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Bunyaruguru dispatch: When a nation’s crème de la crème is sucked into witchcraft

By Aggrey Nshekanabo

About two years ago, I was invited by a friend to think about climbing the Rwenzoris before I am 45 years. The last time, I thought about climbing the Rwenzori when I was contacted by a UK based client cum friend through our boutique travel agency; www.kyamburasafaris.com. In late 2000s I attended a press conference at the Uganda Wildlife Authority boardroom where a foreign investor was launching the Southern trail to the Rwenzoris at Kilembe. So when this call came through, I contacted the said investor. The cost was in the region of Ush.9M! My client I think chose to travel to Indonesia for a similar experience! And so, I was thrilled when I was invited to be part of the Crazy Summitters.

Crazy summitters I should say is a community of persons who just love a good walk and are crazy about summitting different mountains. While we came together to ace the Rwenzoris, by end of this month, 29 out of a community of 163 will have summitted the Rwenzoris. In between, other mountains have been summitted including Mgahinga, Muhabura and Sabinyo, Kirimanjaro and Elgon.

However, to climb the Rwenzoris, one has got to walk 45km of the now 21 hills of Kampala. I have done this Kampala trek 4 times now. This corresponds with the 3 groups that have already summitted and the fourth; the Trinity team on its way up to the peak of Rwenzori. The 45km walk starts at Naalya Motel through Kyaliwajjala, Kireka, Kinawataka, Bugolobi, Industrial Area, Namuwongo, Kabalagala, Nsambya, Makindye, Katwe, Ring Road, Kabak’Anjaggala, Lubaga, Mengo-Lungujja, Nakulabye, Makerere, Wandegeya, Mulago, Kamwokya, Kololo Hill, Airstrip, Lugogo by-pass, Naguru, Ntinda-Stretcher, Kyambogo road, Kaduyu Road, Kigoowa-Kiwaatule, down Naalya round-about and up Naalya market, down Shell Naalya and back to Naalya Motel!

With this trek, one is tested by the many distractions along the route and several obstacles, sneers and discouragement. The purpose of this walk is to test one’s resilience. One moment it is raining and in another, it is as hot. The clothes that were soaked by the rain will dry on your body by the sun. Along the way, a bond is created and eventually the team gels. It does not matter who walks faster or slower. Eventually, you all have got to reach. There are exceptions. For example, one may trip over an uneven road and sprain their ankle. That may mark the end of the journey.

The shoe may hurt or one may develop a blister. A knee may give way or the inner thighs may get bruised. But what is important is completing the journey. And that is inculcated in the summitters. That there are so many obstacles on the Rwenzoris but the ultimate prize is reaching the peak.

The reasons for one’s summitting are as diverse as they can get. Some people are simply crazy. And indeed, we found there was some craziness about us and thus the name. This was a name that was debated and agreed upon. You can only be crazy to walk the streets of Kampala in their ugliness but in all this there is a revelation. A lot has been revealed to us especially the need to stick together for a purpose that is greater than the thrill of summitting.

These crazy summitters have walked to Jinja; yes, walked and rode to Jinja for a cause. We are talking about 80km in a day. The 3 that made it on foot spent about 13 hours and the riders took about 4 hours. It can only get crazier. We have also raised money for the needy to enjoy some Christmas; random crazy things.
On these walks however, there is a lot that is revealed about Kampala. And I will stick to the 5km walk between Kololo Hill road and Ntinda Stretcher.

On the different Poles were different A4 size adverts of witchdoctors from Ssese, Tanzania, Bunyoro, Busoga announcing their services. These adverts are well written in English. We never got to see such in Kinawataka or Namuwongo. But every pole in was plastered with these adverts about; success in business, love gone bad, returning a lover that has eloped, manhood enlargement, increasing one’s juiceness and so many things that border on witchcraft than spirituality. Let’s face it, Kololo is where Crème de la Crème of Uganda reside.

Why would one of the kind need the services of Ssenga Musanyusa (bringer of happiness) or Mutuula ku Ngo (the one that sits on the back of a leopard)? No wonder around Sonde, a shrine sits just across a church and it is said that the Pastor of a church and the witchdoctor were one Sunday involved in a scuffle. Every Sunday, the pastor would see people go to the shrine and would shout at them using his megaphone inviting them to his church instead. The witchdoctor could no longer take it in. He walked up to the Pastor in the middle of a summon and boxed him in the stomach.
And they fought.

The witchdoctor was overheard saying; “Tonyingirira mu bizinesi yange. Siggwe agenda kuliisa baana bange. Kola bibyo nange nkole byange. Nvira ku ba kasitoma;” meaning, do not interfere in my business, you will not look after my children. Do your things but leave my clients;”

It would therefore, be foolhardy for these witchdoctors to be advertising their services in Kololo if they didn’t find a ready market there. Probably this has been a neglected market segment that has been desirous of their services but could not come to the ghetto where these witchdoctors have been plying their trade and have thus decided to bring services closer to the people. I remember one such witchdoctor at Old Kira Road famously known as Kitambala (one with a white cloth). He hosted the clients who during day take the front sits in Kampala churches and appeared in the prime news. I at that time operated a telephone booth at Valley View where there was a night parking yard. These top citizens would hope jump and step in the back-waters of Kamwokya to seek the services of Kitambala.

I want to think that I am wrong to believe that our underdevelopment as a people and as a nation is spiritual than anything else. We have blamed colonialism and the West generally for so long.

Aggrey Nshekanabo is a retired journalist and the team leader at www.kyamburasafaris.com, the proprietors of Naalya Motel. Email: aggrey@kyamburasafaris.com

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