Day 9 of 25 Days Exploring the Pearl of Africa – Uganda

Today was a continuation of birding in Bwindi impenetrable national park – Buhoma sector. Yesterday after arriving in the early afternoon to the lodge, we had enough time to rest and recoup energies as we prepared for today’s birding on the waterfalls trail. The day started early at 7.30 am, we drove from the lodge to the gate where we started the birding.

Once on the main trail in the park, we were welcomed by Blue monkeys and L’hoest monkeys in the trees feeding. This was surprising because L’hoest monkeys are generally terrestrial monkeys. The clients have a high interest in the primates so we spent time to capturing pictures of these two monkey species before we officially started the birding.

The waterfall trail is rich in different Albertine rift endemics. We spent time birding this area which offered good photographic moments. The bird of the day must have been the Bar tailed Trogon which was kind enough to pose for photographs at various times, Purple breasted Sunbird was another good find but was difficult to capture on camera as it continually hoped on and off the branches. Unfortunately for me I forgot to charge my camera battery so today it blacked out a short while after the start of the birding. I know that for proper birding photography I need to purchase bigger lenses but for now I will enjoy watching more than photographing.

After a while birding, we continued the walk to the 3 water falls deep in Bwindi impenetrable forest. These provide beautiful views and rest while on this birding trail. We spent a few minutes admiring nature at each waterfalls stop as we took pictures and took in the sights and sounds of the forest. From the waterfalls, we walked back towards the lodge with brief stopovers of birding for only those species that were close by the road.

It was a good day, the terrain was generally flat except when we got deep in the forest towards the waterfalls but even this was manageable. This is what I needed after the steep terrain of Mubwindi forest. For any serious birder coming to Uganda, you must include Bwindi impenetrable forest on your itinerary because it has 23 of the 24 Albertine rift endemics especially between Buhoma sector and Ruhija Sector. Tomorrow we leave for Semuliki national park and Semliki wildlife reserve for the central African species.

Day 1 of the 25 Days Exploring the Pearl of Africa – Uganda

This year because of increased work in office, I have not had much time to explore this beautiful country of ours – Uganda. So when I received an inquiry for birding, primates and photography safari around Uganda for 25 days I decided that I will be part of this tour. I was really excited to join in on the tour but was also not sure considering the amount of work piling up waiting for me. I want to try and write everyday I am on this Safari  depending on how active the days are and availability of internet.

Day 1 was arrival of the guests and pick up from Entebbe international airport which is currently the only international airport serving Uganda. The rest are small airfields which serve the smaller air crafts traversing the country transporting especially tourists and NGO workers. Entebbe airport is by lake Victoria – the 2nd biggest fresh water body, this gives pleasant beautiful scenery of the Islands during the day but certainly not at night when it is more darkness than light.

We left Kampala about 7.10 pm with the plan of reaching Entebbe latest 8.30 pm because of the unpredictable traffic jam on the Kampala – Entebbe highway. This stretch is only 40 km but it can take one 2 hours or more to drive it because of the heavy traffic that comes from the numerous people who live along this route and the airport. For anyone taking a flight out of Entebbe from Kampala, we usually advise that you plan for 2.5 hours drive to be on the safe side otherwise you risk missing your flight.

We arrived about 8.38 pm and waited for the 9.00 pm flight. I spent time catching up Ugandan style with people I knew who were waiting to pick up a friend. We were then out of the airport about 10.30 pm arriving at the new beautiful Best Western Hotel in Entebbe town located on Victoria mall with beautiful rooms and great service.

The day ended with me arriving at my house about 12.00 am and taking a short sleep before starting the journey to Kihihi the next day for the afternoon pick up of clients who were coming with Aero Link via Kasese. They flew into Kihihi because the morning flight to Kisoro was full and the next best alternative was Kihihi in the afternoon. After this we then drove for about 4 hours to Mt Gahinga lodge near the entrance of Mgahinga Gorilla national park.

Intentional Growth

In January I made the decision to join Harvest Institute which is run by Worship harvest ministries. This is a yearlong school with once a month meeting and assignments, some of which are monthly and others all year. The institute is about personal leadership growth and organizational leadership with the hope that this will  create transformation in our lives, for those around us and eventually spread to the entire country. The sessions and books we read offer ways of how to be intentional about living this out and in turn influence others.

There is a variety of topics covered monthly falling under four broad areas. The broad areas include 4 major topics; Personal Growth as a Leader, Leading in the Church Context, Organizational Leadership & Management, Leading in a Changing World. In the end the person is challenged to grow in all areas of life as leaders because like John Maxwell says, ‘Everything rises and falls on leadership’, in another instance he explains that ‘leadership is influence’. This is what  influenced the leaders who started Harvest institute, they had a desire to grow the people attending who in turn would impact others.

I have enjoyed most of the studies and been challenged to grow. Truth is, for many years I have had the privilege of learning a lot of these things and more but somehow the cares of life cloud them out of my life which leads to less influence. I sit in most of these classes and smile remembering the last time I listened to someone teaching that topic. One of such topics was to do with Bible essentials of ‘exegesis’ and ‘hermeneutics’. I first heard of these terms about 10 years ago but I convinced myself that these are for bible scholars, surely not for me a ‘lay person’. Finding it again here got me thinking, maybe it is high time I considered growing in using these tools for myself and others.

I see growth happening in my life and more waiting to happen. I feel very stretched but I know that this growing is not for me only but also for those that I will interact with on my life journey. They will benefit more from conversations with me and will be able to learn from me as I learn from them.  I welcome you on a growth journey, which will be both for yourself and for others. Let’s keep learning, unlearning and growing together for the sake of transformation of our nation and world at large.

 

 

‘My take home’ from Proverbs 18

 

1A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire;
He rages against all wise judgment.

A fool has no delight in understanding,
But in expressing his own heart.

When the wicked comes, contempt comes also;
And with dishonor comes reproach.

The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters;
The wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.

It is not good to show partiality to the wicked,
Or to overthrow the righteous in judgment.

A fool’s lips enter into contention,
And his mouth calls for blows.
A fool’s mouth is his destruction,
And his lips are the snare of his soul.
The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles,[a]
And they go down into the inmost body.

He who is slothful in his work
Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.

10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.
11 The rich man’s wealth is his strong city,
And like a high wall in his own esteem.

12 Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty,
And before honor is humility.

13 He who answers a matter before he hears it,
It is folly and shame to him.

14 The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness,
But who can bear a broken spirit?

15 The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge,
And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

16 A man’s gift makes room for him,
And brings him before great men.

17 The first one to plead his cause seems right,
Until his neighbor comes and examines him.

18 Casting lots causes contentions to cease,
And keeps the mighty apart.

19 A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city,
And contentions are like the bars of a castle.

20 A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth;
From the produce of his lips he shall be filled.

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the Lord.

23 The poor man uses entreaties,
But the rich answers roughly.

24 A man who has friends must himself be friendly,[b]
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

‘My take home’ from Proverbs 18 

Seek knowledge. I should keep learning and never feel that I have arrived because as long as I live there is something I can learn. Growth is a deliberate choice on my side, I have to spend my resources and read books, listen to great teachers, attend conferences etc. but whatever I do I have to keep on the journey of learning.

A combination of hard work and gifting. I have to work hard knowing that this is God’s way of blessing me. I should remember that work is not a curse as some view it, because God asked Adam to work the garden way before the curse. In addition to hard work is utilizing my gifts or talents because with no hard work the gift’s effect diminishes (think of it as practicing for the athlete or musician). God’s promise is that my gift will open doors for me. I have seen glimpse of this in my already.

I need to continuously find ways of keeping my spirit alive. I have been in a place where my spirit has been broken and it is not a good place. I felt stuck and was vulnerable to all the lies the enemy threw my way. So for me this is very crucial – I have to continuously ‘protect’ my spirit and keep it alive because it’s what keeps me alive. I know it is a catch 22 but well I must figure it out. The most consistent way to keep it alive is to keep in the truth of who I am and whose I am.

The tongue is life and death. Woooohhh, I think this is deeper than we can ever comprehend. This also contributes to a man’s spirit being alive or dead. I will keep proclaiming life in whatever situation I am in. It is difficult because it goes against the status quo but this here is about life and death, maybe if I view as ‘life and death’ I will be more deliberate in what I speak in/to my life and that of others.

And that folks were my highlights from my reading today. What are your highlights from Proverbs 18? Share and we learn together.

 

 

Saying Yes to Leading

So this year I decided to challenge myself and stretch the boundaries of my work and the things I believe God has called me to and gifted me with. For many years I have known that I am leader in more ways than one but had my reservations to leading. One of the main hindering factors was the fact that I hate attention and being at the front. It’s true that you can lead without drawing too much attention to yourself but eventually the attention will come. I prefer to walk into a room and do whatever it is I need to do and leave without much notice except the one or two people I needed to interact with.

My close friends and family would always bring up the fact that I am a leader and God has given grace in this area. I have led them in some ways and mobilized them to take on tasks or causes close to my heart. After much thought I decided to grow this gifting instead of killing it further every year. My challenge is still that the introverted me prefers to disappear in the crowd and the more I respond to this challenge the more I realize that I need to be uncomfortable to grow in this area and use it to influence positively.

13423857_10153719561336395_608962128229805549_nI am a Mandela Washington fellow, a program under the Young African leaders Initiative (YALI) a President Barack Obama initiative to empower young leaders from Africa in areas of Business & Entrepreneurship, Civic engagement and Public management. Being part of this initiative reinforced what I knew and been hearing about myself – I am a leader. However I figured that I would still get a way and lead quietly. Then there was the opportunity to be on the East African Regional Advisory Board for YALI which I felt a strong nudge from God that this was the kind of platform I needed to grow my skills and start journey of leading more intentionally. With encouragement from a friend I purposed to apply but chickened out on last minute and did not apply. Secretly I was happy when the deadline passed, and I continued with my work. Later I received a message that the deadline was postponed and friend insisted that I apply. I clearly felt God say that the deadline was extended for me, I will spare you the details for now but eventually I did apply and post my ‘manifesto’ on the platform. Thankfully it convinced enough alumni who voted me.

This year, I officially accepted that God is calling me for something bigger than myself for which He has been preparing me for years through various trainings, networks and equipping opportunities. I say yes to the call. So when I had about the Harvest Institute – 1 year leadership program at my church I quickly signed up. The program is hectic considering the other things I am engaged in but I have decided that the time is now to start taking my leadership seriously because after all – Everything rises and falls on leadership according to John C. Maxwell. I know this will help me build a world class organization in Kagera Safaris even as I pursue my dreams of starting transformational education centers all over Africa, Asia, south America, North America and Eastern Europe.

This is the most hectic program I have been part of but I am willing to go all the way, after all growth is painful. We are required to grow our writing skills by writing a minimum of 2 blogs per month, read 2 books a month and write synopsis, publish a book before end of year, start a business/non profit or run for office, streamline the life purpose, join a team and serve on a church team etc. I already feel stretched but hey, this is what I signed up for. Yes to growth, will keep on and in time take others through these for their own growth.

Hurrah to leading in 2017 and beyond!

Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

My journey to Reno – Nevada for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders began on 18th June 2015 when I left home at 6pm for the Airport. Or it probably began much earlier when I applied for the fellowship last year in October/November.

Javas - Victoria Mall.
Javas – Victoria Mall.

My friend offered to drop me at the airport to which I was super thankful. The usually jammed roads gave way for me – it was surprising that there was much less traffic than usual. We arrived in Entebbe about 8 pm. After a quick bite at Javas – Victoria mall we proceeded to the airport. The check in was not dramatic except that the handle of one of my suitcases gave way. I then joined the other Ugandan fellows heading out to different Universities in the US for a last ‘catch up’.

Entebbe Airport with other Ugandan Fellows
Entebbe Airport with other Ugandan Fellows

The entire trip was about 27 hours and that took a toll on me. By the last connection flight I was so worn out and getting irritable. The first flight was 8hrs 30min to Amsterdam, Netherlands and next was 10hr 15min to Salt Lake City, USA and lastly 1hr 15min to Tahoe International Airport, Reno-Nevada. I am thankful for journey mercies and looking forward to such a rich experience as I interact with business leaders and fellows from across Africa.

Arrival at Reno Tahoe International Airport
Arrival at Reno Tahoe International Airport

My 10 Best activities to include on your visit to Uganda

Uganda is the Pearl of Africa. The features and activities of interest are numerous. If you only have one time to visit this country, choose to at least one of these activities depending on your interests. They are not in any particular order.

  1. Gorilla tracking – Mountain_Gorilla-44Mountain gorillas found only in Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo in the whole world. They are endangered species, which have received protection from several conservation agencies. Uganda hosts half of the entire world population. Tracking the gorillas will lead you into the dense Bwindi Impenetrable forest where you will have an opportunity to watch a gorilla family go about the daily life as they feed and groom each other.
  1. Wildlife Safaris
Tree Climbing Lion on
Tree Climbing Lion on

Uganda is home to 10 national parks and numerous game and forest reserves. The national parks are mountainous, forested, and savannah. Four national parks are savannah therefore providing opportunities of game drives – Kidepo Valley, Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, and Lake Mburo National Park. A game drive allows you watch the animals in a comfortable open roof vehicle in their natural habitat – such a breathtaking experience. This provides numerous opportunities of water sports and other activities. It is only in Uganda where you enjoy a safari on the boat. Cruise along the Kazinga Channel, River Nile and Lake Mburo and enjoy the beautiful scenery, animals on the banks and the in water plus numerous bird life.

  1. River Nile IMG_8931                                         Take a visit to the source of longest river in the world, river Nile on Lake Victoria – Jinja, Uganda. There are various activities that take place on this river which include; boat ride to the source, white water rafting, bungee jump and kiss the Nile, kayaking, jet boating
  2. Lake Bunyonyi
Lake Bunyonyi - Southwestern Uganda.
Lake Bunyonyi – Southwestern Uganda.

This beautiful lake is nestled in the southwestern corner of Uganda. It has a rich history and traditions of the Bakiga people. The breathtaking scenery of the interlocking hills and 29 islands scattered on the lake is unmatched. Visit the Batwa people are believed to be the original inhabitants of the forested areas in this region.

  1. Kampala City tour

DSCF1718Kampala is the capital city of Uganda and a cultural melting pot. All the national and international cultures meet in this tropical city with an all year perfect weather. It is also home to one of the remaining Kingdoms, Buganda Kingdom – visit the Palace and Parliament of the Kingdom. Enjoy the various cuisine and night life of Kampala – the city that never goes to sleep.

  1. Take a ferry to Ssese Islands

IMG_8977Ssese Islands located on Lake Victoria will invoke your best memories with their virgin romantic space. The boat ride on Africa’s largest lake is a memorable one. While on Ssese the activities include; forest hikes, biking, squad bikes, fishing, kayaking and beach sports.

  1. Ngamba Island
chimp Feeding time @Ngamba Island
chimp Feeding time @Ngamba Island

Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is located 23km offshore from Entebbe, in Lake Victoria Uganda. It is nearly 100 acres in size and hosts over 50 different types of vegetation that chimps use: the chimps are free to roam at their will, exploring their environment and foraging for food. On arrival, you will receive an orientation talk from a staff of the sanctuary. Thereafter you move to the viewing platform to observe the Chimps during their supplementary feeding times. After the feeding program, you are free to explore the visitor’s area and enjoy the facilities.

  1. Sipi Falls
Sipi Falls
Sipi Falls

These were named as the most romantic waterfalls by Lonely planet. Nestled in Eastern Uganda on the slopes of Mt Elgon, Sipi falls offer the ultimate hiking and scenery experience. In addition, you will an experience of the Sebei culture and a coffee tour.

9. Birding

Malachite_Kingfisher-1Uganda is home to over 1050 bird species, which is 50% of the bird species found in Africa. You are able to find the central African species not found anywhere else in East African. It is host to many migrant birds from Africa and Europe. The small size of the country implies that one can have a record of over 700 bird sightings when they take a trip of 2-3 weeks across the country.

  1. Engage with local community and Cuisine
Buganda traditional Dance
Buganda traditional Dance

A visit to Uganda is not complete without time with the locals. Ugandans are the friendliest people on earth. Uganda has the freshest and most organic foods and fruits that are available all year round; this is due to fertile soils and tropical weather. Because the different regions have rains at different times it ensures that, there is food supply all year round.

For diversity and great scenery – Uganda will serve you a balanced diet. Welcome to Uganda where the East African savannah meets the West African juggle offering the best of both worlds.