Uganda: culture, travel and music light up Ekyooto Ha Mpango cultural festival

The boat regatta on Lake Saaka has softened the spirit of the adventurers. Fit and nimble riders cycled from Kampala to Fort Portal, travelers took a royal tour then performers – traditional and contemporary, entertained audiences, while models flaunted fashionable outfits.

The weekend was different in Fort Portal City. This was the inaugural edition of the Ekyooto Ha Mpango Cultural Festival. As His Royal Majesty, Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV said, Uganda is the Pearl of Africa and Tooro is the jewel of the Pearl.

“Fort Portal, the heart and capital of the kingdom of Tooro, lies at the foothills of the famous Rwenzori ranges. For every hill there is a valley, and in this valley there is water forming the many Crater lakes that dot most areas, the king remarked. in the Tooro region, but in Uganda as a whole.

And as the kingdom’s tourism minister Owekitinisa Joan Else Adyeri Kantu explained, the festival is an initiative that was designed to be at the forefront of lobbying for the commercialization of Batooro culture and all other cultures. Ugandan women “by advocating that our cultures be integrated into our daily activities, both in the corporate and informal settings.

The king started the festival with a ceremonial lighting of ekyooto – a fireplace made by the University of Ndejje. Previously, he had visited the grounds of the Mucwa Chamber, visited the trade stands and took the time to listen to the various exhibitors and innovators. He was in the company of the Queen Mother, Dr Best Olimi Kemigisha, and their guards.

The King, as the main promoter of the cultural festival, presented the Royal Tour, where he discovered the spectacular Sempaya Hot Springs in Semliki National Park. Here he was mesmerized by the eggs boiling with the high temperature waters, thanks to geothermal heat.

The hot springs are located on the edge of the great Ituri Forest, which borders Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), close to the Rwenzori mountain ranges in the Bundibujjo district.

The tour also saw him travel through Kibaale National Park and rainforest, listening to the chimps hoot, perhaps their form of welcome gesture for the Omukama to visit their jungle surroundings.

If Kibaale is on your must-see list, be sure to admire the black and white Columbus monkey, L’Hoest monkey, Thomas Galago, red-tailed monkey, Vervet monkey, olive baboons, blue monkeys, Uganda or the gray-cheeked Mangabey, Demidoff galago, Marchies, the Potto and Dwarf.

Besides the places visited during the royal visit, a tourist may want to visit and learn more about the Tooro Golf Club, founded in 1914 and recognized as one of the 450 National Sites and Monuments in Uganda.

A visit to Karuzika, the Royal Palace on Kabarole Hill is something you should not miss. Built in 1964, it has a rich history and heritage. Also, the visits of Kabahango built in 1928 and Rwengoma built in 1909, are palaces, recommended as part of an educational circuit.

Virika Cathedral was destroyed by an earthquake in 1966 and rebuilt. It is here that the first Catholic presence in the city is felt. When you visit Amabeere ga nyina mwiru, also visit the Nyakasura School which was founded in 1926 by Ernest Calwell, a retired Scottish Army officer.

Activities

Some of the documentation indicates that the school was the first to generate electricity, thanks to a small dam built there in 1930. Mucwa House – The Tooro Parliament houses the offices of the Tooro Kingdom.

They were opened in 1966, shortly after the kingdom was abolished. For a history buff, the Karambi tombs are another place to visit. Part of the weekend’s schedule, included the Queen Mother gracing the dinner, where the models wowed audiences in their creative outfits made by fashion designer Sheilah Kasami. She is launching her haute couture collection.

Sylvia Namutebi-Alibhai, 2011 Ms. Uganda and Miss Uganda crown holder, was one of the most notable models in a gorgeous white wedding dress.

Nnalongo Judith Heard, who also holds the Miss Elite Pageant crown, delighted audiences as she stepped forward in a glittering gold gown.

Another highlight of the dinner was the screening of a documentary on the Rwenzori trek, where Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) General Manager Lilly Ajarova recounted the difficult expedition that was equally rewarding. Thanks to the beauty of the vegetation zones, unique animals like the three horned chameleon, the hyrax, the deer, the species of birds, the snow, the waterfalls, the magnificent sunrises, which would all make movie sets. ideals.

The icing on the cake was the Saturday night music concert, which was honored by the King. The lineup included local and Kampala-based artists.

Aziz Azion was one of the highlights of the evening, thanks to audience favorites such as Nkumila Omukwano, Oxygen and a session in which he got his hands on Aloysius Migadde’s guitar and passionately plucked the strings. , inviting fans and music lovers to scream.

His performance was preceded by an electrifying staging by Janzi Band, who sang and proved their worth as musicians, each satisfactorily playing their instruments. You could say that there is no dull moment with Golola Moses in the house. The famous kickboxer joined artist Spice Diana on stage and in addition to his comedic dance moves, he continued to do a 180-plus stretch with the artist.

And as he minded his fun gadgets, fans were bursting into laughter. The evening’s master of ceremonies, comedian Salvador (Patrick Idringi) was in character and his jokes did not spare the king, who behind the mask’s “shield” could be seen laughing heartily at of humor.

Beenie Gunter also had a good stage presence as he engaged audiences with his groovy songs that caused fans to leave their site and get together to dance and sing along to tunes like “Seckle Down”.

Some joined him on stage as they did with Aziz Azion, when he smashed electric guitar and hit the codes on the fly. It was a cultural festival and the Tooro Cultural Research and Development Organization of Fort Portal left nothing to the imagination as they energetically danced and sang with pride in their Tooro homeland.

Muzamil Kisembo Ayesiga made a perfect cue with culturally themed music that amplified the kingdom’s geographic endowments and hence the need to conserve them and preserve the culture and language of the 200 year old kingdom.

Speaking of which, King Oyo used the festival as a platform to kick off the celebrations marking Tooro’s 200th anniversary. According to the literature, in 1822 a prince of the kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara who was in official service on behalf of his father, the king of Bunyoro, fell in love with the southern part of his father’s empire.

He discovered that the place had the most beautiful people he had ever seen. It has superb hills and mountain ranges, fertile soils, and well-kept gardens and farms.

He immediately fell in love with the warmth with which beautiful people greeted him and also noticed the rift between these people and their king. He developed a strong desire to separate from his father and rule this part of the kingdom, as king.

He began to plan the escape, to create his supporters and his fighters. The year 1822 marked the beginning of a struggle for rupture. And the very first king of Tooro was enthroned in 1830 after a struggle between father and son. With the wealth of heritage, culture, sports and travel appeal, those who attended the festival believe it is a destination worth checking out. “This festival should be marketed as part of the calendar of the year and tourists should pay to come for these activities. This would generate income for the communities.

Tourism value

See how many hotels have been filled. Beyond that, we have to assess; how many eggs, onions were eaten, how many boda boda runners killed during this festival, how many gas stations served fuel, and more. If you go into these details, you will know the value of tourism, ”says Amos Wekesa, director of Great Lakes Safaris, and participant in the boat regatta and mini-marathon.

“There is a lot of potential. Activities are the key driver of tourism. No matter how beautiful our hotels and lodges are, if I can come to a beautiful place like Lake Saaka, say from Europe, North America and Kampala, and only to sleep, the goal is defeated.

For the sake of Ekyooto Ha Mpango, it opened our eyes to the gold we are sitting on, ”Justus Kojo, director of Ultimate Cycling Uganda, which runs a business clinic with young local tour operators who own the tourism and travel spaces in Tooro. .

It hadn’t occurred to Kojo, before Ekyooto, that Kasese and Fort Portal were conveniently located with national parks, bodies of water, the spectacular Moon Mountains.

He adds, “A destination with top notch weather and endowments should make it a favorite on the African continent. Some of the must-see attractions in the Kabarole and Kasese districts include Kibale National Park, nicknamed “the primate capital of the world” because it is home to 13 primates, including chimpanzees.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is also located in the same tourist belt and with over 50 crater lakes, Sempaya Hot Springs, Rwenzori Mountain, Amabere Ga Nyina Mwiru in Nyakasura, Top of the World, and more.

Green city in perspective

King Oyo adds, “The people of Tooro are calm, warm and welcoming to all visitors, which is one of the reasons Fort Portal was designated and ultimately named the country’s tourist city, a fitting designation. Fort Portal is located in the center of Rwenzori, Kibale. and Queen Elizabeth National Parks, the Lakes; George, Albert and Edward, and is home to some of the finest nature-friendly accommodation facilities in the country. “

Fort Portal City MP Alex Ruhunda observes that they are determined to make it one of the greenest cities in the world and ensure that modernizing the city ensures clean energy and a sustainable environment.

Key

The highlight of the dinner was the screening of a documentary on the Rwenzori trek, where the General Manager of the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), Lilly Ajarova, recounted the difficult expedition which was equally rewarding. Thanks to the beauty of the vegetation zones, unique animals like the three horned chameleon, the hyrax, the deer, the species of birds, the snow, the waterfalls, the magnificent sunrises, which would all make movie sets. ideals.

The icing on the cake was the Saturday night music concert, which was honored by the King. The lineup included local and Kampala-based artists.


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Darcy J. Skinner