By Dennis Muhumuza
According In 1908, Uganda was famously christened the Pearl of Africa by Sir Winston Churchill because of the mesmerizing natural endowments that saturate it. From Kigezi’s rolling hills and slaloming bends that have earned it comparison with the Swiss alps, to the 1,056 different bird species, not forgetting the famous mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park, to the inland waterways and boat trips, or game drives in places like Serengeti National Park, to bungee jumping near the source of the Nile, our biodiversity is simply unrivalled. Factor in the hospitable weather all year through and the friendliness of our people, and you know why Uganda is certainly the Eden of tourism.
Yet not even $1.4 billion that the country gets from the tourism industry annually is enough. The wells of tourism in Uganda if well exploited have the potential of propelling this country to middle-income status. Like God told Abraham to lift his eyes from the place where he was to northward, southward, eastward, and westward so that every land he saw would be his and descendants forever, we too have to pray that the scales fall from our eyes so that we can see clearly the incredible tourism potential and tap it for the greater good of this nation.
It’s a progressive thing that the government is no longer focusing on our majestic mountains like Mount Elgon or the imposing rocks like Tororo Rock to attract tourists. Coming out to promote our novelties such as the rolex is a step in the right direction. For the uninitiated, the rolex has no connection with the classic Swiss chronometer but is simply a snack made out of fried eggs and rolled into a chapatti. It sounds simple but there’s a science in the way its mixed that makes it so yummy that the corporate and proletariat alike cannot go a day or two without feasting on this delicacy. No wonder the potential of the rolex birthed the Kampala Rolex Festival, now an annual event in its third year. CNN and other international media houses have as well been blown away by the rolex; giving it premium coverage, consequently wooing many foreigners to this culinary masterpiece.
The rolex has continued to inspire much creativity to the extent that during the recent Entebbe Tourism Festival, a gigantic rolex was made using 100 eggs, 5kg of wheat flour, 6kg of tomatoes, 5kg of onions, two litres of cooking oil and 2kg of cabbage. Prepared by eight chefs, that rolex measured 5.4 metres, making it a unique creation deserving a page in the Guinness Book of World Records. The fact that it was made at a hotel in Entebbe that is part of the American chain of 4,200 hotels in over 100 countries worldwide means that our unique snack is taking the fast-foods industry by storm and could itself promote Uganda as the world’s rolex epicenter, thereby inspiring many tourists to visit and participate in the rolex festival, consequently leaving our tourism coffers heaving with foreign currencies!
Another tourism magnet is the cultural industry. Uganda’s multi-ethnicity translates to distinct cultural practices that are fast pulling foreigners. Already, the Imbalu circumcision ritual previously despised and abhorred as primitive is already attracting many tourists who are paying hard cash to be part of it.
The Imbalu season which happens every two years is a practice that is 1000 years old, no wonder it has stayed its course against the whirlwind of modernism that has swept away many of our cultural traditions. The government has capitalized on the interest the Imbalu season generates by launching the Imbalu festival which kicked off in August this year, with the three-day inaugural event attracting more than 30,000 people mostly foreigners who watched keenly, sometimes wincing, as over 100 circumcision candidates had their foreskins cut off with crude knives.
In fact, some tourists got really excited and joined in the kadodi, the circumcision dance and promised to contribute towards the construction of a cultural center and circumcision museum in Mbale. Uganda’s tourism industry is experiencing a renaissance that will make it a global force!
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