Outreach to the ‘Switzerland of Uganda’

BY ALEX TAREMWA 

And so on a rainy morning of April 1, the career outreach team landed in western Uganda’s capital, Mbarara. The team had two new team members: Patrick Lugemwa and Doreen Kajeru.

Lugemwa is an outgoing man, his beards were trimmed and his eyes deep set staring with a good dose of humour and he just had a lot to say.

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The writer laying a wreath at the burial site of the late Bishop Emeritus John Baptist Kakubi (Photo by Doreen Kajeru)

 Fools Day prank 

Enter Ronald Awany with a phonecall: “I have got a scholarship at the University of Manchester to pursue my Master’s degree. I will be leaving this August,” he said.

“Wow!” I exclaimed. “This is great news, Ronnie. I am very proud of you. Congratulations! Go show the Britons what we are made of,” I added jubilantly.

The above comments we made in utter ignorance that April 1 was Fools Day. Ronnie, a colleague at The Standard, had not been admitted for the MA; he succeeded in fooling me and my promise for vengeance against him still stands.

Banana juice 

As a resident of Mbarara, I offered to show the team around. I took them to Baguma Restaurant on Kakoba road, where we would have lunch. The food at this restaurant costs a uniform price (shs10,000) inclusive of drinks.

Many opted for thick millet porridge locally known as ekitiribiita but I settled for banana juice (eshande ). While I was little, my parents would make this juice for us out of yellow bananas and I loved it. I would sneak into the house to sip an extra cup or two when they were away.

Mbarara was calm as always. Apart from politicians’ posters hanging on every street corner of the town, nothing seemed different since my last visit.

We visited Mary Hill High School, St. Joseph’s Vocational School and set a date with Ntare School and Mbarara High School for the following day.

Despite making an impromptu visit to St. Joseph’s, the powers that be remembered me from six years back.

“OB,” the deputy headmaster shouted before he gave me a hug. I visited the burial ground of Bishop Emeritus, John Baptist Kakubi who had passed on February 11, 2016 at 86 years. Kakubi was the Bishop of Mbarara Diocese between 1969 and 1991 and he was a great witness for Christ.

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John Vianney Ahumuza takes a ride on one of Kabale’s bicycle boda-boda (Photo by Alex Taremwa)

Bicycle boda-boda 

Fast forward to Kabale. The debate of whether this southwestern town is the Switzerland of Uganda is yet to be settled but from an aesthetic standpoint, the scenery is breathtaking. It is apparent that God became extra creative when he got to designing this part of the world as his hand is visible in every aspect.

Although I had been to Kabale before, I had never got the courage to use the bicycle boda-bodas there. This time I did though and I enjoyed them, soon after our visit to

St. Mary’s College Rushoroza The bicycle boda-boda experience was memorable.

Besides being affordable, the riders have endless conversation that keeps the passenger, especially who speaks the native language, entertained. If Kisoro had not been so hilly, I would have opted to travel by bicycle there too.

Kisoro 

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The steaming hills of Kisoro, otherwise known as the ‘Switzerland of Uganda’

Kisoro is 63 kilometres from Kabale, a one-hour and 50-minutes drive through the bamboo forests, steaming mountains, steep mountains and suicidal corners and bends. The roads crisscross the hills in a manner mankind cannot comprehend. The drivers have to stay very alert.

Suffering from acrophobia (fear of heights), I would not even gather the courage to gaze at the cliffs but the people who live there have adapted both to the weather and the landscape. Their houses dot the steep hills with silver roofs and their agricultural systems compliment the beautiful hillsides.

This is where even atheists pause and reflect on the existence of the great God whose existence they doubt. From vantage points, one can catch a glimpse of the deep Lake Bunyonyi, and Mt Muhavura, key physical features in the region. It was a rainy day in Kisoro. In fact it rained four times that day in this part of Uganda famous for the Mgahinga National Park and the gorillas there.

This was my favourite trip across this our motherland.

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