For many African countries, tourism is associated with breath-taking natural features and wildlife that roams in the beautiful landscapes of the Savannah. Thus our marketing rotates mainly around that with the added culture embodied in traditional music, dance and drama.
Of late, the culinary addition of the popular ‘rolex,’ - a wrapped delicacy of fried flour dough, filled with eggs and vegetable features. It is mainly enjoyed by the urban poor and many others for its cost and convenience features.
Trouble is that this model is replicated in most African countries with similar climatic conditions, weather patterns and physical features. That has an impact on competition and the cost of attracting tourists. They must outdo each other in terms of investment in advertising and creativity.
Yet there is a very huge potential in something unique to each country and cannot be easily replicated or copied. That is the peculiar political, economic and social history of our countries.
Europe has advanced in this area. The basic model is the museum. One of those that is very striking is the unique German Museum in Cologne. It is elsewhere titled Unsere Geschichte. Deutchland seit 1945 (Our History. Germany since 1945.) It is such a great concept.
It is not a vast building, but the contents are so rich in history. It has all manner of paraphernalia and illustrations plus souvenirs dating back many decades. Here Germany comes to terms with its past and how it has travelled to the present.
The impact and aftermath of the shenanigans of Adolf Hitler are addressed with honesty and near accuracy. The dire situation the people went through looking for the ones the wars had scattered all over Europe. The decision to form a new Germany, constitution, the economic miracle of the ‘50s and ‘60s resulting into the labour deficit and the arrival of migrant workers.
The achievements in politics and industry, sport, medicine agriculture is all exhibited with such basic simplicity that gives it great sophistication it is very wonderful, eye catching and inspiring.
The collection of items shows people with a mindset that is far sighted in as far as preserving history is concerned. People young and old the world over, move to such places and learn a lot. Uganda as a case in point has so much variety in this field. The monarchy and culture alone in Buganda is an unimaginable bag of intriguing history.
Then there is the post-independence history. The constitutional crisis in the mid-sixties culminating into the rise of Idi Amin. The chaos after the fall of Amin through to the election of 1980. The wars of Luweero and northern Uganda are surprisingly alien to many, especially the young and foreigners.
The history of murder and torture plus abuse of human rights is a case in point. The perpetrators and those who fought against all odds to stall these ills need to be remembered plus what they did.
We deserve a memorial where those who have died or disappeared to date are recorded.
The sports heroes - from John Aki-Bua to Stephen Kiprotich - would have a place here. Like the Germans, the State would make arrangements to have their awards either replicated or kept in there for posterity as a national treasure.
Same applies to the field of music, dance and drama. The work of Philly Lutaya, Fred Masagazi, the Paul Kafeeros need to be preserved in a unique way that shows the evolution of the different genres of music plus instruments to the computer-inspired versions that dominate today.
So it is with those who excelled in the fields of academia, medicine, jurisprudence, education, agriculture, architecture and engineering.
The history of war and peace, our food, and, dress and culture are things that intrigue so many people the world over and would be great attractions.
Tourists like the visiting celebrity couple Kanye West and Kim Kadashan would have benefited more and given greater mileage to their visit if we served more than the animals, landscape and the rivers.
Those who will move ahead creatively with documenting and exhibiting information in this age will be champions in the tourism competition, which is now a gold mine on the continent.
Uganda has what it takes if we put our hearts into it.
Mr Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues. [email protected]