Kabale Municipality located in South Western Uganda is one of the old thirteen municipalities in Uganda. Kabale Municipality borders with Kitumba Sub-County in the South and West, Bubaare in Rubanda district to the north, and Kyanamira to the East.
Kabale Municipality is the main center of activity for the Kabale district and entire South-Western Uganda. It is a vibrant town and a regional transport hub because it has the main road links to Kisoro, Kanungu, Kihihi, Ntungamo, and Rukungiri districts. It also serves as a transit to Rwanda through the Katuna border situated 22 km away from the town and the Democratic Republic of Congo through Kisoro at Bunagana border post.
Getting to Kabale from Kampala requires a total of about 6-7 hours on the road since it is about 409.1 km via Masaka Rd and Kabale – Mbarara Rd.
Kabale derives its name from a small stone that originated from a piece of iron ore that was so heavy and attracted people from far and wide to appreciate it. It was first visited by the then colonial district administrator G.E.E Sullivan.
Perhaps due to its picturesque characteristics such as the undulating hills and the cool weather, the colonial government identified the current location of Kabale municipality as the suitable site for the administrative headquarters of Kigezi by 1913.
In 1932, Kabale was recognised as a township authority and was dominated by the Asian traders because of its proximity to neighboring countries such as Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 1958, it was declared a town board. It assumed a town council status in 1962 and was declared a municipality in 1984.
In terms of area, Kabale municipality is approximately 33 square kilometers.
The population living in the municipality is predominantly Bakiga who form the majority, Bafumbira, Banyankole, Banyarwanda, and others include: Baganda, Acholi/Luo, Batoro, and there are no established cultural units.
The municipality occupies part of Makanga hill, Rugarama hill, and Rushoroza hill and extends into the valley between Makanga, Mugabi, Rugarama, Rutooma, Karubanda, and Kihumuro hills. The altitude ranges between 1800-2000 meters above sea level.
Kabale exhibits a cool climate with temperatures ranging between 10.9-24.4 degrees with a mean annual rainfall between 1000-1250mm. There are two rain seasons with the heavier rains occurring between March to May and the lesser rains between September and November. Over the years, there has been a tremendous climatic change due to increased human activity in the environment.
Originally, Kabale was associated with very low temperatures, foggy and devoid of malaria which is common in warmer areas. Today, Kabale is warmer, less foggy and there is an increase in the occurrence of Malaria.
Owing to its location in the Valley bottom, Kabale faces a serious drainage problem. Large volumes of stormwater descend from the hills onto the town severely straining the current drainage system.
When you think about visiting the Kigezi region, Kabale is undoubtedly the best place to have your most memorable experience of the Switzerland of Africa.
As you head to Kabale municipality, you are assured of stunning scenery characterized by the sprawling hills that would leave any adventurous hiker filled with satisfaction.
The expectation of being hosted at Africa’s second deepest lake, Lake Bunyonyi makes your trip to Kabale a worthwhile desire.
From Kabale municipality, one can consider a quick visit to Lake Bunyonyi where a ride around the beautiful lake Bunyonyi gives you a perfect description of the wonderful world of God’s creative hands. Endowed with 29 islands, each of these craftily positioned and with unique features from the other.
Other sections of tourism that can be sorted while in Kabale include;
Social and religious tourism:
Kabale is a renowned center of worship in Uganda with a special touch of exception. For the Anglican faith, the place is popular for the birth of the East African Revival Movement in Uganda. The fruits of this fellowship are still evident up to this day.
Energetic songs of praise in the most adorable kikiga way known as “ekiziino” will not only wow you but give you a worthy encounter.
After church, most Christians will spend close to an hour interacting with each other and for the Kabale edition, heartfelt hugs are a must witness.
For party animals, there is no place in Western Uganda where partying gets more interesting than Kabale. You may hardly tell the difference between a usual bar and a nightclub since all places are always full beyond capacity with loud desirable music, drinks, and excited people in.
Prior to a late evening experience, you can opt to visit one of the bushera (a mixture of millet and water) joints and try out a cup or jug of the famous “entire (a mixture of water, sorghum, and honey fermented together)” or “muramba( a mixture of sorghum and water)” drinks. These two special drinks are brewed better from Kabale than any other place in Uganda. If you ever visit Kabale and leave without tasting them, believe me, you will have denied yourself a taste of real African perfection.
From there, if you are a pork lover, try out the various joints for this irresistible delicacy which is found on every corner of Kabale town.
After such an evening, you surely deserve to go to a nightclub to shake your body since life is too short. In Kabale, whether you wanted to dance or not, the vigour exhibited by the rest of the revelers will leave you with no option but to get up and dance.
Kabale’s infrastructure is a moderate one since almost all required infrastructure for an urban setting is available. It is the base for Kigezi’s regional hospital at Kabale Regional Referral Hospital at Makanga hill.
Rugarama Hospital, a missionary private facility is another option for people who cannot find help at the government referral. More private clinics are available to handle any emergency medical needs.
In the Education sector, Kabale has a public university, Kabale University which started as a community university at Kikungiri hill. The Uganda Christian University constituent college of Bishop Barham University College at Rugarama hill is another option for University Education in Kabale while the Catholic founded Uganda Martyrs University has a branch in the area as well.
Kabale has several secondary, primary, and nursery schools.
For accommodation, Kabale offers both town-based and off-town facilities, especially around Lake Bunyonyi. Prominent accommodations include Cepha’s inn, White Horse Inn, Capricorn executive, Bunyonyi Overland Resort, Entusi Resort among others.
Accommodation costs range from Ugshs.30, 000= for Backpackers to about Ugshs.200, 000= for high-end travelers.
For public transportation around town, travelers have options of either using special hire cars or boda-bodas.
Apparently, Leaders in Kabale Municipality have embarked on a move to acquire a city status.
According to the Kabale Municipality Mayor, Ssentaro Byamugisha, they are focusing on having a regional city in Kabale since it is the center of the former Kigezi district.
“We are at the center of the 7 districts of Kigezi and apparently we have started engaging the leadership of the neighbouring sub-counties and legislators so as to have their support in this move. If the required councils approve the addition of their areas to the municipality we shall then advocate for city status,” said Byamugisha.
The targeted areas that should be added to Kabale municipality are Bubaare in the Rubanda district and Kyanamira from the Ndorwa East constituency.
Byamugisha said that with the current degree of decentralization in the country that is bringing services closer to people and the continued need of people to live in urban areas, city status is the best for Kabale.
He hopes that by the year 2020, they will have covered a wider range in the process of acquiring this status.
Andrew Aja Baryayanga, the Kabale Municipality Member of Parliament said that If Kabale gets a city status, their tax base will increase and thus more development will be realised.
“We shall also get more than triple of the support we currently receive from the central government because every division will become a municipality and more jobs will be availed to our people,” said Baryayanga.
Considering the tourism potential of Kabale, Baryayanga believes that with city status, the place will be more beautified and attractive to tourists visiting the region.
Samuel Arineitwe, the Central division chairperson said that his main wish is to see this realised in the shortest available time for them to celebrate their time in leadership.Read More
When most people visit Moroto, a small town built along with the vast ranges of Mountain Moroto, they can’t help but fall in love with it.
It is one of the few places in Africa that offers the best of both worlds: The rich authentic culture of yesterday’s Africa and, the pleasures that come with modernity; fancy hotels, cellphones, and ATMs, and internet cafes. It is difficult to access as it is over 500 kilometers from Kampala, but even more so to leave. Its population is 103,432.
Life on the Moroto streets
As you take a stroll on its spacious streets, most of which feature buildings built in post-colonial times, your ears will be confronted with a hectic mix of foreign languages.
It is mostly from locals who came for a visit only to return as permanent residents at the realization of the gem that is Karamoja. Despite this variation in originality though, the town seems to have less than few strangers. People constantly run into friends and acquaintances. It is like a family, everybody knows everybody. This explains why people are usually late for meetings. As they journey to their destinations for the day, they meet a batch of close ties they cannot help but exchange pleasantries with.
The courtesy is not exclusive to residents only. Through heartfelt smiles, they will happily welcome you to a home away from home.
Contrary to popular belief, the town is served with impressive tarmac. However, as you drive out of town, you start to encounter roads that are only wide enough for one car at a time. Driving is negotiated through series of elaborate hand gestures. Like these roads, everything in Moroto requires cooperation and is done communally, harvesting crops, protecting herds of cattle, getting married.
The latest development in the town is the construction of a UGX25Billion state-of-art complex of Moroto hospital. It is comprised of 10 departments, including an outpatient section, emergency wards for causalities and recovery.
According to the Hospital Director, Philbert Nyeko, the work which was concluded in October 2015 was funded by World Bank.
The establishment follows a recent elevation of the facility from a General Referral Hospital to Regional Referral Hospital status (on 1 July 2009). In its new state, the hospital which was built in the 1940s now has a capacity to handle 500 patients at once. This makes it a lifesaver in the Karamoja sub-region, a catchment area of 7 districts in the region which include: Moroto, Napak, Nakapiripirit, Kaboong, Kotido, Abim, and Amudat.
There is a considerable fraction that still herds cattle. Their looks may not be desirable as they are not fat but like a mother would love her child, they live and die for their cattle, just like their ancestors. They can’t bear to see them suffer as they are not only a means of dowry, but also symbolic of wealth. They would rather have a kraal full of cows than living an “air-conditioned” life. Beyond that, the culture of keeping cows is what connects them to their priceless heritage and roots. That is something they can never trade for anything under the sun, not even in their next life.
When the time for killing these cattle comes, they do so in the fastest but least painful ways. This is what sets them apart from ordinary farmers.
As carrying a flashy phone is the custom in developed cities, in Karamoja, carrying a stool and walking stick is the in-thing for men. Atop their heads is usually a hat that flirters their height making them look slightly taller than reality. This is partly because height is everything in Karamoja, an explanation as to why the giraffe comes across as their totem. The message behind this is stand tall and be strong. The symbolism also highlights their ability to strike dead anyone who threatens their cows with a single bullet, like a giraffe would strike dead any beastly carnivore with a single blow.
Generally, the locals are friendly and would not hesitate to invite you to their humble homes for lunch, especially in the harvest season when the town comes alive. Considering their land is faced with drought for much of the year, this season which usually comes around July and November is a big deal. So big that it usually prompts a festival-like celebration, one in which locals party from dusk to dusk while grooving to favorite local songs like Edonga. It is a traditional dance that entails jumping like the earth beneath one’s feet is ablaze with hot charcoal.
Activities/Things to do
Moroto is home to the Karamoja Museum, a wonderland that gives a deep insight into what the world was like before man was born. If looks are anything to go by, one would be forgiven for omitting a visit to this museum off their to-do list. On the outside, it looks just like an ordinary two-bedroomed rental house. What is more, it seems like forever since it received a fresh coat of paint. The little that is there is peeling off, making the building not very inviting. There is nothing fancy about the facility whose construction was spearheaded by the French Government. However, its inside is the exact opposite. It boasts of archeological findings that no amount of money can buy. Most of its fossil exhibits are over 3 million years old. They were mostly exhumed from mountains in the Karamoja region where they were buried as a result of volcanic activities. This includes teeth of the oldest known fossil monkey known in the world,19-20 million years back. Victoria pithecus macinneni is its name, it was roughly the size of a velvet monkey.
2.Hike Mountain Moroto
Over 60 years back, it gave Moroto its name, a Karamojong word that loosely translates as the rocky place. If you visit it, it will give you the most extraordinary views of the semi-arid District and its impressive collection of well-thatched manyattas. I am talking about Mountain Moroto, a landmark that has turned out to be the District’s hallmark.
It has its highest point, standing at an elevation of 3,083meters above sea level. It is one of the few mountains in Uganda that you can hike in a total of three hours. For starters, its gradient is gentle, this pauses a less straining hiking challenge. Secondly, is the weather is not punishingly cold. This will lessen your vulnerability to altitude sickness. The best part of the story is that hiking is free. All you have to do is seek permission from the surrounding community before attempting to hike it. The bad news is that the Mountain is not safe for tourism at the moment. The locals are hostile following NFA’s alleged sale off of the forest zone of their mountain to some timber dealing investor.
3.Visit Edurkoit tree
When you drive into Moroto’s relatively busy but peaceful streets, the first thing that grabs your attention is a Faidebia Albida, a majestic tree that has been around even before Uganda’s first President was born. Situated in the middle of the town’s main street, it is probably around 150 years but you will have a hard time believing it as it is still perfectly in shape and looks forever young. Its roots have sunk deep in the ground anchoring it firmly in the Karamoja soils. Compared to trees in forests found in Southern and Western Uganda, its stem is less thick yet firmer. In contrast, its branches and leaves are light enough to be easily swayed but not broken by the strong crosswinds that sweep through the District daily.
Locally known as Edurkoit, it stands at what used to be home to one of Karamoja’s forefathers, Lokom. At least that is what I got to know thanks to Longora John, a 65 year Local Leader in the District.
“He was a martial warrior under whose reign Karamoja triumphed and accumulated lots of wealth, especially cattle (as raided from neighboring tribes such as Pokot, Turkana, Kalenjin….). He means to the Karamojong what Shaka Zulu meant to South Africans and what Pharaoh meant to the Egyptians.” he enlightened me
In agreement with Longora, Hellen Pulkol, Deputy RDC of Moroto observes that under the tree’s shades, elders used to converge to find lasting solutions to whatsoever was troubling their tribe. It could be settling disputes among its people, celebrating the lives of unsung heroes who have contributed to the growth of their clans. It is also here that plans were made on how to successfully invade rival tribes for cattle. Simply put, the tree has a very special place in the hearts of the Karamajong people.
“That is why they are never cut for firewood regardless of how desperate the situation at hand is.” she delights
Edurkoit, is not the only thing that has stood the test of time. The Manyattas have been preserved. Manyattas are traditional home settings of the Karamojong. They are mostly single-roomed structures, thatched with spear grass on the top and walled off by mud. They are eco-friendly and really cool on the inside, this makes them a sweet paradise in this region where temperatures shoot as high as 32 degrees.
In a move aimed at making them less penetrable to cattle raiders, they are fenced off using venomous species of acacia trees. They are spiky.
Over the years, Moroto has always emerged victorious, not by repelling modernity but by not subsuming them. The town abounds with eat-outs and an array of hotels that offer inter-continental foods. This makes it a perfect place to visit without compromising on one’s comfort, especially for the type of traveler who is deeply in love with modernity. One particular recommendation in this regard is City Friends Hotel, a Motel at the heart of the town.
If you love night walks, you will love this town. Several streets are peaceful, well light and cozy. On the side of partying, there are not so many options as far as drink outs are concerned. However, the few that are there are worth a try though simple and still traditional. So much like country pubs. Most of these are found along the main street. typically, they are all about beers and sodas. Unlike Kampala, the joints here keep their volume in check. This allows easy chats without shouting at the top of one’s voice.
To the North, bordered by Kabong District, Kenya to the east, Amudat District to the south, and Nakapiripirit District to the south-west. It sits at an elevation of 1,380meters above sea level.
If traveling using private means, be sure to opt for a four-wheel drive. The last 100+ kilometers leading to the District is made of earth roads. It gets really messy in rainy seasons, April-June.
For the Budget traveler, there is only one bus that travels directly to Moroto on a daily. Its Gateway Bus, found in Buganda Bus Park. It departs at 4 am and usually reaches 12 hours later, enroute between Mbale and Soroti. It costs between UGX30,000-45,000 depending on the time of the year.
In case of any health emergencies, one can reach Moroto Regional Referral Hospital on 0786469559. It is a fully-fledged Government hospital and offers services for free.Read More
Have you ever visited Kigezi region? If yes, you must have encountered an energetic dance performed by the locals.
With a lot of vigor and energy, the Banyakigezi will give you a once-in-a-lifetime treat that will live on in your memory. This kind of dance known as “Ekizino,” is what most Banyakigezi proudly call their own traditional form of entertainment.
According to Levi Bigirimana, the director of Abakindamondo cultural performers, this historical dance was in the past associated with important societal functions. “Whenever people had events like giveaways, weddings, and other events, they would dance as a sign of happiness and joy about the achievements,” says Bigirimana. Important messages would also be passed through some of these performances. “Messages of encouragement and inspiration contained in these songs can be of great value to the audience. A girl who was getting married would be advised on how to handle her newly found life through some of these songs,” adds Bigirimana.
Nelson Twakiire, a cultural promoter in the region says that Ekizino dance is something the region feels represents their energy and hard work as Banyakigezi . “Ekizino would be danced during harvest time when people were celebrating the efforts of their hard work. After a successful production of sorghum, one would prepare a local brew then invite friends and family members to his home. After eating and drinking, they would immediately start the energetic dance as a sign of appreciation,” says Twakiire.
After a successful hunt, locals would also find it hard to avoid this interesting dance.
“Kigezi was a bushy land with a lot of animals in the past. People would go hunt for them and whenever they succeeded, the animal would be slaughtered and after eating it, they would find themselves in a mood of dancing,” says Twakiire. Dancing with a lot of energy and sweating is irresistible in Ekizino and to the locals, this is a true reflection of their charisma.
“Banyakigezi are strong farmers and they use a lot of energy in whichever endeavors they undertake. So dancing with a lot of energy is also part of what defines us. If you cannot dance with vigor then you are not a real Munyakigezi,” says Twakiire. 79 year Old Andrew Baryampika, the director of Kigezi Cultural dancers says that for a successful performance of Ekizino, the props and costumes of traditional times must be respected. “Traditional drums, hides, and skins were part of what was expected to be used in dancing ekizino. If you do not have this then you are dancing to something else,” says Baryampika.
Baryampika adds that Ekizino can be performed by all ages as long as they are well-groomed to exercise it. “Even young people who grew up seeing their parents dancing to this style could keep learning how to do it until they got perfect in dancing.” Ekizino’s current survival is not predictable since it is being replaced by modern dances however elders believe that if the government empowered cultural conservation, some of these valuable historical performances would not die out.
“There is a great need to support the existing traditional groups and museums so that some of these historical valuables keep intact. If we keep losing such invaluable aspects of our livelihood, our heritage and pride will die,” says Buryampika.
Currently, Ekizino can be experienced by hiring a traditional performing group that goes for around 300,000 UGX for a day’s performance. Tourists who visit the region can get a feel of these dances on request to their tour guides or if they get a chance of attending some of the events that have cultural performances. The next time you visit the Kigezi region consider a taste of Ekizino dance.Read More