Kampala, already endowed enough to sit on a lakeshore, and to have the combination of hilltops and valleys, should be a joy to behold. You, however, do not need to scramble for a jet to behold this spectacle.
The minaret atop the Gaddafi National Mosque on Old Kampala hill will do. Visiting the mosque takes two forms, the mosque itself and the minaret.
Non-Muslim female visitors are given female religious attire before accessing the main worshiping hall.
The guides at hand will then walk with you down memory lane, from how Old Kampala came to be, and how it became the nucleus from which Kampala, the city we know today, grew. Then, the sojourn up the minaret starts.
The winding climb up the stairs will last about five minutes on average, but could be more if, like some tourists we saw, you need to take a break halfway. You will arrive at the top, and all the pain, sharply biting in your knees and thighs, will finally seem worthwhile.
When the Kampala panorama is opened before you, like a wide limitless map, you will forget the pain.
Up there, you note that this is not a city of seven hills, but a city of hills, hills that stretch almost from the Old Kampala foot to as far as the eye can see.
You turn and see Kasubi hill to the north, where the Kasubi Tombs are. For a while you will gaze, a feat you will repeat when you turn to Namirembe and Rubaga hills to the west, the Lubiri to the south, then Nakasero and Kololo hills to the east.
Structures like the Hilton Hotel and Workers House, rise out of the ground as if gearing up to meet and greet the sky.
The view from the upper, greener end of Nakasero hill, offers a sharp contrast with what lies farther down, in the congested valley that is Kampala’s downtown. There is hardly any green in downtown, save for Nakivubo stadium.
The guides at the mosque will tell you of how Old Kampala was the first administrative town in the Uganda protectorate, and it is from here that roads ran to other hills. These are the Gaddafi Road to the north, Kyaggwe Road to the east, Mwanga II Road to the south and Albert Cook Road to the west.
Only a small section of the Lake Victoria shoreline is visible from up here, around the Ggaba location. But it still offers a fine platform to see the landmarks atop Kampala’s prime hills, such as the Lubiri, Bulange, and the headquarters of the major religions in the land, Rubaga Cathedral on Rubaga hill, Namirembe Cathedral in Namirembe, the Orthodox Church in Namungoona, plus Kibuli Mosque on Kibuli hill.
The visit will make you appreciate the topography of the city. And you will realise that when in Kampala, chances are that you are standing on a hilltop, or in a valley, or along a slope.