By Aggrey Nshekanabo
During the Christmas break, I had an opportunity to visit Nyungu ya Maawe Forest Park off Kira-Bulindo-Kitukutwe road in Kira Municipality just 21km from the city centre. (https://nyunguyamawe.com). The park sits on an 20 acre forested area divided in a children’s play area, a yet to be completed 1000 seater ampitheatre, a sauna and steam area that overlooks a man-made lake. The rest of the forest is dotted with camping spaces, 17 cottages and sitting areas including a fireplace.
It is a culturally and historically inspired park with walk-ways and cottages and sitting areas that are deeply rooted in the past that are brought to the present. So, every step you make is a step into the future of the green economy that is inspired by history. Simply Nyungu ya Maawe means Pot of my Mother. And either the mother’s pot has refreshing water or has that hunger stopper food. This place is so refreshing because everything including the landscape have been left intact.
“This is a conserved green space dedicated to creating a sustainability-based adventure and a lifetime learning experience. Our desire is to bring to life a part of African history into a living thing. In developing this space, we picked from the environment over 20 tonnes of non-degradable material such as polythene and rubber, which we turned into construction material;” Says Sylvestor Thakwenda the Manager of Nyungu ya Maawe.
A walk in the forest park, a troop of monkeys are wrestling down a bunch of jackfruits which they enjoy with gusto as the setting sun sips through the tall trees, giving a sweet illumination of the evening and the beauty that is yet to come.
As I walk towards the man-made lake, a couple whizzes above my head on a zip-liner between trees and over the lake! When they make it over the football pitch water body, there are claps and cheers of applause for the young couple overcoming their fear as they hang on the well-secured harnesses.
On the Westerly side of the park, which is at the extreme end of the forest, there is a health club with a steam and sauna place that is also constructed from polyclone materials that were chocking much of the surrounding areas. The health club is constructed in such a way that when one steps out of the sauna, you get the breeze from the ‘lake’ and the forest on the upper eastern side of the park and have a great of the activities that may be on-going in the forest.
According to Mr. Thakwenda, the health club has a female only and male only section. Both sexes do not have to mix while enjoying the steam bath or the sauna.
“This is meant to ensure that either gender enjoys the freedom of the health club without the fear of the other gender. They can however, mix and mingle outside the health club in an on space that provides free drinking water and teas. This was deliberate to give each gender exclusiveness and gender sensitive privacy;” Takwenda says.
Meanwhile, at the heart of the forest park stands tall a 250-seater conference facility is being given final touches and will be ready soon to host private meetings and conferences and below the conference facility in a eco-friendly sheltered seating area, preps for a marriage proposal in the forest are on going and across the lake, a birthday celebration is on-going.
On the northern side of the forest park, a group of youths are enjoying a mini-scout jamboree of experience or rather a guided excursion that is interspersed with stops and questions are asked on conservation, history and geography. Yonder these scouts are children enjoying the swings, the stringed climb challenges and other mind and body challenges that the children seem to relish.
Finally, the Southern part of the forest is where 17 eco-designed cottages are located. According to Thakwenda, each cottage has a private enclosure with its own character in outlook such as wheels of bicycles to signify movement of time, open showers; yes, you shower while enjoying the twinkle of the stars and the waving of the trees, paintings, all in organized chaos where no two cottages are facing in the same direction or same view just like all community homesteads.
And according to Thakwenda, each cottage is designed with grass specially sourced from Lake Victoria’s Koome Island harvested by a group of women affected and or living with HIV for purposes of community impact and other building materials such as polyethene were collected by youth and women from . The cottages are named after African personalities and black world human rights advocates such as Steve Biko, Wangari Maathai, Sarah Ntiro, Samora Machel, Ruth Tubman and Murcus Garvey among others.
When all this is taken in during my four hour stay, I cannot have enough of the place because there was still much to explore and much more to be offered in the nearest future. Especially, I look forward to the nightlife in the forest some weekend after enjoy a hefty buffet that is served every weekend. I am told that when the children are tucked away and night sets, the fireplace comes alive with poetic recitals and the music in the forest can give life to the rickety bones that have been under a lockdown.
As I step out, I note that the packing space can take in more than 100 cars, which gives me a belief that this is really an intentional creation for the creative economy and nature inspired opportunities about people being happy, protecting and harnessing the planet and profiting from it.
Aggrey Nshekanabo is a retired journalist and is the team leader at Kyambura Safaris Ltd
Do you have a story in your community or an opinion to share with us: Email us at email@example.com