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Founder of the Ndere Cultural Centre based in Kampala, Uganda Stephen Rwangyezi has emerged as one of the winners of the African Travel 100 Global Personalities Awards scheduled to take place on September 23rd at the 15th AKWAABA African Travel Market.

We need to be true to these arts, to learn them correctly – not just superficially… But to be honest to these arts, to be authentic, (and) also to bear in mind that Africa is not frozen in a historical museum!

Stephen Rwangyezi

Stephen Rwangyezi who starred alongside Forest Whitaker and James McAvoy in the Idi Amin movie, Last King of Scotland is a strong advocate of African art and culture. He started the Ndere Troupe in 1984 and over time, it has given birth to the Ndere Foundation and the Ndere Cultural Centre which is now regarded as Africa’s dancing encyclopaedia.

We at More Cream Than Coffee say a hearty congratulation to Stephen Rwangyezi!

Leading travel writer and publisher of ATC News, Prof. Wolfgang Thome, has emerged as one the winners of the African Travel 100 Global Personalities Awards scheduled to take place on September 23rd at the 15th AKWAABA African Travel Market.

Prof. Thome, a German national arrived in Kenya in the mid 1970s and has lived on the African continent since, spending over four decades. In Kenya, he was active in tour operations, hotel operations and air operations, and after 17 years he moved to Uganda in 1992. Settling in, the Pearl of Africa, he went into academics and consultancy.

He became active in trade politics helping to rebuild the association framework in the tourism industry which had all collapsed after the liberation war. He helped to reactivate the hotel association, form the tour operators association, travel agents association and the umbrella body Uganda Tourism Association, which he served as president for almost eight years.

I always felt as a welcome guest in Kenya, in Uganda I’ve become part of the furniture. …when I came to Uganda I literally became Ugandan – not maybe by passport, but certainly by the feeling in my heart that I belong here.

– Prof. Wolfgang Thome

Prof. Thome is happily married. His wife is Ugandan and they met in Kenya while she was in exile. The genial and witty professor has lived in Uganda for over 25 years and was granted life residency some time ago. We, at More Cream Than Coffee® congratulate Prof. Wolfgang Thome.

Stephen Rwangyezi is an arts, heritage and culture champion. He founded the Ndere Troupe in 1984 and over the years, the troupe has metamorphosed into the Ndere Cultural Centre, a must visit place whenever you are in Kampala, Uganda, particularly if you love wholesome cultural entertainment. Here, we bring you the concluding part of our chat with Mr. Rwangyezi…

*****

I think we need to emphasize what does not exist elsewhere. The piano, the guitar, they do exist where they were made and probably those people play them a million times better. The reason why a tourist comes to Uganda is because he wants to see what he could not see in his home in America, in Zürich, in Iceland. So, we need to do more research because the cultural arts are only in the heads and memories of the old men and old women who are fast dying off. We need to do proper research. We need to be true to these arts, to learn them correctly – not just superficially putting them there for tourist impression. But to be honest to these arts to be authentic, but also to bear in mind that Africa is not frozen in a historical museum!

Africa is growing and therefore to allow the young and creative minds of the contemporary times to develop new arts, but develop upright. Let them know the rhythm patterns, the melodic structures, the scales that the different peoples of Uganda use. And from there, once they have learnt it correctly, apply their own creativity and develop new arts but which have the DNA of Uganda’s culture. At the moment, if you hear the music and dance of the young men, if you don’t know the language they’re singing or rapping, you wouldn’t tell if that music is from Australia, or somewhere in Brooklyn in America, or in any other country – because the beat, the rhythms, the melodic structures are not based on the indigenous arts. So my wish would be: Get the correct research. Do the correct teaching, so that those who develop will use that vocabulary, that alphabet, that vernacular and create new arts.

PEARL OF AFRICA TOURISM EXPO (POATE)

First of all, the fact that this expo came here is in itself a success, because Uganda has been through hell. There was a time when no one dared come to Uganda. Up to now, if you go to some places, they will ask you about Idi Amin. They think Idi Amin is still here. When I was asked to act in the Idi Amin film, The Last King of Scotland, the people that we’re acting with – Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, etc., – when they were coming, they were really scared. They thought Idi Amin was still here – and they were also scared thinking that we as Ugandans would not be able to enact that story because they thought it has impacted on us so badly and they didn’t want to disturb our raw wounds. So the fact that this expo was held here is a plus. It’s an indication that Uganda has moved on from the unfortunate history, and we are actually making good use of that history.

Secondly, like again, in one of the scenes I liked in that movie, The Last King of Scotland, was at the very beginning when Doctor Garrigan, a new graduate from medical school turns the globe and then points a finger and says “Wherever I touch is where I’ll go.” The first time, he touches Canada and says, “Canada? Hmm… No.” And then spins again and – Uganda. “Uganda? I’ll go.” That pointer of Dr. Garrigan to Uganda is like beaming a light on Uganda. Now, this particular expo is another beaming of light on Uganda. So I think those two are a sign of success. But rather than praising ourselves about the success, I think we should be looking at what should be the lesson from this. The world has trusted us. People have come from all over the world, held the expo here and have gone back to talk about Uganda, to market Uganda.

The challenge for us is when these people go and market, the participants of the expo go and market Uganda, and say “This is a beautiful destination” when guests come, what are they going to find in Uganda that they cannot find elsewhere? Why should people come here? That’s where the cultural aspect of our lives becomes very crucial – because you can see a mountain in Switzerland. You can see gorillas in Congo, or you can take a gorilla in a zoo in the United States. Why should someone come to Uganda, to see the gorilla in Uganda? It should be the life of the people and that’s where for me, I feel humbled that this expo came here to Ndere Centre to watch the performance, and that we are the leading body that promotes this Ugandan identity of culture. The challenge therefore is to make it better, to stay true to it, to make sure that the visitors that are going to come to Uganda – I’m pretty sure that with the success of this expo, numbers will grow up – and I’ll love that when they come they find even better facilities, better explanation, more unique Ugandan characteristics that they will not be able to find elsewhere. So for me, the expo was a beamer on Uganda. We have to ensure that we don’t disappoint those who participated and those who will promote Uganda.

Settling down for an evening of good food and wholesome entertainment…

RECOMMENDATIONS

Uganda Tourism Board is an arm of government. Government is the super-structure that is entrusted with the custody of everything Ugandan. My request to them is what makes us Ugandan? What are those things that make us Uniquely Ugandan? Let’s put our resources, our efforts, to the development of those aspects of Uganda that make us uniquely Ugandan. As far as I’m concerned, it’s those cultural inheritance that we did not inherit from our parents, but borrowed from our children. Our children have a right – and the children of our children have a right – to find what Uganda was endowed with. Let’s first forget about tourism. Let’s look inward – that the children of my children have a right to find what my ancestor left – and find it in better condition. Because, if you borrow money from a person, you have two duties: one, return it; but also put interest. So, if we take the concept that we borrowed this from our children, then we have a duty to preserve it and an obligation to make it better – that’s the interest. So government must invest in the preservation of our cultural heritage. It’s not right to leave it to private entrepreneurs like us, because at the moment I am committed to it, but other people will be committed to profits, and if prostituting the culture is what will pay, they will prostitute it. So, it’s the duty of government to invest in the preservation and development of our culture. So that those of us who are practising it can be cushioned by government investment, and therefore be able to continue doing the authentic things and not prostituting it, because we are looking for what sells quickly in order to earn money that we should survive on. There must be investment in the preservation. There must be embedment of cultural values in the education systems.

Stephen Rwangyezi is the founder of Ndere Cultural Centre which he started in 1984 as Ndere Troupe. Over the years, Ndere has grown to become an important feature of the Uganda arts, heritage and cultural experience. Here, we bring you the second part of our chat with Mr. Rwangyezi…

*****

In terms of the future, I mean for the last thirty-four years, Ndere has been surviving on me. That’s not really sustainable. So, I’m looking at the possibility of turning this cultural centre into a teaching institute, a research and teaching institute of indigenous civilisations and creative industries. So that if we get in the mainstream of teaching and research: one, the students that should be coming here will then be the artists that will be presenting the art. The teachers that will be teaching will be the directors. So, my roles will go to the teachers and researchers. The roles of the troupe will go to the students, and probably we shall be able to get both local and international students who should be paying a fee and probably attract some funding from different bodies. So that when I eventually get out for – whether I want or not, I’m not growing any younger and I’ll not live forever – the system now goes into the academic field, and the research that we have done, and the research that will be done can be formalised into both written and digital books.

For me, the performing arts of Africa are the great books of this continent, but they have not been captured. They have not been recorded. They have not been formalised. And the teaching that I went through where I learnt the dancing and the singing around the fireplace in the evenings is no longer there. Children are going to kindergarten when they are three and that’s the last time they are with their parents. Their parents are busy chasing money all over the place. So the only way we can get this knowledge transmitted to posterity is if we actually teach in a structured and formal way. Unfortunately, the Ugandan school curriculum like many other curriculum in Africa are not embedding this cultural knowledge in what the children are learning at school. They are struggling with mathematics and science and geography of the Rhineland and North America, and Iceland; and this knowledge is not being taught. So I’m looking at this place being a place that people can come and learn it, and this place being a reference point for all the people that may want, that may be looking for this treasure before it actually finally disappears.

UGANDAN ARTS & CULTURE

Uganda’s position, geographical location at the equator, on top of the African plateau made it the attractive point for all the peoples of Africa. I do divide the peoples of Africa into three: one, are the original Africans – some people call them pygmies, others call them bushmen. I don’t know who is not a bushman in Africa, because we all a lot of bush around our homes. But those living in the tropical rainforest, living with nature – now because they have this difficult forest conditions, they do not keep bulky musical instruments, because they are always moving. You can’t start carrying heavy things, heavy drums, heavy xylophones and things. They have developed their arts to use their own bodies – they clap, they play and they yodel and they produce the music using their own bodies.

The other categories of Africans are the agriculturists – the first people that from the forests settled and cultivated crops. When you grow crops, you have to stay in that place for a long time waiting for them to mature. And so, to be able to stay there, you build a house and when you do the first harvest the soil is still good; so you plant again. So you live in the same place for a long time. These were the first people, besides growing crops, that built permanent houses. Now, when they built houses – and because their music is very physical, they had storage for bulky and delicate musical instruments – musical instruments that can get spoilt by rain. For example, drums which have membrane – you need good shelter – musical instruments that don’t have to be moved up and down because they are very heavy. And then, because the work is very physical the music is very deeply rhythmic to provoke the body to dance – which is the way to do exercises. Instead of going to the gym and lifting weights, they dance and build their physique.

The third category of Africans are the cattle-keepers who are always moving around with their cows, and once you sent the cows out grazing, you don’t have to do anything really. The cows do the eating and so you sit and talk. Their music therefore is light and delicate with a lot of coherent lyrics. Now, Uganda has the tropical rainforest for the forest dwellers; has good soil and good climate and reliable rain for agriculturists; has good pastures and fresh water for the cattle-keepers – all these people converged here. Therefore they brought all these different cultural arts and when they inter-married they produced even other hybrid cultures. So you have the richest array of culture of arts and that has influenced the modern music and the modern dancing. The cultural life is vibrant and it goes beyond music and dance into the different varieties of food, to the different languages, to different dressing – everything. And therefore, for any tourist who comes to Uganda, they really have come to the whole of Africa because all the African cultures are represented in Uganda. The reason we say that if you come to Ndere Cultural Centre you get the ultimate experience and we call Ndere Centre the home of cultures is we capture all these different genres and different cultural expressions and Ndere Troupe does presenting

So, it’s to me the window through which a visitor can understand the Ugandan animals, the Ugandan rivers and the Ugandan mountains because the people who live around these natural endowments have got a culture that has been influenced by the physical features, by the wildlife, by the flora and fauna. For example, if you look at the dances of the mountainous areas – for example the people of Kasese, Mount Rwenzori, have got a dance that uses the torso. But the history of it is that they carried weight on the back and as they climb the mountain, they keep shifting the torso and the way they walk is not by alternately taking the feet one after another – because if you are going up the mountain and you lift this foot, if this one slides you’ll fall. So they walk in a way that this foot stays, this one also stays, and you keep shifting each one – but the weight is on your back, you keep shifting. So the dance developed from the way they climb the mountain. If you go to Kabale in the southwest of Uganda where you have the mountain gorillas – so beautifully mountainous – the dancing is really strong and physical. But that’s because these fellows have to climb the mountains – you need the energy. So to understand the mountains, to understand the rivers, to understand the animals, you go through the window of the cultures. So the cultural life is the gateway into understanding the life in Uganda.

…to be continued…

Stephen Rwangyezi is the founder of Ndere Troupe which has metamorphosed into the Ndere Cultural Centre, today referred to as an African Dance Encyclopedia. I had the honour of witnessing a performance when I visited the Uganda in 2017 as part of a hosted media group for the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE 2017). Later on, I had the pleasure of chatting with Mr. Rwangyezi about several things…

*****

My names are Rwangyezi Stephen and I’m the one who started the Ndere Troupe that has resulted into the Ndere Cultural Centre, Ndere Foundation, the Ndere Uganda Theatre Development Association. I started the Ndere Troupe in 1984. I am Ugandan and now marking my sixty-second year; married with beautiful children and I’ve spent all my life in the cultural revitalisation, cultural revival and rebuilding the pride and confidence of the Ugandan, of the African person to know that we are a great people. We have wonderful arts. We have wonderful culture that is not inferior to any other, and it is not satanic or devilish, but as holy as any other culture in the world.

INSPIRATION

Ndere Troupe which I started in 1984 is inspired by the history of Uganda, and indeed the history of Africa, because when I was born in the mid ‘50s Uganda had been experiencing a cultural erosion because of the colonial impact. When the Europeans took over the administration of Uganda, I think as a means of making sure that they could be able to get what they want – they could be able to get the Ugandans to serve them – they used three weapons to change the thinking of the Ugandans.

One was religion. The Christian religion preached that everything Ugandan was evil, backward; and if you wanted to go to heaven, you’ll have to sing the Alleluia chorus and play a piano or a violin. But if you danced African dance, if you spoke African language, if you ate African food, drank alcohol, if you married the African way, if you build a house the African way, you were sure to have booked your one-way ticket to hell.

The schools which were the second weapon did – and you know the schools were actually established by churches… You were not admitted in school unless you had been baptised in church, and if you went to school you had to follow strictly everything that was western, and you had to hate everything that was African. The churches preached being born-again – the old person had to die and the new one had to be born. And the old one was the African; the new one had to be the European.

To be in church, or rather in school you had to be baptised. So, you’d be born in a home, you’d be given a name – for example I was given Rwangyezi. Then six months later, you’d be taken to church and be baptised and I was called Stephen. Now, when you entered school they’d ask you “What was your Christian name?” And you’d say “Stephen” And they’ll say “What is your Kafir name?” Meaning the non-believer’s name and I’d say “Rwangyezi.”

So, the school was the second weapon, and the third one was the law. The government enacted laws that made sure that African culture was banned. For example, there was the anti-witchcraft law banned everything that was seen to be used by witches. Every African traditional medicine man was seen as a witch. And since in the traditional worship they use the music and dance and drums, all these were banned as tools of the witch. If you were found dancing during the day, you’d be arrested. That was under another law of idle and disorderliness. If you were found dancing during the day, you’d be arrested because you are being seen to be idle. That meant that the only time you could dance was at night, and yet there was no electricity. There was no light; therefore no one was looking at you.

So I grew up in this dichotomy where on the one side my family was very talented in music and dance, but in the Ugandan type of music; and on the other side if you wanted to be civilised, if you wanted to go to heaven you are not allowed to do these cultural acts. For me, when I eventually became a teacher I felt so bad that we were teaching children to hate themselves and teaching them to learn to love who they were not. Therefore I decided to start the Ndere troupe. One, to make these arts that had been relegated to the devil and to the darkness – make them beautiful and bring them to the light and have people be proud of them. Once you are proud of your culture, then you’ll gain the confidence and you can be able to get into the marketplace and negotiate as an equal to whoever you meet.

So, the motivation is: the revitalisation of cultural confidence and making our arts compete the other arts from the rest of the world. For, there is nothing biologically, philosophically or religiously wrong with being an African. If anything, by not having this cultural colour contributed to the international rainbow, the world was becoming poorer because we’re risking being uniformised and ending up with a monotony of one particular culture. So that’s the motivating factor.

SUSTAINING THE CENTRE

Sustenance, I think is a matter of conviction. If you are as I am convinced that what you’re doing is of paramount importance you would do everything possible to make sure that it survives. First of all, I am convinced that this art, this culture – whether government support it or not – is important. It’s important for Uganda. It’s important for Africa. It’s important for the world. So I dedicated my life to it. It’s extremely difficult. It’s extremely expensive but I’m not going to be doing anything else with my life. It’s only to be in committing all the resources, all my intellectual capacity to the sustenance of this. So I look for money. I look for means left and right.

The second thing that I do is that all the artists that you see in this group are people that would otherwise never have had an opportunity to fulfil their passion or ambition, because they come from rather difficult backgrounds. Some don’t have parents. Others are from very poor families. So taking them to school, looking after their health, their food, their accommodation is another daunting task besides looking after the cultural centre which has many buildings, which has nine acres of land to tame and look after. And besides this, the research, the training, the documentation – all these are extremely expensive, but somehow we keep managing.

So from the performances that we do… in my other life, I am an agriculturist; therefore I do research – paid research. I use the performing arts and develop theatre, and I use that for agricultural extension and dissemination of information in the rural areas – and some of those projects are paid (for) by organisations that are interested in breaking down the complicated botanical terms to understandable language for the rural peasant farmer to understand that coriander tree is a nitrogen fixing plant that will improve the soil holding capacity of a piece of land where you don’t have chemical fertilizers, for example. So this approach helps to attract funders that fund me for that work, and there I raise money to sustain the centre and the troupe.  

…to be continued…

If you followed the series “My Uganda Memoirs” you’ll probably have read where I mentioned doing the bungee jump on Saint Valentine’s Day while I was in Jinja in the country known as the Pearl of Africa. Jinja is regarded as the Adrenaline Capital of East Africa because of the several activities one can engage in in the town; from quad biking to whitewater rafting, cruises on the Nile, horseback riding, or even swimming with crocodiles! Okay, that’s a joke – no swimming with the crocodiles, please.

Jinja is also the place where the longest river in the world, River Nile originates from; so it is often called the Source of the Nile. For more about my Jinja experience please see: My Uganda Memoirs IX and XI, so you can get some background info.

With the quad biking action done, the bus returned to the Jinja Nile Resort with everyone, while those who signed up for the bungee jump made our way to the venue, which was around the back entrance of the resort. A few people had already gone ahead and started the bungee while we were busy on the quad bikes, but there was still a couple of people waiting to take the leap of faith when we got there.

Would you dare?

The first thing to do was to sign the indemnity form, followed by the weighing in, after which you proceed to the platform. You have enough time to change your mind as you walk up and start the climb up the steps to the platform.

All set…

At the weighing in, they ink your weight on your wrist, so once you get up the platform you show your wrist. This helps the guys there determine the necessary things to ensure your safety. They proceed to strap you into the harness. You sit down while they bind your feet together. The guys try to make you feel at ease. Once everything is set, you hop to the edge of the platform and raise your hands up and wait for the guys to give you the go ahead. Once they give the go ahead, you jump. Pretty simple, right?

Here we go…

You can have a million and one thing running through your mind at this time. I’ve heard tales of people who stood on that edge and refused to bulge after the go ahead. For whatever reason, they froze and had to be coaxed into taking the jump. Sometimes, I guess fear comes to people when they look down, so they tell people not to look down, or to close their eyes.

I wasn’t bothered and I looked down. No matter how much you try to steel yourself though, your heart starts racing as the rush builds up! I’m not sure I can describe what happens when you jump. You’re free falling until suddenly the rope jerks and you are upside down. You start a pendulum swing with spins which slows down after a while. For me, the rope didn’t jerk until I touched the Nile. The guy gearing me up had asked if I wanted to touch the water, and I said, “Yes.”

As the swing slows down to the barest minimum, a rescue team comes to get you. They are in a boat and they call out to you, asking you to open your eyes – usually most people have their eyes shut when they jump. Once you spot them, they stretch a paddle to you and you grab a hold of it and they easily bring you into the raft and unharness you.

That’s it?

So that’s it. I think I need to do this again. I’m really looking forward to an in tandem jump with a sweet young lady. I guess I should go in search of her…

By Kelvin Atuhaire

Built in 1971 by Danish master architect Hans Munk Hansen, the Kidepo Safari Lodge, now known as the Katurum Lodge Kidepo was put up by the former president Idi Amin, as a meeting point for his international friends. It was also a hunting spot since he loved hunting as a sport. This lodge was built alongside other lodges such as Pakuba Safari Lodge in Murchision Falls and Semiliki to help boost the number of lodges in the national parks.

Katurum lodge was later burnt down and abandoned in 1979 when Amin was overthrown. For 35 years, it fell into disuse in the turmoil which followed his overthrow and the once luxurious accommodation was taken over by wild animals and down on their luck soldiers, until local entrepreneur Cornelius Lorika Kodet decided to take up the challenge of requesting President Museveni to bring the lodge back to life.
“The government was planning to raze the whole place but then I requested the President to give me some time to develop this place again, which I have done. I have built this place on the trust of President Museveni,” narrates Kodet

Pleasure haven
Katurum lodge that used to be a haven for wild animals, is now a perfect place for one who loves adventure, located high on Katurum rocks in the valleys of Kidepo Valley National Park. The park offers an abundance for a more rustic experience into the paradise section of the park.
The lodge derives the name Katurum from the hilltop it was built on. It is famed to resemble a Swiss chalet, where one wakes up early in the morning to the sunrise with windows opening to the natural air and a unspolied nature. 
Katurum Lodge, which is under a 15-year concession since 2014 to Kodet, will be launched early this year to offer a variety of services. It has an accommodation capacity of 100 rooms, including a presidential suites, spa and health club, bar and restaurant. 
According to Kodet, any one that visits their lodge gets a full package for both the game drive as well as accommodation.

Inspiration
Kodet who, is a local investor and already owns Aero Beach Entebbe, Mt Moroto Hotel, says that his love for Karamoja’s development inspired him to restore the famous lodge since it was one of Karamoja’s pride alongside the Kidepo Valley National Park.
“For many years Karamoja has been treated as a human zoo, a no-go area, where tourists are discouraged from visiting. I wanted to change that narrative and I believe Katurum is going to be a home for many, and people will visit Karamoja because of it,” Kodet predicts.

Contributions
Kidepo Valley National Park has been having a challenge of accommodation, since there are not more than six lodges and hotels within and outside the park. With Katurum coming on board with 100 rooms for guests, it is another boost to the park.

Accessibility
The lodge can be reached by both road and air transport. When using the road, there are four possible routes.
Routes via Kampala – Mbale- Soroti- Moroto- Kidepo is 792 kms,
Kampala – Mbale- Sironko- Kotido- Kaabong- Kidepo is 740 kms
Kampala- Karuma- Gulu- Kitgum- Kaabong – Kidepo 671 kms
Charter flights to Kidepo can be arranged from Aero Beach where Kodet’s offices are located. 
Kodet has a plane to help in the transportation of tourists. The flights take two hours from Entebbe to the lodge.

Security
One does not have to worry about animals attacking them during the course of the day or night, there are Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) rangers deployed at the hotel as well as patrols that move around the park.
The location of the lodge also favours the guests so in case of any attack, people can easily secure themselves in a bunker.

Challenges
Speaking to Kodet, he expresses his disappointment in the way the government treats its local investors. He claims the government favours foreign investors whom it gives all these bonuses and exemption while taxing the local investor dry. 
“There is a lot of bureaucracy and red tape that an investor struggles through to get even the most basic permit. Many people would want to invest and develop this nation but their efforts are being thwarted. Something needs to change,” Kodet notes sadly.
He says he has been struggling with some corrupt government officials who do not want him to continue with the lodge.

“I am 80 years old, I have put all my investments into this place, but these people seated in the offices are not easy. For 15 years I have been moving from office to office looking for one clearance or other. I know they want some sort of kitu kidogo (bribe) but I am sorry I am not about to participate in corruption,” Kodet states.
Kodet says that he has been operating the lodge on President Museveni’s letter giving him permission to take over the lodge. He says any time President Museveni goes away and they force him to leave he will go.
Another challenge highlighted by Kodet is the transportation of the raw materials from Kampala to Kidepo where every week they had to travel more than 650 kms to bring the materials.

“Imagine each of every inch of these materials was got from Kampala, travelling over 650kms to bring materials here, it is really not an easy job,” says Kodet. Besides Katurum lodge which is now refurbished, Pakuba Safari lodge, Amin’s former state lodge built in 1975 in Lututuru hill, in Agoro Sub-county, 35km away from Lamwo Town council, are still dilapidated.

What they say about Katurum

Jaffer Amin, Idd 
Amins’ son
“We are so grateful because one of our late dad’s friends mzee Kodet has been able to restore our father’s legacy. And not only that, mzee is trying to prove to us that we locals of the country can also invest in tourism as well.”

Phillip Akorongimoe head guide Kidepo 
Valley National Park
“Mzee Kodet being the son of this soil, coming up to restore this amazing lodge, brings pride to us. We are happy that even local people are coming up to invest more in tourism.”

IF SOMETHING HAD TO DONE…

…It would definitely be…

Cultural promotion
Karamoja.
Promotion and celebration of this community’s local tourism such as the popular Atekker festival will bring focus to the multitude of ethnic groups in Karamoja. Karamoja has many exciting things but they have not been properly packaged and advertised for the rest of the world. We have some incredible cultural festivals, I would want to see tourists get a chance to be part of. 
[Jaffer Amin ]

Accomodation
Karamoja. There is need for more hotels and lodges to offer accommodation to our visitors that come to Kidepo. There are days when we stop some visitors for coming because all lodges are fully occupied.
[Phillip Akorongimoe head guide Kidepo Valley National Park]

Transportation
Karamoja. Kidepo is very far, using the road is exciting but also sometimes tiresome with poor roads off Kitgum. I once tried out going there by air it was very expensive. So I think if the air transport is boosted and subsidised it would help promote local tourism. [Jacinta Naigaga ]

Source: Daily Monitor

By : Geoffrey Baluku

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust Executive Director, Lilly Ajarova has been appointed chief executive officer of the Uganda Tourism Board, the government parastatal responsible for marketing and promotion of Uganda as a tourist destination. She replaces Dr Stephen Asiimwe who will be taking on his PhD studies at Makerere University after serving at the helm of UTB for over five years.

The Minister of Tourism, Hon Ssuubi Godfrey Kiwanda announced the appointment, and said that the Ministry was confident that Lilly Ajarova had the right qualifications and experience to steer UTB and the country’s tourism sector into greater heights. She brings on board vast leaderships skills complemented with expertise in strategy and lobbying.

Kiwanda thanked the out going CEO Stephen Asiimwe for a job well done during this period and urged the incoming CEO to carry on from where Stephen had taken UTB.

Ajarova with over 13 years at Ngamba Island where she has served as Executive Director; has great leadership skills and is an enthusiastic lady who has dedicated her life to animal welfare, biodiversity conservation, environmental education and sustainable tourism development. She also previously worked with Uganda Wildlife Authority as Director of Tourism and Business Development.

Ajarova will be deputized by Bradford Ochieng. Mr Ochieng has been serving as the director of corporate affairs at Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority where he was responsible for overseeing the implementation and providing strategic and technical leadership (monitoring, evaluation, ICT, strategic management and partnership, communication, and risk management).

Source: Africa Tembelea

Addis Ababa. Jan 3, 2019

Ethiopian Airlines B-737-800 aircraft with registration number ET-ATV with flight number ET-338 on 03 January 2019 on a regular scheduled service from Addis Ababa to Entebbe, Uganda, skidded off the runway by a few meters this morning at Entebbe international airport during landing.

Passengers and crew were safely deplaned and were taken to the terminal and cleared normally through the regular clearance process. There is no damage to the aircraft and it is being towed to the ramp.

We apologize to our valued customers, who were on-board the flight for the inconvenience. An alternative flight is being arranged to complete the return flight and re-book the passengers, who were booked to travel from Entebbe to Addis Ababa.

Once again, we apologize to all of our esteemed customers who have been affected by the incident. The cause of the incident is under investigation.

This article was first published by Afro Tourism in the Uganda edition of S.E.E. AFRICA® magazine under the title So Much In Murchison Falls National Park.

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Situated in the northern part of the Albertine Rift Valley where the massive Bunyoro escarpment merges into the expansive palm-dotted Savannah of Acholi land is Murchison Falls National Park, the oldest and largest conservation area in Uganda, and one of the alluring pearls of the landlocked East African nation.

First gazette in 1926 as a game reserve, Murchison Falls NP is a massive 3,840km² expanse bisected by the Victoria Nile which squeezes through an 8-metre gorge cascading 45 meters over the rift valley wall to create the centerpiece of the park after which it is named – the Murchison Falls! The park is part of the Murchison Falls Conservation Area, the largest protected area in Uganda, along with the adjacent Bugungu Wildlife Refuge and Karuma Wildlife Refuge which works as buffer zones for the park. Also included is the Budongo Forest Reserve which overlaps both Bugungu and Karuma.

We arrived Murchison Falls NP ahead of schedule – two days ahead. We were supposed to spend those two days at the Kidepo Valley National Park, another of Uganda’s wonderful safari destinations, but due to the unpreparedness of the facility we were scheduled to stay in, we had to leave a few hours after we arrived – sadly. However, a few hosted participants, among them my colleague at the office, Nkiru Osuji remained in Kidepo Valley at a different facility.

After touching down at Pakuba airstrip, we hurriedly piled into a waiting safari Jeep and raced to catch the 18:00 ferry on the northern bank of the Nile at Paraa Crossing. Our new accommodation, Kabalega Wilderness Lodge was on the southern bank of the world’s longest river and we were not in the mood to wait the 30-minute interval idling on the banks for the ferry after such a long day. Thankfully, we made it to Paraa with about ten minutes to spare.

Kabalega Wilderness Lodge took us in eagerly and after a refreshing dinner we retired to our rooms for a well-deserved sleep. It was the kind of sleep you don’t want to get up from – and it’s not even because of being in a dream. Well the sleep had to be disrupted because of an early morning game drive. We had to head out early with our breakfast packed to catch the first ferry at 07:00.

Game drives take place only on the northern side of the park, a savannah with Borassus aethiopum (African fan palm), acacia trees and riverine woodland, while the south is dominated by woodland and dense forest patches.

It was a rewarding game viewing experience that lasted well past 11:00 as we drove through. We spotted a sleeping lion a safe distance, as well as elephants, buffaloes, impalas, giraffes, colobus monkeys, warthogs, birds of various species and hippos. The pick of the day was when we drove past the ruins of the old Pakuba Safari Lodge and spotted a hyena trapped between two porcupines.

Pakuba Safari Lodge used to be the choice spot and a favorite of the late Ugandan despot, Idi Amin. After he was ousted, the lodge was looted and destroyed and all that remains is a dilapidated structure that has become a haven for wild animals, since efforts to rebuild it has not materialized. Unfortunately, we failed to get a good shot of the hyena and porcupines.

On another early morning drive after moving in to Paraa Safari Lodge on the northern, we spotted a pride of lions feasting on a fresh kill. By this time, the team from Kidepo Valley had joined us and we crossed the Nile together to  the south banks, before a drive down to Budongo Forest Reserve to track chimpanzees. We also had a drive after another crossing to the south banks to get to the top of the waterfalls.

We did enjoy an afternoon river cruise to the falls and spotted a host of animals such as hippopotami, waterbucks, elephants, water buffaloes, crocodiles and several bird species. Murchison Falls NP certainly teems with game and some animals like elephants and warthogs even roam close to the lodges.

Now that’s another impressive bit about the park – the accommodation facilities are quite good. They range differently in value, but what we saw on a site inspection to the various places were nice. Paraa Safari Lodge has to be the pick of the pack in the entire park. Others like Bakers’ Lodge, Murchison River Lodge, Kabalega Wilderness Lodge, Nile Safari Lodge and the new Pakuba Safari Lodge are nice too.

By and large, Murchison Falls NP is one of those places to visit, especially if you love safaris and game viewing. The 1951 movie, The African Queen was filmed in the park on Lake Albert and the Nile. Several British royals and other notable personalities such as Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway, among many others have visited the park. Well, I guess you can add my name to that list!

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For more about Murchison Falls NP, and Uganda in general search for the series: My Uganda Memoir on the site.