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Tour of Kisementi, the paradise of Kampala

By Vision Reporter

Added 5th April 2002 03:00 AM

KISEMENTI. This word to the layman would conjure up the image of anything between a kiss and a bag of cement! But don’t get fooled. It is actually that age-old dot planted in the periphery of affluent Kololo.

KISEMENTI. This word to the layman would conjure up the image of anything between a kiss and a bag of cement! But don’t get fooled. It is actually that age-old dot planted in the periphery of affluent Kololo.

By Harry Sagara KISEMENTI. This word to the layman would conjure up the image of anything between a kiss and a bag of cement! But don’t get fooled. It is actually that age-old dot planted in the periphery of affluent Kololo. It squats in such a strategic location that it would panoramically loom in your vision even from as far a place as Kaleerwe and Mulago hill. It hosts establishments like Capital FM headquarters, Wagadugu café, Just Kickin’ and a lot more. Originally, it was just called Kololo as the rest of the area is known so how did it get the name Kisementi? This sounds like a folktale –– a biblical one at that; in the beginning, there was land in this area. This was about the time Captain Fredrick Lugard had set fort at Old Kampala (at the birth of Kampala). The land was virgin. Years passed by and some people in their wisdom thought that this land should be developed. During that time, a handful of Africans and a basketful of Asians occupied the neighbourhood of this land. after a series of deliberations, it was decided that a market had to be erected here. Now incase you are wondering, we are talking about the area just opposite the present day Café Wagadugu. It is currently cordoned off with iron sheets. That is where the market existed. It was erected with cement slabs and there were also cement slabs for customers to sit on as they waited for service. People travelled from the neighbouring Kamwokya, Mulago and Bukoto to do their shopping here. I am made to understand that this sparked off the name ‘Kisementi’. It was the layman’s market where the ordinary individual would walk in and purchase any item of their choice available. Phrases like “Ngenda ku Kisementi” (I am going to the cement market) were common those days. However, with the winds of time whirling in the air and developmental strategies fast on the world’s trail, the market was demolished in the early 90’s after Rwandan businessman a one Majyambere bought the land. Today it paints an extremely different picture from the original one. The name ‘Kisementi’ has ‘divorced’ it’s original ‘wife’ and gotten ‘married’ to the entire area that consists of a stretch of buildings. This ‘marriage’ is just too beguiling to ignore. The place has transformed from the laid-back and utterly boring surrounding it used to be to one of the most (if not the most) happening areas in Kampala. It’s now a haven for Europeans, Asians, Chinese, name it. it’s a whole new bunch of clientele far fetched from the original indigenous people. Day in day out, tourists, expatriates and non-Ugandans flock this area like it is the gateway to heaven. This writer spent a whole day and night at Kisementi and swears that its one hell of a place that could pass for the biggest tourist attraction after the gorillas in Bwindi. As a result, enterprising business people have come up with ideas to squeeze the last dime out of these rampaging tourists. Top on the list of entrepreneurs here is Sudhir Ruparelia, who is said to own almost three-quarters of the square miles that make up Kisementi. He is also the proprietor of the biggest eating joint here called China Plate. The whole of Kisementi reeks of exotic airs –– just hear these names; 7 Cooper Road, Just Kickin’, Just Looking, The Crocodile, and many other names that hardly sound Ugandan. Most of the establishments here deal in items and services targeted at the foreign community apart from Just Kicking sports bar that attracts both local and foreign patrons for their services. So attached are the foreigners to this place that on one occasion or two there have been tiffs with the locals and racist sentiments have spilled in the air. Even the local roasted-chicken sellers have joined the fray of nipping a dime off the clientele here and they line up on the roads in the neighbouring area peddling their kikoko and muchomo. When night falls over this place, the lush parking space is dotted with state of the art autos. It’s all evident it’s a foreigners’ show here since most of the vehicles are either foreign registered or have diplomatic numbers to them. The owners of these cars proceed to spoil themselves in Kisementi’s pubs like there’s no business. Scuffles and fights are a common thing here as everyone is out throwing a tantrum at the other courtesy of the fun associated with the area. At this rate I will not be surprised if Kisementi demands for a Mayor of its own. ends

Tour of Kisementi, the paradise of Kampala

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