Former legislator George William Nyombi Thembo, who is enjoying retirement from parliament after losing his slot to Simeo Nsubuga Muwanga, after two terms, is not shutting the door on politics but business is on his mind now. The 55-year-old economist has been passionate about the hospitality industry.
For some years, he has been managing the Camp George at Kyamusugga Village in Kassanda District as well as Camp Schwarzkopf in Ntinda. Not that he is not planning to return to politics, taking a break by investing in his adventure keeps the fire burning in him.
A former State Minister for Information Technology a position he held since May 2011, Thembo also served as the State Minister for Luweero Triangle in the Office of the Prime Minister, from 2009 until 2011.
Born on July 31, 1964 to Erisa Zziwa Bosomungho, a royal from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Thembo has been a member of the people in present day Kassanda District in Ssingo County.
His family got him the best education he could as he attended Lubiri Secondary School before graduating with a degree from Makerere University. He holds a diploma in project planning and management from Bradford University in the United Kingdom and a postgraduate diploma in financial management from Uganda Martyrs University (UMU) in Uganda. His degree of Master of Science in Development Economics was awarded by Uganda Martyrs University Nkozi.
Thembo’s path to working with the public was laid even before he became a Member of Parliament. He spent several years charting out life as a part-time economics teacher at Uphill College Mbuya.
He later worked as an analyst, planning officer and senior planning officer for the Uganda Railways Corporation during the 1990s. Between 1995 and 2001, he worked at a project manager, Transport Rehabilitation Project (Railway Component), at Kampala City Council. He was elected to the Ugandan Parliament in 2001, representing Kassanda County South in Mubende District. That same year, he was appointed Minister of State for Education and Sports (Primary Education).
In 2006, he was re-elected to Parliament and was appointed to his present cabinet post.
Thembo is one of the most influential people in Kassanda South as a member of the ruling National Resistance Movement.
He has rubbed shoulders with the elite of this world and had several meetings with President Museveni, whom he has been helping to run the presidential elections in Kassanda with great success.
He has given Kassanda South a name by inviting celebrities, economists and politicians alike to his Camp George. He inspired the start of the Camp George Sacco to which he is the patron.
“He is so much more than a politician,” said longtime friend David Masinde.
“He is one of those people that when you return home you will talk about how special he made you feel when you were at Camp George.”
Thembo says he misses the public life but with plans underway to return to Parliament in 2021, he feels pangs of nostalgia will be satisfied.
Thembo has undertaken an ambitious plan after the completion of Kikorongo Safari Lodge, one of the emerging jewels in the Rwenzori region in terms of exquisite tourist accommodation.
The lodge has an iconic view and unprecedented architectural ideas condensed in the 15 cottages that opened for business this December.
“Tourism these days is a universal business and it is the only venture where you find for example China, America and Europe struggling for the same clients with what you may term as the poorest country in Africa.
It is unlike other businesses with distinctive producing countries and their corresponding consuming countries. Here we sell stories with the hope that they will appeal to the clients although with realisation that the potential is unlimited yet all players stand equal chance,” says Thembo.
He works with Siira Mutseke, the Kikorongo Safari Lodge Hotel Project Consultant. In order to have the best experience to the clients, they have had to visit Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Malawi, South Africa, and Kenya, among a host of other countries.
The guiding principle, however, is that materials used must be local not only to give the lodge the much needed comparative advantage but also to conserve the environment while giving an opportunity to the local community to contribute to the project and ultimately own it.
As a result of this philosophy, Kikorongo Safari Lodge already boasts “exclusive rights” to simple but intriguing firsts that enhance any adventurous tourist’s wow experience. From the bush showers to the crazy campfire, Kikorongo has lined up a wide range of innovative ideas to cater for every single client’s needs.
He works with Siira Mutseke, the project consultant.
The one thing that strikes you about Kikorongo Safari Lodge is its location that gives a resident the chance to immerse him/herself in the true beauty of Kasese and the entire Queen Elizabeth conservation area.
Sitting directly at the Equator and atop one of the Rwenzori Mountain ranges, Kikorongo offers perfect views of Lake George, Lake Edward and the mystic Lake Kikorongo Crater Lake which was until two years a dead lake but coincidentally came back to life around the time construction of the safari lodge began. It was therefore only fair that the lodge got its name from this amazing lake.
On another side, the eyes of a resident at Kikorongo Safari Lodge wander into the mighty Rwenzori Mountains, Rwenzori National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and the famous Kazinga Channel.
This makes the place the ultimate choice for any traveller that is looking for value for his money.
Kikorongo Safari Lodge has 15 uniquely designed cottages spread out on over 15 hectares of an incredibly steep landscape. The cottages have been designed to provide top-notch comfort, privacy and above all, safety to residents.
To maintain the local touch and make the cottages as environmentally friendly as possible, each unit constitutes 80 per cent trees while the built up area is just 20 per cent maximum.
Thembo says up to 60 per cent of the trees are harvested from his eucalyptus forest in Kassanda while the grass thatch is procured from Pakwach in northern Uganda and Mbarara in western Uganda.
The cottages are spread out on six hills and this is both for thematic and environmental considerations. “The hills represent the six peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains and because we are on the Rwenzori we want our guests to experience the ultimate mountain experience,” Nyombi says.
“We also decided to construct the cottages atop the hills because we don’t want to dig up any landscape because that can tamper with its nature yet our core mission is to keep the environment as intact as possible.”
Thembo reveals that the place is designed with both low earning and high-end clients at heart.
“We have three categories of cottages: the camping tents, the luxurious brick and mortar cottages and the super luxurious type.
Each cottage is fitted with a ramp to allow access by clients with disabilities,” he says.
Camping tents go for $25 (about Shs90,000) a night while a heavenly experience in the luxury tents cost between $300 (about Shs1m) and $600 (about Shs2.2m). For privacy, each cottage is surrounded with a mini bamboo forest to help residents get lost in their own world.
The lodge has a 70m zip line as well as skywalk that is about 90 feet across the valley. Kyambura Gorge, which boasts of an underground forest, is also in the vicinity. The Kikorongo Safari Lodge campfire is another experience not worth missing for any visitor.