pointed lines and shapes.

Nyero 5

Nyero five is on the western side of the hill next to a primary school. This one has a red symmetrical theme poised of a mixture of globular and lined shapes finished with a brush and a finger. Regrettably, a portion of it has been broken by natural water attrition.

Nyero 6

This one is positioned high on the hilltop with a fine view of the neighboring countryside. It has traces of red color making two finger-painted sketches of small egg-shaped figures and a leaning L-shape plus a delineated cross with a small round underneath. The decorated exterior is accessible by the rain and morning sun.

Intangible heritage

The Nyero Rock art sites are assumed to have been holy seats of the gods. The white and red paintings continue to be prized by the Teso people but as well secretive as the portraitists remain unknown to date. In the past, the people of Nyero used to make Offertories to the gods asking for rain, bad luck, benedictions and child-bearing among others. Clan supplications were held on a regular basis. Verbalized history has chronicled robust connection to sites however the government in 1970s stopped people from praying. Traces of smolder from sacrifices remain visible today in some of the caves. The association of a sanctified prayer place in the bumper zone endures to attract close populations to the site.

Lawful Safeguards at Nyero Rock Paintings

The 1995 constitution of the Republic of Uganda provides for the legal framework for protecting the heritage site. Under the national goals and directive principles of state policy (XXV), requires the state to preserve and safeguard Uganda’s heritage. Furthermore, Article 178 (13) of the same constitution permits the state to gazette, own and manage the national cultural places and sites. In article 189 (1) schedule 6 (10), the constitution empowers the central Government to manage the national monuments, archives and antiquities.

The Historical Monuments Act of 1967 plus the amendment decree of 1977 calls for safeguarding of Cultural Property in Uganda. Whereas the Historical Monuments Act 1967, Cap 46 emphasizes the protection and preservation of historical monuments plus objects of pale-ontological, archaeological, ethnographic and traditional importance. Rock Art sites and properties of cultural worth identified, conserved and promoted are legitimately secured properties of the State. In the event of any alteration, destruction or other violations are sentenced to a half year imprisonment or pay a fine.

Access to Nyero Rock Paintings

The paintings are simply reachable from the gravel road between Ngora and Kumi roughly a kilometer the west of Nyero. Visitors pay entrance fees and are allocated a guide at the gate to take them around on a guided. A knowledgeable guide will narrate the historical facts about the site  as he takes visitors to all corners of the cultural attraction. On 10th September 1997, the site was added to the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Cultural category.