Uganda tourism: The attraction of a dark past

Amin  Who says history isn’t attractive? Many people visit places because of their historical importance, or the stories they hear about those places. The story of Uganda’s past, its dark history and how it was slowly rebuilt is known by many; a few movies have been made about it. So its no wonder the Uganda tourism board is looking to capitalize on its history to promote tourism and market the pearl of Africa as a tourist destination.

Uganda is looking and hoping to make money from its past by attracting tourists to the country who are interested in learning about the dark deeds of previous dictators especially Idi Amin.

According to Stephen Asiimwe,the chief executive officer of the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), this otherwise unusual plan could double Uganda’s current tourism revenues. He said they would start by commemorating 38 years since the death of Anglican Archbishop Janani Luwum, on February 16, 1977, reportedly shot in the mouth by then president Idi Amin who ruled from 1971 to 1979.

Idi Amin is one Ugandan Ruler that many people across the world know or have heard about. He was the most brutal dictator the country has ever had! For some people in other countries he is the reason why they know about Ugandan.

Idi Amin assumed power in January 1971 through a coup that saw Milton Obote , who had led Uganda to independence, overthrown.

During this brutal dictator’s regime, thousands of people disappeared. According to Henry Kyemba, a former minister and also other-in-law to Idi Amin, many victims of his cruelty were dumped in the River Nile to get rid of the criminal evidence.

Amin’s rule as tragic and disturbing as it was is quite an interesting study of Uganda’s history. And many a historian and tourist who have visited have been interested in learning about Uganda during that dark period.

Idi Amin was ousted 0n 11th April, 1979 by a combined force of Tanzanian troops and Ugandan exiles. He fled the country and eventually died in 2003, in Saudi Arabia.

Another aspect of Uganda’s history that is being used to boost tourism in Uganda is the Uganda martyrs memorial shrine.

Between 1885 and 1887, Buganda king Kabaka Mwanga II ordered the execution of 22 catholic converts and an almost equal number of protestants serving in his kingdom. The king claimed that his subjects had become rebellious after converting to the Christian faith.namugongo

Every year on 3rd June, these martyrs are remembered and many travel from different parts of the world to visit the Uganda martyrs shrine in Namugongo. Two reigning popes have visited the actual execution site in Namugongo, now a serene neighborhood on the outskirts of Kampala- the capital of Uganda.

There is more history worth looking into and discover on a safari trip to Uganda. Some of these visits to historical landmarks can be combined with visits to other exciting places in Uganda such a visit to Bwindi Impenetrable forest for gorilla trekking, or a visit to Jinja for white water rafting.

The good thing is, Uganda’s dark past, although a tourist attraction on its own, does not eclipse the beauty of the pearl. And the excitement of a wildlife safari in Uganda is just as good a reason to visit the country.