Uganda

Uganda

Uganda is one of the most beautiful countries in Africa, with fantastic natural scenery. From the moment you land at Entebbe's modern and efficient international airport, with its breathtaking equatorial location on the forested shore of island-strewn Lake Victoria, it is clear that Uganda is a very special destination. Ecologically, Uganda is where the East African savannah meets the West African jungle. Where else in this impossibly lush country can one observe lions prowling the open plains in the morning and track chimpanzees through the rainforest undergrowth the same afternoon, then the next day navigate tropical channels teeming with hippo and crocs before setting off into the misty mountains to stare deep into the eyes of a mountain gorilla? Certainly, Uganda is the only safari destination whose range of forest primates is as impressive as its selection of plains antelope. And this verdant biodiversity is further attested to by Uganda's status as by far the smallest of the four African countries whose bird checklist tops the 1,000 mark.

Yet there is more to the country than wildlife - far more! There is the mighty Nile, punctuated by the spectacular, and the setting for some of the world's most thrilling commercial white-water rafting. There are the snow-capped peaks of the Rwenzori, which provide a tantalising challenge to dedicated mountaineers, as well as the Virunga Volcanoes and , both of which offer highly rewarding hiking opportunities through scintillating highland scenery. More sedately, the myriad islands of Lake Victoria and Bunyonyi are idyllic venues, as are the myriad forest-fringed crater lakes that stud the rift valley floor and escarpment around. Whether you're a first time safari-goer or a seasoned African traveller, Uganda - with its unique blend of savannah and forest creatures, its rare wealth of montane and lake habitats - is simply dazzling.

Uganda's reputation as Africa's friendliest country stems partly from the tradition of hospitality common to its culturally diverse populace, and partly from the remarkably low level of crime and hassle directed at tourists. But this amiable quality extends beyond the easygoing people. Uganda's eco-friendliness is attested to by the creation of six new national parks under the present administration, as well as a recent mushrooming of community-based eco-tourism projects at the grassroots level, while the mood of social enlightenment is characterised by the progressive and much lauded policies towards curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS and promoting women's rights. The climate, too, is highly agreeable, reflecting the combination of an equatorial location and medium to high altitudes, while amenities such as hotels and game lodges now rank with the very best has to offer.

Attractions

Uganda offers many attractions. While many are drawn to Uganda to participate in a safari in search of the endangered Mountain Gorilla, the country has a lot more to offer. Uganda is blessed with sumptuous forests, haunting mountain landscapes, sparkling lakes and a superb range of wildlife. Uganda is also the finest birding country in Africa with more than a thousand recorded species. There are national parks with a variety of animals including the mountain gorillas; rivers, especially the source of River Nile which is one of the longest rivers in the world; lakes, like Lake Victoria which is one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world; waterfalls, such as the Bujagali falls and the Owen falls dam where Uganda's electricity is generated from and which is located at the source of river Nile; forests, such as the Bwindi impenetrable forest which houses half of the only surviving mountain gorillas in the world; mountains, especially the mountains in western Uganda that give it the beauty that no tourist would want to miss; museums and historic sites such as the national museum and the Kasubi tombs; and many others.


Tribes and languages of Uganda

English is the official language. Many people outside the office also commonly speak it. Luganda is easily the more spoken language in most towns where business is transacted. This is as a result of British colonial rule where the indirect policy of rule used Baganda chiefs to oversee their business. For many years the Luganda Bible and primer was the only available source of education in most Bantu-speaking districts of Uganda and could easily have become the official language but the other districts will hear none of that. Kiswahili is spoken but not without relative unease because of its association with bad rule and soldiers who went on butchering people in the bad regimes. Neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania have happily embraced Kiswahili which is freely spoken in parliament, but not in Uganda, where despite Government efforts to make it a course language in primary and secondary schools parents are reluctant to embrace it. A number of Languages like Runyakitara and Luganda are examinable as degree courses at Makerere University. Kiswahili has been introduced there as well. Today in Uganda there are 17 tribes belonging to the Bantu and Nilotic groups. The Bantu-speaking tribes include the Baganda from the central region and, the Batooro, Banyoro, Bakiga, Bafumbira, Bakonjo, Bamba, Banyarwanda and Batwa from the western region, plus the Basoga, Banyuli, Bakenye, Bagishu, Bagwe, Bagwere from the eastern region. There are Bateso, Jopadhola and Karimojong, Kumam. Jonam, Sebi, Pokot (Suk) and Tepeth from the northeastern area, and the Nilotics who include the Acholi, Alur, Langi, Lugbara, Madi, Kakwa in the north. The Lendus from Zaire are also found across the border in Northwestern Uganda.

Saftety of travelling through Uganda

Because of some dark periods in Uganda (also see Political situation and history later on), Uganda still fights the image of an unsafe country to travel to. The opposite is true, Uganda is perfectly safe to visit for your holiday. Since Africa Miracles is located in East-Africa, we are always fully informed about the situation in all countries and areas. All tours offered by us are only to safe areas and countries.

Political situation and history

The two major political parties, which now exist Uganda, were formed in the late 1940s and 1950s. In addition, although the Democratic Party and Uganda People's Congress have lost their initial tribal and religious tag, they had a Catholic and Anglican leaning respectively. Ignatius Musaazi formed Uganda's first political party, the Uganda National Congress in 1952 but this was merged and formed into the Uganda People's Congress. Uganda got her independence on October 9, 1962 after a short stint of self-rule, with the Democratic Party, headed by Benedicto Kiwanuka, a Muganda lawyer, losing out to UPC which was headed by Milton Obote, a Langi from the north. This party had forged an alliance with the Kabaka Yekka (King's) Party to beat the democrats. Milton Obote, a Ugandan with meticulous oratorical skills from the north, took over as Prime Minister, while the Kabaka of Buganda was made a titular President. This uneasy alliance was for convenience and it was not to last. In 1966, the Kabaka found himself in an uncomfortable position when he refused to oblige the prime minister with signatures to the many documents that would undermine Buganda's special status of a federated state. Tension followed as Muteesa was thrown out of State House. His Government had given the Central Government 30 days within which to get off Buganda's land. Muteesa later fled in a hail of bullets one morning after putting up a spirited resistance inside his palace. Obote's forces had presumably been sent to search his palace at Mengo for weapons but met a stiff resistance to which they returned fire and stormed the palace. Muteesa fled to Britain through Burundi and later died a poor man. Obote was himself overthrown by Colonel Idi Amin Dada, his Army Commander in 1971.

Under Amin, thousands of civilians and soldiers numbering to about 500,000 were butchered as Amin entrenched himself and fooled the world. His popularity waned when he turned out to be a cad and not the liberator people had expected. Ruling by Decree, he pushed through many unpopular reforms, changing the Cabinet so often while at the same time appointing ministers on radio. In 1972, he ordered the expulsion of thousands of Asians whose predecessors had settled down in Uganda in businesses for nearly 100 years. Many of them were grandsons and daughters of coolies who had been brought into East Africa to build the Uganda Railway. Amin was later on ousted when Ugandan rebel forces working in Tanzania, Kenya and overseas formed a strong force backed by Tanzania to kick him out. The troops with a heavy Tanzanian infantry presence walked on foot and liberated most areas inside Uganda. Obote meanwhile made a second comeback after one Professor Yusuf Lule, a Muganda academic who had once headed Makerere University was undermined and exiled in Tanzania again where Mwalimu Nyerere, the Tanzanian President, rebuked him and coerced him to be exiled in London. Obote had maneuvered his way through a series of unholy alliances ensuring that his own supporters were in every layer of hierarchy and intrigue. He called an election which he lost but held on. He was later on deposed by a faction of Acholi soldiers from the north most of whom were supported of the Democratic Party. On the scene came Yoweri Museveni, the current President, who has now ruled the country for more than 17 years. Forming a guerilla group called the National Resistance Movement, he fought a bush war against Obote's force from within Uganda. Museveni, a graduate of Dar es Salam University, had a socialist taste to his political views and outlook. His forces stormed Kampala in 1986 after Tito Okello's troops had been demoralised and beaten off. Since taking over, Uganda has enjoyed some relatively calm political and social peace, with the exception of the war up in the north where the Lord's Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony has been fighting the Uganda's People's Defence Forces and killing thousands of innocent civilians. There has also been some rebellion in the western region where the Allied Democratic Front has had running battles with the government troops. In Museveni's time the country's economy which once tottered on the brink of collapse has turned around through a sound liberalisation policy; investments have soared, donor confidence has returned and many projects are being funded in rural areas. There is a lot of political freedom and too much Press freedom. People talk at will without the fear of being herded off into darkly lit buildings.

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