Located 200km on the Kampala-Gulu highway, Kigumba is home to many tribes. Fifty-two-year-old Eliakim Adoli was born and grew up in a Kenyan Maragoli family settled in Kigumba. He spoke to Frederick Kiwanuka about his town
With over 80 Ugandan, Kenyan and regional tribes living and working together in harmony, Kigumba town in Kiryandongo district is a practical example of a diversified, but united community.
It is hence not surprising that the town, which was a bush with no inhabitants in the 1950s, has rapidly grown into a bustling commercial hub and a food basket.
Kigumba started as a settlement area for Kenyan Maragoli families, whom the colonial administrators brought in 1958. Each family was given 20 acres of land to settle and grow food.
It is the Maragoli who popularised the large scale growing of maize, which together with other crops, have contributed to food security, boosted incomes and contributed to the growing importance of Kigumba as a food basket for the country and the region. With time, more and more tribes from Uganda and the neighbouring countries have kept pouring in to settle or do business.
This has greatly contributed to the rapid expansion of the town. Almost all Ugandan languages are Eliakim Adoli the narrator
spoken in our town, but Runyoro is the most common. Kigumba is a major stop over for travellers going to northern Uganda, Congo and Sudan. This booming business in the town has attractedAsian and Chinese investors, as well as a horde of petty traders and casual workers. Kigumba boasts of being the gateway for the newly created Kiryandongo district, where all district civil servants prefer to sleep, eat their meals and relax.
Origin of the name
The word kigumba means a bone in the Maragoli language. It is said that when the Maragoli settlers were clearing their allocated plots of land, they used to come across certain species of trees, which were so hard to fell that they equated them to bones.
Kigumba main market, Kigumba is establishing itself as a regional food basket
That was the beginning of the name Kigumba. After settling in, the hardworking Maragoli opened up their plots of land and started growing a wide variety of crops, especially maize.
With more people coming in, both from within and outside Uganda, Kigumba started developing into an urban centre, attracting shops, fuel filling stations and markets. Notable among the first prominent businessmen in Kigumba were Geresom Gamukura, a Muruuli, Kariuki, a Kikuyu from Kenya, Aberi Nyakoojo, Kalyegira and Sajjabi. Sajjabi’s sons still operate the filling station that he left behind.
The town has since then continued to grow both in terms of population and business. It has also attracted big financial institutions like Stanbic Bank and ECLOF, a financial intermediary that gives loans to business people and farmers. Kigumba became a town council in 2009 and it constitutes the old Kigumba town and the outskirts of Naguru, Kigaragara, Kitwanga, Kihura I, Kihura II and Kibukiye.
Kigumba main street
Most of the developments are in Kitwanga cell, where the town council offices, financial institutions, factories, restaurants and bars are located. The booming trade, especially in cereals, has also attracted Sudanese, Chinese and Asian traders, who have established food processing plants and shops.
Kigumba currently has a chain of shops and supermarkets
selling all sorts of merchandise. Many other traders are involved in selling snacks and drinks along the busy Kampala-Gulu highway to serve travellers who need refreshments.
Kigumba has several primary and secondary schools and two government health units; namely Kija Health Centre II and Kigumba Health Centre III. Referral cases go to Kiryandongo Hospital, a few kilometres from here.
For relaxation, Kigumba has bars for all classes, ranging from senior politicians and civil servants, to labourers and boda boda operators.
Affluent residents, especially senior politicians and civil servants, go to Jersey Hotel or Mamella bar, the middle income frequent Half London bar or Centre View bar, while the low income residents go to Majengo bar.The most exciting days are Mondays, which are markets days, Fridays and Saturdays.
Kigumba is home to several top government officials, local leaders and a big number of Kiryandongo local administration employees. Among the senior residents are: UPDF’s Brig. Stephen Kashaka and Brig. Henry Tumukunde.
Hellen Kawunde, the Kiryandongo woman MP, also has a home here.n of the oldest buildings
First published in Discovery Magazine (Sunday Vision) June 17, 2012: Vision Group Resource Centre