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Bugisu’s Imbalu

A teenager’s bittersweet rite of passage

The African Kanga A traditional form of African twitter

Trekking The Magnificent





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WHY YOU can’t miss the 5TH EDITION OF the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo


s Uganda moves to position as a premier tourist destination, Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) warmly invites you to its 5th annual Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE 2020); a tourism and travel trade exhibition which brings together regional and international tour operators, travel agents, destination agencies and various players in the tourism trade to network and facilitate the tourism business. The three day expo will run from February 4th to 6th, 2020 and will be held at Speke Resort Munyonyo. POATE 2020 will integrate a business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) trade event format under the theme “Inspiring high value engagement to promote Intra-Africa travel for leisure, business and adventure”, aimed at raising Uganda’s profile as a preferred destination in the region and internationally. Launching the event, Hon. Godfrey Kiwanda, State Minister for Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities, noted the board’s focus on Intra- Africa travel. “Tourism has long been advocated as an alternative strategy for economic development and social reconstruction. The focus on Intra- Africa travel during this expo and beyond is aimed at increasing the number of African arrivals to Uganda. With the revival of Uganda Airlines, regional connectivity is easier and this, among others, will allow for Intra- Africa travel to thrive,” he said. UTB Board Chairman, Hon. Daudi Migereko, noted that POATE is a strategic avenue to market and promote the country to a group of select hosted buyers in a broader goal to increase tourist arrivals to Uganda as per the UTB strategic plan. “Trade expos have been known to drive high value engagement and the focus on Africa is timely for Uganda, given the recent interest of travellers on the continent.” Lilly Ajarova, the CEO UTB, said that POATE is one of the key strategies for the promotion of Uganda’s




tourism in the region and across the world. The expo facilitates key linkages through hosted buyers between tourists and our domestic tour operators. Furthermore, it allows Uganda to showcase directly to various groups of hosted buyers who play a key role in the increment of visitor arrivals. “On a week-long FAM trip kicking off in January 2020, we shall showcase to hosted buyers some of Uganda’s unique experiences and gems, and ensure a rich and memorable experience so they get a hands-on sense of Uganda as a tourist destination. Hosted buyers will include tour agents, travel media and hoteliers among others. Over 70 hosted buyers are expected from Uganda’s key source markets such as the rest of Africa, North America, Canada, UK, Germany, Switzerland,”Ajarova noted. The first two days of the event will constitute seminars and workshops, B2B meetings and conferences, while the last day will be open to the public for B2C engagements between the public, attending exhibitors and hosted buyers. Commenting on the same, Pearl Horeau, the President of the Uganda Tourism Association, said that the expo will present an exciting opportunity for the tourism private sector to network and develop their tourism and travel business directly. “As the private sector, we are positive about the potential business that POATE will bring to Uganda. The focus on the African market is a step in the right direction as the continent provides a number of opportunities for intra-travel trade evidenced by the number of African tourists visiting Uganda and other countries,” Horeau said.

For inquiries please contact: Sandra Natukunda Senior Public Relations Officer Email: sandra.natukunda@utb.go.ug




Inspiring High-Value Engagement to Promote Intra African Travel for Leisure and Business.


February, 4th-6th


Speke Resort Munyonyo

Email: poate@utb.go.ug Web: www.utb.go.ug/poate2020









22 CHEPTEGEI Rising From The Ashes





38 TRAVEL DIARY Wild Maasai Mara

80 ANIMAL KINGDOM The Endangered Pangolin


103 TRENDS Mellow Yellow 108 NG’AALI KIDS 117 BOOKSHELF 114 ROUTES 122 NEWS

103 6













86 BUGISU’S IMBALU A Bittersweet Rite Of Passage 90 THE AFRICAN KANGA

98 FATUMAH ASHA More Than A Fashion Designer





Bugisu’s Imbalu

A teenager’s bittersweet rite of passage

The African Kanga A traditional form of African twitter

Trekking The Magnificent





On the cover:

The magnificent Rwenzori Mountains


Ng'aali, the name of our inflight magazine, is derived from the local Luganda name of the Crested Crane, which is the national bird of the African nation of Uganda. It appears on the flag and Coat of Arms and can be found near the country’s many lakes and rivers. Crested Cranes stand over 3 feet tall, with a wingspan of up to 6.5 feet. They live up to 22 years, but hatch in 30 days and reach maturity in 3 years. These majestic birds practise monogamy - they remain with the same breeding partner for life. Literature has it that if one is widowed, they stay single until they die. They are omnivores, so like humans, they eat both meat and plants.



KALUNGI KABUYE Kalungi is an award winning writer and photographer, and has been a journalist for more than 20 years. He has been editor of several magazines and newspapers in Uganda.

MARK STRATTON Mark is a professional full-time travel writer and radio broadcaster. Through his photos and words he strives to immerse himself in the experiences of travel, to communicate through vivid narratives, to inspire and engage readers.

MARK NAMANYA This acclaimed sports journalist has won multiple awards in his field. A former President of Uganda Sports Press Association (USPA), Mark's command of the sports language is unrivalled.

NARINA EXELBY Narina is a widely published South African writer with almost 20 years’ experience in creating high-quality content for international titles. Narina has contributed to Men’s Health, The Telegraph, Fodor’s, The Guardian, High Life, CNN, Marie Claire, South China Morning Post, Getaway, Grazia and Discovery, among other titles.

SOLOMON OLENY Solomon is a creative, self driven professional travel journalist. He has worked with CNN on a documentary about tourism in Uganda, and is a recipient of nine Tourism Excellence Awards since the start of his journalism career in 2008.

HOLLY BUDGE Holly’s passion for adventure is evident with two world records under her belt so far, including being the first woman to skydive Everest and race semi-wild horses 1000km across Mongolia in just nine days. She has raised over £300k for charities through her adventures so far.

HASSAN SSENTONGO Hassan is a writer and editor. He lives in Kampala, and currently serves as Creative Director at Satisfashion UG, an online platform that celebrates fashion. He is passionate about fashion and food.

MARK EVELEIGH Mark, a frequent visitor to Uganda, has contributed 750+ full-length features to 100+ international publications, including BBC Wildlife, BBC Earth, Geographical, National Geographic Traveller and The Independent.

Sales Executives Atukwase Clare Murekyezi, Irene Kaitesi, Diana B. Tayebwa, Aggie Ninsiima

CONTACT US www.ngaaliinflightmag.com Tel: +256 782 555 213 Address Acacia Mall, 4th floor

Publisher Dora Barungi Editorial Director Adele Cutler Administrator Doreen Kabatesi DESIGN Designer Esther Nabaasa EDITORIAL Copy Editor Pamela Nyamato Web Editor Solomon Oleny

Writers Adele Cutler, Narina Exelby, Mark Eveleigh, Kalungi Kabuye, Holly Budge, Solomon Oleny, Mark Namanya, Hassan Ssentongo, Anne Kirya, Michael Wakabi, Mark Stratton PHOTOGRAPHY Peter Hogel

Social Media Management Premier Advertising & Media Website Management EBC - Epic Business Consult PUBLISHED BY

ADVERTISING AND SALES Sales and Marketing Director Richard Senkwale

The views expressed in Ng'aali are not necessarily those of the editor, staff or publishers. Ng'aali is the registered trademark name of the Uganda Airlines inflight magazine. www.ngaaliinflightmag.com


BUZZ Social Media







elcome aboard Uganda Airlines, and enjoy our first 2020 issue of Ng’aali Inflight Magazine. As we enter the next decade, I want to thank you for your support and encouragement during our first year of operation. Your feedback so far has helped us improve in all areas of our service, in particular, the manner in which we can reach out to you and serve you better. Many of you have shared your experiences of our flights on social media platforms, and we are grateful that you cared enough to do so. Please keep the feedback coming.

“ Your feedback

so far has helped us improve in all areas of our service, in particular, the manner in which we can reach out to you and serve you better...”

Uganda Airlines is about our travellers; we aim to give you world class service in line with our vision for excellence as we connect you to your destinations. We promise to offer you a welcoming, friendly and courteous customer service experience across all our touch points - from the first contact upon booking, to ticketing, check-in, on-board service, arrival and post arrival processes. Our schedules have been carefully designed to offer you convenience and flexibility across our ever-growing regional network, with frequencies being added to suit your travel times. In 2020, we will add Johannesburg, Lusaka, Harare, Kinshasa, Goma, Lubumbashi, Khartoum, Kigali, Hargeisa, Addis Ababa and many others to our network. In December 2020, we will receive our first pair of A330-800neo aircraft. These will launch inter-continental flights to Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and be followed by a second similar pair in January 2021, allowing us to open flights to London, Dubai and Guangzhou. We are looking forward to synergies with other airlines under a framework of alliances, interlines and codeshare agreements that will enable us extend service to offer our passengers global connectivity. Thank you for making Uganda Airlines your favourite flying partner and we look forward to being of service to you again. Meanwhile, sit back, relax and enjoy your flight with us. All the best in the New Year. Cornwell Muleya CEO Uganda Airlines




One ID and the passenger of the future


ave you ever envied the ease with which a letter moves from sender to recipient? With a single stamp at the point of origin, a letter will navigate its way around the world using different modes of transport to get to its destination. While travel was intended to be an exciting and even glamourous experience, the hassle involved, especially if one has to cross borders, has gotten complicated in almost equal proportion to improvements in the means and speed with which a person can move from point A to B. The journey of the air traveller can be a fortuitous experience, with multiple security and identity verification checks and long queues at different points. If you have endured that hassle, there is good news around the corner. IATA, the International Air Transport Association, is leading an industry-wide effort to streamline the passenger journey around a single ID. Dubbed One ID, passengers will be able to identify themselves at each airport touchpoint through simple biometric recognition. How soon that happens is going to depend on the extent to which governments, airports and airlines come together to design and agree on a seamless interoperable system that connects their operations. Today, a passenger requires no less than three hours to navigate pre-boarding procedures. The hassle is repeated at each transit or arrival point. One ID is betting on reducing repetitive identity checks to create a seamless flow of integrated identity management and end-to-end passenger process that allows an individual to assert their identity online or in person. “In parallel, we are looking to global standards to help passengers navigate the airport without having to prove their identity over and over. IATA’s One ID project proposes face, iris or fingerprint recognition to move passengers from curb to gate. The technology exists today. And we will be urging governments - vital partners, to make One ID work and to move quickly,” says IATA President and Chief Executive, Alexandre de Juniac. IATA reasons that One ID will benefit all stakeholders in the travel process. Passengers will no longer need to juggle between different documents. “With a single identification, they will be easily recognised by all service providers. This will eliminate repetitive processes,




Words by Michael Wakabi

resulting in less queuing. Ultimately, it will enable passengers to arrive at the airport ready to fly in nearly every travel scenario,” IATA says. The resulting efficiency will reduce costs for airlines and airports. Staff will process more passengers because of reductions in the time spent on manual ID checks. IATA cites other benefits. “It will also provide real-time visibility of where passengers are in the airport process, possibly allowing smart queuing. This will help optimise airport space efficiency. Ultimately, airlines will benefit from all the passenger process improvements with happy customers, which is likely to translate into commercial opportunities.” With their conservativeness, governments will likely be among the last to be sold over to One ID. But proponents point out that it will actually enable improvements in border, aviation and airport infrastructure security. “It will help combat human trafficking and other crossborder criminal activities by reducing the possibility for individuals crossing borders under a false identity,” IATA argues. A group that is open to subject matter experts from the airline industry, called the systems vendor community, has been set up. So far, three key contributor working groups that will develop guidance documents, recommended practices, technical specifications, solutions and implementation guides addressing specific requirements, have been formed. Despite its promise, there are key questions that must be addressed before the travelling public can gain confidence in the system. For instance, what kind of personal data will be surrendered by passengers and how secure or safe will it be in the hands of third parties? “The industry and governments must work together to understand detailed privacy implications and seek adequate clarifications to ensure any One ID project can be applied across jurisdictions, allowing the industry to use passengers’ biometric recognition for identity verification throughout the travel process, while making sure to respect and protect passengers’ privacy and protection of their data,” IATA says. It is envisioned that implementing One ID processes will be done with commitment to high standards of privacy so that passengers’ personal information is protected at a greater scale than current processes.

Varicose Veins Will Soon Be A Thing Of The Past What are varicose veins?

The heart pumps oxygen enriched blood into all organs and tissues via the arteries, and the veins transport the used blood back to the heart for re-oxygenation; this is duly supported by the action of venous valves. Venous valves only allow the blood to flow in the direction of the heart. If these valves fail to close properly, the blood flows back into the legs and accumulates inside the veins, which then expand due to the increased pressure. These dysfunctional veins are referred to as varicose veins. Varicose veins, also occasionally referred to as spider veins, are twisted, bulging, enlarged and often lumpy, shimmering blue vessels mainly in the venous system of the lower limbs. Up to 25% of women and 18% of men will suffer from varicose veins. Nearly 50% of untreated patients eventually experience chronic venous insufficiency. In most cases, varicose veins are caused by a congenital weakness of connective tissue, although other contributing factors can include age, hormones, pregnancy, gender, genetics, being overweight, continuous long periods of standing and sitting, and lack of exercise. Varicose veins cause feelings of tension or heaviness and are the most common circulatory problem affecting the legs. In an advanced stage, accumulating water in the tissue usually evokes typical symptoms and complications such as heaviness, pain, and swelling, or in extreme cases, open chronic wounds. Taking these complications into account, everyone suffering from varicose veins should take remedial action. Diagnosis

This involves taking a medical history (anamnesis) and physical examination of the legs in different body positions

because varicose veins usually fill up and bulge while a patient is standing and disappear when they lie down. Duplex and colour duplex sonography generate an ultrasound image of the blood vessel in addition to the blood flow and can give precise information on the condition and functioning of the vein. The Innovative Laser Procedure, ELVeS Radial

When working with ELVeS Radial, the doctor carefully guides a probe into the varicose vein via a small puncture. The probe then radiates laser light in a targeted and radial manner. When the probe is pulled back, the vein closes up - just like a zipper. The treatment lasts 30 to 45 minutes. A general anesthetic is not necessary; a local anesthetic is usually applied, and the treatment is performed on an out-patient basis, so no hospital stay is required. During and after the procedure, most patients report feeling minimal or no pain at all. The desired result is recognisable immediately after the treatment, and due to the tiny puncture, pronounced scars are uncommon. Recovery time is short and patients can resume their everyday activities right after their treatment with ELVeS Radial. In addition to varicose veins, LASER is also used in the treatment of hemorrhoids (piles), fistula in ano, anal fissure, urethral strictures, removal of the prostate gland, tonsilloctomy, and contained spinal disc prolapse treatment.

Endo-venous laser treatment for various ailments will be available at Ruby Surgicenter. Words by Dr Michael Oling General|Laparoscopy Surgeon & Laser Proctologist www.ngaaliinflightmag.com



Our services: IMAGING DIAGNOSTICS RUBY SURGICENTER ONCOLOGY PATHOLOGY FERTILITY CLINIC RENAL CARE PHARMACY VIRTUAL CLINIC 40 Lugogo Bypass Road, P.O Box 2566 Kampala, Uganda I Tel +256 393236444 I Mobile +256 700861778 I info@rubymedicalcenter.com I www.rubymedicalcenter.com


Virtual Currency AND THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION Words by Kenneth Muhangi


acebook is launching Libra - a simple lowvolatility cryptocurrency running on a decentralised blockchain network. Using a digital wallet, users can send digital assets as a medium of exchange. When this launches, anyone will be able to send money to any other user for day to day transactions like an Uber or Lyft ride all in cryptocurrency- how’s that for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)? Mark Zuckerberg let the world know on Tuesday June 18th, 2019, in what by far is considered to be the biggest announcement of the 4IR, that although payments through social media are not a new creation, never has it been in cryptocurrency.




Yuval Noah Harari, a celebrated historian, philosopher and best-selling author, summarises it this way: “Money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised. Even people who do not believe in the same God or obey the same king are more than willing to use the same money.” Cryptocurrency is therefore such a great part of the 4IR because it is another step in the evolution of that mental construct and story that is money. In the Stone Age and well into the ‘Civilised Age’, barter trade was the most widely accepted “money story” or mode of exchange. “Actual” money as we know it began with the agricultural revolution of 9000-6000BCE, where livestock and plants were

BUSINESS TRAVELLER exchanged for goods and services. This eventually evolved to shekels and cowrie shells that were used in countries like Uganda until the late 1960s. We finally arrived at coins in the late Bronze Age, where standard-sized ingots and tokens such as knife money were used to store and transfer value. Paper money is credited to 11th Century China, but was popularised in the 13th Century by explorers like Marco Polo. The 21st Century then saw banks experiment with cashless money (Visa and Mastercard). Although transactions are conducted online or through telecom networks (USSD), every digital note is still backed by a physical banknote. Most cryptocurrencies use a peer-to-peer system, where transactions take place directly between users without any intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain. Backed by smart-contracts, users can securely send money and sell and buy goods with unprecedented convenience. It is this freedom from “the man” that makes virtual currency so appealing. Although Uganda does not officially recognise cryptocurrency as a form of currency, let’s go down the legal rabbit hole to understand the ambits. Is cryptocurrency foreign currency? The definition of “foreign currency” includes electronic units of payment in any currency other than Ugandan currency under Section 3 of the Foreign Exchange Act 2004. Cryptocurrency would fall within that interpretation. Consequently, any business that intends to buy, sell, borrow or lend cryptocurrency may do so under a Forex Bureau license issued by Bank of Uganda. On to the transaction element in cryptocurrency, are these transactions safe and reliable? These are the same questions surrounding the launching of Libra. The Electronic Transactions Act 2011 (ETA), the Computer Misuse Act & the Electronic Signatures Act, 2011 (ESA), also lend credence to virtual currency in Uganda. The ETA provides for the use, security, facilitation and regulation of electronic communications and online transactions. The ETA and the ESA also provide for the legal recognition of electronic transactions, records and signatures, which guarantees effective enforcement of the rights of consumers, if infringed. Digital signatures also ensure that electronic communication is authentic. Authentic means you know who is originating the electronic communication and you know the electronic communication has not been altered since it was made. These are the same considerations with

cryptocurrency transactions. The Draft National Payment Bill (NPB) of 2018 that is yet to be enacted, will regulate the issuance of fiat money/electronic money, and prescribe rules governing the oversight and protection of payment systems, instruments and other related matters. Laws like Uganda’s NPB will be essential for central banks around the world to attempt to regulate virtual currencies. Libra will be made available to Messenger and WhatsApp users, who can cash in their local currency to buy Libra currency. To withdraw funds, users will be able to convert their digital currency into legal tender based on an exchange rate. The currency can then be used to purchase goods and services. Libra is currently not backed by a single currency but its value will depend on the value of its underlying assets, which may fluctuate. Still, this will reportedly help it be less volatile than other cryptos. Most importantly, the fact that Facebook and WhatsApp combined have a whopping 3 billion+ active monthly users, makes trust and acceptability a certainty. Libra couldn’t have come at a better time where financial inclusion, especially with the increasing poor-rich gap, has been a dicey issue worldwide.

Kenneth Muhangi is a Lecturer of IP and ICT Law, Partner at KTA Advocates (Technology, Media, Telecommunications & Intellectual Property), award-winning author and trainer in IP and ICT. Kenneth also represents Uganda at the 4IR Portfolio Communities of the Centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution of the World Economic Forum, and advises the Ministry of ICT on innovation and ICT policy development. He is also a consultant with the World Bank.









ising from the ashes Words by Mark Namanya

When Joshua Cheptegei eventually calls it quits, it is possible that he may well be indisputably Uganda’s greatest athlete of all time. Today, he owns a sporting resume like none before in Ugandan sport. He is a former world junior 10,000m world champion, a World Cross-Country champion, a double Commonwealth champion and gold medalist at the IAAF World Athletics Championships. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics fall in July, presenting him with the opportunity to win the one prize missing in his cabinet – an Olympic medal. Barring injury, he is the overwhelming favourite to claim 10,000m gold at the world’s biggest games. Should he win it, he will be out on his own as the most successful athlete in the history of the Pearl of Africa. Futhermore, he will have laid strong claims to the mythical title of the country’s G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time). The legendary John Akii-Bua broke barriers for Ugandan sport in winning 400m gold in world record time at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, but that is where his CV starts and ends. Stephen Kiprotich landed marathon gold at the 2012 Olympics in London, before adding World Athletics Championship gold at Moscow 2013, but his career nose-dived thereafter. Cheptegei’s story is half-told without reference to events of March 2017 when Kampala hosted the IAAF World Cross-Country. In fact, it is safe to say that for whatever the Kapchorwa-born athlete goes on to achieve in the remainder of his career, the turning point came on March 26th, 2017, at Kololo Independence Grounds. Before a passionate crowd that included President Yoweri Museveni and First Lady Janet Museveni, the then 21-year-old appeared to have wrapped up gold after destroying the field with less than 3km to go in the men’s senior Cross-Country event. For most of the time, it appeared like Cheptegei was racing against the clock. His Kenyan and Ethiopian rivals were out of the picture as he raced to a near-certain gold.

Then boom! Out of nowhere, Cheptegei’s legs gave way inside the final two kilometres. In no time, the man who was out on his own was now struggling to crawl his way to the finish line. Everyone else went past him as he laboured to make the finish line in visible pain. It was an excruciating sight that left the Kololo crowd and television viewers around the world at a loss for words. “It took weeks for me to get over it,” Cheptegei would later admit. President Museveni was concerned and demanded a report from State House doctors to understand what really happened. “When I met people they felt sorry for me, and I felt bad because it reminded me of what happened. I had to stay home because I didn’t want to meet people. My wife, my family and my manager encouraged me, saying I would make it.” Cheptegei felt the brunt of viral videos on social media. On Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, he was ridiculed for letting down the country at the World Cross-Country. What many didn’t know at the time was that he had decided to turn the ridicule into a source of inspiration for subsequent athletics events. Five months later in London, Cheptegei won Uganda’s first ever 10,000m silver at the World Athletics Championships after crossing the line behind the great Mo Farah. “He is the future,” Farah acknowledged. Ugandans saw it as a redemption mission complete, but the athlete wasn’t done.“My target is to win and win and win, you haven’t seen the best of me,” Cheptegei told this writer in London when asked if the 10,000m silver had erased the sad memory of his race at Kololo. At the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, Cheptegei proved beyond reasonable doubt that his time as the force of long distance running in the world had arrived. He destroyed the field in the 5000m and 10,000m to become the country’s first double gold medalist at the Games since Moses Kipsiro in New Delhi, 2010. In the history of the Commonweath Games, only three men www.ngaaliinflightmag.com



Above: Long distance star Joshua Cheptegei has turned winning gold medals into an artform



have managed that feat; Kipsiro, Cheptegei and Cecil Henry Matthews at the 1938 edition held in Sydney, Australia. Victory in Sydney earned him Shs50m from the National Council of Sports to enhance his healthy account. “Because of that disastrous race at Kololo, I will win and win and win,” Cheptegei remarked at the Carara Stadium after his 10,000m victory. “The more I win, the more I wash it (the Kololo memory) out of my system.” In London, in 2017, his silver pocketed him a cool Shs110m and when he won the rare 15km Seven Hills in Nijmegen, Holland in early 2018, he took home Shs211m. But his best was yet to come. In perhaps his most satisfactory race of all, Cheptegei held off a competitive field that included holder Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor, to win the 2019 IAAF World Cross-Country Senior Men’s race. It was a victory that exorcised the demons of Kololo and firmly catapulted him to the elite class of long distance athletes in the world. For his magnificent effort, Cheptegei


walked away with Shs110m. In October 2019 at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, he won Uganda her first 10,000m gold. That feat ensured he now possessed almost every long distance medal there is. The only one missing, the Olympic medal, will be contested for in the summer of 2020 and Cheptegei will get off the starting blocks as overwhelming favourite despite the return of defending champion Mo Farah to the track. In November, he scaled new heights by setting a new 10km road world record in Valencia, Spain, smashing the old mark set by Kenya’s Leonard Komon in 2010 by six seconds. However, he narrowly lost out to Eluid Kipchoge for the 2019 IAAF Athlete of the Year award. Cheptegei is now a multi-millionaire – the Doha gold fetched him a cool Shs219m – but he hasn’t forgotten his roots. He is constructing a mansion and a private high altitude running track in Kapchorwa to groom future long distance runners in his home area. It is a legacy he hopes to leave behind, beyond the gold and silver he has won for the country.


RIght: Nakaayi soaks in the moment after winning Uganda her first 800m medal at the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar

Nakaayi Wins Gold in Doha Words by Mark Namanya

When the 2019 IAAF World Championships climaxed in Doha, Qatar, most of the attention was hogged by Joshua Cheptegei, who became Uganda’s 10,000m gold medalist at the event. Lost in the glorious pandemonium of it all was Halima Nakaayi, who rewrote the record books by winning Uganda her first 800m gold at the Championships. Before Doha 2019, no Ugandan woman or man had walked that path. The 25-year-old thus emulated Dorcus Inzikuru in becoming the second Ugandan woman to have won World Athletics Championships gold. Inzikuru’s came at the 2005 edition held in Helsinki, Finland. Nakaayi’s gold medal feat, however, was more remarkable considering she was running in 26



her first ever World Athletics Championships. Although she had the experience of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro under her belt, her victory could hardly have been foretold. At the All Africa Games in Morocco a few months before Doha, she won bronze. That bronze would be her first medal of note since the 400m gold at the 2011 Commonwealth Games hosted by the Isle of Man. Between 2011 and 2019, Nakaayi didn’t make the medal brackets in the events she competed in. And going into Doha, the runaway favourite was USA’s Ajee Wilson, who had won six of the eight outdoor races and Diamond League events in Stockholm, Brussels, Monaco and Birmingham. Some said Nakaayi was probably a beneficiary

SPORTS of IAAF’s new DSD rules that saw the 2016 Olympic Podium trio of Caster Semenya, Francine Niyonsaba and Marget Wambui ruled out of the World Athletics Championships because of high levels of testosterone produced in their bodies, over and above those in a normal woman. Certainly for Nakaayi, that was none of her business and winning the gold was no easy feat given how she used every sinew of hers to fend off the challenge from Ajee. “As long as I could make it to the final, everything was always going to be possible,” Nakaayi said in an interview with CGTN Africa in the aftermath of her triumph. The focus now turns to Tokyo 2020 and she is keeping calm and composed ahead of the biggest stage of all. “Now I am already a champion; I have to advance,” she explained with a newfound belief in her tone. By advancing, she is referring to the pursuit of Olympic Gold, and no one can underestimate her now. “I will keep on listening to my training coaches, partners and managers.” She adds that she has

gotten to where she is today with a combination of discipline, commitment and listening. “Pick the good things to make you a champion,” she says. “Sometimes you will fail, but always pick yourself up and use your failure to motivate you to victory.” While Cheptegei was the national darling who naturally enjoyed the magnetic attraction of the media, Nakaayi’s medal showcased to stakeholders in Uganda and the world that the country has more talent than we know. It is through extracting that talent that Uganda can breed more Nakaayis, Winnie Nanyondos and Cheptegeis, as well as future World and Olympic champions in the years to come. Nakaayi has etched her name in stone; her place in the Ugandan Sports Hall of Fame is safe and secure. She has indisputably given thousands of young girls in the country hope that they can beat all odds to become global stars. But she can’t rest on her laurels with Tokyo 2020 knocking on the door. Ajee will be gunning for revenge at the Olympics. Nakaayi is fully aware. That should make for a formidable showdown in the summer.

Left: An excited Nakaayi reacts in pleasant shock after winning a close race in the 800m final, beating pre-race favourite Ajee Wilson of the US to the tape




Nile River Festival

January 30th to February 2nd, 2020

This four-day event is organised in celebration of the fact that the world’s longest river starts in Uganda, flowing northwards over 4,132 miles (6,650 kilometres) before feeding the Mediterranean Sea. The fun-filled festival presents a perfect excuse for adventurous souls to feel the pulse of activities that earned Jinja a special place on the list of Africa’s Top 10 adventure capitals. These include white water rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, standup paddle boarding, parties, big air ramps and live music.

Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo February 4th to 6th 2020

Set at Speke Resort Munyonyo, the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo is a Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions event focused on showcasing what makes Uganda a prime travel destination. Organised by Uganda Tourism Board, the three-day event will be themed on why the country is still exalted as the Pearl of Africa, highlighting nature, culture and lifestyle. If you wish to invest in the tourism sector or grow your networks with tour operators from Uganda’s source markets such as the U.S, U.K and Kenya, this event is for you.

The G77 Summit

April 17th to 19th, 2020

Uganda is hosting the G77 Summit in April 2020. The South Summit is the supreme decision-making body of the Group of 77. The first and second South Summits were held in Havana, Cuba, on April 10th to 14th, 2000 and in Doha, Qatar, on June 12th to 16th, 2005, respectively. In accordance with the principle of geographical rotation, the Third South Summit is to be held in Uganda. The Group of 77 (G-77) was established on June 15th, 1964, by seventy-seven developing countries of the Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Developing Countries, issued at the end of the first session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva. 28




The World Health Summit April 27th, 2020

The Jinja Mountain Bike Race And Ride February 1st, 2020

The World Health Summit is one of the leading forums for global health. Research, politics, the private sector and civil society come together to find solutions to the world’s greatest health challenges and to strengthen international cooperation. Hosted by Uganda’s Makerere University, the 2020 World Health Summit Regional Meeting will be the first in Africa. Join international leaders and experts to address the biggest challenges in global health — in the region and around the world.

This is a unique fundraising #Ride4bicycles for school girls in Uganda. It’s a 30km Race and Ride through the trails and villages on the banks of the mighty White Nile, and about having a good time on the bike as you support the bicycle projects of Cycling out of Poverty. The proceeds of the event will go to supporting girl students in Uganda to improve access to education. SIGN UP: Single registration - US$ 35 / UGX 130,000 (mountain bikes are available for US$ 15 from Bikeventures Uganda: Bicycle Tours and Rentals). #LeaveNoOneBehind Fundraiser: US$ 200 fundraising target. For more information, please email hannah@coop-uganda.org.

A wise man travels to discover himself JAMES RUSSEL LOWELL



How I travel Doris Akol

Doris Akol is the Commissioner General of Uganda Revenue Authority. She is a recipient of two powerhouse awards - the 2018 African Women in Leadership Award from the African Virtuous Women Awards Organisation, and the 2018 Person of the Year Public Excellence Award from African Leadership Magazine.

What is your favourite holiday destination in the world?

I love Murchison Falls National Park, especially for its spectacular waterfalls; they deserve to be conserved forever. I have a soft spot for coastal destinations because of their white sand beaches and powder soft sand. Zanzibar and the Seychelles top my list here.

Is there anything you can’t imagine travelling without?

Apart from my phone and iPad, I always carry roasted groundnuts, just to have that feel of home on my travels. They are my favourite snack.

What is your favourite Ugandan dish?

Groundnut sauce and matooke. This combo is not only nutritious, it is tasty too.

What do you like about Uganda Airlines?

It fills me with so much pride for my motherland. When I am aboard our planes, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment, partly because as Uganda Revenue Authority, our mandate is to collect revenue to fund such fundamental initiatives.

Sarah Arapta

Sarah Arapta is the Managing Director of Citibank Uganda. Citibank’s success lies in its ability to deliver the best services to its customers, and invest in longterm mutually beneficial relationships.

What is your favourite destination in the world?

Kenya. It is approximate to Uganda, scenic and one of my most travelled-to countries. I always travel to Kenya by road and air for education, tourism and official business.

Is there anything you can’t imagine travelling without?

My phone - it’s my gateway to keeping in touch with my family, conducting business and numerous other personal uses.

What is your favourite Ugandan dish?

Lumonde (sweet potatoes) and binyebwa (groundnut sauce) served hot.

What do you like about Uganda Airlines?

We are excited to have a national carrier back in the air. It is a source of national pride and a critical component of infrastructure development that will go a long way in boosting tourism and propelling affordable travel, trade and business promotion.




For journeys, not just destinations. You might want to take a trip. Or Twenty

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Rise and


OF UGANDAN FILM Words by Kalungi Kabuye


was something of a breakout year for Ugandan film, even if it did not really pan out as everybody hoped. When news broke that Ugandan films had garnered the second highest number of nominations at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCAs) behind hosts Nigeria, excitement was high in the country. This was the epitome of African film, the ‘African Oscars’ as people in the industry referred to them. And in October the same year, DSTV launched Pearl Magic, a channel solely dedicated to Ugandan content. Ugandan filmmakers now had an avenue to showcase what they could do, and no longer complained that Nigerian content was dominating Africa’s largest satellite network. What was more, Multichoice would pay the going

rate for content, and life had definitely never been this good for our struggling industry. Even though the result at the AMVCAs was a big disappointment (not a single Ugandan film won an award), a threshold of sorts had been crossed. No longer would the Ugandan film industry be treated as a joke; we had arrived, so to speak. It has been a long journey, and one largely fuelled by hope. Hope that Ugandan filmmakers will be treated seriously by their countrymen, and hope that access to funding, which is a major problem for every filmmaker in the world, will be more readily available. It was 2005 when celebrated Hollywood filmmaker Mira Nair, who had made her home in Kampala, started the Maisha Film Lab. It was established to train filmmakers from the region (Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda




and Zanzibar) in the finer arts of film. Since then, it has produced more than 550 graduates and had Hollywood stars like Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o in its films. Some other actors have gone on to make more than 50 short films shown at various international film festivals. Before Nair came to Uganda, most of the ‘films’ were actually made for TV, with local series being the main focus of Ugandan filmmakers. In 2007, Mariam Ndagire made history by becoming the first Ugandan filmmaker to have a film shown in a cinema with Down This Road I Walk running for several days at Cineplex. “We’re still a young but vibrant industry,” Ndagire says. “The biggest problem has always been funding and piracy, but we are fighting the piracy and setting up distribution channels.” Uganda’s films have improved markedly in both the quality of making and acting. The story lines have also changed, moving away from the common village setting and witchcraft, influenced no doubt by the ‘ki-Nigeria’ films that seemed to be everywhere about a decade ago. Uganda’s serious sojourn onto the international

film scene came in 2013 when Mathew Nabwiso won the Best Supporting Actor at the AMVCAs for the film A Good Catholic Girl. In 2014, veteran actor Michael Wawuyo was nominated for Makeup Artiste of the Year for the film Felista’s Fable. Unfortunately he did not win. In 2016, Joseph Ken Ssebaggala got four nominations for his film House Arrest, including Best Overall Movie (Africa), Best Movie East Africa, and Best Lighting Designer. Again Uganda fell short, but Ssebaggala was confident the future would be brighter for Ugandan film. “It’s a big disappointment, I expected to win the Best East African Movie category at the least. I guess my people didn’t vote enough, but there are still positives to get from this. Ugandan film has been recognised, we just have to build on this and not despair. Steven Spielberg was ignored by Hollywood for years, and Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar after 20 years of nominations. We just have to hang in there,” Ssebaggala said at the time. The following are some of the most influential figures in the Uganda film industry.

Mira Nair

The Indian-born wife of Makerere University’s Professor Mahmood Mamdani has had a huge influence on the Ugandan film industry. The multi-award winning (and Oscar nominated) filmmaker is the closest Uganda has had to Hollywood royalty. Her first feature film, Salaam Bombay (1988), garnered nominations from the Oscars, BAFTAs and Golden Globe Awards. It eventually won over 6 international awards, including the Audience Award at the Cannes Film Festival. Her other notable films are Mississippi Masala (1991, starring Denzel Washington), Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996), Monsoon Wedding (2001), Vanity Fair (2004, with Reese Witherspoon), and Queen of Katwe (2016, with Lupita Nyong’o).

Kemiyondo Coutinho This ‘new kid on the block’ has caused quite a stir in the relatively short time she has been a filmmaker. The actress wrote and produced her first play at age 17, but it is her short film Kyenvu that is causing all the waves. Her contemporary message about sexual violence with scenes of nudity made a stir in a country where actors and actresses shy away from kissing onscreen. Kyenvu has won several awards internationally, including the HARNESS Award at the 13th Annual NBCUniversal Short Film Festival held in Los Angeles, California. 34




Nana Kagga

A prodigy of sorts, after a stellar performance in school, Nana graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Birmingham. To pursue her dream of being an actress, she gave up her job as a Process Engineer at Laguna Industries in New Mexico. She has appeared in several Hollywood films under the name Nana Hill, including Cowboys and Indians, A Good Day to Be Black & Sexy, He’s Just Not That Into You, and Star Trek. She moved back to Uganda in 2009 and set up Savanah Moon Productions, a film production company. The company has produced, among others, the feature film The Life, the TV series Beneath the Lies (nominated for an AMVCA award), and Taking Time.

Matt Bish

Born Matthew Bishanga, Matt Bish is one of Uganda’s most prolific filmmakers. He quit architecture school to go and study film in Holland, and returned to produce his first feature film Battle of the Souls in 2005. His short film A Good Catholic Girl won the Best Supporting Actor (Mathew Nabwiso) in the 2013 AMVCAs, and in 2018, his film Bella received 3 AMVCA nominations.

Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine Born in the USA to Ugandan parents, Mwine is best known in Uganda for his one-man play, Biro (2003). A prolific actor, photographer and filmmaker, he has appeared in several Hollywood films including Blood Diamond and Queen of Katwe. Mwine’s latest starring film is Farewell Amor, which is set to have its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020. Farewell Amor is 1 of 16 films selected for the coveted US Dramatic Competition Category at the world renowned Sundance Film Festival. In Farewell Amor, Walter (played by Mwine), an Angolan immigrant, is joined in the U.S by his wife and teenage daughter, having been separated from them for 17 years. Now absolute strangers sharing a one bedroom apartment, they discover a shared love of dance that may help them overcome the emotional distance between them. Mwine has also appeared in several TV series, including critically acclaimed series The Chi (2018 to-date), Shrill (2020) and Room 104 (2020) to name but a few. www.ngaaliinflightmag.com



Mariam Ndagire

A talented singer and actress, Ndagire was the first Ugandan filmmaker to have her film, Down This Road I Walk (2007) shown in a cinema in Kampala. She started her acting career aged 15, in high school, and has gone on to ascend the heights of film in Uganda. Her other films include Where We Belong (2011), Vicky’s Dilemma (2016) and Nsaali (2017). She has produced several TV series, including Tendo Sisters, which has been running on DStv since 2010 to-date.

Mathew and Eleanor Nabwiso The ‘first couple’ of Ugandan film, the two met on the set of the TV series The Hostel, one of the more successful Ugandan series. Mathew, who started acting in the 1990s while at Namasagali College, is still the only Ugandan award winner at the AMVCAs. A graduate of the Maisha Film Lab, he has appeared in most major films produced in Uganda. Eleanor Nabwiso (née Nansibo) came to the public eye as Hope in The Hostel, and has gone on to win several awards locally. Last year, she received an AMVCA nomination for Best Actress in the film Rain. Bed of Thorns, a film she directed and produced with an all-female cast, recently won the Focus Award at the London Art House Film Festival. The film also garnered eleven nominations at the 2019 Uganda Film Festival.





Maasai Mara Heart Of The Wild Planet





Kenya is often called one of the greatest wildlife destinations on earth. Mark Eveleigh takes a self-drive safari into the Maasai Mara with his ten-year-old daughter and discovers a land of adventure with more drama than he had bargained for.


he wildebeest swarmed down the riverbank in a tangled mass of legs and horns. We had been watching them gather on the other side of the Mara River for almost an hour. Finally, under the sheer force of numbers, the animals closest to the ridge were forced to jump and the stampede began. It was impossible to estimate how many there were in this offshoot of the main migration, but our guide Joseph reckoned there were about 30,000 wildebeest splashing across the river and scrambling up the bank towards us. They had chosen one of the steepest parts of the riverbank. They cascaded over the ten-metre cliff in a drop that would surely have killed most horses and I was horrified to think that carnage of twisted and broken bodies would be left in the crocodile-infested water once the herd had passed through. I had travelled in Kenya many times but had a reason for secretly hoping that this safari would be a little tamer than usual. Beside me, clinging to the rim of the open-top Land Rover, ten-year-old Lucia was gasping as a young calf slid helplessly towards the jaws of a giant crocodile. For a second I regretted that she was there to see this. I had wanted Lucia’s first safari to be a life-changing experience, but I should have remembered that Kenya very often has a way of surpassing all expectations. Selfdriving around the Kenyan bush can be challenging, but with a fully-equipped 4x4 and enough time to take things slowly, it is a viable option for most people with a sense of adventure. When travelling with children, it pays to take things slowly. Her first few days in Africa while staying at the lovely Nairobi Tented Camp were a priceless learning experience for little Lucia. We taught her how to read the handheld GPS so that she was actively involved in the navigation rather than just an uninvolved passenger. We showed her how to set up the roof-tent, mounted on top of the Land Rover like a tree-house, and how to keep it

secured against the mischievous monkeys. We loaded the car and drove south to Amboseli National Park, where Lucia was astounded by great herds of elephants and charmed by fat, waddling hippos. Her first sight of the snow-capped peak of Kilimanjaro, rising sheer out of the desert haze, was more spectacular even than the cinematic Lion King backdrops of her imagination. The land was dry and dusty and the mini whirlwinds dancing between the lakes reminded Lucia of twirling ballerinas. Lucia took to bush-camping like a natural and when she woke with her hair wild and tangled – looking like Mowgli – she would talk excitedly about the lions we’d heard roaring in the night. Within a couple of days, the little city-girl was collecting firewood and preparing steaks for barbecue dinners. Usually, we drove ourselves in the parks but when staying in lodges or tented camps, we occasionally joined group safari vehicles to take advantage of trained local guides who knew exactly where to find the animals. When we saw our first lions, I spent more time watching Lucia, revelling in her gasps of awe, than I did watching the pride. At dusk a few evenings later, a lone male lion charged with a great roar towards our open-sided vehicle. It was a mock charge and he skidded to a halt just a few metres from us. I instinctively pulled Lucia down onto the floor of the vehicle and received a verbal mauling for accidentally pulling her hair. “Anyway,” she said, “We could all see that he wasn’t really going to attack!” It seemed that she was learning about Africa in a way that books or movies could never match. Lucia had travelled enough in Asia not to be fazed by cultural differences and I was pleased to see how easily she related to our Maasai guides, with their outlandish warrior regalia. In a few days, she learned how to shoot a bow and arrow, how to milk a goat and the basics of tracking wildlife. She had utter faith in Maasai bush skills. One morning, sunrise found us a couple of miles from our camp near the Maasai Mara Reserve. We were walking with two Maasai warriors armed only with their heavy asegai spears. We had been following the huge tracks of three lions that had walked that way in the early hours of the morning, and we realised that superimposed on the lion prints were the pugmarks of a big leopard.“Chui kubwa sana (a very big leopard),” whispered one of the guides. The Mara and its surrounding conservancies boast the highest concentration of big cats in Africa.The local super-predators were at the forefront of my mind throughout what may have been the most invigorating morning stroll of my life, but when I asked Lucia at breakfast if she’d been nervous, she shrugged and www.ngaaliinflightmag.com



Above: 10-year-old Lucia maintains a lookout from the roof of a Land Rover in the Maasai Mara

explained that she ‘knew that the guides wouldn’t actually let her get close to lions.’ Our base at Porini Mara Camp in Ol Kinyei Conservancy combined all the fun of camping with the benefits of expert guiding, hearty dining, and pristine (and uncrowded) wilderness. With other guests – some with children – we spent long evenings chatting around the campfire, which Lucia was soon calling ‘the bush telly’. There are several initial decisions to be made in planning a Maasai Mara safari and the choice of location is probably the most important of all. Most first-time visitors imagine that the best experiences are had as close as possible to the heart of the great reserve. However, the Mara is surrounded by Maasai land which has been leased to safari operations. Since the park is unfenced, you often see just as much wildlife in these so-called wildlife conservancies as in the park itself and, at the same time, there is added freedom of movement that you don’t have in the park itself.

Lucia took to bush-camping like a natural and when she woke with her hair wild and tangled - looking like Mowgli - she would talk excitedly about the lions we'd heard roaring in the night. Within a couple of days, the little city-girl was collecting firewood and preparing steaks for barbecue dinners. 40



Early morning walks through lion territory and long afternoon game drives (continuing into the dusky hunting hours for the big cats) are not allowed in the reserve itself. Ol Kinyei is within a short drive of the centre of the park, so we spent an entire afternoon there, watching a group of young cubs tumbling and tussling in the savannah grasslands. I’d narrowly missed seeing the migration on several previous trips and this time, hoping to catch it in full flow, I enlisted the help of one of Porini’s ace guides to get us into the best position. After the dust had cleared on one of the most dramatic crossings of recent years, I was relieved that the sheer breathtaking violence was not matched by the body count. When the full herd had scrambled up the bank to trot onto the grasslands around our car, we counted only six dead wildebeest left in the water. Apparently, the resident crocs were so sated by the ‘moveable feast’ that is the Great Migration that they had summoned the energy to eat only that single unfortunate calf. By the time we returned to Nairobi, we had driven 2000km through some of the greatest wildlife territories in the world and Lucia had had the adventure of a lifetime. How to visit:

Erikson Rover Safaris (roversafari.com) offer fully equipped 4x4s in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, from just US$120 per day. There’s an extra charge for camping equipment and they can arrange for a driver and a chef too. Gamewatchers Safaris (porini.com) offer advice on all aspects of your trip and all their properties are suited to children. They offer a 4-night safari (at Nairobi Tented Camp and at camps in the Mara) on an all-inclusive basis.

Bringing medical care to your doorstep The Medical Concierge Group (TMCG) is a Ugandan based organisation that has efficiently bridged patient access to qualified medical professionals directly through mobile phones, from the comfort of their home. Its foundation is inspired by the need for accessible, quality and affordable health care across all socio-economic classes. Nobody wants their loved ones or themselves sick. Yet illness befalls us all, and we don’t have a choice but to visit a hospital. Much as this is inevitable, it is such a hassle. First off, you have to put aside work or family time no matter how important it is. On reaching the hospital, you have to queue up for a while before seeing the doctor. But even before seeing the doctor, you have pay a consultation fee, go to the lab, then back to the doctor, all the while queueing up. However, in many cases, it turns out that what you are going through is a minor problem with a simple solution. Knowing you deserve better, TMCG has come up with a solution that could turn things around. TMCG is a digital health and telemedicine outfit that connects patients to healthcare consultations and services via mobile communication technologies. The group is a solution to the increasing demand for healthcare that is personal, value-based and efficient. They do this through a 24/7 telemedicine contact centre staffed with the best doctors to guarantee fast and quality consultations through a mobile laboratory service, where medicines are delivered to your doorstep. TMCG was launched in 2012 and is headquartered in Uganda with operations in Kenya and Nigeria. This service presently serves up to 50,000 active users in Uganda through partnerships with USAID, UNICEF, research organisations and multiple other public health projects. People with health issues can reach out to TMCG through phone calls, SMS and on the various social media and online messaging platforms like Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook. The group hopes to expand to all corners of Africa, which, considering the impact they have had, will be a much appreciated venture. Have a health question? Contact TMCG’s WhatsApp Doctor today on +256790512074 or call +256417747000, or visit rockethealth.shop



UGANDA'S HAVENS OF WILDLIFE Words and photos by Mark Eveleigh






he lions had approached without a sound, stalking stealthily towards me. The first I knew of their approach was when I looked up from my laptop to see seven sets of amber eyes staring fixedly at me, about 50 metres away. Perhaps the previous month spent camping in predator territory in the heart of the Ugandan wilderness had desensitised me to the presence of predators. They seemed relaxed and lazy, paws coyly clawed, so I didn't make a dash for it. Anyway, it seemed ridiculously melodramatic to panic at this late stage; after all, if the lions had been hungry they would probably have swallowed me – laptop and all – long before I’d even seen them. Some might say that it would be the appropriate punishment for someone who had chosen to stare into a computer monitor while the dramatic beauty of Kidepo, one of the most stunning reserves in all Africa, lay spread out across the savannah before him. But as a volunteer for MAPA organisation (Mapping Africa’s Protected Areas), I was here with a mission to complete. For two years, teams of explorers in expedition-prepped Land Rover Defenders had been travelling up through Africa, charged collectively with the ambitious task of mapping every single drivable road and dirt track in every protected reserve on the continent.

The MAPA project was started principally because very little is actually known about Africa’s wildest areas. Photographer Eric Nathan and I had previously flown to Kigali to take over from another team who had spent the previous month mapping Rwanda, and it was now our job to put Uganda’s protected areas on the map in as much detail as possible. Our 4x4 was fully expedition-prepared with long-range fuel tanks, buffalo-proof bull bars, lion-proof roof tent and a refrigerator that was stacked full with steaks and slabs of local Bell beer. Many safari aficionados count the Defender as the best safari vehicle ever seen and the TDI engine could be counted on to power us over everything that the African wilderness could throw at us. Accustomed as we were to long distance safaris, we were aware that Africa often has a way of throwing the best made plans into turmoil. There is an edge of uncertainty to any adventurous safari – a delightful tinge of anticipation and trepidation that is sadly absent from our typically tame work-a-day lives. We drove from Kigali up to the border in a single long day that effectively set the pace for the following weeks. We drove around the flanks of Volcanoes National Park and left the vehicle parked at a base camp while we mapped the walking trails through the gorilla country of




Mgahinga National Park and the appropriately named Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. We mapped countless uncharted trails through the immense herds of Queen Elizabeth National Park, and the predators of Ishasha and Kalinzu Forest Reserve. Several nights in a row we heard lions and hyenas hunting around our camp, then we abandoned the Landy again to trek among chimpanzees in their Kyambura Gorge haven. We mapped the remotest entry points to the mysterious Mountains of the Moon and the various parks and reserves along the hippo-infested shores of Lake Albert. At Murchison Falls, we found ourselves so deep in the wilderness that nightfall forced us to set up camp amid the angry snorts of several hundred restless buffalo. We had mapped 14 national parks and driven more than 5000km (with only about 250km on tarmac) by the time we reached Kidepo. The last light was fading fast as our car finally rumbled down Morungole Ridge at the end of a two-day drive from Murchison Falls to Uganda’s remotest reserve. With more accessible parks like Queen Elizabeth and




Murchison packed to capacity with wildlife, few visitors ever make it this far. Lions often display the natural curiosity of their domestic feline cousins and the local pride was clearly intrigued by these two-legged creatures that had occupied the campsite on their territorial kopje. While the big black-maned male maintained his vigil on a high rock outcrop, the seven lionesses stayed around our camp all afternoon. Our afternoon stint of mapping took us on a long drive north to the Sudanese border and when we came back to camp, this time with an armed ranger, the lions were still there. They seemed peaceful and relaxed and the ranger decided that they appeared to be well fed. Apparently, this was the case because even when we started to barbecue sausages on our campfire, the lionesses remained, quietly watching. As I zipped myself into my tent later that night though, I heard the roars out on the savannah. The plaintive bellow of a buffalo fighting for its life in the African night is a sound that stays with you for a long time.



Kidepo National Park Murchison Falls National Park

Mt. Rwenzori National Park

Semliki National Park






Lake Mburo National Park Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Queen Elizabeth National Park

Mt. Elgon National Park




Trekking the magnificent

Rwenzori Mountains I should have been asleep the night before my attempt to summit Mount Stanley’s 5109-metre peak, Africa’s 3rd highest mountain - yet fitful dreams and altitude headaches kept me awake. Words and pictures by Mark Stratton









ount Stanley in the Rwenzori Mountains was stirring self-doubt. Mysterious and infrequently climbed, this 120-kilometre-long mountain chain between Western Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo isn’t as high as Kilimanjaro, but requires greater technical skills and endurance. I knew a great challenge lay ahead. From the outset, Rwenzori National Park, 9 hours’ drive west of Kampala, offered crowd-free hiking and a sense of true wilderness. Each year, only around 1,000 people trek onto the higher peaks, and during my 8-day trek I met only 10 other hikers. So why are so few people trekking here? The man who knows why is Australian John Hunwick, who runs Rwenzori Trekking Services and arranged my trek. He first came here in 1991. “I saw so much promise and wanted to open up the trails, but then the Rwenzoris were

“Nearing the summit, I scrambled onto a ridge between Mounts Alexandra (5091 metres) and Margherita. Shortly after, I saw a sign welcoming me to Uganda’s highest point and felt intense joy intermingled with fatigue.” overrun by Congolese rebels,” he explained. “It certainly wasn’t safe to trek back then,” Hunwick recalls. Yet now he says the mountains are safe and tranquil and since 2009, he has opened trails and camps all the way to Mount Stanley’s highest point - Margherita Peak. His treks range from a day or two to full-on expeditions to summit Margherita, but even those just dipping a toe inside the national park will taste wonderment. During two breathless first days, we hiked through tropical forests of gargantuan fig trees that chattered with blue monkeys, before a bamboo zone at 2800-metres that rattled in the crosswinds. The mossy heather zone beyond 3500 metres is described by UNESCO as ‘Africa’s botanical big game’, boasting supersized lobelias resembling giant cacti and heather trees draped with straggling lichenlike long beards. I marvelled at the effervescent endemic sunbirds probing brightly-coloured flowers. 48



Each day we would walk 6 to 8 hours between campsites featuring static tents, spacious enough for bunk beds with comfortable mattresses. Days began with porridge and ended with hearty pasta dishes or delicious “Rolex”. I showered at Mutinda Camp under a glacial-fed waterfall, and my frozen yelps at the coldness of the water were louder than the screams of the nocturnal rock hyraxes. My presence was also contributing to the economic prospects of the local Bakonjo people who range across the Rwenzori. My guide, Bwambale Joshua, headed a retinue of 9 porters. “I was a geography teacher but the wages were poor, so I became a guide - it’s better paid work,” he said. After five days of trekking, the Rwenzoris began to look daunting as they reared up ahead. My first view of Mount Stanley’s multi-peaked massif was from the 4450-metre Bamwanjara Pass from where I gazed ahead at a dark and brooding range shrouded in cloud, with glaciers that shone like little moons. I bumped into Mike from Minnesota on his way down. “That was tough scrambling over rocks and ice,” exclaimed this fitter-looking and younger trekker. “I meant this to be a warm-up for Kilimanjaro, but I should have done it the other way round”. Thereafter, the magnificent Scott Elliot Pass, with its orange-lichen cliffs, leads to Margherita Summit Camp at 4485 metres. Elliot was part of the first conquest of Mount Stanley in 1906 by the Duke of Abruzzi, who named the highest point after Queen Margherita of Italy. Summit day commenced around 3am the next morning with the clatter of fitting climbing harnesses and crampons. I reminded myself that 90% of climbers make the summit and began to feel like a mountaineer. Several scrambles on fixed ropes took us in quiet darkness to Stanley Glacier. With crampons secured, we crunched across an ice plain of disintegrating slush. “These glaciers have halved in size over the past 5 years because of global warming,” Joshua lamented. Dawn broke over Margherita Glacier; a steep icy stairway towards the summit that took two hours to overcome. I ground out step by weary step; gulping air deeply, temples pounding as we approached 5000 metres, crampons biting into 40° slopes on fixed ropes. We crossed gaping crevasses that inside were powder-blue like fairy grottos. Nearing the summit, I scrambled onto a ridge between Mounts Alexandra (5091 metres) and Margherita. Shortly after, I saw a sign welcoming me to Uganda’s highest point and felt intense joy intermingled with fatigue. The clouds had cleared to reveal a panorama of glaciers and icy jagged peaks. I gazed down the Albertine Rift Valley at Lake George and deep into Congo and felt on top of the world.


Fort of


The relics of Fort Patiko in Northern Uganda had been in ruins for years until restoration works were started a while back. Recently, the United Nations Development Programme, through the Ministry of Tourism, flagged off a Media FAM trip to rediscover the 138-year-old Fort Patiko. Words and photos by Solomon Oleny


n arrival at Patiko’s rather bushy parking lot a block away from its gateless entrance, we were welcomed by Salvatoria Oringa, the calm caretaker of the fort, who suggested we take a stroll around the two kilometrelong pits surrounding the fort. Measuring 16ft deep and 16ft wide, the pits were dug deep to make it impossible for slaves to escape from the fort, just in case they beat its tough security deployment. As we advanced, we were swallowed up by towering wild grass and shrubs and by the time we manoeuvered our way through, our clothes were covered in blackjack needles whose sharp tips treated us to endless pricking. We were also not spared by the thirsty mosquitoes in the pits. Oringa said this humiliating walk was purposed to give us (tourists) a dose of “the walk to oppression” endured by the slaves as they trudged into Patiko from thousands of miles away, coming from different parts of Central and East Africa. Following these words, dead silence fell over us as harrowing images of the slave trade era filled our minds. Unlike our fully dressed selves, the captives were always stripped of their clothing to give them a slave identity. Because there were no defined roads at the time, they were made to walk for miles in such vegetation, not to mention impenetrable forests crawling with wild animals. When Oringa noticed our mood shift, he was quick to reroute our attention to more adventure. In a hoarse voice, he asked us to follow him to the heart of the fort, where we found three roofless double-room houses exclusively built with sedimentary rocks and cement. Built on a low rocky hill, the Arab architects saw no 50



need to cement the floor. In fact, they made the most of this location by polishing the rocky floors smooth and creatively making striking inscriptions on them - to give their occupants a homely feeling in this otherwise isolated setting. “The roofs were grass thatched, so the houses enjoyed temperatures comparable to today’s air conditioned spaces,” Oringa explained. Adjacent to the houses were two towering rocks at whose base lay dugout caves that used to house the slaves. However, unlike the slave traders’ houses which were spacious and well ventilated, I hardly found a thing to admire about the caves. It seemed like more emphasis was put on digging them horizontally inwards than vertically, more like coal mines. They were about 3ft high, meaning the occupants (the slaves) could only get in and out by crawling on their bellies. According to Oringa, “The caves were always jammed to capacity because there was not enough space for the hundreds of slaves who were held hostage here.” Tales Of Death

From time to time, the slaves were assembled at the fort’s sloppy compound, where the beautiful, healthy and muscular ones were separated from the ugly, sick, weak and skinny. The selected ‘lucky’ ones were dispatched to Egypt’s and Sudan’s slave markets and sold off like merchandise. The unfortunate rejects were executed by firing squad at the open torture chambers. “They were not set free because the traders feared they would mobilise the local communities to fight off their cold-blooded Arab masters,” Oringa explained.

Right: Ruins of the stores and buildings that sheltered the Arab traders

Left: One of the caves where the slaves were kept

Right: The rock upon which the chief executioner blew his trumpet whenever a slave was seen trying to escape




To make the executions “more entertaining”, trumpeters would climb up the 18ft rock overlooking the torture chambers. Up there, they would blow loud trumpets to cheer the executors as they did their job. After the slaves were killed, their corpses were never given a decent burial. Instead, the bodies were dumped in pits surrounding the fort, where vultures would move in to finish the job. In July 2007, superstar Akon’s award-winning Mama Africa video was shot at Fort Patiko. The four-minute video attempts to recapture this agonising crucifixion of slaves between the 18th and 19th centuries. All around the compound are sharp cuts on the rocks, which apparently are slices made by the axes used to behead the slaves. “Those who survived the axe worked like donkeys but were fed on little food. The men were usually tasked with digging out more caves for accommodation, while women did domestic chores like grinding tonnes of millet sometimes until their hands bled,” shared Oringa. The Sun Shines At Last

By the 1840s, it was impossible to maintain a deaf ear to cries against slavery. It was around this time that Sir Samuel Baker, an abolitionist adventurer and




representative of the Egyptian Khedive, arrived in Acholiland. With his band of Nubian warriors, he fought off slave traders at the fort in 1870 and took it over as a station base for his campaign. However, Vivian Lyazi, an official at the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, argues that Baker’s prime interest was not in stopping slave trade, but in using the fort as a cover-up for his ivory raid in Uganda. She bases her argument on the fact that Baker came at a time when slave trade was on the decline following the rise of the industrial revolution. Taking into consideration that this coincided with an overwhelming western world demand for ivory, it is believed that Baker was in pursuit of this. There are thousands of Borassus palm trees around the fort. Bearing in mind that their fruits are primarily dispersed by elephants, it is possible that Baker could have killed thousands of elephants near the fort and stripped them of their precious tusks. His close links with Emin Pasha, another prominent ivory hunter, is also telling. The same fort was later used by Charles Gordon, who replaced Baker as Governor of the Equatorial Province, and later by Emin Pasha. It was later used as a prison by

DESTINATION UGANDA the colonial government before falling into disuse after Uganda got her independence. Locals believe that although slave inhumanity at Patiko happened centuries back, the spirits of those killed still haunt the fort. Simon Olweny, a resident in the neighbourhood of Patiko, claims that the nights are punctuated with wails of the ghosts of slaves often heard pleading for their lives to be spared. Other Tour Activities At Patiko

On the other hand, Fort Patiko is beautiful from end to end, with amazing scenery for great photography. It boasts lots of rocks that slaves curved into models of different creatures such as sharks, the maps of Africa and Lake Victoria, and human heads among others. The hilly fort also has antiquities such as the stones used by slave women to grind millet. HOW TO GET THERE

For someone travelling on a shoestring budget, you will need about Shs150,000 to tour Fort Patiko. Bus fare to Gulu is Shs25,000 for a one-way ticket. Fort Patiko is a 50-minute ride on a boda boda from Gulu and will cost you between Shs4,000 and Shs15,000. Entrance to the fort is Shs10,000. Unfortunately, there are neither accommodation nor hospitality facilities around the fort. Tourists are advised to bring their own requirements such as food and water among others. Budget accommodation around Gulu town ranges from Shs25,000 to Shs70,000 a night, while luxurious facilities range from Shs100,000 to Shs300,000 per night.





TOP 3 THINGS TO DO IN Planning to visit Burundi soon? Ng’aali’s Solomon Oleny brings you three experiences not to miss.

Agro-Tourism At Teza Tea Plantations

Burundi is well-known for producing some of Africa’s most flavoursome tea, and nowhere else does tea growing excel better than at Teza, among the valleys of mountains and thermal springs. The tea plantation of Teza exhibits some of the most beautiful landscapes in all of Burundi. Teza, a hidden gem located on the edge of Kibira Forest, sits at an altitude of 4500-7000ft above sea level, and has been growing tea since it was introduced into the hilly country during Belgian occupation in 1931. Here, you will have an informative experience of what happens behind the scenes of tea growing during a half day tour. The greenery of the estate is relaxing and tranquil, and the air bears a countryside freshness. The plantations are divided into patterns to allow the workers collect the tea leaves after harvest. Looking at this scenic setting from a distance, you are bound to 54



mistake it for a green carpet spread over rolling hills. You will have stopovers to take pictures or better still, join farmers in harvesting as you learn more about their culture. It is fun watching how quickly the locals use both hands to pluck the leaves before stuffing them in their harvest baskets. They are very welcoming and will lend you their big hats and harvesting basket as you experience the traditional harvest firsthand. The tour is a farm-to-cup experience that ends with sampling the different classes of tea as you enjoy cool weather at the homes of local farmers. Whether you are a big fan of black tea or not, you will love this experience as the tea has such a unique taste. Best of all, the area produces enough tea for the international market. As such, you can take some home to enjoy for a while.


Visit Lake Tanganyika Situated in the western arm of the East African Rift Valley, Lake Tanganyika is the deepest lake in Africa (1,471m), the second-oldest freshwater lake in the world, the secondlargest by volume, and the second-deepest, in all cases after Lake Baikal in Siberia. This picturesque and serene holiday destination accounts for 16% of the world’s available fresh water. It is an A-list destination in Burundi, dotted with several beachfront resorts, all with the refreshing feel that comes with lounging by the lakeside. While here, don’t miss a canoeing experience in the shallows, especially at sunset when the weather is much cooler. It will offer a perfect beginning to the end of your day. Alternatively, you can take a sightseeing boat cruise along the shores and behold the beauty of the surrounding landscapes of Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia and Congo, this thanks to the lake’s location at a vantage point where the borders of the four countries intersect. If you have extra time, visit and mingle with the locals living around the lake and learn a thing or two about their traditional ways of life. If you are passionate about volunteering, there are lots of local schools and hospitals where you can give a helping hand.

Explore Rusizi National Park Commonly known as Parc National de la Rusizi, it is 20 minutes away from Bujumbura town and is blessed with lush grasslands, a variety of acacia trees, shrubs, and a majestic floodplain that is 45km long and 2km wide. Named after a river that runs from Lake Kivu to Lake Tanganyika, the park has plenty of birdlife, most notably flamingos and giant herons. It also has a growing population of mammals, including antelopes, monkeys, hippos and sitatungas. There is no better way of discovering how they influence the ecosystem than by pursuing a relaxing one hour canoe ride on the floodplain where they come to drink water. Along the way, you are likely to find hippos and their adorable calves cooling off the day’s heat. You are also likely to see crocodiles gliding through the river in search of prey. If you are passionate about birdwatching and wish to tick over 40 species off your checklist, visit the floodplain early in the morning when birds are in their most active state. Don’t forget to carry your binoculars for crisp views of pelicans, storks and African eagles that dwell at the shoreline. The tour costs $20 inclusive of the park entry fee. The available guides here are humorous and love their job. Best time to visit Burundi Thanks to Burundi’s all-year friendly weather, it’s a great place to visit from January to December. The highest average temperature is 23°C in January, while the lowest is 20°C in May.




Devil’s Pool A guide to the spectacular

After thousands of years of erosion, many rock pools have formed near the great Victoria Falls – one of them right at the very edge! Devil’s Pool, with a sheer drop and an up-close-and-personal view of the falls, is indeed the ultimate infinity pool, offering dramatic views of one of the seven wonders of the world.


ivingstone Island is where Dr David Livingstone first saw the Victoria Falls. On a Livingstone Island tour, you can swim to the edge of the magnificent falls and plunge into Devil’s Pool - a natural rock pool on a ledge right at the edge. Your trip starts at the deck of the Royal Livingstone Hotel in Livingstone, Zambia. Here you will meet your guides and be given an introduction of what to expect and a safety talk. From there you will take a short boat ride to the island. The captain will navigate the rocky channels




as you cruise within a close distance of the Victoria Falls. This is a great experience in itself. Once you reach Livingstone Island, you will be greeted by the friendly staff and led to the very edge of the Victoria Falls. You get to experience magnificent views of the falls from a completely different perspective than the views from the rainforest. If it is a sunny day, the rainbows are incredible. Once you have viewed the falls, you have the opportunity to jump into Devil’s Pool. The guides will


explain the route before giving you a safety briefing. Although there is a safety rope to assist you along the way, you should be a confident swimmer. Once at the ledge, climb onto a rocky outcrop close to the edge of the falls. Devil’s Pool is a deep natural pool that has been created by thousands of years of erosion and has a natural rock ledge literally on the edge of the falls. This creates a barrier where the water is only a few centimetres deep. This barrier allows you to safely jump into the pool without getting swept over the edge of the falls. Once in the pool, lie on the rock ledge and look out over the falls. With the flowing water rushing past just metres away, this is an unforgettable experience. Once you have had your fill, the guides will lead you back to Livingstone Island, where you will be treated to either breakfast, lunch or high tea depending on the time of day. The three options are explained below. Livingstone Island Morning Breezer ($105 per person) Trips are offered at different times throughout the day, with each trip lasting about one and a half hours. The morning breezer trips leave the island launch site (1.3km upstream of the Royal Livingstone Hotel) at 7:30am,

9:00am and 10:30am, and include tea and coffee, soft drinks and light snacks. Livingstone Island Lunch ($170 per person) The lunch trip leaves at 12:30pm and includes lunch, soft drinks, beer and wine. Livingstone Island High Tea ($145 per person) This trip starts at 3:30pm and includes tea and coffee, light snacks, soft drinks, beer and wine. This activity takes place in Livingstone (Zambia). If you are staying near Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, you may require a visa to visit Livingstone Island depending on your nationality. Please make sure that you have the relevant visas before booking this activity. Also note that Livingstone Island is usually closed from mid April until the beginning of June each year due to high water levels.

For more information on these activities and more, please visit www.visit- victoria-falls.com





bout four degrees south of the equator stands a little baobab that, as the sun goes down, casts its shadow over the evening tide. Its roots are tangled into a small cliff that for generations has been a sacred place for the Mijikenda people. It was past this baobab that I watched one evening as the full moon rose above the Indian Ocean, and a subtle breeze turned a million leaves into a soft African lullaby. In these parts, it is not unusual to see baobabs fringe the coastline. It surprised me at first, but while travelling from Galu Beach in the south all the way up north to the Somalia border, I began to find it fitting that these regal icons of Africa marked the coastline of a country known around the world for its abundance of wildlife. After all, why should “wild Africa” and “coastal Africa” be considered as separate? From between the grass roots of distant plains, Kenya’s rich soil filters through the tangled roots of forests, baobabs and palm trees, where it mixes with fine sand and stretches off into the 58


Words by Narina Exelby

warm water of the Indian Ocean. There were probably countless evenings like this in the hundred years since the seed of that little baobab was sown. It’s likely that back then, the soil it first extended shoots into also held the roots of the sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forest, which was home to the Mijikenda people from around the 16th Century. Now, however, that forest has been reduced to 10 separate ones that are spread out along 200km of Kenya’s southern coastline, all watched over by Unesco and the Mijikenda, who protect this home of their ancestors. Kenya’s game reserves and national parks often overshadow the potential for a beach holiday, but while travelling along the coastline, I realised that there is as much variety between the character of coastal towns as there is between the lush plains of the Maasai Mara and the harsh savannah of Tsavo National Park. Down on the South Coast lies the popular resort area of Diani Beach, where palm trees, broad white beaches and ridiculously clear turquoise water abound. Meander a few kilometres further “down”, and you might

stumble across the little baobab whose shadow casts itself over the tide. Around here is the quiet sanctuary of Kinondo Kwetu, a luxurious hotel that quietly respects the history and culture of the Mijikenda Kaya Forest. Drive 80km “up”, and you’re in the bustling energy of Mombasa, Kenya’s second largest city. This coastline has a fascinating history that’s riddled with tales of power struggles, Arab traders and Portuguese explorers. In Mombasa and further north in Malindi, there are forts and crosses and graves that date back more than 500 years to the times of Vasco da Gama, and in almost every town along the coast there are markets where spices, coffee and cotton are still traded as they were back then. Today, dhows with their iconic triangular sails are still being pushed through the ocean by the Trade Winds. Far up north, where the landscape of regal baobabs has given way to the tangled root systems of mangroves, there is a small island called Lamu, where the community still lives in its history - life on Lamu has changed very little over the past 700 years.

DESTINATION KENYA Right: Kinondo Kwetu Hotel, Diani

Donkeys carry loads through the narrow alleys formed by buildings made of coral and limestone where, in places, hysterical bougainvillea burst pockets of green and fuchsia against crumbling white walls. Men wearing khanzus (caftan-like robes) or kangas (sarongs) gather along the seafront in the mornings, drinking coffee with friends and watching over the harbour as it wakes. From under their buibui veils, women shuttle children to school along streets worn down by centuries of feet. Lamu is a Unesco World Heritage Site and is celebrated as being the oldest and bestpreserved Swahili settlement in East Africa. While many researchers maintain that the island is the cradle of Swahili civilisation, it is Lamu’s trade history that has shaped the town you see today. Once the most important trade centre in East Africa, Lamu’s architecture shows influences from Europe, India and Arabia; even the labyrinth street pattern has its roots in Arab traditions. Lamu’s people are characterised by their trade origins; their facial features are reminiscent of the island’s Arab, Indian and Bantu forefathers. I spent a few evenings watching night fall over Lamu and I am almost certain that as the day fades into darkness, there have been many, many evenings like these over the centuries. The maghrib, the muezzin’s secondto-last call to prayer for the day, weaves through the narrow streets, past intricately carved wooden doorways and over dust, drawing men to their prayer mats. The sounds of children playing rises into the evening, twirling with calls of cockerels and the final strands of the muezzin’s call. And then they fade, gently, into the lullaby of the evening tide. Where to stay along Kenya’s coast NEAR DIANI BEACH

Between the centuries-old baobabs at the far end of Galu Beach on Kenya’s South Coast, there is a very peaceful place called Kinondo Kwetu. The hotel is run by a family who have built a sanctuary with much consideration for the surrounding Mijikenda Kaya Forest, and by doing so have created a space that is intriguing and www.ngaaliinflightmag.com



Above: A view from Kinondo Kwetu Hotel, Diani

indulgent. Here, you can ride horses along the beach, take a guided walk through a sacred forest, go diving, fishing or kayaking, or simply pass time from the comfort of a daybed. What it costs A double room a night in high season, costs $38 for full board. Who to contact Web: www.kinondo-kwetu.com Email: info@kinondo-kwetu.com IN MOMBASA

The superbly landscaped gardens of the Serena Beach Resort and Spa have turned what is essentially a large resort into a tropical wonderland. Here, between the spa, sports facilities, restaurants, private beach and swimming pools, you’ll want for nothing and find it hard not to simply give in and relax. Before you become too engrossed in your cocktails next to the pool, take a trip into Mombasa and wander the city – be sure to explore the historic Fort Jesus. What it costs $234 for a double room a night (half-board) Who to contact Web: www.serenahotels.com Email mombasa@serena.co.ke IN MALINDI

About 120km north of Mombasa is Driftwood Club, a casual, no-fuss hotel that has bungalows and a restaurant right on the beach at Malindi. It’s a barefoot, sand-on-feet sort of place where surfers (who claim there are no waves) and deep-sea anglers mingle in the beach bar while children splash around in the pool. The hotel offers free tuk-tuk tours of the town; don’t miss out on a chance to explore the photogenic streets 60



of Malindi’s old town. What it costs From $110 a double room a night (bed and breakfast) Who to contact Web: www.driftwoodclub.com Email reservations@driftwoodclub.com IN LAMU

Lamu Island is on the far north of Kenya’s coast, and on the island are two villages: Lamu and Shela. A short walk or boat ride from the village of Lamu is Peponi’s, a small hotel built along the waterfront of Shela village. It is open, airy, romantic, with beautiful views of the Indian Ocean, and once here, you might not want to leave your swing bed. Ever. What it costs From $290 for a double room a night (bed and breakfast) Who to contact Web: www.peponi-lamu.com Email peponi@peponi-lamu.com Fatuma’s Tower is a very special retreat on the edge of Shela village, on Lamu Island. Here, you take breakfast under an old tortilis tree, cool off in a pool built against the dues, and practise yoga in a beautiful building cooled by the sea breeze. The village of Shela is an intricate labyrinth of narrow streets, and the beach is a fascinating five-minute walk away. What it costs From $88 for a double room a night (bed and breakfast) Who to contact Web: www.fatumastower.com Email bookings@fatumastower.com





Lunatic Express Crazy times on the


The plan to build a thousand-kilometre railway track from the Indian Ocean into the heart of Africa was considered by many to be utterly insane. Mark Eveleigh boards the train that, a century later, is still called The Lunatic Express. Words and photos by Mark Eveleigh

ith the blast of a horn, like a wounded bull elephant, the old train rumbled into Nairobi Station. There was a flurry of activity as passengers hauled luggage to the edge of the platform. To the Swahili travellers, this train is known as gari la moshi (the car that smokes), but most tourists know it as The Lunatic Express. There have been accusations of lunacy ever since the idea was conceived to build a railway line from the Indian Ocean over a thousand kilometres to Kampala, in the heart of Africa. Now, more than a hundred years after the project was started, friends in Nairobi looked at me like I was equally crazy when I told them that my girlfriend Nina and I planned to take the train to Mombasa. “But the plane is so much faster,” a bush-pilot friend exclaimed. “Even the matatu minibuses are quicker and cheaper and probably more comfortable too,” a park ranger told me. “You are crazy to go by train,” they all seemed to agree. Just as I was on the verge of being convinced, an old friend who is an experienced East Africa correspondent weighed in on the side of lunacy: “The building of that railway line was one of the crazy things that could really only happen in Africa. Everybody should experience the Lunatic Express while they’re in Kenya,” he said. “I’ve done it three times.” Reassured by his enthusiasm, I booked two tickets and by mid-afternoon the next day, we were already dragging our bags into a surprisingly crowded Rift Valley Railway carriage. “Either there are a lot of crazy people in Nairobi, or there are a few good reasons for taking the Lunatic Express after all,” Nina pointed out. Within a few minutes, we were already convinced that our decision had been the right one. The tracks slithered quickly away from the grumbling traffic on Mombasa Road and further ahead, we passed within a few metres of the




boundary of Nairobi National Park. A small herd of zebra kicked up their heels, galloping away from the fearsomely noisy beast beyond the fence, where we could see the silhouettes of stately giraffe loping across the horizon like nature’s skyscrapers. The majority of the tourists who come to Kenya to see wildlife completely overlook this immense wilderness on the edge of Nairobi (almost as large as the capital itself) which is stocked with lion, leopard, buffalo, antelope, giraffe and rhino. Nairobi National Park is probably the most accessible wildlife real estate in the world. Less than an hour after leaving the baggage carousels at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, we were already sitting around a campfire at Nairobi Tented Camp, listening to lions roaring out on the plains. Anyone who has never visited a high-end safari camp will be unable to imagine the level of real luxury it’s possible to enjoy while sleeping under canvas. Two days later, we were cramming ourselves and our kitbags into an infinitely more basic railway compartment for the overnight journey to Mombasa. I was sure that Nina too was thinking with fondness of our spacious tent with its four-poster bed, dressing table and en-suite bathroom. We reminded ourselves that things could always be worse; before the railway line was built, this journey would have taken as much as a month by ox-cart. We were already beyond the old bush-town railway junction of Athi River by the time we staggered down the length of the train to the dining carriage. A waiter seated us with a young Kenyan businessman called Joseph and his Dubai-trained hotelier wife Christina. “We decided this would be the perfect way to start our honeymoon,” Joseph told me. “The train might take 15 hours, or 17, or maybe much more, but we’re not in a hurry. This is the most relaxing way to begin our beach holiday.” We sipped Tusker beer and ate spicy biryani that was probably introduced to Kenya along with the 32,000 Indian

There is something about the restful rhythm of a long-distance train journey that lulls the soul. Rail travel takes you back to a ‘timeless’ era when clocks and itineraries still carried less importance than the sheer pleasure of travel for travel’s sake.




labourers who were imported to build the railway. The engineering project was started in 1896 as part of what became known as the scramble for Africa. It was hoped that it would seal British colonial might in East Africa, and the optimistically named Uganda Railways (it wouldn’t actually reach Uganda until 1931) was viewed almost as a military exercise. It was accepted that there would be casualties but the final death toll of 2,498 Indian and African lives – killed by Maasai spears, lions and sickness – disgusted many of the colonials. A contemporary British newspaper dubbed it the ‘Lunatic Line’ and, in 1971, the writer Charles Miller coined the phrase ‘Lunatic Express’ in the title to his excellent book. As we rattled toward the old stone bridge that is the line’s most famous landmark, the conversation turned to the legendary man-eaters of Tsavo. I told Joseph how I’d camped in the area several years before and sat around a campfire with Maasai security guards, who told me how they could often hear the descendants of the man-eaters roaring at night. It was here, in 1898, that two lions managed to bring to a halt the most ambitious project in the entire British Empire. Over the course of several months, they ate 28 railway workers, although some sources say that the figure may have been as high as 135. It was only after they were shot by a British construction supervisor that the bridge was finally completed and the rails continued their inexorable creep into the highlands. More recently (in 2006), the World Bank approved a grant of US$70 million to help the railway line fulfil its original purpose as a competitive mode of transport. Some say that the story of the Lunatic Express is an ongoing saga. By the time we got back to our cabin, the night staff had arrived to convert our daytime sofa into two narrow bunks. Even in first class, the Lunatic Express falls far short of the luxury rail trips offered by the likes of Europe’s Orient Express or South Africa’s Blue Train. The shared washrooms at the end of the carriages were barely up to dealing with this mass human migration, so we resigned ourselves to bathing as thoroughly as possible out of the soup bowl-sized basin in the cabin. During the night we rattled unceasingly eastwards alongside the Trans-Africa Highway. I woke once or twice, imagining what it must be like to be upfront, driving this great thundering beast with eyes peeled for lumbering elephants and the herds of belligerent buffalo that sometimes number a thousand strong. I knew from experience that even on the highway itself, you frequently have to slow or stop for what are literally ‘zebra crossings’ as migrating herds follow their ancient trails, oblivious to roaring trucks.


At dawn, I was woken by the warm glow of the sun weaving golden threads into a savannah tapestry that was already burnt by the long dry season to the colour of a lion’s hide. I caught a glimpse of my bad hair day reflection in the window – like an image from One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest– and it struck me that padded cabins would be a fitting interior design quirk on the Lunatic Express. When we sat down for breakfast, we were still cutting across that seemingly endless Tsavo wilderness. To Joseph and Christina – both city-born Kenyans – the desolate aridity of this region was intimidating even through the train windows. At 8,000 square miles (almost twice the size of Qatar), Kenya’s biggest national park is a spellbindingly diverse region that attracts its very own dedicated admirers, who see it as Africa at its wildest. There is something about the restful rhythm of a longdistance train journey that lulls the soul. Rail travel takes you back to a ‘timeless’ era when clocks and itineraries still carried less importance than the sheer pleasure of travel for travel’s sake. Like an ocean-going voyager, it takes a while to

get your sea-legs, so that you can march confidently along the carriages without stumbling. After a while, you begin to imagine that your breathing, and perhaps even your heartrate, are synchronised with the hypnotic tak-a-tak-tak, tak-a-tak-tak thrum of the steel wheels. It has never been claimed that the Lunatic Express ran like clockwork, but by the time we started to see the first coconut palms and minarets of the Swahili Coast, we were only running barely behind schedule. By that time, however, I was actually hoping there would be something to slow us down. A couple of hours later, as we unpacked at Serena Mombasa and spread our belongings around a vast faux-Arabic suite, I realised with surprise that I actually missed our cramped little cell on the Lunatic Express. Maybe I am crazy after all, I thought. The Lunatic Express runs from Nairobi on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It departs at around 6:30pm, and with luck will arrive in Mombasa at around 10am the next morning.




Cattle are at the centre of South Sudan’s culture. They are treated as objects of beauty, wealth and prestige. The Dinka, Atuot and Nuer are the most prominent cattle herding tribes and a visit to one of their cattle camps, which often contain 500 head or more of cattle, offers an inside look at their traditional way of life.

Photo by Joe Buergi












Mogadishu O

is coming to life again

ver the years, Mogadishu, in particular its sprawling beaches, has seen an increase in the number of locals visiting for business and pleasure, thanks to improved stability and peace. The peace dividend is paying off in many ways, with Somalis from the diaspora also returning and investing heavily in the hotel and hospitality industry. The kaleidoscope of colour and laughter that are the sights and sounds of Liido Beach are a far cry from the period before 2009, when Mogadishu was under a reign of terror that forbade any form of leisure activities and banned swimming. According to the World Bank report of August 2019, Somalia’s “real GDP is projected to grow by 3.0 to 3.5 percent, an outlook predicated on extension of the security gains and policy reforms the authorities have achieved to date”. Mobile money transfers have revolutionised business in Somalia and transactions are easy and fast. Today, the pristine waters of the ocean are beckoning. Liido Beach is a stretch of gorgeous sandy beach approximately two kilometres long in the north of Mogadishu, overlooking the Indian Ocean. The name Liido derives from the Italian word for ‘beach’. In the 1970s and early 80s, the beach was full of foreign tourists and many locals. As Somalia rebuilds after years of armed conflict, security in and around Mogadishu is very tight. For everyone’s insurance, there are several checkpoints manned by heavily armed police and paramilitary officers before one gets to Liido. FOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY On Fridays, which are weekends in Somalia, it is now a common feature to see hundreds of residents at Liido beach. Young and old, mothers and fathers, boys and girls, all flock there to dine, swim, play beach soccer, or simply take a boat ride across the waters. Local business people enjoy brisk business hiring out boats and luminous bright floaters for the less confident swimmers. Several hotels and restaurants offer freshly squeezed fruit juices, good food and fresh fish, a variety of seafood and the choicest of Somalia’s cuisine. PEACE DIVIDEND With improving peace and security as well as expanding business opportunities across the country, Mogadishu is witnessing a construction boom and is now home to several thriving businesses. International investors are coming in,

and the locals are renowned for their industrious nature and entrepreneurship. Somalia is witnessing an impressive growth of its aviation sector, and Mogadishu’s Aden Abdulle International Airport now attracts some of the world’s best-known international airlines. Turkish Airlines, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, and Qatar Airlines operate regular flights to Mogadishu, and recently Uganda Airlines joined the growing list. Inside the international airport, a Turkish company has constructed a 5-star hotel. The first of its kind, the Decale Hotel has exquisite rooms, including luxurious presidential suites. Across town, the first gated community called Dar-uSalaam is now complete, with impressive villas, a children’s park, school, hospital and shops. The face of Mogadishu is changing, and fast. In late November 2019, the second Mogadishu Tech Summit, an annual gathering of tech savvy digital entrepreneurs and innovators was successfully held, attracting over 5 000 visitors, the majority of whom were youth. Salaam Bank pledged US $5 million for the next three years to be made available to innovators and entrepreneurs, with access to the funds provided through iRise, Somalia’s first-ever technology innovation hub. iRise promotes collaboration between innovators and investors, while offering resources needed by budding entrepreneurs and startups such as business training, mentorship, project evaluation, and support during the incubation stages of their projects. In 2018, Premier Bank injected US $1 million into the tech summit, with close to a quarter of that amount already disbursed to emerging innovators and entrepreneurs. “If we want to grow and develop our economy, it is very important that we invest in technology and encourage entrepreneurs,” said Shuayb Mohamed, Chief Executive Officer of Salaam Bank. The Mogadishu of the past no longer remains; it has been replaced by the hustle and bustle of any capital city in Africa. The signs of progress abound, as Mogadishu continues to reclaim her position as an economic contributor to the Horn of Africa. Words by Guled Mohamed AU/UN Information Support Team Somalia www.ngaaliinflightmag.com



wonders of


Zanzibar is a small island off Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Its capital, Stone Town, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town is a museum of well-preserved buildings whose architecture is a mix of Arabic-Indian and African influences. But while museums are usually full of dead exhibits, Zanzibar is full of life and colour. This makes it a perfect holiday getaway. Zanzibar has been repeatedly ranked among Africa’s Seven Wonders, especially in the category of heritage sites and impressive island destinations. This begs the question; what are Zanzibar’s wonders? Here are seven of the island’s legendary attractions that will awaken your sense of wonder. Words and photos by Solomon Oleny 70



DESTINATION TANZANIA Opposite page: Pineapple carving on a Zanzibar door Top RIght: Fresh nutmeg fruit can be found on the Tangawizi Spice Farm Bottom RIght: Exterior of The Sultan’s Palace Museum in Stone Town, Zanzibar City

1. BIG BODY/TANGAWIZI SPICE FARM When it comes to spices, Asia takes the lead. Indians and Arabs are known for indulging in spices and Zanzibar has a rich historical connection with some of these cultures. In East Africa, Zanzibar has an unrivalled spice culture, and one of the tourist delights here is a visit to the Spice Garden. A 30-minute drive from the heart of Stone Town brings you to this jungle-like farm, which features over 50 distinctive species of spices that are not only for the palate, but a wide range of purposes including sexual prowess, beauty and perfumes. At this farm, you don’t just stop at touring. You are free to eat and drink any spice of choice. Don’t be fooled by the names; the spices with the most romantic names burn the tongue the most. Should you fall victim, do not worry, there is lots of fresh coconut juice to wash it down your throat quickly. One of the most captivating moments here is when the guides climb to the top of coconut trees that are as high as skyscrapers, to harvest ready fruits. They don’t use ladders, they just clasp their hands and legs around the trees and start slithering up, even when the wind is blowing the tree from side to side. At the end of the tour, the men will be accessorised with beautiful handmade neckties and hats made from palm leaves, and the ladies adorned with simple but elegant wristbands and earrings, also made of palm leaves. Getting there

Hire a driver for the day - this will give you the most flexibility. There are lots of tour operators in Stone Town who can arrange this for you. If you prefer travelling public, a bus service is possible, but not directly to the farm. There is no entry fee or standard fee for the guides. Be sure to go with some extra cash to tip your guides and to purchase local perfumes and spices on your tour.

2. BEIT AL-SAHEL/ PALACE MUSEUM The palace museum is a rich heritage site with so much to see. It was the palace of Sultan Seyyid and is said to have been the first building in East Africa to have an elevator. In 1896, the three-storey building was bombed by the British during the Anglo Zanzibar war of August 27, 1896. The war lasted less than 45 minutes and is rated the shortest in history. The palace, which is open from 9am to 6pm, was rebuilt as a museum, exhibiting the different items and royal regalia used by Sultan Khalifa bin Harub and Sayyida Salme. Located on Mizingani Road, history of the

colonial age flows through its walls. Prime focus is on slave trade and its abolition, and colonialism. Outside the museum, you will find tombs of various Sultans. The oceanside gardens in front of the palace are another gem that visitors love. Entry fee to the museum is US$3. 2. BIRD’S-EYE VIEW OF ZANZIBAR You can never know how truly gorgeous this town is until you view it from above - the aerial view of the islands and other beautiful ocean features is an enchanting experience. To share this beauty, Coastal Aviation




Top Left: Aerial view of a fishing village in Zanzibar

organises chartered aero tours around Zanzibar, with some flights costing less than $100. The beauty and nature of this part of the world is movie-like. Scheduled daily flights between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar offer the same great views included in the ticket price. 3. DHOW BOATS For a complete experience, don’t leave Zanzibar without taking a tour in a dhow boat. They look fragile but are tough to the core, thanks to their resilient hardwood. They can last up to thirty years if well maintained. A dhow cruise feels like you are living in the days of Vasco Da Gama as he explored coast to coast to discover hidden gems. It costs roughly $20, if you use one of the agencies stationed in front of the Palace Museum. 4. LOCAL MARKET (DARAJANI MARKET) A visit to the Zanzibar market is a first class ticket to getting to know the locals better - it offers an opportunity to mix and mingle with them. They are very welcoming and always happy to teach guests a thing or two about their culture and history. Like any market, it is split into different arenas. I highly recommend you drop by the fresh produce section for some of the best organically grown fruits. If you love fabric, you will find lots of authentic kitenge and




Swahili leso materials. The market also features art galleries and souvenir shops. Tip: Like any market setting, the traders here will quote double the price and expect you to negotiate it down. 5. SEA FOOD Regardless of whether you are a novice or addict of sea food, Zanzibar has ocean delights for every palate, with a variety of budget restaurants and star hotels specialising in fresh aquatic foods that taste like heaven. If you want to take home some local culinary skills, this is the right place to learn. There are lots of beachfront eateries that allow guests to spend time with their chefs behind the scenes. One to recommend is Forodhani, a garden-like setting with lots of restaurants and cafes serving local dishes and seafood. 6. BEACHES If you love taking a dip in crystal clear oceans and lying on beaches with powder soft white sand, in Zanzibar “life is a beach”. There are over 20 beaches that provide a great place to rest, enjoy the water and relax under the sun. From a distance, the water looks green, but when you get closer, it is remarkably clear. If you want somewhere more private, Serena Beach is beautiful and has a romantic ambience with great views of the sunset. The warm water here makes for great swimming too. Tip: Bring something to shelter you from the sun and


don’t forget sunscreen. There are shops at most of the beaches where you can do last minute shopping for some basics. 7. SLAVE MARKET The slave market deserves its reputation as a bucket list attraction. During the 19th Century, Zanzibar was the centre of slave trade, and even though the museum is painful to explore, we need to remember the ordeal. A cathedral now sits on the former slave market, but two of the chambers where slaves were held before being sold are still intact and tell a horrid story. Travel Tip

When visiting Zanzibar, please bear in mind that it is a Muslim society, so respect the culture for a more comfortable trip. There are some areas where clothing needs to cover the arms and legs and public displays of affection are frowned upon. Remember to take a stroll past Freddie Mercury’s house. Mercury hailed from Zanzibar and was born Farrokh Bulsara.

How to get to Zanzibar

Uganda Airlines flies to Julius Nyerere International Airport. From here, Coastal Aviation, a domestic airline in Tanzania, offers over seven daily flights to Zanzibar. A return ticket costs between $60 and $100, depending on the season. The charges for children are slightly lower. Flights are closed 15 minutes before departure time, and late arrivals are deemed a no-show.

Above: The Anglican Church of Christ was built on the former slave market in Zanzibar




Sensational KwaZulu-Natal

There is good reason why a holiday trip to South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province appeals to all types of travellers. Covering a breathtaking 94,361 km2 along the shores of the Indian Ocean, it has a distinctive combination of raw natural beauty, modern sophistication, cultural diversity and pulsating energy. Here are some wonders that blew me away on my trip a few months back. Words by Solomon Oleny

Nelson Mandela Capture Site

A lot is known about Madiba’s captivity, but very little is known about how and where he was captured. Approximately 5 kilometres outside Howick, KwaZulu-Natal, is a historical site with a portrait sculpture and museum erected in memory of 5th August 1962. Ianda Nyandeni, a senior guide at the Museum, shares that on this historic day, armed apartheid police flagged down a car in which Mandela (RIP) was disguised as a chauffeur. This took place at the road directly opposite the mentioned attraction. Having succeeded in evading capture by apartheid operatives for 17 months, he had just paid a secret visit to ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli’s Groutville home, where he had gone to report back on his African odyssey, and to request support in calling for an armed struggle. “It was in this dramatic way, at this unassuming spot, that Papa Madiba spent his last day as a free man for the next 27 years,” said Nyandeni In memory of this event, the arena was turned into a tourism destination about 10 years back. It features a creatively designed portrait sculpture of Madiba, symbolising his 27-year imprisonment. It’s built with 50 steel columns between 6 and 9.5 metres high along a 30 metre stretch. At first glance, it looks like a forest of steel poles. However, when you look at it more keenly, you start to see a fascinating portrait of Madiba. To see the image perfectly, you need to adjust your position - a fun experience that feels like putting pieces of a puzzle together. Here, you will also find a museum that exhibits the life story of Mandela right from childhood, and his fight against oppression. The site gives an insight into how he united a country torn by racial differences. Price: Entry is free, but donations are welcome.





Shakaland Zulu Cultural Village

Born in 1787, Shaka was a great Zulu warrior who brought together independent Nguni chiefdoms to form the Zulu Kingdom, after which KwaZulu-Natal was named. Since his assassination by his half-brothers Dingane and Mhlangana on September 1828 at a rock near the barracks of his capital, Dukuza, hundreds of books and documentaries have profiled his legacy. While most of these documentaries go a long way in giving an insight about this great conqueror, they lack some interesting information about what influenced the person he became. To know Shaka better, you need to hear what his people say about him, see places where his story was made, where life was given to him and where it was taken. Most of these places have since been turned into full fledged museums, like the Shaka Memorial, a provincial heritage site in Stanger where he was repeatedly stabbed to death with spears by his half brothers. Another site is Shakaland Zulu Cultural Village, a replication of a Zulu homestead (Umuzi) featuring over 50 comfortable beehive huts. It is here that the famous Shaka Zulu (1986), a renowned television series directed by William C. Faure and written by Joshua Sinclair, was shot. At these two historical places, the spirit of this tall and powerfully built warrior still lives.

Above: The theatre at Shakaland Cultural Village, where Zulu traditional dances are showcased

Hot Air Balloon Safari

Nothing beats this safari over Drakensberg’s escarpment, also home to uKhahlamba, a renowned world heritage site where Africa’s earliest inhabitants, the San (Bushmen), lived. One of the major takeoff points is The Nest, a country hotel surrounded by pine forests and commercial farmlands. In total, you will explore 4-5 kilometres during the hour-long flight which costs between $300-$600 depending on the company of your choice. To reduce the risk of accidents, set off is very early at 6am when the winds are still calm. Once inside the basket, you might get anxious as more helium is loudly fired from the burners into the envelope (balloon) to allow it take off. But before you know it, the balloon gloriously ascends 300 metres off the ground - it feels like you are ascending in a lift, only this one is controlled by the forces of nature. The cherry on the cake is the morning sunrise, a dazzling and cozy treat for all on board.




White Sand Beaches

Far from being just another white sand beach destination, KwaZulu-Natal has a 350km coastline that has something special for everyone - those seeking solitude, lavish resorts with a party vibe, sparkling shallow waters or pounding surf. In total, there are over 50 bucket list worthy options to pick from, the most popular being Addington; a wide sandy beach with sunbathing lawns and public facilities - it is a favourite surfing haven. Second to it is Blythedale, a blue flag beach famed for its camping facilities and cluster of holiday cottages tucked into a verdant coastal jungle.

National Parks

Drakensberg’s elevation of 3,482 metres above sea level makes it the highest mountain range in South Africa. It is dramatically beautiful, with a 200-kilometre-long mountain range that has rugged peaks, verdant valleys and spectacular backdrops. Drakensberg is richly endowed with a huge diversity of protected plant and animal species. There are innumerable hiking trails for both enthusiasts of tough climbing challenges, and those in need of a laidback experience that is gentle on the knees. Both options offer fulfilling experiences inside caves with stunning San rock paintings, magnificent waterfalls and awe-inspiring rock pools with crystal clear water. Mountain climbing aside, the foothills of the Drakensberg are a fully fledged destination for horseback riding, canopy tours, white water rafting and resorts with health spas.





Hitting the frontline


Ng’aali’s Adele Cutler met with conservationist Holly Budge after her recent trip to Zimbabwe, where she joined the ladies of Akashinga, an armed all-female anti-poaching team that protects the country’s iconic wildlife. Photos by Holly Budge


olly Budge, founder of the charity How Many Elephants, earned the rare privilege of accompanying the highly skilled Akashinga rangers whilst they patrolled Zimbabwe’s Phundundu Wildlife Area, a 115 square mile former trophy hunting region in the Zambezi Valley ecosystem. This area has lost thousands of elephants to poachers over the last two decades. From the summit of Everest to the frontline of 78



conservation in the African bush, Holly is no stranger to adventure, but this was a whole different beast. “It was 5.45am. I was standing in line with four armed Akashinga rangers, ready to go out on foot patrol. ‘You may not see any wildlife Holly, this is not a safari trip,’ said Nyaradzo. I pinched myself as the realisation of what I was about to do became real. These women were fighting a war on poaching and the poachers were not the only threat out there. The rangers loaded their rifles. The front ranger clicked her fingers as a signal to go, and I took a deep breath as we moved into the darkness,” she recounts her ordeal with the Akashinga. Akashinga translates to “the brave ones” in the local language, an apt name for the often dangerous work they do. Coming face to face with poachers and wild beasts, heading raids and sting operations, these women are highly trained and highly motivated to make a difference

Holly has a mission to raise awareness of the African elephant crisis and make a difference. Every day, 96 elephants are killed for their ivory; that’s over 35,000 of these magnificent, gentle, intelligent animals a year. That’s just ten years to extinction.

Right: Holly (middle) on patrol with the Akashinga

to the future survival of endangered African wildlife species. Holly has a mission to raise awareness of the African elephant crisis and make a difference. Every day, 96 elephants are killed for their ivory; that’s over 35,000 of these magnificent, gentle, intelligent animals a year. That’s just ten years to extinction. She spent several days immersed with the Akashinga Rangers, accompanying them on their daily patrols and other duties. Make no mistake though, this is not a 9 to 5 job and no day is the same. These women work fourteen straight days and take ten days off in-between. They are not only changing the face of conservation but the traditional status quo of women staying at home and bringing up children. They are the breadwinners and positive role models in their families, their communities and beyond. “That day, as we moved further into the interior, the realisation that these women were my lifeline dawned on me. Without them, I was a dead woman! This was a war zone and we were patrolling on the frontlines. Challenges presented themselves at every corner. Wild and dangerous beasts roaming, snare wire coiled around trees like spider webs awaited their prey, the thorny undergrowth, the stifling heat of the sun, the desperate lack of water and signs of poachers’ presence, all made this a very hostile environment to be in, especially for a newcomer. “Welcome to the bush Holly,” one of the rangers whispered to me. Damien Mander, founder of Akashinga, says, “By moving men into construction and labour and putting women in the power roles of law enforcement, management and decision making, we’ve completely de-escalated the majority of local tension and brought conservation and communities together.” He strongly believes that the face of conservation going forward is female. Holly remembers driving through the local communities with Nyaradzo, her go-to ranger, as all heads turned. Nyaradzo told Holly that the men in her community had instilled in them the belief that women couldn’t drive big vehicles, but she proved them wrong when she learnt to drive a year before, through the ranger

programme. Her pride spilled over each time she drove the 4x4 anti-poaching vehicle around the communities as part of her daily work. This was not Holly’s first time on the frontline, having spent time in 2018 immersed with The Black Mambas in South Africa, another all-female anti-poaching team. “These are two very different female ranger models. The Black Mambas are armed with only pepper spray and handcuffs. The Akashinga are armed with rifles and trained in combat. But both are making a tremendous impact on the ground in Africa,” says Damien. Holly uses her world record adventures - including being the first woman to skydive Everest - to raise awareness of the African elephant crisis and mobilise funds for her charity. To-date, she has fundraised over £300,000. Her hard-hitting campaign uses design as a powerful visualisation tool to bridge the gap between scientific data and human connection. Her travelling exhibition, which showcases 35,000 elephant silhouettes to emphasize the sheer scale of the elephant poaching crisis, is heading for China next year. The thought of the African savannah devoid of elephants is heartbreaking enough but putting emotion aside, the impact of losing these animals will be of extreme detriment to the environment and beyond; if the elephants go extinct, entire ecosystems could follow as they are a keystone species and important ecosystem engineers. Holly helped to dismantle snares wrapped around shady trees, waiting for their victims to take shade from the beating sun. “It was heartbreaking to try and comprehend how many snares were out there and how quickly they would be replaced, once found and removed. It is an ongoing battle,” she laments. Holly is calling all conservationists, scientists, politicians, educators, storytellers, adventurers and change makers who can dare to say, ‘I can make a difference in the world’. It’s time to stand up for elephants, before it is too late.

For more information on Holly’s charity, visit www.howmanyelephants.org




The world’s most trafficked MAMMAL Compiled by Adele Cutler






pangolin is a mammal found in Africa and Asia. It has a body covered with horny overlapping scales, a small head with an elongated snout, a long sticky tongue for catching ants and termites, and a tapering tail. It is also called scaly anteater. Of the eight species, four are found only in Africa; the Black-Bellied Pangolin, White-Bellied Pangolin, Giant Ground Pangolin and Temmicks Ground Pangolin. All are protected under national and international laws and two of them are listed on the IUCN red list as critically endangered species. Uganda is in the unique position of potentially being home to all four of these species, but there is a significant knowledge gap across the whole country. In the last ten years alone, over a million pangolins have been taken from the wild to feed demand in China and Vietnam, where their meat is considered a delicacy and their scales are used in traditional medicines to treat a range of ailments including asthma, rheumatism and arthritis. Despite their threatened status, there is hope for pangolins. Uganda’s Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary has been working with a team of researchers from the UK in collaboration with Uganda Wildlife Authority after sightings of the rare Giant Pangolin. Their work aims to highlight the plight of the pangolin and the behaviour of the species. A series of remote cameras are monitoring the creatures in their natural habitat, revealing new insights into this secretive nocturnal species living alongside protected rhinos at the sanctuary. “These rare glimpses into the lives of giant pangolins are very exciting for those of us dedicated to protecting Uganda’s rich wildlife. They challenge us to ensure that we protect and conserve this highly threatened species for future generations,” said Sam Mwandha, Executive Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority. A pangolin sighting in the wild is extremely rare due to their nocturnal nature and skittish behaviour. Ziwa offers night walks in the sanctuary, introducing to you night sounds and sensations you did not know existed.










he descendant of warrior princes and son of two black African parents, Afro-pop pioneer Salif Keita was born “white”. Inheriting albinism, Keita instantly stood out among other Africans and has stood up for tolerance in all forms. A master of West African rhythms and credited as one of the founders of the Afro-pop genre, Keita is world renowned for his unforgettable live performances, soaring vocals and emotionally fuelled songs. He has 18 albums to his name: Soro, Ko-Yan, Amen, Destiny of a Noble Outcast, 69-80, Folon, Rail Band, Seydou Bathili, Papa, Mama, The Best of Salif Keita, Sosie, Moffou, The Best of the Early Years, Remixes from Moffou, M’Bemba, The Lost Album, and La Différence Talé. For more than half a century, the political force of Keita’s music has been intimately bound with the distinctive grain of his voice - its embodied resonance. That voice is gritty, but pitch-perfect. And it is loud. It wells up from the core of his body, takes shape in his chest, gathering texture in his throat before projecting from his mouth. At its most intense, when Keita’s voice cries out (often at the outset of a song, and again at its climax), his body is still, but tense and reverberant, every inch devoted to the act of voicing. When Keita sings, his body is an instrument. And when he cries, Salif Keita is his voice. He attributes the power of his voice to the isolated practice he got as a child: “I learned to sing by shouting in the fields. I was maybe 12 or 13. I used to shout for over eight hours everyday in the fields for three months out of the year, when I was on vacation from school. At first, people thought I was crazy. But when I shouted, the monkeys kept away, and that was good for everyone in my village because the monkeys ate up all the bananas and fruit. So after the people in the village realised this, that my shouting kept the monkeys away, they left me alone to my shouting, which today has given me a strong

voice for my music.” Born on August 25, 1949 in the village of Djoliba, 20 miles away from Bamako in Mali, Keita was the third of thirteen children born to Sina and Nassira Keita, poor landowners in the village of Djoliba where he grew up. Both his parents were royalty, being descendants of the royal Sundiata Keita family that founded the Mali Empire, at its height the largest in Africa, and as big as Europe. His father was shocked but not entirely surprised when he was born with albinism, there had been others with the condition on his mother’s side of the family. Albinism was misinterpreted as an ill omen in his native Mali and because of this, Keita’s father sent him and his mother, Nassira, away. Nassira had to hide him for fear of reprisals from superstitious mobs. After his father received counsel from a religious chief, Keita and his mother returned home to live an uneasy life on the family’s farm. He worked the fields before his father forced him to go to school. There, his appearance frightened his classmates, and he was shunned and ridiculed. In addition, his poor eyesight affected his ability to succeed in school, and he was thrown out. Lonely and desolate, young Keita found solace in music, but was constrained by hereditary roles (noblemen hired musicians; they could not be musicians), so at 18, he left home for the Malian capital, Bamako, where views on albinism were a little more enlightened and no one knew his ancestry. His choice to pursue music distanced him even farther from his family. In Bamako, he began performing as a singer in nightclubs. After about two years, he joined the popular government-sponsored group Rail Band, notable for its electrified mixture of traditional Mande music and Afro-Caribbean popular styles. In the early 1970s, Keita and Rail Band guitarist Kanté Manfila left for Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, to join



TALENT OUT OF AFRICA Les Ambassadeurs du Motel (later Les Ambassadeurs Internationales), a rival group that was similarly recognised for its fusion of local African traditions with internationally appealing popular genres. By the late ’70s, Keita’s singing and innovative work with Les Ambassadeurs resonated strongly and positively beyond the boundaries of Côte d’Ivoire and Mali. For his everbroadening fan base, he was the “golden voice of Africa”. Indeed, in 1977, Guinean President Sékou Touré conferred on him the National Order of Guinea, a prestigious honour. Keita reciprocated by composing “Mandjou,” a praise song for Touré. Following Les Ambassadeurs’ breakup, Keita pursued a solo career and moved to Paris in 1984. Settling in the city’s Montreuil section, he found a thriving community of more than 15,000 transplanted Malians. Success followed with the release of Keita’s debut solo album, Soro, in 1987. Produced by Ibrahima Sylla, the album combined

Whether or not Keita decides to enter the studio again, it is clear that his politics will remain substantively vocal, and will continue to resonate among communities from Fana to the world. African, jazz, funk, Europop and R&B influences. His Grammy-nominated 1990 release, Amen, further appealed to Western audiences and included collabos with Joe Zawinul, Carlos Santana, and Wayne Shorter. In 1995, his father passed on, but by then, there had been a full reconciliation between them, and in 1996, Keita’s fame helped him overcome the stigma attached to albinism that persisted in West Africa, allowing him to make a triumphant return to Mali. Cautiously re-entering a community that once shunned him, he discovered a newfound acceptance, which allowed him to re-establish roots there. His first work after going home, 2002’s Moffou, was hailed as his best album in many years, and Keita was inspired to build a recording studio in the capital, Bamako. He still mostly lived in Paris, but came home often. Keita’s album La Différence was produced at the end of 2009 and won him one of the biggest musical awards of his career: the Best World Music 2010 at the Victoires de la Musique. It was dedicated to the struggle of the world albino community (victims of human sacrifice),




for whom Keita has been crusading all his life. In one of the album’s tracks, the singer calls others to understand that “difference” does not mean “bad” and to show love and compassion towards albinos like everyone else: “I am black/ my skin is white/ so I am white and my blood is black [albino]/...I love that because it is a difference that’s beautiful, some of us are beautiful some are not/some are black some are white/all that difference was on purpose...for us to complete each other/let everyone get his love and dignity/the world will be beautiful,” he sings. On November 17th, 2018, the superstar (who turned 70 in August last year) announced his retirement from the recording studio at a raucous concert in the otherwise sleepy town of Fana, Mali (125km east of Bamako). Released in conjunction with the concert, Keita’s album, Un Autre Blanc/Another White, would be his last. But, much like the show in Fana, the album signalled not so much a closing, as a new beginning. The title Another White is personal and refers to Keita’s albinism, a defining feature of his life. Many of the songs are also about the virtues and hardships that women face in Africa. This album of 10 brand n ­ ew tracks continues Keita’s advocacy for the human rights of people with albinism, a fight his Foundation for Albinism pledges to intensify, especially since the UN has declared June 13th the International Albinism Awareness Day. Keita is protesting the continued abduction and killing of albinos in a number of African countries for purposes of witchcraft and financial profit. He decries the fact that local witch doctors often purposefully spread and perpetuate misconceptions and superstitions for personal gain, and in some cases, family members of these innocent victims are complicit in these crimes. Which brings us back to Fana. By announcing his retirement as a “call to arms” in support of albino communities throughout Africa, through a “call to dance” before a select gathering of friends and locals, Keita affirmed, once again, the irreducible potency of his verbal art, at once intimate and expansive. Whether or not Keita decides to enter the studio again, it is clear that his politics will remain substantively vocal, and will continue to resonate among communities from Fana to the world. Keita is happily married to Coumba Makalou Keita, who runs his Salif Keita Global Foundation, set up to support people with albinism in their home country of Mali and other African nations. It is said that in all, he has nine children - five boys and four girls - from past relationships in different parts of the world. One of his daughters, Nantenin Keita (born November 5th, 1984, in Bamako), is a French athlete who competes mainly in Paralympic category T13 sprint events. Like her father, she was born with albinism, and is visually impaired.



Chef Bosco Osenduru is the man at the helm of the kitchen

at Capitol Palace Hotel. With 16 years of experience as a chef, his is a story of patience and a love for roasting.

As a child, I used to help my parents cook. I would cook local dishes like kalo (mingled millet), beans, and meat. Foods like sweet potatoes and matooke are considered snacks in Nebbi where I come from. When I was older, I got formal training at YMCA where I enrolled for a two-year culinary course.

My first job was at Shanghai Hotel Restaurant - a friend

recommended me. I started off as a cleaner in the kitchen and did that for two years. I was very active and captured my employers’ attention; they promoted me and trained me for the position of chef.

Chinese cooking is meticulous; if you are chopping vegetables or meat, you have to do it a certain way and it can’t be rushed. It’s a skill that requires patience and is acquired over time. I did not learn how to cook Chinese food in culinary class, I learnt at Shanghai Restaurant. In 2006, after 4 years working at Shanghai, a friend called me about an opportunity at Capitol Palace. You have to be firm to work with the Chinese. It’s not easy, but I like the strict treatment because it teaches hard work and patience. The Carnival is all about meat and our style is barbecue.

We marinate and roast game meat like buffalo, crocodile, antelope, warthog, and others like chicken and beef.We treat buffalo meat like beef; it’s tough so we tenderise it before roasting. We categorise crocodile as white meat, it is soft on the inside, nothing like the reptile’s tough exterior. To sell game meat, one needs to have a license and we are one of the few restaurants that serve this type of meat. Antelope is red meat but its texture isn’t tough, it’s softer compared to goat meat. Warthog is soft. All the above are tough animals but their meat is surprisingly soft.

When in school, the love of what you are learning has to

come from the heart. However, I believe that someone who learns everything in school is not necessarily better than one who learns on the job; experience gained on the job is equally important.

On hiring people: I’m a ‘small’ man but I am the head here. I love people who admit when they don’t know something. I can then start teaching them from scratch. When this happens, I

know that such people are going to turn out great in time.

Our spices: Our secret is using fresh homegrown herbs and

spices; they don’t alter the flavour and taste of food. We buy them locally from the market and keep away from imported spices - they tend to be stale and water down the taste of food.

Our tenderiser: We use pineapple, it doesn’t change the taste of meat but rather enhances it. A simple tip is to squeeze the juice directly onto the meat and let it marinate for at least two hours. The pineapple doesn’t have to be ripe; ripe or not, it will do the trick. The first dish I learnt to cook after kalo is beef in chilli sauce.

The biggest lesson I have learnt from my work is to accept my mistakes and above all, apologise to the concerned party.

The most annoying thing I face in the kitchen is

people who act like they haven’t heard when you tell them something. They hear you, but pretend otherwise. This puts me off.

Do I want my children to be chefs? No, I don’t. I love

my job, but I would rather my children are not around fire and flames for so many hours a day; it can be dangerous sometimes. The upside is that there is no set retirement age in our line of work. When I grow old, it will be up to me to hang my tools, on my terms.

On food that is bad for you: That depends on an individual; some people are allergic to certain foods. Once you are aware of that, stay away, don’t force it. I also take extra precaution when cooking, for instance, I wash rice to get rid of the starch - I have learnt that it isn’t good for some people. www.ngaaliinflightmag.com







At the slightest grimace, he loses it all - the absolute honour that comes with holding still and fearless as a double-edged sharp knife swiftly severs the foreskin off his manhood. And when the foreskin is fully detached, he has undoubtedly been initiated into manhood. He is a boy until this ritual.


he famous Imbalu is the public traditional male circumcision among the ethnic Bamasaba of Eastern Uganda. Bagisu, one of Uganda’s Bantu tribes, inhabit the sunset gradients of Mount Elgon, one of Uganda’s tourist destinations. For hundreds of years, they have practiced Imbalu as a rite of passage from boyhood to manhood. Done bi-annually in August, the ceremony lasts three days and is so lively that it has turned Mbale into a tourist destination during that time. According to Uganda Tourism Board, more than 30,000 people showed up in 2018 to celebrate 202 years of Imbalu, and the 204th one is slated for August 2020. The significance of circumcision is deeply ingrained in the Bamasaba as a custom handed down from the ancestors, and unites all the Gishu in the six districts of Mbale, Sironko, Bulambuli, Manafwa, Namisindwa and Bududa. Within these large groups are numerous subdivisions and clans bearing the names of their supposed founders. The correct collective name for the people of Bugisu is, therefore, Bamasaba. Regarding its origin, folklore says Imbalu started after a man called Masaba went to marry a Kalenjin woman. She asked that before he talked marriage, he should first be circumcised. From that time, the Bagisu have followed this ritual of their ancestor, Masaba. However, Prof Timothy Wangusa in his writing in 1987, presented “Mundu and Seera” as a legend which has become one of the foundations for explaining the origin of the Bagisu. Prof Wangusa, a novelist and literature scholar,

recounts that the first man among the Bamasaba was called Mundu. Together with his wife Seera, they emerged from a hole on top of Mount Elgon. The couple had two sons - Masaba, a hunter, and Kundu, a herdsman. According to Prof Wangusa, Kundu left Mount Elgon while Masaba stayed and brought Imbalu circumcision rituals to the Bamasaba. “Kundu, standing upon Mt. Elgon one day when the sky was unusually clear, saw a lake on the horizon in the direction of the setting sun. And yearning to go and find out the secret of the lake, he journeyed many, many days and nights until he got lost, never to return,” Prof Wangusa writes. In January, prospective male candidates aged between 15 and 20 years assemble in each village and are taught various traditions in order to saturate them with courage in readiness for initiation. However, before this, they are checked to ensure they are Bamasaba - basing on their clans. Between March and August, they are taken through the isonja preparatory dance, where traditional performers use special equipment, songs and dance to instill courage and knowledge of what lies ahead. Towards August, before the actual circumcision event, the final candidates (abasinde) are taken through a traditional pass called ‘luwanda’ where they meet other clans and proceed to the sacred swamps. They are taken to mwidoyi (mud) where they are smeared with clay (itosi). For four weeks, the Bamasaba young and old pitch camp at Mutoto Village Cultural Site at the foot of Mt Elgon, where the first Mugisu was circumcised. This marks the beginning of the season, a euphoric time throughout the villages with various activities like brewing local beer or malwa and distilling crude waragi (gin) - to be drank during the ceremony in August. During this time, there is a lot of merrymaking and non-stop partying and hundreds of livestock are slaughtered as family, clan members and friends dance and feast until the wee hours every day to boost the candidates’ morale. A day to circumcision, the elders or basakhulu clean out the sacred graves and rebuild the shrines as designed and desired by each clan. The boys are decorated with long tails



CULTURE covered in cowrie shells that hang down their backs, bitsenze (rattles) on the legs, gamahimba (round wooden decorations) on the hands, head gear (lilubisi), and beads around the neck and waist. Their faces are covered with ash or flour and they are accompanied by a crew of cheerleading friends, marching through the streets dancing to the Kadodi, an initiation to circumcision song. Itinyi, a local herb, is administered to each candidate to induce courage. In the final hours before the circumcision is done, the umusinde visits the mother’s family (the Ibwiwana), where he is given gifts like cows, chickens, goats and money as tokens of good luck and courage from his maternal uncles and family. At the crack of dawn on D-day, the candidates are led to a water stream locally known as iluutsi, with pots on their heads to fetch water that will be used to make the millet paste to smear their bodies. All this is done amidst remarkable dancing and ululation. One of the chants is ‘setaa umwana afanee baaba we’, which loosely translates to ‘circumcise a child to look like his father’. The women ecstatically wiggle their waists, with their behinds and breasts shaking in unison. The boys then carry the pots of water to the courtyard where the circumcision is to take place, and pour it into a bigger pot known as kumanje. In the pot is the powdered millet yeast. Each candidate is then smeared with millet yeast paste in a ritual known as khuwakha kamamela. The yeast is smeared on the forehead, legs, hands and head. It is believed that this instills in them the true character of a Gishu man. Sometimes a candidate’s sisters and mother are also smeared with this paste to help the boys bear the burden of manhood. It is time! It is quiet all around as each boy stands firm, holding onto a stick behind his neck, stern faced, ready to face the knife! Showing any sign of pain is considered weakness and one will be teased for the rest of their lives. During this time, a candidate’s mother sits tensed inside the house with legs stretched out. Outside, the boys dance energetically as a sign that they are ripe for the knife. It is culturally believed that at that point, the candidate’s desire to undergo circumcision has been reinforced by ancestral powers from the spirits culturally known as kumusambwa kwembalu. 88




It is time! It is quiet all around as each boy stands firm, holding onto a stick behind his neck, stern faced, ready to face the knife! Showing any sign of pain is considered weakness and one will be teased for the rest of their lives. “Stand straight and look into my eyes. Don’t twitch a muscle. I see you are crying. You are crying for it. Crying to be cut to look like your father,” chants the highly experienced traditional surgeon (Umukhebe) as he swiftly makes three cuts to the foreskin using the traditional knife, inyembe, which is sharpened on both edges. In an hour, the surgeon blows a whistle to signify the end of the successful operation, usually before 10am. The mothers, at the sound of the whistle, are excited that their sons are now men. This is when the dancing and ululation start again as ifumbo ye kyiguga (the drums of the clans) are loudly beaten. The candidates, now men (abasani), are given chairs to sit until the blood starts to clot. They are then taken through a purifying ceremony culturally known as Khusabisa, where the surgeon pours beer on their hands to wash away any bad omen. The ‘men’ are taken to their fathers’ homes and handfed for three consecutive days before they are ritually washed and permitted to eat with their hands, marking the end of the ritual. They then wait for another ceremony called the ‘Inemba’, which lasts three days at the beginning of the following year. Here, they feast and dance, showing the community that they are now

responsible men. It is during and after the ‘Inemba’ that they start looking for their wives-to-be. An uncircumcised man is believed to be a coward and unclean in Bamasaba culture and is not allowed to marry a girl from the Bamasaba. The women have been known to expose their uncircumcised men, who are then forcefully put under the knife. It is believed that an uncircumcised man may not satisfy a Bamasaba woman during copulation. More than 1,000 young men are circumcised each season. The local surgeons are sensitised by medical workers regarding hygiene to avoid the risk of tetanus and HIV infection, and they strictly adhere to the policy of using separate knives for each candidate. The Bamasaba cut across Kenya and Uganda, so during the Imbalu festivals, delegations from Kenya also grace the occasion. In 2018, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta joined his Ugandan counterpart, President Yoweri Museveni, for the launch of Imbalu season at Mutoto Village. This ritual is one of the few amazing experiences that can still authentically be traced to the African continent. www.ngaaliinflightmag.com







Kanga The African

A traditional form of "African Twitter"

Colourful cotton fabrics that can be worn as wraps, skirts, dresses or shawls are a fixture of most African countries. From humble beginnings on the East African coast, kangas have taken vibrant elegance to new extremes and have become an important mode of communication for over 100 million Swahili people throughout the region. Words and pictures by Mark Eveleigh


angas, displaying messages and snippets of wisdom, are time-honoured textiles that serve as East African postcards, love letters, motivational slogans, prayers, or poignant rebuffs to the neighbourhood gossip. “Kangas are a part of our heritage,” says Zanzibari fashion designer Farouque Abdela. “For Swahili women, they’re not only useful items of clothing but also vital means of communication.” Among the variety of kaleidoscopic textiles found in African markets, kangas are instantly recognisable by the borders around the central motif or design. There is almost always a slogan or proverb written in Kiswahili, the unifying language of East Africa. “Some say the first kangas were created when freed slave women started to stitch together square Portuguese headscarves, known as leso, to form a big sheet they could use as robes or shawls,” Abdela explains, adding, “Later, some women started to print on white Indian calico sheets with natural dye, using vegetables as blocks.” It is said that the speckled effect of these early fabrics resembled the plummage of the guinea fowl, a common wild bird in East Africa known as kanga in Kiswahili. Nobody is entirely sure where kangas originated. In 1863, a British traveller in Mombasa, Kenya, wrote about the habit of stitching together leso, but this may already have become fashionable

by that time in Zanzibar, Tanzania. It is also said that in the early 1900s, a Muslim trader called Kaderdina Hajee Essak, whose family business is still operating in Mombasa, had the brainwave of printing kanga with Swahili proverbs. Wooden printing blocks replaced vegetables and kangas soon became popular throughout the Swahilispeaking region. Throughout Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi and into the Congo, you will find kangas that are designed not only to catch the eye with delightful colours and designs, but also to pass on messages. Kangas are also popular beyond the Swahili region and can be found in the Comoros Islands, Madagascar, Zambia and Malawi. Abdela left his home in Zanzibar in the 1970s to study at the London School of Fashion. Within a decade, his creations - which were inspired largely by West African fabric, were a hit with everyone from Mick Jagger to Princess Diana. “I was born in Zanzibar and wrapped in a kanga at birth,” he explains, adding, “On that occasion, tradition dictates that the kanga should be uncut and unhemmed to symbolise purity and protection for the newborn. Despite all this, it was only much later that I began to appreciate the complex world of the kanga.” Today, Abdela has a fascinating collection of kangas, with some of his finest pieces on display at the Emerson on Hurumzi Boutique Hotel in the tangled backstreets of his native Stone Town. One of his favourites is a historic piece printed with a gunboat and emblazoned with the slogan ‘Ahsante Bwana Churchill’ - thanking Winston Churchill for victory at the end of World War II. Another favourite is his mother’s bridal kanga, also from 1945, marked with the traditional ‘tangerine and crosses’ motif. “Only traditional wedding kangas, known as kisutu, or kangas that are used to wash a corpse, are usually left without slogans. Apart from these www.ngaaliinflightmag.com



exceptions, almost every kanga will come complete with a slogan,” he points out. Traditionally, a woman shows her wealth by the size of her kanga collection. In Stone Town’s old Darajani Market, you might see a woman wearing up to four kangas at a time. One kanga is worn as a skirt, one as a shawl, another to secure her baby on her back, and yet another rolled on her head to provide padding for a shopping basket; each kanga bearing a different slogan. A narrow alleyway leading westwards from the market opens into a colourful lane that the locals simply refer to as ‘Kanga Street’. It’s here that so many of the slogans (known as ujumbe or jina) are born and new patterns laid out. It’s hard to believe that Dilip Chavda’s cramped little office is the think-tank for Zanzibar’s kanga industry and that for 22 years, this has been a source of inspiration for countless designs. The Chavda family, who have come a long way since their Gujarati great-grandfather immigrated to East Africa as a labourer, now own the biggest kanga store in Zanzibar. Dilip slides his managerial swivel chair closer to a desk that holds three things; a box of children’s




coloured pencils, a notepad, and a radio. He is the fashion guru who dictates the haute-couture of Swahili women and spends his days sketching the designs that will appear throughout East Africa in the coming months. His work has even been acquired for the British Museum’s textile collection. After he has coloured his designs in, Dilip packages a batch to be couriered to a factory in Mumbai, where kangas are printed at a very affordable rate. Every three months, a container arrives with about 30 different designs that he says sell at about 300-400 Tanzanian Shillings each in his family’s four shops in Zanzibar. With retail prices ranging from 6,000 to 16,000 Tanzanian Shillings depending on size (approximately US$2.5 to US$7), many customers return frequently and wear Chavda designs daily. “Colour is not usually symbolic in kanga design,” says Dilip as he twiddles the purple pencil that is destined to dictate the fashion sense of next year’s kanga wearers. “However, at a wedding, the families of the bride and groom will often wear two different colour schemes, giving the effect of a soccer match. A bride will traditionally wear a red kanga but if she is

Bottom: Dilip Chavda (left) holds out one of his unique Kanga designs


“This is part of our heritage – a messaging system passed down through generations from woman to woman.” wearing yellow, it is an indication that she is a divorcee. It’s a way of avoiding social blunders.” Swahili women are skilled in the use of kangas as a sort of visual code, and an adolescent girl is traditionally shown how to use a kanga to the best effect by her mother or grandmother. There are ways in which a kanga can be used to attract a man or punish him. A husband might come home to find that his wife is wearing her kanga wrapped from right to left, signifying that she is in a romantic mood. Left to right means the opposite and a black-and-red polka dot kanga means that she is menstruating. There are also more obvious ways to read a kanga and to a Swahili woman, the slogan is more important than the design or colour scheme. While he draws, Dilip listens to the local radio station from which he gleans invaluable inspiration. “Many of the slogans we reprint are proverbs from generations back, but I constantly come up with new ones through something I hear in a conversation, an advert or a line from a song,” explains the kanga poet. It is fascinating that many of the Kiswahili slogans were the brainchild of an Indian Hindu, or sometimes one of the Muslim women who worked in the shop. One of the most charming things about the kanga is that it is delightfully multi-cultural and appeals to all religions. Mungu is a word that seems to appear on at least half of the kangas you see, whether on the city streets or inland among the Maasai manyattas (villages) of Kenya or Tanzania. It means ‘God’ but is equally appropriate to the religious sensibilities of Christians, Muslims or animists. Like the Kiswahili language which has an estimated 135 million speakers, kangas are a great unifying factor. The fact that Kenya and Tanzania have traditionally had relatively high literacy rates certainly led to increased popularity of captioned kangas, such that any Swahilispeaking visitor in the remotest villages had to only read the prevailing kanga slogans to get an idea of the current neighbourhood drama. Many slogans are blunt refutes to the neighbourhood gossips: ‘ADUI NI MDOMO WAKO’ (your lips are your enemy) reads one warning. ‘Jealousy is cold poison’ says another. Other slogans are aimed at potential love rivals: ‘UZURI WA MKE NI TABIA SIO SURA’ (a woman’s beauty is in her character, not her looks), and ‘Good or bad, he is mine’. Occasionally they carry social commentary such as warnings to outsiders (‘Don’t push in - Zanzibar is for

Zanzibaris’) or perhaps even a rare example when a wife might reverse the tables by presenting a football-themed kanga to her husband with the veiled threat ‘MCHEZA KWAO HUTUZWA’ (The one who plays at home is rewarded). Nadin Hadi and Javed Jafferji’s book Kanga Wisdom: A Collection of Kanga Sayings provides ample evidence that gossip seems to be a recurring theme: ‘Let’s love each other and leave bad people to gossip’; ‘Don’t be surprised with their gossip, it is their weakness’; ‘If you are a real talker why don’t you talk about yourself?’… Kangas are sold as a pair with two identical halves that must be cut apart and worn in different ways. Sometimes good friends will split a pair so that they can be seen in matching colours and echoed sayings. Another entertaining little booklet called Kangas: 101 Uses by Jeannette Hanby details several ways kangas are used including eight different evening gowns and more than a dozen swimsuits. Burberry’s 2011 ‘Out of Africa’ collection featured what Vogue described as kanga-style dresses and skirts but in general, kangas are only rarely adapted for contemporary use. Unlike Malaysian sarongs, Indonesian batiks and even the East African shuka blankets that are traditionally worn by Maasai warriors, kangas are rarely produced for the tourism market. Godbless Philemon, who has a little souvenir shop in Zanzibar’s Soko Muhogo Street, only occasionally makes and sells kanga dresses, dressing gowns or bags. “Few people seem to realise how appropriate it would be to take home a garment made from a kanga as a gift from Zanzibar,” he laments. He usually chooses another type of fabric known as vitenge, which is printed on rolls without slogans and is, surprisingly, produced in Holland. “In general, vitenge are more versatile since most foreigners don’t want their garments printed with incomprehensible Swahili sayings,” Philemon says. “When I started using kangas in my designs in the 1980s, it was simply because the fabric was attractive and vibrant. I was very surprised when some of the local women complained: 'How dare you?’ they said. ‘This is part of our heritage – a messaging system passed down through generations from woman to woman.’ The kanga is indeed something to be treasured and honoured; it’s much more than just a colourful cloth,” says international designer Abdela.




Mahogany Springs Lodge BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK Mahogany Springs is situated in one of the most intimate, secluded, beautiful, and most importantly, natural settings in the world – Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda. The mist covered hillsides of Bwindi are blanketed by one of Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests, a habitat for over 450 mountain gorillas, roughly half of the world’s population, including several habituated groups which can be tracked. Surrounded by over 300 sq. km of tropical rainforest, Mahogany Springs makes the most of its location, offering guests privacy and serenity in a spectacular setting. All 11 huge luxurious suites have their own exquisitely designed terrace with magnificent panoramic views over the forest, lodge gardens and Munyanga River, giving a feeling of total immersion in this lush rainforest. Being in the middle of the forest means gorilla families in the surrounding area often pay a visit to the lodge gardens, giving a surprise gorilla experience for guests. Spend the day tracking gorillas through the forest, engaging with the local community and tribes, or sitting on the terrace of your room listening to the sounds of the forest, and maybe the odd primate visitor as time slowly passes by. Mahogany Springs is open year-round and offers luxurious suites from $240 per person per night sharing, including all meals. Find out more at www.mahoganysprings.com








Elephant Plains Lodge QU EEN EL IZABET H NAT IONA L P A RK

Words by Adele Cutler


was intrigued on my visit to Queen Elizabeth National Park’s newest addition - Elephant Plains Lodge. This northern area of the park has such varied wildlife but is short of intimate international standard lodges. Outside of a handful in Kyambura Gorge Reserve, the only option in this area is Mweya Safari Lodge. I wasn’t disappointed when our guide pointed out Elephant Plains Lodge on the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains, almost exactly on the equator line. A ten-minute drive from the park gate, it overlooks Lake George and the Kasenyi Plains, where we had just observed a pride of lions enjoying the early evening sun. This area has fantastic game viewing, a huge number of grassland birds, and is a major breeding ground for the Uganda Kob, which readily attract lions and other big cats to the area. Set on 80 acres of pristine wilderness, nowhere else can you sleep closer to the equator. Accommodation is in 8 individual and 2 family cottages spread across the hillside, offering huge rooms and verandas that make the most of the views. The main area, restaurant and bar is very comfortable with lots of seating options. The spacious rooms are decorated in a modern style with an African twist, with large comfortable beds and a bathroom with twin sinks, and a bathtub with views over the plains. Travelling with a young family, we were given room 10 which was perfectly situated on its own, was the shortest walk from the main lodge and closest to the swimming pool, a welcome cool off from the equatorial heat. Located outside the national park, the kids could walk around freely, and the staff were always on hand offering refreshments. The spacious restaurant has an outside dining deck with 270-degree views. The deck overlooks a waterhole, where you can view all sorts of thirsty wildlife through the lens of the lodge’s mounted telescope as you enjoy fresh and hearty meals such as pan-fried lamb with sweet potato and a delicious homemade sweetcorn soup. The chef is happy to cater to all dietary needs and made the best homemade pizzas for the boys. At breakfast, opt for the ‘Elephant Plains’ plate to set you up for the day! For those choosing to fly in, the lodge is 40 minutes from Kasese Airstrip, but I’d always choose to travel by road. The scenery is stunning and around every corner is a new vista to enjoy. Elephant Plains has many positives - it’s great for families, extremely close to a variety of great activities, has fabulous views, and huge comfortable rooms. Its inclusive rate caters for meals, but drinks are extra, and the pool area would not be suitable for small children due to steep edges. Don’t miss the Kikorongo community visit, which can be arranged through the lodge. The lion tracking experience is a must-do. Elephant Plains Lodge is open year-round and costs from $230 per person per night, meals inclusive.












FATUMAH AshaWords and photos by Hassan Sentongo


Opposite page: Asha wearing one of her own designs

more than a fashion designer

etting an appointment with Fatumah Asha is no small feat; the designer only takes meetings on Saturdays. She spends the rest of the week designing, and prefers it when her prospective clients book an appointment three months in advance. When I finally score a meeting with her, I learn why she is so busy. Asha is the head designer of her eponymous label, Fatumahasha, which she founded in 2007. She is also a tutor at Tesi Fashion School, a fashion institution that she founded in 2018. When we meet at Le Chateau in Nsambya, she is wearing a tiny red T-shirt, navy blue jeans and heeled mules - her hair is short and dyed platinum blonde. Between her already busy schedule juggling two businesses, she is planning a graduation fashion show for her school. And going by her taste and meticulousness, it is expected to be nothing but a grand affair. “I never settle for less, I would like to create an event as spectacular as the clothes the students have created,” she says. Tesi Fashion School was created to offer the right knowledge on fashion, tapping into Asha’s enormous experience and expertise in the business. Africa’s fashion industry is said to be worth over $50bn, yet its potential hasn’t even been tapped into yet. In countries such as Nigeria and South

Africa where the population is more upwardly mobile, designers are thriving. In Uganda, the story is not a rosy one. “We have great talent here, all we need is to polish the skill a little more,” she explains. “Fashion education is very important to every designer, especially when they are looking to compete globally,” she continues. “There are many fashion schools here, but very few are in tune with the market demand.” Her brand Fatumahasha was born out of frustration. “Ugandans loved fashion, but they were not proud of the designs created by local designers. It was almost impossible to chance upon anyone that could proudly say they were wearing something designed and made in Uganda,” she recalls. Asha found out that Ugandans had the same sophisticated fashion taste and preferences as consumers everywhere in the world. Were they willing to pay for it? That was going to take some time, but since they were already importing and paying for good brands from abroad, the future was bright. Her brand creates custom designs for the modern African woman who has no qualms celebrating her beautiful shape. “My design process starts with picking out the best fabrics, paying attention to texture and colour. My fabrics are sourced from Uganda and the rest of the world like West Africa,




Egypt, Thailand, Taiwan, China, Turkey, and India.” Her offering goes from bridal and evening wear to casual outfits. Since she re-launched it in 2015, the brand has won the hearts of many Ugandan women. Asha describes the Fatumahasha woman as confident, high-spirited and very fashionable. To dress that kind of woman, you need to be as passionate and driven as possible, and Asha has built a career out of making women look and feel beautiful. She has managed to infuse the much needed excitement into an industry that had long yearned for it. Perhaps her most recognisable contribution is revolutionising the red carpet scene in Kampala. Before her, saying ‘I am wearing Fatumah Asha, made in Uganda’ was not common. Her approach to producing

exactly what women wanted set her apart as an extraordinary dressmaker. To me, it’s all about sharing this beautiful gift of art with the world. “Watching a woman's confidence shoot up just by slipping into a beautiful gown is enough satisfaction for me,” she says. “I am always looking for the beauty in everything; every woman deserves to enjoy the beauty of femininity- that is what my clothes do.” A few days later, we meet again. This time, she is wearing a printed spaghetti strap skater dress and a pair of white plimsolls. I ask if she is wearing her design, and she responds in the affirmative. I then ask what it feels like to pick her clothes off the rack to wear. “The fit doesn’t feel any different. I make sure that my finishing,


fitting and cutting is done right. The dresses drape the body the same way other clothes from other brands do. But I won’t deny it; the feeling is quite different when you made the dress.” Our conversation veers off to the students’ graduation fashion show she’s organising. One of her students, Clare Asiimwe, is already on her way to building a big brand called Bantu. In September this year, she won a mentorship course in Rome after a stunning presentation at the Italian Embassy in Kampala. She has already signed celebrity clients such as on-air personality Malaika Tenshi. “I’m so proud of her and every one of my students alike. My vision is to offer aspiring designers the skills and knowledge they need to compete at an international level,” she explains. “Every time I see them out there doing great things, I’m thrilled. It’s possible that that is my purpose on earth and I have fulfilled it.” The school is only in its infancy, so there are many more success stories she is going to make. Her latest offering for the holiday is a resort collection catering to brides who wish to look fashionable during their honeymoon. “The collection features breezy kimono dresses, swimsuits, kaftans, and large straw sunhats, all in floral prints. I have deep conversations with clients during appointments and fittings. That’s how I got the inspiration to create this collection,” she explains. During our chat, her phone beeps incessantly. I ask her how she makes it all work as a mother, businesswoman and wife - how does she balance her professional life with her life at home? “I don’t know,” she laughs, “I never know if I am doing the right thing or not every day is a lesson.”

I am always looking for the beauty in everything; every woman deserves to enjoy the beauty of femininity - that is what my clothes do.” www.ngaaliinflightmag.com



Mellow yellow! There’s an enchanting spirit that comes with yellow; it doesn’t matter what shade, hue or tone it is. As the standout colour trend of the season, expect to see lots of it, if you haven’t already. If you’re looking to spruce up your personal style and space, splash shades of the sunny colour all over. Need a recommendation? Softer shades of banana and lemon are a good start.

Hair Clip – Tsenke Art Market, Dancing Cup Restaurant, Plot 71, Luthuli Avenue, Bugolobi

Vintage Bicycle – Bold Home, between The Bistro & Sky Lounge, Kisementi Mules – Sashz Closet, Garden City Mall Basement Matrix Sunglasses – Sashz Closet, Garden City Mall Basement

Leather Jacket - ICONIC UG, Senana Mall Basement Made in Kampala – Abryanz Collection, Garden City Mall

Allstar Sneakers – ICONIC UG, Senana Mall Basement




If you’ve got a trip coming up, rather than download apps you may never use, start with these 10 great travel apps.


rom the time you start thinking about your next destination, to the moment your feet hit the welcome mat back home, having the right Android and iPhone apps on hand can make the experience smoother and less stressful. The following apps are some of the best and worth downloading to your phone before your next trip.

1. LoungeBuddy

There’s no need to be jealous of frequent travellers who have airport lounge access through their membership status or a high-flying credit card. With the LoungeBuddy app, you can find lounges in airports that let anyone in for a fee. LoungeBuddy lets you know not only the fee, but also what you can expect inside, from the food and drink to whether there are showers. And if you happen to have lounge membership through other means, the app can often tell you that, too. It is available for Android and iOS.

2. AirHelp

Your flight could be delayed, overbooked or cancelled. When this happens, AirHelp will help you find


out if you are eligible to file a claim for your flight inconvenience. With a few taps of your fingers, you could find out if you are entitled to up to $700 in compensation, which goes a long way in soothing the sting of a bad day at the airport. With Airhelp, you can check eligibility, file and track your claim, and even collect your compensation. In addition, the app is an invaluable resource for travellers who want to know their rights as passengers and what they are entitled to when things go wrong. From learning what the law covers to knowing what to do when your luggage gets lost, AirHelp puts the answers right at your fingertips. It is available for both iOS and Android.

3. Google Translate

Ok, so it might not be teaching you a new language directly, but it is undoubtedly my personal go-to. If you come across words you don’t understand but want to learn, it’s as simple as pointing the camera at the text and getting a translation. Not sure what’s on the menu? Type it in. Need to get a sentence out to a local that you really don’t know? Let it speak it out for you. Literally, the best thing since sliced bread! It is available for both iPhone and Android.


4. Airbnb

Airbnb started by connecting travellers with people who had rooms, apartments, homes, and other accommodations to rent. The site now offers much more, including tours, classes, workshops and restaurant reservations. Whether you use Airbnb to find a place to sleep or for inspiration about what to do on your next trip, you’re guaranteed to see big, beautiful photographs of it all.

5. Skyscanner

This app will make planning and booking your trips easy. Compare cheap flights, hotels and car hire, and book your whole trip in one travel app. The app will even watch flight prices on your favourite routes and let you know as soon as they change. And there are no booking fees or hidden charges – just the lowest prices.

6. HotelTonight

HotelTonight is an online travel app that allows users to find discounted hotel accommodations throughout the Americas, Europe and Australia. HT has relationships with hotels around the world and has grown rapidly. When these hotels need to fill rooms for the night, they offer up availability to HT. And because it’s so last minute, HT can list these rooms at very discounted rates of up to 70% off the rack rate. When you log onto the app, HT uses a special algorithm to show you the absolute best deals/ hotels for that night. It is available for iOS and Android.

8. OpenRice

This is a food and restaurant guide app that operates in China, Malaysia, Japan, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. It works a lot like TripAdvisor or Yelp. People review restaurants they attend, make lists and rate both the service and the food. And before you point out the potential language barrier of an app made for countries that use entirely different alphabets than the Latin one, OpenRice can be used in six different languages. It is available for Android and iOS.

9. Detour

This app offers immersive audio walks. Using your GPS signal, it will guide you through the world’s most interesting places, with the people that know them best telling you all about them via your headphones. Detour uses GPS to keep your selected narrator in sync with your location. This means that you can look at what is around you rather than staring at your screen. Detour can be a solo or social experience – in fact it is the world’s first social audio tour you can sync Detour with friends for a shared experience! Detour is available for iOS and Android.

10. Trail Wallet

A go-to app for keeping track of funds whilst travelling, this app allows you to track all your spending on one central hub. Trail Wallet can track multiple trips and convert currencies automatically on each entry. It was created by travel bloggers and is currently used by over 150,000 travellers because it’s easy to navigate. We like how the app is usable offline, and the comprehensive summary screen that tells you all you need to know about your budget. Trail Wallet is available for iOS.

7. TripIt

TripIt is a super handy kit which will even auto scan your emails and compile all your travel plans into one place. If you are a frequent traveller or travel a lot for business, this can become a super handy PA in your pocket. The free version is excellent for the average person planning a trip, but if you are often on the road, the business upgrade will make things much more comfortable.

11: Couchsurfing

This app allows you to stay in people’s homes or offer up your own couch for somebody to crash on. This helps you to connect with like-minded local people who know the area better than you, or get to meet interesting travellers and show them your city. The best feature here is the low cost (and often 100% free!) way of staying in expensive cities.





packing list


Lightweight jacket for late nights and early mornings.



Sunglasses: The sun on your safari has the potential to be brutal! Buy a quality pair of polarising sunglasses.

Sunblock: The higher the SPF, the better!





Sandals: Flip flops or slides to wear around camp at night.

Binoculars: Although most safari guides have a pair or two of extra binoculars, you don’t want to count on them lest you miss out on some amazing views.

Compression stockings for extra comfort; they help your veins and leg muscles move blood more efficiently, keeping it from stagnating.


Zip-off pants: Convertible pants save space and are super convenient. Start the cool morning with full pants and as the day warms up, remove the zip-off legs.


Insect repellent to keep mosquitoes and bugs away


Travel Health Don’t let sickness stifle your travel plans. Here are tips to keep you in good health while in Uganda. Yellow fever health card A must for most African nations, get these from your doctor, and don’t wait until the last minute! Aside from vaccinations, don’t forget your necessary medications. According to the CDC, yellow fever vaccination is required to enter Uganda if you are travelling from a country with risk of transmission. First aid kit Out in the wilderness, the nearest town could be hours or even days away. This means catching a cold could turn into a miserable experience. That is why it’s important to pack some cough drops, Sudafed, diarrhoea medication, Aspirin, Dramamine, and allergy medication. You don’t need to bring a full first aid kit, as most lodges and guides have their own. Simply think about the first aid medications you may need if you start feeling sick. Prescriptions Before you start your trip, make sure you have all your necessary prescriptions. You don’t want the hustle that comes with refilling a prescription while travelling. Furthermore, check with your travel agent to find out if malaria medication should be on your list.

Weather Calendar Best time to visit Uganda month by month: January to February This is one of the two best seasons out of the year to visit Uganda because this is considered a dry season with little to no rainfall. It is a popular time for trekking mountain gorillas and chimpanzees as well as birdwatching and viewing a variety of wildlife. March to May This is when the Uganda climate changes to one of the wet seasons. Some rains can be heavy, causing flooding and road inaccessibility. However, if you don’t mind the rain, you could save money during this time with reduced accommodation rates. You will also appreciate the lush scenery and abundance of migratory birds during this period. June to August Another dry season, this period is one of the best times to visit for wildlife viewing. It is possible that you could see some rains during these months, but it most likely will not ruin your itinerary. September to October While you can expect rainfall during these months, you should still be able to enjoy excellent opportunities to view wildlife.

Hand sanitiser Why not protect yourself as much as possible? Getting sick is tough, but getting sick on a safari could be a nightmare. There are times when clean water for hand washing may not be available, so hand sanitiser will come in handy.

November November is when you may experience heavy rain showers turning the landscape green again. This is another good time to see migratory birds.

Sleep aids A good night’s sleep is important to fully enjoy your time on a safari. If you have a problem falling or staying asleep in new places, bring what you need. This could be Melatonin, Z-Quil, Ambien, or any legal sleep aid.

December December is when the rains slack off and temperatures start to rise along with gorilla tracking rates. If you can’t stand the heat, December may present a better month to visit than January and February.




Africa’s Little Five The term Little Five was brought to life after the marketing success of the Big Five for tourist safaris in Southern Africa. This prompted a call by nature conservationists for visitors to acknowledge the smaller - less noticed - but still enigmatic animals of the savannah (called bushveld in South Africa). These “little five” species are a sheer contrast in terms of relative size to the animals which they share a part of their English name with - the more well known “big five”.

The Red-Billed Buffalo Weaver There are three species of buffalo weaver - the white-headed, white-billed and redbilled buffalo weavers. They can grow up to 9.5 inches/ 24 centimetres in length and are the easiest among the Little Five to find as they are very noisy. They are common to Eastern and Southern Africa and their natural habitat is the dry savannah. The red-billed buffalo weaver is even known to prey on scorpions.

The Elephant Shrew Arguably the cutest of the Little Five, the elephant shrew is a small, long nosed insect-eating mammal. They can grow up to 12 inches/30 centimetres and have relatively long legs. They are common to Southern Africa, but seldom seen because they are very shy. Their name derives from a perceived resemblance between their long noses and the trunk of an elephant.

The Rhinoceros Beetle These curious-looking creatures are named for their body armour and for the hooked horn that graces the head of the male. Despite their large size and ferocious appearance, they are completely harmless to humans. In proportion to their body weight, rhinoceros beetles are amongst the ​strongest creatures in the world. They have wings, but their large size makes efficient flight difficult. Spotting them is equally tricky since they are only active at night.

The Leopard Tortoise They are named for their unique goldand-black markings, which roughly bear a resemblance to the spots of a leopard. They are common to the savannahs of Eastern and Southern Africa, from Sudan to the Southern Cape. Leopard tortoises are usually solitary and can often be spotted on quiet roads. Although typically much smaller, some leopard tortoises can grow up to 39 inches/ 100 centimetres in length, making this species the fourth-largest of the world’s tortoises.


The Antlion There are about 2,000 species of this insect found not just in Africa but the worldover. When they’re in their larval stage, they are fearsome looking ‘beasts’ with hairy, obese bodies and sharp sickle-shaped jaws. The larvae are unique for their famously savage temperament, which mirrors that of their lion counterparts.


Curious about

Chameleons Did you know? Small species chameleons can lay two to four eggs while larger ones lay 80 to 100 eggs at one time. Most lay eggs in a hole in the ground. Some incubate the eggs in their bodies and have live babies. Chameleons are solitary animals. Forced or unwanted handling can cause hissing and biting. A chameleon’s bite is painful but not toxic or harmful to humans. Chameleons are common in Africa in Madagascar, Asia and Southern Europe. The largest ones grow almost 2 feet long. The smallest one is smaller than your thumb! Special colour pigment cells under the skin called chromatophores allow some chameleon species to change their skin colour, creating combined patterns of pink, blue, red, orange, green, black, brown, yellow and purple. Chameleons change colour for camouflage but this is not always the main reason. Some show darker colours when angry, or when trying to scare others off. When a chameleon is cold, it will become darker in colour. Dark colours attract heat better than light ones. A chameleon’s eyes can rotate and focus separately on 180-degree arcs, so they can see two different objects at the same time. This gives them a full 360- degree field of vision. Chameleons’ actual eyesight is great, they can see small insects 5-10 metres away. They can also see in both visible and ultraviolet light. Chameleons have a lightning-fast tongue. It flashes out up to 26 times the length of its body to snatch insects. The tongue moves so fast that it is a blur. Chameleons are not deaf but they do not have ear openings.





Expansion map




I love collecting memories of iconic locations in Africa. For that reason, the Source of the Nile would be my most cherished place in Uganda. I set out to see and know everything about the Nile. I have visited the Nile Delta in Alexandria, cruised on the Nile in Egypt and Sudan, and done the confluence at Khartoum, so the exhilaration of touching the source waters of the mighty Nile River is something to treasure forever. Hanging out later at Namugongo Shrine though sad, is still a collectors moment for me. The food and the warm people always leave me with memories that I want to indulge frequently but the Jinja experience tops it all.”


Ikechi is a Nigerian travel business

consultant, travel promoter, tourism

development expert, media consultant,

journalist and author. He is the patron of

Akwaaba African Travel Market, the only international travel fair in West Africa.



Lizzie is a reputed guidebook

The best way to know what to expect of a destination is to seek what the experts say. Here are three travel experts who have visited Uganda several times and what they think about it.

writer and author of the Footprint guides to South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and

Zimbabwe. She has visited Uganda multiple times.


Carmen is an avid traveller and prolific East

African tourism policy analyst with over 20 years’ experience in the hotel and tourism industry in Africa and Europe. She is a graduate of

Clemson University where she pursued a PhD in Tourism Policy.


Most of the superlative descriptions you read about Uganda are totally true, and it really is a place of shimmering lakes, lofty mountains and mysterious forests. Best known as the place to see mountain gorillas, no safari to the country should exclude this magnificent experience. I’ve seen other primates too at Kibale, where I’ve chased chimpanzees at high speed through the forest, and on Ngamba Island, where I’ve had the rare opportunity to see chimps wade into Lake Victoria. In Jinja, there’s the opportunity to go white-water rafting among many other adventure activities at the source of the Nile, and Kampala with its mind-boggling matatu stands and colourful markets offers a fascinating insight into typical African street life.”

What makes Uganda truly special is the vibrant life of its city, Kampala. Kampala is blessed with lots of historical attractions like the Uganda Museum - a custodian of antiques and royal regalia that dates back over 400 years, and national heritage sites like Buganda’s royal palace. In Kampala, you never get bored because there is so much to do from morning to night. There are lots of multi-cultural restaurants with great food. No matter your budget for nightlife, there is an entertainment hub that will charm you. Away from Kampala, Uganda has lots of routes that are perfect for road trips, thanks to the astonishing scenery en route. I love the drive from the city to Jinja District. It has pleasant sights of rolling hills with vast tea and sugar cane plantations. Then there is Mabira, a tropical rainforest with abundant species of flora and fauna. ”


Our best travel book recommendations Seeking inspiration for your next trip to Africa? Pick up a book, be it a biography, historical page-turner or mesmerising novel. Our top Africa travel books all feature irresistible African settings and protagonists (real and fictionalised) who show tremendous passion, resilience and humanity in the face of adversity. We bet you’ll want to get on that plane to these destinations before you’ve turned the last page! THE IMPENETRABLE FOREST: MY GORILLA YEARS IN UGANDA, REVISED EDITION

By Thor Hanson Lying in the remote hills of Southwestern Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest harbours elephants, chimpanzees, monkeys, and half the world’s population of endangered mountain gorillas. For two years, Thor Hanson called that forest home, working with local guides and trackers to develop an ecotourism program for the newly formed Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Thoroughly researched and beautifully told, Hanson’s story blends natural history with cultural insight to place the forest and gorillas in the context of modern Africa, and offers a rare glimpse into the world of mountain gorillas, and the human cultures that surround them.


By Nicholas Drayson Never judge a book by its cover (or so they say) and in this case quite literally, for A Guide to the Birds of East Africa is actually a novel – and a very good one at that. Set against a lush Kenyan landscape, the book features Mr. Malik, who has been secretly in love with Rose Mbikwa, a woman leading the weekly bird walks sponsored by the East African Ornithological Society. When an old rival arrives on the scene, a fierce bird spotting competition ensues, the prize being the privilege of asking Ms Mbikwa to a prestigious ball. A fine read for all Kenya fans and a firm feature on our top Africa travel books list.


By Nadifa Mohamed On the eve of the Civil War in the late 1980s, two women and a girl in Hargeisa, Northwestern Somalia, find themselves caught in the turbulence as their lives intersect. In this story of conflict and survival, events unfold through the eyes of Deqo, a nine-yearold orphan born and raised in a refugee camp, who ran away and is now cared for by prostitutes; Kawsar, an elderly grieving widow bedridden after being beaten at a police station; and Filsan, a zealous young soldier from Mogadishu, here to help suppress the growing rebellion against the dictatorship. All three are wrestling with memories of lost loved ones.




Guide Welcome to the Pearl!

GETTING AROUND 1.Transfer to the city/your hotel Thanks to reliable Internet at the airport, it's possible for you to order an Uber ride to your next destination in Kampala or Entebbe. If you are in a hurry, you can take advantage of the availability of the many cabs at the airport whose drivers are always stationed at the arrivals terminal, ready for a win-win bargain with travellers. 2.Visa Visitors to Uganda must have a valid visa in accordance with national immigration laws, guidelines and formalities. Uganda visas can now be obtained online at https://visas.immigration. go.ug/ Alternatively, you may obtain the visa at Uganda's missions abroad or on arrival at the ports of entry around the country’s borders. The costs of visas are as follows: Single entry $50 per individual, multiple entry visa 6-12 months $100 and East African tourist visas cost $50. Accompany your application documents with a valid yellow fever certificate. For more information, visit https://visas. immigration.go.ug/ 3. Nationals who don’t need visas Nationals of the following countries don’t need visas when visiting Uganda: COMESA (Angola, Eritrea, Malawi, Madagascar, Seychelles, Swaziland, Zambia, Comoros, Kenya, Mauritius, Zimbabwe and Botswana), East Africa (Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi), others (Antigua, Barbados, Fiji, Grenada, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, The Grenadines, Vanuatu, Ghana, Cyprus, Bahamas, Belize, Gambia, Jamaica, Malta, Singapore, St. VincentTonga and Ireland).

IMPORTANT CONTACTS EMERGENCY CONTACTS Uganda Ambulance Services: Mob +256782556878 Medical flight evacuations: Mob Aero Club, Fly Uganda Mob +256772712557 Uganda Police: Emergency 999/112. UPF Headquarters +256414233814; +256414250613. Department of Immigration: Mob +256414595945 OTHER CONTACTS Uganda Wildlife Authority (manages national parks): +256414355000/+256312355000 Uganda Tourism Board: +256414342196/7


GENERAL INFORMATION VOLTAGE The primary wall outlet type is Type G (BS-1363). Voltage is 220-240 volts AC @ 50 Hz. Laptops and gadgets in general have chargers that are already compatible with 100-240 volts. If yours is higher or lower, you will need a simple plug adapter. The recommended adapter for a Type G outlet is #EA7. SECURITY Uganda’s towns are safe to visit any time of the year. This development has been achieved through effective collaboration of the different security organs like the army (Uganda People’s Defence Forces), Uganda Police and Tourism Police. That said, like any other city, Kampala too has its share of trouble makers. It is thus not advisable to walk alone in isolated areas, especially at night. WATER It is safer to drink boiled or bottled water. The average price of bottled water is Shs1,000 per 500ml. TRANSPORT The easiest and fastest way to get around cities is bodaboda rides; a motorbike mode of transportation that offers taxi services - each is limited to carrying one passenger. The most professional service provider in this case is Uber Boda, Safe Boda and Taxify, all of which can be accessed via their mobile phone applications. If you prefer using vehicles/cabs and wish to avoid traffic, the recommended time for travel is 6am to 8am, 10am to12pm and 3pm to 5pm. LANGUAGE Uganda is home to over 50 ethnic groups, the majority of whom speak the national language, English. If you wish to get interpreters of foreign languages, visit the website of your country’s high commission / embassy in Kampala. FINANCIAL TRANSACTIONS The most used currency is Uganda Shillings, the national currency. Tourist areas and facilities accept foreign currencies too, particularly US dollars. Cash is the preferred means of transaction in Uganda. Credit cards are less dependable because of unreliable internet connection in some areas. FOREX The foreign exchange rates at forex bureaus are more favourable than those at banks. The main street of most towns is where you will find the highest concentration of forex bureaus. In Kampala, go to Jinja-Kampala road. BANKING AND OFFICE HOURS Most commercial banks and corporate offices operate from 8am to 5pm on weekdays and 9am to 12pm on Saturdays. Most don’t open on Sundays.

A view of Kampala City by night

We will not stop at that. As we progress, we will introduce innovative technologies

and features that will change the African financial services space as you know it. Some

of the features we have planned include but are not limited to; personal loans, travel insurance payments, bill splitting, virtual debit cards and group savings. We do not

plan on taking on this burden alone. We will create a financial services marketplace

where other innovative startups can sell their products and services to our customers. For example, we are finalising a deal to introduce personal loans in-app provided by

one of Africa’s leading banks.

Most of all, as we increase our capacity, we will introduce USSD (offline) channels

for those that do not have access to smartphones or the Internet on the continent.

We believe everyone should have access to easy and affordable financial services.

Our experience in the financial technology sector has given us an advantage in

understanding the regulatory landscape. We have put together a team to work with regulators across the continent and ensure compliance.


Over the past several months, we have been building the platform. Our engineers

in Kampala, New Delhi, Nairobi and Paris have endured many sleepless nights to

work in sync and bring this dream to life. We have implemented worldclass security

to ensure our client data and transactions are protected. In the few months since the launch, we’ve garnered 30,000 installs and transferred millions of dollars. Our users love our exchange rates, speed and simple design.

Search for “Eversend” in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store to install and

join the payments revolution. Say goodbye to expensive currency exchange and

money transfer.

A new way to exchange, manage and send your money We’ve embarked on a big mission: to create a better

way for people to manage and access their money. The

idea is a product of our experience founding and running

microcredit and remittance companies over the years. We realised that people on the African continent need better

options of sending money from one country to another. We

kept getting questions from remitters who wanted to move

money from Uganda to Kenya, Rwanda to Tanzania, Nigeria

to Ghana.

Today, the easiest way for the average individual to

achieve this is by using their bank or a brick and mortar

money transfer company. The bank will charge $80 in fees to

transfer $200 – although you probably think you are paying

$30 due to hidden fees. Brick and mortar money transfer

companies will charge 12–22% (Source: Send Money Africa

report 2016 — African Union, Africa Institute of Remittances). We believe there’s something inherently wrong with

that and we are going to change it. Eversend has developed powerful technology in terms of security and access. We

have launched our Android and iOS applications and the

reception has been great. Currently, our users can send

money to Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania with plans

to add Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Egypt in the near future.

Transfers on Eversend are instant.

We have also added a currency exchange feature to avoid

exorbitant airport money exchange shops. All you have to do is add money to your Eversend wallet from mobile money or

VISA and Mastercard, exchange it into another currency in

the app and send it to mobile money platforms in any of our recipient countries.

Stone Atwine is a Paris-based Ugandan entrepreneur. He is the Co-founder and CEO of Eversend.


With 144 rooms, an outdoor swimming pool, a health club, conference facilities, 3 restaurants, 3 bars, laundry services, a business center, gardens with a natural ambience, Lake Victoria Hotel - Entebbe is a fitting choice for a retreat away from the bustle and noise of the city. Day Friday Saturday Friday - Sunday Daily

Offer Show-cooking with live Band BBQ Dinner Weekend offer on accommodation Drought Beer – buy 2 get 1 free, from 6pm

Price Ugx 60,000 with a soda Ugx 60,000 with a soda $140 double, $100 single Ugx 16,000 for 3 beers

Plot 23/31 Circular Road | P. O Box 15, Entebbe | Tel: +256 312 310 100/+256 414 351 600 Email: reservations@lvhotel.co.ug


Care and Prudence We welcome you to Arcadia Suites Hotel Kampala, where our service crafts an authentic and memorable experience. Being an All Suite Luxury Boutique Hotel with uniquely designed suites that provide quality of warm and genuine hospitality. We are centrally located in Kololo near the CBD area, malls and restaurants. We always ensure our team is close at hand to assist you in every possible way.

Follow | Like | Share

Plot 54A Kira Road, Kampala - (U) (Oppsite the National Museum)

+256 417 333 400 | +256 759 845 563


Across 17 African Nations and still expanding.

Burundi I Eritrea I Egypt I Ghana I Kenya I Madagascar I Malawi I Sénégal I Somalia Somaliland I Sudan I Tanzania I Zambia I Zimbabwe

NEWS Gorilla population in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park increases from 400-450 25,000 years ago, nature blessed Uganda with a pristine rainforest on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley, now known as Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Over time, it has flourished into a jungle with one of the most diverse floras in East Africa. This in turn has favoured the population growth of its mountain gorillas, the most gigantic primate species in the world. Dr Gladys Kalema, a powerhouse primatologist based in Uganda, estimates that their population by 1950 was over 700 individuals. “Due to many setbacks like uncontrolled poaching, this number reduced to near extinction. By 1990, it had dropped to less than 280, thereby rendering them critically endangered,” says Dr Kalema. To turn things around, the Ugandan Government gazetted 331Km2 of this tropical highland in 1994, and strengthened laws and systems meant to protect the gorillas. Results of the year-long joint census that was carried out in 2019 by 8 Government and private organisations at the forefront of gorilla conservation show that the hard work is starting to pay off. According to the report which was released on 16th December 2019 at Kampala Serena Hotel, the gorilla population in Bwindi now stands at 459 individuals compared to 400 as per the 2011 census, and 302 as per the 2006 census. “This means Bwindi is now endowed with 43% of the world’s surviving population of mountain gorillas - the overall current population is 1068,” observes Dr Andrew Seguya. Seguya is the Executive Director of the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC), a conservation organisation established by the governments of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); the only countries in the world with gorillas. While the majority of the 459 belong to 50 groups, 13 are solitary individuals. “The big news is that Bwindi is still a top gorilla trekking destination since it has up to 18 habituated families compared to Rwanda’s 10 in Volcanoes National Park, and 8 habituated families in Congo’s Virunga National Park,” says Sam Mwandha, Executive Director of Uganda Wildlife Authority. 122 NG'AALI JANUARY - MARCH 2020

Uganda is the official host of the 2020 World League Cricket Challenge 2020 will be a historical year in Uganda’s sports sector. Uganda Cricket Association has been awarded the right to host the second round of the Challenge League Group B. The event, which will be held at Lugogo Cricket Oval between July 29th and August 8th 2020, is being foreseen by the Challenge League which was created in 2018 to replace the World Cricket Challenge League. This is the second time Uganda is being entrusted with hosting a major ICC event. The first time was in 2017 when Uganda successfully organised the World Challenge League. On the other hand, Malaysia will host the ICC Challenge League A from March 14th to 27th, 2020. To facilitate the country’s victory in the 2020 WCL match, Uganda’s national team of 16 players has travelled to Zimbabwe for a build-up tour. They will play five ODIs against select sides in Zimbabwe. The event is to be hosted by Takashinga Cricket Club, with whom Uganda Cricket Association has had a healthy sports relationship for a long time.

Uganda Airlines set to start flights to Zambia and Zimbabwe Uganda Airlines is set to start direct flights from Entebbe to Lusaka and Entebbe to Harare by the end of February 2020. This follows the successful launch of direct flights to Mombasa and Dar es Salaam in November 2019, and Zanzibar in December 2019. The development is an effort to add value to travellers who currently spend 5-7 hours on indirect flights to the two countries; it will take passengers less than four hours with the national carrier, which has been in operation since August 2019. This will be the 8th and 9th route of Uganda Airlines. Deo Nyanzi, Uganda Airlines’ Head of Marketing and Sales, observes that they are banking on such new routes to help boost trade and tourism among these countries. As is currently the case with flights to Mombasa, Dar Es Salaam, and Zanzibar, the new Southern Africa routes will have three flights per week. In agreement with Nyanzi, Andrew Tumusiime, Head of Administration at Uganda Airlines, observes that Tourism is Uganda’s biggest foreign earner. The airline hopes to capitalise on the flights to bring visitors on holiday to Uganda’s national parks after their visits to iconic places like Victoria Falls.

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Ng'aali Inflight Magazine v2.  

Uganda Airlines official Inflight Magazine version two. Hope you enjoy.

Ng'aali Inflight Magazine v2.  

Uganda Airlines official Inflight Magazine version two. Hope you enjoy.