News of the death of an Uganda Wildlife Education Center Lion came ploughing through the online streets like a wildfire. It started as a rumor that would soon be confirmed by a statement put out by UWEC itself.
“Uganda Wild Life Authority with deep sorrow announces the death of Letaba, one of her male lions, aged 10years- that passed on 13th September at 9:00 am,” it began before the narration of what happened unfolded.
Apparently, it started when the authorities travelled to Fortportal on a sensitization trip during Toro Kingdom’s cultural celebrations dubbed Empango. On their way back, in a bid to avoid a collision, their truck swerved and the animal crates collided somewhere allowing the lion to escape into the animal farm in Mubende district’s Kalenga village. Immediately, a search was mounted only to find the lion now fully charged.
They wrote: “The Lion was later cited in the community at around 7:00 am highly charged and had already killed 3 pigs and injured 1 cow. The veterinary doctor tried to dart him in vain and since he had already become highly agitated, dangerous, and threatening human life, a painful decision was made after consultation to put him out of action at 9:00 am.
While many Ugandans understood and were quick to pass their sympathies, many more thought UWEC should have done better. One Kate Walugembe implored UWEC to stop transporting the animals at such great risk to them. “Please reconsider making them a spectacle. Leave them be in their home at UWEC,” she wrote. “It is not his fault he escaped and he only did the natural thing to hunt!”
She went on to suggest that putting an end to the transportation of these animals be put before the board. “They can be viewed in safety from Entebbe. The travel is a stress to them,” she further wrote before giving a suggestion. “Let his death not be in vain, let it bring positive change!”
Journalist and wildlife enthusiast, Rafsanjan Abbey couldn’t hide his disappointment. He wrote: “Efforts to dart him failed,” but they effortlessly shot him dead?! Crap! Yes, I genuinely applaud UWEC for this bold statement and am super happy that no human life was lost in this tragedy. But we still lost Letaba. A male adult LION! A lion we begged SA to give us following the demise of alpha male Kibonge.”
Abbey lamented about how at 10 years, Letaba shouldn’t have been on such trips. “Take cubs for these roadshows; if people want to see the big ones, then they should come to the zoo or better still visit the game parks,” he wrote. “How people in Fort Portal (a stone-throw away from wild lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park) would eagerly and excitedly wait to see a caged one from Entebbe just beats my understanding.”
Though this particular death stung, the UWEC officials were quick to console the public. They wrote thusly: “The good news is that Letaba sired offsprings whom he leaves behind, including a son, so his legacy lives on.”Read More
There uniform a true picture of the national colors; black, yellow, and red. Their spirit every bit a mimicry of the fight and strength of the Ugandan. Their ability to rise through all the challenges is everything the Ugandan is. We are talking netball here, the Country’s netball team, also fondly called the She Cranes.
For those that missed, the team, captained by the talented Peace Proscovia has been soaring high in Liver Pool, United Kingdom. Never mind that football had somehow overshadowed this beautiful game, the girls put up a spirited fight. Though they will be finishing 7th at the ongoing World Cup, this is a stride ahead from the last time where they finished 8th. To finally get here though, they had to beat Zimbabwe in what would be their 4th win in eight games played.
Online site PML Daily caught a bite from the ecstatic She Cranes assistant coach Nelson Bogere, about finishing 7th. “We came here wanting to do better than in 2015 and we have managed to achieve that,” Said Bogere. “It has been a tough tournament but it’s not that we didn’t expect it.
One of the stars of the game, also the center of the team, Stella Oyella didn’t just think this was good for Uganda but said that Africa is rising. “It’s been amazing, and so competitive from day one,” she told the organizers of the tournament. “Africa is rising – though we are competing with each other, we come from Africa, and we like to keep that bond together.”
This is the most they have won since making their debut in 1979. This had many wondering if Government should actually put more strength into athletics and games like netball. Asked what she thought was most important about this game, Peace Proscovia, the team’s captain, also among those chosen as ambassadors of the game internationally, said it was the fact that it unifies many women.Read More
But DRC was not taking this joke lying. A one Teekay wrote, “Someone please ndibhalanziseiwo so we lost 1nil to Egypt and same Egypt beat Uganda and DRC 2nil each that’s the same Uganda we drew 1 all against.” He then cried out, “Same Uganda beat DRC 2nil n the same DRC beat us 4nil. What a joke.”
By View Uganda
It wasn’t that the Egypt-Uganda Cranes match ended on a painful 2-1 loss for Uganda Cranes. That almost didn’t matter. The irony, right? It was that suddenly, Social Media was awash with Ugandans singing the praise of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
See, the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is a very stimulating time for the continent. A game of football that starts out with 24 teams will be reduced in phases, knock-out phases that is to the final two. As an online site, The South African would put it, “One of the key points of intrigue is the expansion of the tournament from 16 to 24 teams.” This they go on to explain means making it through to the first round of knockout matches is possible even if a side does not finish at the top of the table.”
But then, why is Uganda celebrating the fact that Zimbabwe, a team it drew with last week had been beaten by DRC, a team they (Uganda) beat 2-1? “DRC as our beloved neighbor whipped Zimbabwe 4-0, and the mathematics made it easier for us to progress to the next stage,” Steven Odeke, arts, and sports journalist offers. “That is why we love them today.” That means Uganda has made it to second place in group A, despite losing to Egypt in last night’s game.
That aside, it was seeing leaders and just different people reacting with a satirical love for DRC that was hilarious. “UBC betrayed us but DRC did not! Congratulations Uganda upon making it to the next round of #AFCON2019,” former leader of the opposition, Winnie Kiiza wrote. Soon, Don Wanyama, the Presidential senior press secretary, also joined in on the joke and even tagged a friend, “Ours was to play beautiful football. Scoring was assigned to DR Congo. Something good finally from the land of Asuman Bisiika.”
In a hilarious post, comedian, Herbert Mendo aka, Teacher Mpamire was quick to tell Egypt that River Nile, had in fact shifted to the beloved DRC. One Sir Gordon Tukwasibwe also sarcastically said, “Thank you DRC for the great work done. You can now join EAC. To #Kenya. If DRC did it, you can also do it. Deal with #Senegal please!”
But DRC was not taking this joke lying. A one Teekay wrote, “Someone please ndibhalanziseiwo so we lost 1nil to Egypt and same Egypt beat Uganda and DRC 2nil each that’s the same Uganda we drew 1 all against.” He then cried out, “Same Uganda beat DRC 2nil n the same DRC beat us 4nil. What a joke.”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 thought of where to have your lunch? Brisk is ready to receive you at any time. Come enjoy our best lunch buffet.Read More
The old man was thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck. The brown blotches of the benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its eflection on the tropic sea were on his cheeks. The blotches ran well down the sides of his face and his hands had the deep scars.Read More
The shack was made of the tough budshields of the royal palm which are called guano and in it there was a bed, a table, one chair, and a place on the dirt floor to cook with charcoal. On the brown walls of the flattened, overlapping leaves of the sturdy fibered guano there was a picture.Read More
Like most corners of Uganda, the time factor and modernization have over the years impacted a lot of change in Packwach, a cosmopolitan peninsular zone in West Nile mainly dominated by the Jo Nam tribe and Alur tribes.
From its once solitary hills and valley that are now jammed like an Internally Displaced Peoples camp-to the once deep accents of its locals that now costs more than luck to differentiate from speaking in spiritual tongues-almost everything defines change-just as much as change defines almost everything.
However, like a legacy, the originality and uniquely beautiful architecture of its grass thatched huts have weathered it all and stood the test of time. Even in the most affluent neighborhoods, only one out of every 10 homes doesn’t have a grass thatched structure.
A hut! In case that name is not familiar, do you remember those festive season trips along muddy if not impassable narrow roads that led to the birthplace of your grandparents, a rural setting that was dominated by buildings that had a vernacular architecture built of readily available materials such as wood, stone, grass, palm leaves, branches, or mud?
Yes, it is those buildings constructed using techniques passed down through generations that are called huts. However unlike the many you might have seen, a look at the grass upon the heads of many huts in Pakwach will one thinking they are about to be blown off by violent cross winds that sweep through the zone especially in dry seasons.
However quite on the reverse, Simea Ocaki 42, resident of Pakwach says unless not fitted and fastened well, they can last up to twenty years before they start to leak thereby necessitating reroofing.
Also, they are multi weather resistant and safer thus an explanation as to why unlike most regions around Uganda where huts are quickly being replaced with permanent ion roofed structures, in Packwach they are still a favorite to the extent that even the wealthiest prefer them to mansions.
Unlike modern houses which are a one stop structure as they have respective rooms such as sitting room, kitchen, bedroom under one roof, each grass thatched roof houses one or two rooms they are easier to construct. This explains why most homes have more than two each with an independent purpose such as kitchen, store, bed room among others. Though traditionally styled, they are comfortably furnished-and decorated with animal dung, chalk and soils of different colour.
Surprisingly, huts are not a favourite among locals alone, even tourists adore sleeping in them to bits. During her community tourism visit to Pakwach in January, Joan Abbo a tourist from Kenya who had planned her stay in them for 2 nights ended up staying 4.
Abbo says though she was initially very hesitant to put up in them because they are highly flammable, she is glad she took the chance otherwise she would have missed out on their air conditioned feel in a region where temperature soar as high as 40o due to the unforgiving shining of the lava hot sun. In her opinion, this is so because their designs favour airflow configurations as they are built from non-conducting materials, which allow heat dissipation. Best of all, they are eco-friendly.
However, she advises folks who plan on doing the same to go knowing they are also a habitat for insects and spiders and creepy crawlers-as they are built with thatch. They also house crickets which are extremely noisy at night so sleep may not be as sound as it should be.
Where the huts most concentrated?
Due to their pastoral background and undying love for fish, West Nilers have settled and built huts along the banks of the Nile River where they welcome visitors according to how fat their wallet is. If one is a rich guest, a goat will be slaughtered and prepared for him as a welcome meal.
If he is moderately rich, his welcome meal will be chicken. However in the event that he is a broke chap, he will be served fish. But hey, in the event that you are hosted to fish, do not take it personal. All the host means is that you are a favourite ordinary visitor; hence you deserve a favourite ordinary dish like fish.
See, unlike most settings around the country whose day to day dish is posho and beans, fish and millet bread is the basic meal in Packwach-like most west Nile Districts. From Monday to Sunday, most families here bewitch their pallets with different species of fish-from the salty waters of the Albert Nile. Among many, such include helicopter fish, elephant fish, alakre fish, otete and the famous manpower booster anja fish among others. Most feared among these is the electric fish because it electrifies one at the slightest touch.
Away from the fish, plenty of land would be left in the compounds before the huts-for an entertainment arena. It is here that the various West Nile dances music, dance and drama performances are performed to spice up/harmonize whichever ceremonies is being celebrated weddings to vigils.
Among many, such included the adungu dance, a dance in which young boys enthusiastically elbow left and right to the ear piercing tunes of the adungu-or rather local harp which is spiced up with pitch high drumming. On the other hand, the young girls fire up the performance by wiggling their waists like they are possessed by spirits.
Then there is the agwara dance, a dance that got its name from the agwaras, the local trumpets made of horns as blown by men and danced to by women.Read More