It so happened on Monday that the largest ‘supermoon’ of the year was seen all over the world. We did not see it in Kampala because it rained the whole afternoon, but the world press and social media was full of pictures of the larger and brighter than normal moon.
While some saw it as a sign of the end of the world, it was a normal phenomenon; in fact it was the second supermoon of the year, the first having occurred on July 12th. A supermoon occurs when two things happen: it is full moon and the moon is closest in its elliptical orbit around the earth.
Many photographs were published of the supermoon as seen around the world, and many used particular landmarks of whatever city they were taken. One was of the supermoon rising just behind the Statue of Liberty in New York, and also over the Capitol in Washington DC. One showed it over the temple of Poseidon in Greece, another above the city of Seattle, with the iconic Needle in the frame. Then there was the spectacular one behind the Jesus statue in Rio de Janerio.
Next supermoon I plan to take photographs as it rises above Kampala, the question was what landmark shall we use to show everyone that it was in Kampala? Is there anything like an iconic landmark in Kampala? I put the question to my friends and they all came up with different suggestions.
The most common was the Independence monument; others said the Sheraton Hotel, and some the Source of the Nile, never mind that is more than 80 kilometres from Kampala. Some not very nice ones said the marabou stork, because ‘tourists like them’. One suggested the potholes on our roads, while quite a few suggested the Old Taxi Park. One suggested boda bodas.
The word iconic is an adjective of the word ‘icon’, meaning ‘something regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration’ (Oxford Dictionary Online). Obviously boda bodas, pothole and the marabou storks are not objects worthy of veneration, so they are out of the reckoning.
For the longest time, many postcards of Kampala would have the Sheraton Hotel, or Namirembe Cathedral, Rubaga Cathedral, or the Parliament buildings; or a combination of all of those. The Sheraton was for a long time the highest building in Kampala, so it is understandable why it appeared. But I would hate to have a foreign run structure as Kampala’s iconic landmark, and that goes for the Hilton Hotel when it finally opens.
UNITED STATES, Washington : This picture provided by NASA shows a perigree full moon or supermoon seen over the Old Post Office and Clock Tower on August 10, 2014, in Washington. AFP PHOTO/NASA/Bill Ingalls
You cannot see the Independence monument for all the trees and buildings now around it, which also goes for the Parliament buildings plus all the expensive cars owned by MPs would probably give the wrong picture.
Which leaves probably the cathedrals and mosques that stand atop some of Kampala’s original seven hills. So where will I take what may turn out to be an iconic photograph of the next supermoon over Kampala?
The only photograph of a supermoon over Kampala I have seen is one I took in 2003, when I happened to be coming from Nsambya along Mukwano Road, and I noticed this very big moon rising over Kibuli Mosque. Luckily I had my camera with me and quickly took a few pictures.
I shared that picture recently with some friends, and almost all of them, Ugandans in the diaspora, asked: where is that?
So, what is that landmark that people all over the world would see and immediately think of Kampala? Maybe Jennifer Musisi, after working on the roads and putting Kampala right again, will take some time and put her mind to that. The Uganda Tourism Board should also be interested, I would think.
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