Tourism: Past set to shape present, future

Tourists watching chimps at Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre (UWEC) in Entebbe recently. Photo/ Eve Muganga 

What you need to know:

  • ‘‘This centre we believe shall be instrumental in the marketing of Kampala. For Kampala, urban tourism is part of the broader initiatives in place to deliver on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals,’’ Dorothy Kisaka, Kampala Capital City Authority executive director.

 The Kampala Tourist Information Centre was commissioned on December 13, with junior Tourism minister Martin Mugarra stressing the importance to “grow the visibility of the city and country as a destination for domestic, regional and international source markets.”

“We want to have a facility here where you can book for any park, get any information about our parks, how to dress and how to use parks,” Mr Sam Mwandha, the Uganda Wildlife Authority executive director, added.
The centre is headquartered at the remodelled former Lion Bar and Restaurant in the Sheraton Kampala Hotel Gardens. 
The location brings back fond memories of the 1990s and early 2000s.
It was at the Lion Bar and Restaurant that the Royal Dinner to mark the launch of Schweppes cream soda by Kampala Bottlers then owned by Amos Agaba (RIP) was held. 

Agaba qualified to be an impresario purely on account of owning Waka Waka Band led by the departed Amigo Wawawa alias Walusimbi ow’effumbe. 
Amigo Wawawa was the composer and singer of Julie and Ekikere Kiri Ku Mbaata fame when he was still with the legendary Afrigo Band led by Moses Matovu.
The Royal Dinner was graced by the presence of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi ll accompanied by top Buganda Kingdom dignitaries led by the then  Katikkiro Joseph Mulwanyammuli Ssemwogerere.
Before dinner, that included luwombo prepared by the legendary traditional Kiganda culinary guru Nalongo Bukirwa (RIP) of Katwe, was served, the Kabaka was entertained by Afrigo Band. 
There was a fashion show by Peacock Fashioners who donated a specially designed royal robe to the Kabaka, bearing the embroidered Buganda coat of arms.

Special permission had to be secured for Nalongo to come to the Sheraton and prepare the luwombo on site in order to ensure high quality standards were upheld in line with the Sheraton brand.
Getting Nalongo to move the kitchen from Katwe to the Sheraton had taken the personal  intervention of Kayiira Gajuule Kasibante, the head of the Mbogo clan to which Nalongo Bukirwa belonged.
Among other activities was an art exhibition by this author (who was also the Kabaka’s junior Internal Affairs minister and the main architect of the Royal Dinner) that was co-sponsored by Kampala Bottlers Limited and Sheraton Kampala Hotel.
It was at Lion Bar and Restaurant that the first public celebration of Valentine’s Day was held. 

The main architect of it was Benoit, the French expatriate creative Food and Beverage manager, with whom this author worked closely to spice up creative entertainment at the Sheraton, which by then was the trend setter.
Fast forward to this past workweek, the entrance had been remodelled to look like the entrance to the traditional Kiganda palace. The art—notably the mural depicting Kidepo Valley—is awesome. 
“This centre we believe shall be instrumental in the marketing of Kampala,” Ms Dorothy Kisaka, the Kampala Capital City Authority executive director, said, adding: “For Kampala, urban tourism is part of the broader initiatives in place to deliver on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.”