After reasserting Uganda on the tourism map globally, a Kidepo Day March 25 was launched with a marathon and gathering of officials from ten districts surrounding Kidepo Valley National Park (KVNP.)
There was a marathon with winners taking home medals, planting seeds and cash prizes. After singing and dancing, communities living near the park entered it for the first time in their lives.
“This is going to be an annual calendar day,” said minister of ethics Simon Lokodo. “I hail the local leaders here for putting the 20 percent got from tourism revenue to good use. We are getting good health service and a better road network. Unlike other districts, the ones around Kidepo have not registered any corruption tendencies.”
The state minister for tourism Godfrey Kiwanda mused about the great strides taken in development in the last ten years. He hailed the prevailing peace in the region since the success of the disarmament exercise.
“The Kidepo Day ought to be celebrated by every player in the tourism industry to a global basis,” said Kiwanda. “We need aviators, social media gurus like; CNN, Trip Advisor and National Geographic to come on board. This is in addition to tour operators, hotel owners and tour operators.”
Kidepo conservation area manager Augustine Masereka said old habits die hard and there are people in the park communities killing game for either food or their family’s economic survival.
“There is a nature’s magnificence which is visible during a Safari Drive in the park which is studded the mammals, reptiles and birds,” said Masereka. “Our resident communities are yet to master the art of telling the tribal legends, make the artifacts appeal to the guests and master foreign languages.”
A tour of KNVP was the unraveling of what Africa was more than 100 years ago. The vegetation, animals, lifestyles and rocky outcrops was the unfurling of how the ancient times were. It is revealing how women still grind corn on stones and spears have resumed being weapons of self defense. A manyata (home of 50-100 huts) has become an exclusive part of the Kidepo tourism package.
Talking to a cross section of MPs revealed their priorities when it comes to the needs of communities living near the park;
“The conflict between animals and the people is on the increase,” lamented MP Abim Janet Okori Moe. “The compensation cases drag on for years and when compensation is effected, it is not worth the wait.”