Sunday, May 31, 2020

Spectacles of a Domestic Tourist

Entrance to Kiwa Heritage Site
Cultural heritage at in Bukangama museum at Kiwa 

River Nyamwamba and its smooth stones

Ranges of Mt. Rwenzori

'Happy New Year' is always a common phrase caressing almost everyone's lips as a form of greeting usually at the beginning of the year. It was not any different for this year, 2020 as people went on wishing everyone a happy new year regardless of a future filled with uncertainty. Along the way just three months into the new year (2020) our country, Uganda went into lock-down to curtail the rapid spread of the deadly Corona virus disease pandemic (Covid-19) into the populace. 

Having observed the unfolding of events as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, I opted for a backseat to draw lessons that I would later on share with the public and posterity at large.

Just like other countries, my motherland and country, Uganda has greatly been affected by the deadly pandemic and its fangs have really sank deep. Weeks after the government had staged up a fight against the desert locusts that had invaded the country on Feb 9, 2020, the country was then put under lock-down on Mar 18, 2020 for the purpose of protecting the citizenry from catching the disease.

Events continued to unfold with nature fighting to reclaim her territorial boundaries with flooding in areas around lake Victoria as a result of the increasing water levels of the large East African water body. A statement by the Uganda Media centre on May 1, 2020 indicated that the rise in water levels of the lake started on October 1, 2019 as a result of accelerated human activities of environmental degradation, loss of forest cover, encroachment on wetlands, lake shores and river banks including poor land use practices resulting in soil erosion leading to siltation of the water body. This was followed by river Nyamwamba in Kasese bursting its banks on May 6, 2020 flooding the entire kilembe region. 

Critical analysis into the impact of the above mentioned events quickly brings to your attention the tourism sector of Uganda and how it has suffered the consequences. Settlements and developments around River Nile were affected with many hotels and beaches flooding. some of the affected establishments around the lake include; Serena-Kigo hotel, Speke Resort Hotel Munyonyo, Hotel Protea Entebbe, Ggaba beach, Kk beach to mention but a few and markets.

As one who developed interest in domestic tourism in 2018, I realise what might be at stake if not much is done Post Covid-19 to revamp the various affected tourist destinations in the country.

In the lay man's understanding, the proprietor and managing director of Great Lakes Safaris, Mr. Amos Wekesa simply defines a domestic tourist as that person that leaves their place of aboard to visit places like national parks, lakes, cultural sites and other tourist destinations for recreation, learning, interraction with people from different places and building connections and along their journey they buy items like roasted chicken, cassava, beef and other refreshments from roadside vendors thereby enhancing the livelihoods of the vendors. While at their destination points, the domestic tourists pay for services like the entrance fee, meals, accommodation and other services thereby boosting the country's economy. 

Yes the government has to make a great deal of investment into the tourism sector to revamp it. However as the locals that own this sector we have a role to play by embracing our very own and supporting the sector through domestic tourism. Its not just about dollars accumulated to support the economy, the interest and attitude have to be developed and then the rest will take its course.

As a country we might have been hit hard but the question that stands is 'Are we ready to rebuild for the best?'. Below is a few of the riches that the Rwenzori region has to offer and make it a point to visit the region if you haven't.

Kasese, Rwenzori region

Kasese is a town north of Lake George in the western region of Uganda. The city is near the Rwenzori mountains (Mountains of the moon) and Queen Elizabeth National Park

Kasese has great tourist destination sites apart from the two mentioned above. River Nyamwamba is one of them. This river is fed by melting glaciers from the Rwenzori mountains. It emerges from the mountain and flows to lake George in the Albertine rift. It is filled with smooth stones that are beautiful for the human eye. 

The other site is Kiwa Heritage site which is a nature and cultural conservation centre with hot-springs of warm bath that are believed by the locals to have healing powers for a wide range of ailments as well as a great relaxing effect on your body. Also at the site stands Bukangama community museum that stores the history and aspirations of the community of the Rwenzori region.

The Cultural dance of the Bakhonzo at the site

The little ones too couldn't help it but feel the warm waters

Warm bath in the hot-springs at Kiwa Heritage Site

Director Friends of Nature enjoying a miniature boat cruise
As you join the campaign in promoting domestic tourism, I invite you to critically ponder upon the words of Luke 21:11, 25, 34- "And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famine and pestilences and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars and on the earth, distress of nations with perplexity, the sea and the waves. But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life and that Day come on you unexpectedly."
Be a responsible domestic tourist caring about your life, the life of others and nature itself for the glory of the almighty God. A song goes - I sing the mighty power of God that made the mountains rise, that spread the flowing seas abroad and built the lofty skies, I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day, the moon shines full at His (God) command, and all the stars obey.

  Would you join me to give glory and honor to the Lord of all creation for the Day draweth nigh.


                                                     Maranatha
 







Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The Origins


I one time got the chance of watching an interesting conversation between two individuals who were sharing personal views concerning the origin of the universe, the conversation was centered on what you may call- The Atheist Delusion whereby one of the parties, an Atheist was of the view that the world self existed without any supernatural being taking part into establishing the existence of all matter in the universe. The second party, a faithful christian presented his views using the creation account as recorded in the first book of the bible- Genesis. A  brief record of the conversation is given below;

                    Christian: Presenting a biological text book to the atheist asks him, do u                                                         believe this text book simply appeared from nowhere?
                       Atheist:   No
                    Christian:  Do you believe that the pages of this text book in their order and all                                                the wording and pictures in this book also just appeared from                                                        nowhere?
                       Atheist:    No
                  Christian;    Why?
                      Atheist:     Because someone must have sat down to develop and organise all                                                  content into a text book.

Basing on the response of the Atheist, he had unknowingly agreed with the christian's view of the creation account that God is the author of life and everything in the universe by the fact that one designer organised all the biological content into a text book negating the delusion of a self existing universe.

An account of creation is clearly laid out in the book of origins, Genesis in the bible.
God in His own wisdom and might created the universe including man in His own image and because He is a relational God, He gave an the ability to pro-create through establishing a family.

                           "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."
                          (Gen 1:1) Nkjv

                            "Then God said, Let us make man in our image according to our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. S o God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Gen 1:26-27).

                             "And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." (Col 1:16-17). In appreciating nature, we appreciate who we are because we were fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God (Psalms 139).

Uganda, my motherland and also the Pearl of Africa being so blessed with beautiful naturalistic scenery is also blessed with diversity of cultures and because I personally subscribe to one of the cultures, The Langi- a tribe in the northern region of Uganda, I embarked on tracing the Origin of my roots so that I might share my heritage with those that have not gotten the chance to trace their roots and the world at large to appreciate the uniqueness of cultures in Uganda.

Millennial children are on the verge of letting go of their origins through their cultures because they have been raised in townships and urban centres where the foreign dialect and cultures have taken a stronghold.
Opportunity served me on silver platter that which I longed to know, call it the missing piece- 'The Origin of the Langi.'

Many scholars and anthropologists assert that it is part of a group that migrated from Ethiopia around 1600AD and split into two groups, with one group moving to present day Kenya to form the Kalenjin group and Maasai cluster. The other group called the Ateker, migrated westwards and migrated Uganda from north-east.
Ateker further split into four groups to for the Karimojong, Iteso, Kumam and Langi.
The Langi migrated further to the west, and they encountered the Acholi, who they pushed northwards from the northern part of lake Kyoga.
                               

The Lango symbol is 'Amuka' (local name for Rhino). According to the Langi traditions, Amuka is independent, strong and peaceful unless disturbed.

'Mweso" a local board game being played by the director Friends of nature and colleague

At the Lango meeting centre call it 'parliament'

Custodian at the Lango cultural site in Lira district

The chief custodian and the wife alongside the director

The Lango alphabet
The visit to my motherland brought to my sight the famous board game, 'Mweso' that I could not resist the temptation of playing against my colleagues to whom i victoriously prove that I am a bona fide Langi and son of the land.

Even in the current era, children still have the opportunity of being taught their heritage and culture not forgetting bringing to their attention their family tree so that they can have it by memory stating about five plus generations of their grand and great grand parents thereby preserving the only cultural gem that each family is called to hold as treasure. It starts with me and you.

A song goes 'Praise to the Lord the Almighty the King of creation, O my soul praise Him for He is thy health and salvation. All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near, join ye in glad adoration.'

Now is the time of salvation, harden not your hearts when you hear His voice and turn to the Lord of creation and your Salvation.

                                                                     Maranatha












Sunday, March 29, 2020

LITERAL ROCK VS THE ROCK OF AGES

The director Friends of Nature at the reception of Nyero Rock paintings- 2018
While on my nature expeditions around my motherland and country Uganda in 2018, I hit the road Eastward to 'Teso land' that is Kumi district trying to appreciate the beauty in diversity of cultures, getting acquainted with new places, faces and of course meeting my curiosity ego of what is found where, who is found where and what happens the other side of the world beyond my nose.

One of those delicacies that will not skip your menu while in that land are the 'kulu kulus' local name for Turkey or Ssekoko literally meaning big hen in another local dialect. Wondering why appetite took its toll to the forefront is because i had spent ages without tasting kulukulu.

We land in Kumi district at about 1400hrs and Oh my God the reception is a thrill and at the same time an amazement as the local residents who occupy beautiful hut shelters welcome us with ululating sounds that really tickle the ear. that is the other aspect of hospitality that clearly defines the locals of the land.

Looking around for what really reminds me of the almighty God, i am shown Nyero rock paintings a type of rock art that is part of a homogeneous tradition often depicted in red pigment spreading across East, Central and parts of Southern Africa, matching the distribution of the late stone age hunter-gatherer culture. This art is generally attributed to the Batwa (TWA) hunter gatherers who are of Pigmy origin and are today found in EastAfrica in small groups near the Uganda/Rwandan boarder and Eastern congo.




The paintings that describe the way of life of the then inhabitants- Batwa

The red pigment paintings-Nyero
The most eye catching physical features in Kumi district and at Nyero specifically are the rocks which without a doubt led me to think of the name 'Rock City' because almost the entire land is covered with rocks of varying sizes from the stone size to gigantic mountaneous rocks.

Relating with mother nature

A glimpse at the rock city- Nyero, Kumi

One of the crew members taking a run downhill the rock mountain

The above pictures give you a glimpse of the kind of features just mentioned above. That lady friend of mine was literally running down a gigantic rock some good ft off the ground.

A naturally occurring solid mass aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter is what describes a rock.
While gazing and touch the surfaces of these gigantic features makes you think of none other but the 'Rock of Ages'- Jesus Christ. Nature itself communicates and speaks volumes about its creator.
"And they remembered that God was their rock, and the most high God their redeemer." Psalms 78:35
The psalmist goes ahead to marvel at the wonderful creation and questions himself in the Psalm below;
"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made the heaven and the earth." Psalms 121:1-2.
Even when the gigantic features presented themselves before the Psalmist as places of shelter and refuge, his only focus and trust was in the creator of the very rocky structures because he Himself is the Rock of ages and our shelter in the time of storm.

My dear reader, you might have been broken down by circumstances say heart breaks, loss of a loved one, suffered an accident, lost a job, lost out on a scholarship opportunity, poverty stricken name it. My heart searching question to you is, Where do you draw your strength from? I implore you to trust and believe in The Rock of Ages- Jesus Christ who has a healing balm as the greatest physician and He will grant you peace that surpasses all understanding, grant you a feature and hope because He has your destiny already defined.

Today is the day of Salvation, May you take Jesus Christ as your personal savior for the end of all things draws near.

                                                                Maranatha
 


Sunday, January 26, 2020

Africa’s Switzerland

Growing up in a society that probably does not rightly embrace its natural endowments in terms of the natural grandeur and beauty is one of those things I have lived to outgrow by taking the initiative of getting to ‘Know my Country’ and thereafter bring it closer to some people that may be in a seemingly similar situation.
Growing up in the South-western part of Uganda between 1992-1999 created one of the most profound memories at the time, speaking the local language (Rukiga) with it’s click sound amidst our peers in greetings like ‘Agandi‘ literally meaning How are you?, Walking to school in huge amounts of fog with visibility almost zero, and of course enjoying the delicious ‘Emondi‘ (locally meaning Irish potatoes) developed amazing childhood memories. Surprisingly along the way, the society somehow presented to us our motherland (Uganda) as a hostile environment with poverty being the order of the day, the rate of crime and somehow as kids growing up we were led to believe that probably Europe, America name it is better than our own continent, Africa.
However, going back to the land that brought me up after over 20years created a new me with a completely renewed perspective of my motherland and I have vowed to share its beauty and reaches via the blog.
One of those features you can lose sight of is Lake Bunyonyi with close to 29 Islands that are like the icon on the cake, the lush-green terraced hills that make you crave for Eden beauty, the different bird species like the Kingfisher, the reptiles like crocodiles, towering giraffes to mention but a few. It is believed that on one Island The Punishment Island was designated to punish girls that had gotten pregnant before marriage coz they were viewed as a disgrace to society. A girl would be taken to the Island and left there to die of hunger or even drown in case they attempted to swim across the deep waters because even swimming techniques were rare.

 
 Lake Bunyonyi believed to be the second deepest lake in Africa found in the western part of Kabaale

A glimpse of the lush-green terraced hills that augment the beauty of lake Binyonyi



Getting ready for the cruise







Winding up my nature expedition in Kabaale got me interract with the Encyclopedia of the land who is and elderly gentleman close to 95 years of age who has with much effort preserved the culture and heritage of The Bakiga in books and various literature in the local dialect. Some of the penned down stories are those related the traditional marriages, traditional songs and of course the origin of The Bakiga.

The Encyclopedia’ of Bakiga showing one of his books to his visitors

Having been brought to the attention of the land of Kabaale and it’s beauty, nothing would stop me from attesting to the name itself of The Switzerland of Africa.
After creation, God saw that all He had made was good according to the creation account in Genesis 1.
The Psalmist
I will lift up my eyes to the hills-From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and Earth.
Psalms.121:1-2
MARANATHA