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Saturday,September 26,2020 14:58 PM

The Tale Of River Katonga

By Vision Reporter

Added 20th September 2001 03:00 AM

River Katonga! Mention it and resurrect bad and misty memories. Most of Uganda’s revolutionary fighters remember this river spot as a burial place for colleagues,

River Katonga! Mention it and resurrect bad and misty memories. Most of Uganda’s revolutionary fighters remember this river spot as a burial place for colleagues,

The Tale Of River Katonga --Noisy ghosts have invaded the river. One group shouts in Swahili and another in Luganda By Joshua Kato River Katonga! Mention it and resurrect bad and misty memories. Most of Uganda’s revolutionary fighters remember this river spot as a burial place for colleagues, this is because so many of their colleagues fell here in the 1979 and 1981 to 86 war. Others remember it as a spot that has munched their relatives in accidents, while some look at it as a source of the delicacies like mud and cat fish species. Then, there is the belief that the famous river is slowly becoming a lake in some sections! People living near the river are worried. This is after the medium of the Katonga god proclaimed some near apoycratic prophesy. “The gods of Katonga have decided to turn the river into a lake,” Bulaiya Nabulya, 52, says. Sounds like fiction, but Nabulya looks stern and sure of what she is saying. She has evidence and reasons for her prophesy. “The god of Katonga is related to Nalubaale and Wamala. They are brothers. Katonga wants to go back and resemble his brothers,” Nabulya prophesied. True, sections of the river are clearing themselves of the papyrus that has covered them for so many years. The new development might be as a result of changes in the direction of wind than the wishes of a god. Nabulya and her helper Bbaale Kiribedda are perched like kings on Balibaseeka island in the river. They claim to have super natural powers. “The spirit of Katonga hates lies. it hates murderers and hypocrites,” Kiribedda said. He said the punishment of lies is “disappearance in thin air.” Kiribedda has supporters of this prophesy. “This is no place for dare-devils,” Muheesi, an old fisherman of the river said. He said many of his colleagues had disappeared in the papyrus. He said many were killed by huge snakes, while others went missing for long before they reappeared. “Never say, l am lost in the papyrus because you may fail to go back home for days,” Muheesi said. Drivers who are involved in accidents at this place talk of seeing a woman or man crossing. This sounds like fiction, right, but they seem to mean what they say. In fact, a driver of the matooke lorry who got an accident said he was dodging a woman before plunging into the river. “The woman disappeared in thin air. These are stories that have been told again and again, now I also believe that may be, some thing might be wrong at this place,” Wahab Kintu, a shop-keeper at Kayabwe on Masaka Road said. Another resident Sarah Mutawe said she hears noise made by the ghosts at night. “One group shouts mainly in swahili, while another group answers in luganda or runyankore, the spirits abuse each other, it is real,” she said. Mutawe suspects the Swahili speakers to be government soldiers, while the luganda speakers are the dead rebels! River Katonga is located on Masaka road, just after Kayabwe town. From a distance, it looks like a well laid sports pitch, but when you approach it, you realise it is surrounded by papyrus. The mighty Katonga flows from Lake Wamala in Mubende to lake Victoria. It travels over 100 miles. The river is named after one of the baganda gods of the sea, Katonga. Legend has it that the baganda believed that this god used this river to visit his brothers Wamala in Mityana and Nalubaale (Victoria). That is why they named the river after the god. The river is fascinating and of historic significance but haunting. The waters look as cool as a cucumber and the papyrus is so calm and beautiful. Beneath the river are human skulls and fish. Some people believe that spirits and ghosts loom the top of the waters, the entire road stretch and within the papyrus. Many believe that this river is rotten to the core! Certainly, it is probably because of this river’s special features that Libyan great leader, Muammar Gaddafi, made a stop over on the bridge on his way to Fort Portal. Fascinated was he by the papyrus layout and the waters, that his host went on to seriously explain. “These are called papyrus, the lower parts are used for making mats, while the top is used for squeezing banana juice,” President Museveni told him. Gaddafi crunched three plants of the plant in his arms and this looked very interesting to him. However, his host had more important memories about the place. “We fought in this place from September 1985 to December,” he told him as both looked at the waters. Perhaps, as he said this, he remembered hundreds of his men who fought majestically, but died at this spot. Most of them drowned in the papyrus plants. Their skulls still form part of the river bed. The aged residents leave to tell another tale of the river. At one time so many years ago, Katonga completely dried up. This gave chance to people living at the other side to come for parties by walking through the dried up river. However, during the festivities,a heavy down pour began and the dried up river began to re-fill! Suddenly, the visitors began panicking and calling on their colleagues to hurry up because Katonga was refilling. Hence the saying, Olimukulya Katonga ajjula (As you are eating, Katonga is refilling). Ends

The Tale Of River Katonga

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