In the 90s, I saw some homes that were nearly submerged in a swamp that lay behind Nyakasharu Trading Centre here in Bunyaruguru. I also saw River Kyambura claim some of its banks that had been claimed by some big headed residents of our home village in Omumashaka.
I vividly remember the gardens of Mariko being swept away and the community laughed at him saying; “He deserved it.”
There was another lady called Maria who also lived close to the river’s territory; Omumashaka swamp.
One day, the river’s water swept into her banana plantation and so close to her kitchen. She was advised by the LCs to get herself to a higher ground. It was her who invaded the river, so they told her.She complied.
In early 2000s the river receded and people opened up the land, cut the riverline forest and by this action, they cut off the chimps upstream in Kitoomi and Kasyoha forest and downstream in Kyambura Gorge. I know this well because in the late 80s as I grazed my father’s goats, chimps used this route on a weekly basis; going up or down the riverline forest.
As I write this, the river has since claimed its banks and the Omumashaka Swamp, a great birding area has been resurrected.
This brings me to the issue of Lake Victoria swallowing some homes and recreational facilities. Fact is, it is us who invaded the lake and the water sources. I remember way back in 2004, I wrote about the dangers of river Rwizi. The upstream part of the river in Buhweju was being cleared and the river was silting.
The swamps in Sheema and Rwampara which fed the river were being cleared. Lake Kakyera in Lyantonde was drying up and Lyantonde town was getting water stressed. Lake Kijjanibarora in Kooki was drying and it was claimed the gods were not happy because the Kamuswaga, the King of Kooki was not installed. Lake Victoria was receding every passing day.
And what the people do? They established gardens where the waters were once. The swamps of Luzira, Gaba and Munyonyo were cleared and plots sold at a song. Swanky homes rose in their magnificence and the dregs of the earth including veterans took over the shores and established markets where they were not.
But effluents were discharged into the lake and National Water had a hard time pumping clean water into Kampala’s taps. In fact, the Red Pepper published an article that the city’s waters are contaminated.
The claim was dismissed as talk of a ‘vegetable’ newspaper and ‘vegetable’ journalism. But National Water further pushed its pumps deep into the lake. Nakivubo channel was pouring in all the dirt from the city. Now we know that the rich and the mighty who invaded the lake are the real vegetables. They are crying foul. I would be hurt if the state gives them an ear in form of compensation. Because the then Minister for environment, Gen. Otafiire had warned those who cleared the filter swamps of Luzira and Bukasa and he even called them crocodiles and toads and frogs. He said he does not mind being a minister for crocodiles. He was dismissed as a comedian.
By the way, those who remember the elections of 1980 in Sheema County (now a district), at the time the current Minister for Justice, Hon. Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu was Minister for Environment and the Late Hon. Major Edward Rurangaranga was Minister for Local Government. They were vying for the same seat.
Rurangaranga said; “Those who want to be Gomborora Chiefs, Ssaza Chiefs etc had better vote him and those who want to be foxes, hyenas etc, can vote Kamuntu;” The choice was very clear. Kamuntu instead shifted constituencies and went on to stand as MP for Bunyaruguru, which he was helped to win.
Anyway, back to Lake Victoria’s outrage, Kahinda at the time, wanted former Boxer Nyakana’s recreation area shut down. He was fought and Nyakana took the day. Today, the lake has claimed its own shores. If encroachers want compensation, let them ask the gods of Nalubaale. They should have known that water flows where it once flowed and it never forgets. Now we know who the crocodiles are!
Now, one thing that COVID-19 has done is to expose the fallacy that religion and its concomitant shrines and priests represent. I am reminded of my senior two religious education lesson; “Man’s quest for God.” It is one topic I really enjoyed. Whereas I am a professed Christian, I actually now know that these shrines are actually political and power representations and not areas of spiritual sanctuary. And the priests are the power holders. It is the reason that the powers of the church are actually borrowed from the state. I hope Christians know that actually the churches have no powers to preside over such issues as marriage. It is borrowed power from the state. It is actually lent power and the state can withdraw it. And now you know that actually your ‘pastor’ has been a fraud.
COVID-19 has debunked them. While human beings have left these shrines, God has been with us; in our homes. He has not abandoned us. In fact, we now know He is closer to us and He has claimed back His place in our lives. We had substituted Him with these men in robes and shiny suites.
The shrines are empty and the stars and moon and the sun have not fallen. In fact, COVID-19 has shown us men to take our places as priests of our homes and women as prayer warriors of the homes. Now that Martyrs Day celebrations have been put off, does it mean our spirituality that is associated with the day has been put off? Not at all. I hope we have used this period to renew our personal relationships with God and recognised His sustainability away from fellow man.
Finally, when I was a business writer, I remember covering the listing of some Kenyan business agency in 2009 on the Uganda Securities Exchange. We were at Workers House where the ringing of the first bell was done. It was also home for the Uganda Securities Exchange. It had just acquired some microfinance agency and it was touted at the most successful home grown business entity in East Africa. My visit to Kenya thereafter revealed that actually it was a monster agency. This banking business has for long been touted as the best micro-financing equitable commercial bank. What sustained it was good PR. My journeys through Busia-Kenya, Siaya County, Bungoma County and downtown Kakamega revealed that people were being fleeced. In fact people felt at home with Kenya Cooperative Bank.
I am not surprised therefore, that after acting magnanimous during COVID-19 lockdown and donating one million dollars to the Kenya COVID-19 task force, it is laying off close to 100 staff and more in order to keep itself afloat because it foresees tough times ahead. Did the state indicate that it was unable to feed its citizens to warrant ‘donation’ of $1 million? No. So, why act magnanimous to the unsuspecting public and go ahead and terminate 100 staff? Amongst the Banyankore, they call it; Bandeebe, Baamanye, Bantiine, Bankunde which simply means being “A Show off.” How can they donate millions to the state that is not needy but go ahead to terminate staff because the future is dark? You cannot love the neighbour’s children more than you love your own. Be careful, such are a fraud. Ends
The writer is a retired Journalist and has interests in tourism
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