By Titus Kakembo
Tourism is one of Uganda’s strongest attractions. Other than the famous silverback gorillas, 1,050 bird species, panoramic views, the Source of The Nile and diverse cultures, Uganda is endowed with a wealth of history.
In line with this, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is planning to celebrate 150 years since Sir Samuel Baker set foot in Uganda.
UWA’s executive director, Andrew Seguya, said preparations have already started.
“We are organising celebrations to mark 150 years since Baker first set foot in Uganda. It is going to be such a big event and will trigger modern explorers into action,” Seguya said.
He added that they expect revenue from tourism to double in the near future.
“The onus is upon us to market our stunning attractions, like underground forests in Queen Elizabeth National Park and now Sir Samuel’s View,” said Maria Mutagamba, the tourism minister.
“Tourism is destined to be in the lead as a foreign exchange earner for the economy,” she added.
She made the remarks at the Media Centre on Friday while presenting details of Sir Samuel Baker’s expedition, dating back 149 years.
“I have been to the place where Lady Florence Baker (Sir Samuel Baker’s wife) fell so ill that the hosts began digging her grave, but she mysteriously recovered,” said the leader of the expedition, Julian Fisher.
“I am hereby correcting an impression created by some writers that Sir Samuel Baker was the first person to see Lake Albert,” he said.
The author and photographer of repute, Fisher, argued that there were fishing communities with tribal leaders that existed long before Baker’s trip to Africa.
“Guided by residents, he made its presence known to the rest of the world. And this expedition is not the last one, I am coming back to circumnavigate Lake Victoria. I will be retracing Sir Henry Morton Stanley’s route as well. I am sure this will become another attraction for an exodus of tourists to the Pearl of Africa,” he said.
While here, David Baker, Baker’s grandson and his daughter Melanie, read excerpts from the explorer’s personal diaries at Murchison National Park recently.
“I feel privileged to be part of this expedition. I have met traditional leaders like Solomon Gafabusa of Bunyoro and Rwot Acana II of the Acholi. I am lucky they speak English today, but I wonder how Sir Samuel Baker used to communicate,” Baker said.