Poetry on the mountain

Friday July 01 2016
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The poets take a nature walk in the green vegetation of Mt Rwenzori that comes off as the present day garden of Eden. Courtesy photo

It is the largest undiscovered Eden in the world, the forgotten world’s greatest wonder, a perfect paradise. This journey of five thrill seekers was an entry into a place that glistened with wonder at every turn.

Healing power of flora and fauna
When you reach Mt Rwenzori, one of Africa’s block mountains, all your problems dissipate. It’s true. Mt Rwenzori, which borders Virunga Park in the DR Congo and stretches across three districts in western Uganda, has healing powers.

From its starting point in Kasese District, at 1,400m high altitude, your guide will explain how the various endangered flora and fauna, have the ability to heal.

When you enter the gate at Uganda Wildlife Authority, you are entering into the original version of untainted Eden. Immersed into the singing of the nearly 217 bird species, music to any broken human spirit, nature’s own orchestra beckons you to Uganda’s greatest bio-diverse garden. Time moves at the pace of these choruses and if you come dressed in cynicism and doubt, the songs will unblock your troubles and set you free.

At every turn, you will be told of a plant that’s endemic to Rwenzori. There is a plant which, once administered, mitigates labour pain. Which child-bearing woman wouldn’t need this? To be able to deliver a child free of labour pain, should in my opinion be every woman’s right.

Labour pain is the universe of all curses. If there is relief from the excruciating experience that are labour pains, then Mt Rwenzori should become another of the world’s greatest wonders.

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Sounds of nature
When you listen carefully, as you trek amidst the curtains of foliage, you can hear the multi-sequined butterflies speaking. Do you know how a butterfly ‘speaks’? As they flit from one flower to another, they are telling you to take time to smell the flowers, to scoop some of the world’s wonders, to stop living in the same place of thought and liberate yourself by travelling and by being curious about your surroundings. Healing. The butterflies will then flap their wings towards the rushing river of melted snow.

Rhythm and rhyme
The purpose of our hike was Poetry on The Mountain, an opportunity to experience and celebrate poetry and refreshing heights organised by Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation on June 11. According to founder Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, a mountain provides the perfect opportunity to be as creative with words as possible, against the backdrop of unrivalled nature’s beauty.

Truthfully though, Rwenzori is a poem in itself that there’s no need for extra theatrics. We reached the first resting base, which is just before Lake Mahoma. It is where we performed our poetry and stories and replenished with snacks.

True to our call though, one by one, we recited and performed poetry and prose in various languages. Through various interpretations of Lukonzo, we learnt of various traditions, for example, in the past if a man could carry a 20kg load across a section of The Rwenzoris, he is considered worthy and strong enough to get married. Elevated that high, we watch the green curtains of the Rwenzoris surround us until it is time to return home.

At the end of your trek, you will easily have burnt close to 2,000 calories. There are steep climbs, some slippery slopes and boulders to hoist you over. It’s one of the most exhausting and exhilarating nature walks you will ever take. And if you are courageous enough to reach the snow-capped Margherita Peak, then that’s a story for another day.

Magical nature
The purest water resides amidst the rocks of Mt Rwenzori. You will bend down to scoop some in your palms. It’s a divine experience.

Coming away from your polluted urban home to this place of enchantment, where natural powers surround you and protect you, there is no other alternative but to be healed. The wonders never cease. There is the three-horned male chameleon, a yellow and green reptile, the only species of its kind found in The Rwenzori.

You won’t see it at first because true to its name, it’s camouflaged on the tendril of a plant. Your guide will gently lift the chameleon and you will back away in fright, the gawking eyes seem scary and yet gentle at the same time. The guide will tell you the story of the chameleon.

“If, in your youth or childhood, you killed a chameleon unknowingly, either by stepping on it or any other way, if you name your child the name of a chameleon, that child will be free of sicknesses.”

If you go to Rwenzori

Getting ready. Most of us just prepared by taking long hour walks, prior to the trek, of about two hours three times a week. We coordinated with the Rwenzori Mountaineering services in both Kampala and Kasese. The transport and accommodation were a private arrangement with contacts from directories and recommendations from friends.
Cost. The nature trail itself was $30 each for Ugandans. Snacks and lunch cost $20 each. The journey from Kampala to Kasese about Shs250,000 each and then accommodation for two nights was just more than $200 each. In approximation, the individual fee was $335 per person, in addition to tips.

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