For art lovers, the recent launch of the Leonardo Opera Omnia Exhibition undoubtedly welcomes the news. The exhibition that will be running from 19th November 2019 to 5th January 2020 at the Uganda National Museum in Kitante has caused quite the rave. According to the Uganda TRead More
The African Language and names are quite dramatic. Never shying away from saying it as is seen. So, if you are searching for historical attractions with legendary stories that are reminiscent of Roman mythology, narrow down your search to Mabere Ga Nyina Mwiru. It is a cultural and Eco-tourism
gem found at one of the most impressive waterfalls of Fort Portal. You can think of Fort Portal as one of Uganda’s most scenic town, lying in the shadows of Mountain Rwenzori.
In the thick of this tour, one must follow underground trails that lead into chambers of ancient caves made of solid lava ash. Created as a result of volcanic eruptions that rocked the Virunga region over 500 years ago, these natural caves are well preserved, with zero interference from humans. And as such, they still boast beautiful rock formations. This includes a thriving system of bristling stalactites hanging from the rocks overhead, and stalagmites surging up from the ground.
Scientists maintain that they were formed when calcium carbonate reacted with water from an adjacent waterfall that flows from Uganda’s highest Mountain, Rwenzori. The bi-product of this reaction is a milky substance that drips from the “tits” of rock formations that resemble breasts. “That is how locals came to call it: Amebere Ga Nyina Mwiru, meaning the breasts of Nyinamwiru,” one Ignatius, a guide at the site notes.
Interestingly though, historic stories beg to differ; legend passed on from generations among the Batooro insist that the “breasts” were cut off from the chest of a beautiful Mutooro girl called Nyinamwiru. This followed the orders of her father King Bukuku of Toro, a decision based on a prophecy that she would one day get married and have a son, Ndahura, who would kill the king and take over his throne.
A hike through Mabere Ga Nyina Mwiru will enable you to absorb the area’s extraordinary wildlife and the fascinating history of the Bachwezi dynasty. This heroic tribe of Bantu cattle keepers lived here prior to their mysterious disappearance prior to the 19th century. As you stand by the permanent waterfall, the fascinating steaming sound and cold breeze engulf all and sundry.
Throughout this family-friendly tour, the guide will help you safely navigate through a labyrinth of caves and appreciate all their unique features. You can crown your guided visit here with a hike to the neighboring Kalyango hills and Kyenganywa hill. From their summits, you will see some of the most scenic crater lakes of Africa.
Such a gentle hike; it often jokes that even patients recovering from a hip surgery could take it on. The beauty about this is that it is also easy on the little ones and can be explored as a family.
What to know
If traveling in peak and rainy months like, bring a pair of waterproof shoes like gumboots. The trail gets quite messy with a lot of water and mud during this time. If you get wet, they will give you a chance to shower and change afterward at the cottage here. The tour costs Shs7.500Ugx for locals and Shs10.000 for non-Ugandans.Read More
I watched with a pained heart as pictures of a flooding Kampala sauntered back and forth on the various social media streets. Like most of our realities, these had soon been turned into memes, hilarious memes. Boda-boda riders and obviously desperate passengers ploughing through the murky waters was a hit.
But once you put the jokes aside, and looked at the floods as a real problem, it was not funny. Not one bit!
Kampala is the country’s biggest city, and one would even argue that it is the only city really. That means we should be able to have tourists who want to see, live and explore the city. But how are we going to tell a busload of tourists that they can’t go to some parts of the city because they will be flooding? Get this, some of these flooded areas are journeys out of the city into the various destinations our tourists might be looking to explore. This, therefore, begs the question, how did we get here?
Uganda is a country of an estimated 44million people, about 20% of whom make up the urban population. So while 80% live in rural areas instead of the developing urban areas, major cities have been plunged into a population boom of mostly low-income earners who make up a large part of the city’s slums.
True, of the total of 259 urban centers in the country, Kampala was top among the destinations for many young people. Though Wakiso district takes the lion share of the population, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) places Kampala City’s population at nearly 2 million people.
Sadly with the country’s population generally growing at 3.26% annually with over 1million Ugandans born each year, many more will migrate into the city in search of greener pastures. Note that the district that is Kampala has an area of about 189 km2, of which 13km2 is Lake Victoria and other waterways. Sadly, these are not clear waterways as they have been burdened with our poor waste disposal habits.
To contain this population and its habits, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), the body mandated to run the city, has been left with a lot on its plate. A baseline survey Development Research and Training affirm these worries with daunting statistics.
While Kampala Central Division leads in access to clean water with 100%, in other divisions, access to clean water was as follows; Nakawa (45%), Makindye (66%), Kawempe (86%), and Lubaga (70%). Overall, 25% of households do not have access to safe water sources. Note that those in want of clean water live in the slums whereof nearly 50% of the city’s people reside.
But then again, many of these slums are right in the belly of our wetlands and nature is angry! But that will be for another day, for now though, let me wrap up this discussion with a picture of our un-organic waste, that among other things has been known to cause flooding. And by this dear folks, I am talking garbage, and specifically our un-organic garbage.
Did you know that the over 20-acre KCCA owned garbage collection point is choking with a chunk of un-organic garbage? Before it finds its way to this Kitezi garbage collection point, this garbage would have caused clogging in the already overwhelmed trenches. This, which includes plastic bottles, polythene bags, straws among other things, will render the overwhelmed drainage systems useless. This conversation is only just beginning!Read More
To quote the urban youth: “It is not a looker”. Not one bit! How the shoebill stork, (often just called the shoebill), which should be nowhere near the list of the most sought after birds then becomes one of the most sought after birds become bedazzling! Oh yes, it really is. Not only does it feature in the list of beauties, it actually tops it.
It’s named clearly curved out of its massive bill, which is a replica of a shoe, the shoebill is an excellent fisher. Many will even argue that it is unmatched. Scientists maintain that thanks to the sharp edges of its mandibles, this bird can reduce prey to mince. Just like that; the shoebill becomes one of the most fascinating birds to behold.
Like the Ugandans, the Shoebill’s life expectancy is 50 years and has been around for over 11,000 years now. True. Imagine a bird that has been around since the times of King Pharaoh of Egypt! Awesome, right? But this, researchers, worry could easily come to a screeching halt as fishermen have taken to killing this bird. They associate it with a bad omen, a thing that attracts bad luck whilst fishing. As a matter of fact, researchers at Nature Uganda, noted that there is a little under 1,000 of them left in Uganda.
They mostly seek solace in the country’s swampy areas and shallow lakes. Specifically, they have been spotted at Mabamba swamp, Lugogo Swamp in Ziwa Rhino Reserve, Lake Albert, the lower Nile in Murchison Falls Park, and Lake Mburo. To go on bird-watching in these places, one would need clear guidance and the internet is awash with these. Because it is a rare sighting, it would be also good to know which times of the day it is most seen.Read More
The beauty of a bird, like a fabric, is in its feathers. However, what screams beauty other than an enchanting color, right? These birds adorn colors so beautiful they could strut through the runway with such ease. And guess what, some of them which we shall now list are found right here in Uganda.
Great Blue Turaco
Tasked with explaining why seeing the great blue turaco was one of his top three moments whilst birding in Uganda, Bill Thomson, a UK-based author said, it was a beauty! “It is the only bird with some of their feathers colored by pigments found in no other creature in the Animal Kingdom,” he said quite enthusiastically. Thomson, also the author of Bird Watcher’s Digest, an internationally famed birding book, then said it was also the sound it made.
“At dawn or dusk, you will hear it give loud series of deep, ringing, throaty ‘kok-Kok-Kok or a bubbling softer tweet,” he imitated. He then cheerfully told of its agility at jumping from one branch to another. “The only times you’ll find it on the ground is when it wants to bath or quench its thirst,” the re-known birder said.
Talking length, it is 70–76 cm (28–30 inches) and 800–1,231 grams in mass. This makes it the biggest in the turaco family of birds. No wonder it is highly poached in Africa for its meat. It is mainly found in pristine tropical forests and swamps inclusive of Bigodi wetland, Mabira, and Budongo.
Green-breasted-pitta. Picture by Greg Miles copy
It takes skill to spot this bird. And oh, what a name, but that’s for another time! Though not as endangered as its counterpart the shoebill, it takes a truckload of luck to spot the Green-breasted Pitta. Easy on the eye, and most soft spoken, this bird boasts of a shimmery broad golden-buff supercilium and black and green plumage that facilitates their camouflage.
Tested bird-watching guides like Herbert Byaruhanga maintain that it takes skill to spot. “What makes it so had to come by is that it is quiet for much of the day,” he explains. “In instances when it wants to communicate, it whistles softly, sometimes so softly for its own ears to hear.” It would rather shy off into its perfect world of camouflage and gentle tunes.
To spot it, one would have to comb the forest canopies inch by inch with a sea of concentration, spot this beauty. Note also, that this is one of the fewer pitta species found on the continent. It strictly lives at an altitude between 1,100 and 1,400 meters. Kibale National Park has been known to be its most reliable sighting.
African Green Broadbill
Green_Broadbill. Picture by High Flying Tours and Travels
Ask many a birder and they will attest to its cheerfulness. The African Green Broadbill has no room for boredom. No Sir, not this bird! It shivers and trembles in excitement for much of the day while twittering squeakily. What a delight.
Largely a bright green with a blue throat and a small bill, the Green Broadbill is easy on the eye. It’s no wonder this little show-off is a tourist magnet, ranking among the five most sought-after species on the continent, especially because it is rare.
Though first discovered in 1908, this species according to researchers was next seen in 1928. Sadly, this bird is threatened by deforestation and habitat degradation. Its known feeds, seeds, fruit, flower buds, and some insects, are just as threatened. It is endemic to the Albertine Rift Mountains of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, like Rwenzori.
Call it the red, black and white affair. Its plumage is mostly a glossy black. Its belly, a showcase of red, gently joining the white patch on the lower back. Of the few countries that have this species, Uganda stands out as the most peaceful. The other countries that have it are the Central African Republic and South Sudan. Sadly, these have faced insecurity therein giving Uganda, the competitive advantage. Specifically, the widely blessed Kidepo Valley National Park is where it can be found.Read More
A Ugandan, Jessica Nabongo has officially become the first black woman to have visited every single country in the world. Nabongo, a Ugandan-American arrived in Seychelles on Sunday. This would be the last of her 195 country voyage. It is believed that over 50 friends and family members traveled with her to the East African archipelago to mark the historic event.
According to Okay Africa, Nabongo has been traveling since the age of 6. “Though she was born in the US, her parents are Ugandan and she’s used both passports to travel the world. What’s most remarkable is the frequency with which she’s done so,” they stated. It is further reported that Nabongo made the decision to attempt the global feat in 2017. At the time she had only traveled to 60 countries– meaning she’s traveled to 135 countries in just 2-and-a-half years, an average of just under 7 days per country.
Africa News tells of how Nabongo’s journey across the world has not been without awesome experiences on the African continent, from visiting her family in Uganda to experiencing unexpected kindness in South Africa, and a trip in Mali that started out as terrible and ended up being a fantastic experience.
Writing on her Instagram, Nabongo said: “So much to say but for now I will just say thank you to this entire community for all of your support. This was our journey and thanks to all of you who came along for the ride! I began my journey to every country in the world because I am a geography nerd, curious about other cultures, and want to show the world through a lens that we rarely view it from—that of a black woman.”
She raised money through fundraising and sponsorships and also used her accumulated miles to travel. Asked why she chose to travel, Nabongo said that she wanted to alter the global narrative and perception surrounding a lot of destinations–particularly in Africa–and highlight “that many countries are dangerous, that people are miserable, that you cannot have nice, luxury, vacations on the continent.”
Speaking to Forbes, Nabongo confirms how hard it is to travel with an African passport. Even in countries where Ugandans are meant to have visa-free travel, Nabongo ran into problems in immigration. “A lot of people don’t think of Africans as a consumer, they just think charity or baby,” says Nabongo. “I want immigration to see, ‘hey Ugandans are tourists [too].”Read More
It has been a 57year-old affair. It started with ‘discoveries’ by explorers and soothed into a full-blown colonial system. After nearly a century, Great Britain would give Uganda rights to make its own political decisions and basically govern itself. And yes, Independence Day in Uganda has been a state holiday celebrated on October 9 every year since 1962.
So today as Uganda commemorates this 57th Independence anniversary in the Eastern Uganda district of Sironko, the theme is freedom. To be specific: Consolidating National Unity, Security, Freedom, and Prosperity, is the theme. Government mouthpiece, Ofwono Opondo agrees that the past two years haven’t been a walk in the park.
“… the past two years there has been creeping criminality involving robbery with violence, kidnaps, and murders which has caused fear, anxiety, and apprehension that perhaps Uganda’s security system had collapsed,” he says. “Cases of alleged and sometimes, established incidences of illegal, unlawful arrests and detention, and torture by elements in the security agencies haven’t lessened those apprehensions that Uganda is sliding back to the dark days.”
He quickly adds that most of these cases have occurred in the metropolitan areas comprising Kampala, Wakiso, and Mukono. “As we celebrate the 57th year of independence we should know that Uganda is very secure, stable, and consolidating progress in spite of those isolated unfortunate incidences,” he says. “Also, that Uganda has never been more secure and promising than today.”
Opondo maintains that despite the euphoria that reigned in the first years, in 1964, politics became turbulent as fair-weather allies UPC and Kabaka Yekka, turned against each other, and by 1966, full-scaled war exploded with the expulsion of Sir Edward Mutesa, as the first president. The subsequent destruction and abolition of cultural institutions throughout Uganda have had grave and painful consequences.
“That turbulence continued throughout much of the first three decades until 2006 when the NRM extinguished raging fire with the defeat of the LRA in northern Uganda and disarming Karimong warriors and livestock rustlers,” he adds. “That turbulent history was also characterized by episodes of coups, dictatorships, external military invasion, contested electoral outcomes, civil wars, a collapsed economy, and a failed state. Uganda suffered intermittent conflicts mainly because of intransigence by parochial and weak leaders who sought to build their political bases on tribal, ethnic, and religious sectarianism taking false advantage of these diversities.”
He goes to tell of the 1966 occurrence that saw Prime Minister, Apollo Milton Obote, overthrew Mutesa, declared himself president, and Uganda a republic, a presidency that would birth Idi Amin. “Successive military coups and violent regimes followed including Idi Amin’s eight years, the reign of terror, blood, murders, complete economic ruin, and a failed state from 1971-1979,” he narrates.
The tourism angle
Though ours has obviously been a turbulent story, Lilly Ajarova, the Chief Executive Officer of Uganda Tourism Board believes that Uganda can salvage some ‘good ‘out of this. Speaking to the Independent, she said that this could be turned into dark tourism, a thing that is getting especially popular around the world. Dark tourism offers complex and personal stories of those affected.
“These also act as deterrents so that such events never occur again. Uganda’s history especially during the 1970s gives us a unique understanding of the character that many people – both citizens and foreigners would want to learn from,” she explains. “One of the most touted forms of dark tourism in Uganda has been a museum about former dictator Idi Amin.” A dark past, times like the Kony-led rebellion in the north, the overthrowing of governments and massacres can be turned into stories, and museums built to the effect.Read More