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.


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