Kabale still takes your breath away

Kabale, it seems is where God’s lustre and human ingenuity meet. Here in southwestern Uganda, nature and humans and their domestic animals appear to live in harmony without any contradiction. 

The locals, predominantly Bakiga and Bafumbira, have conquered in an almost arrogant but respectful way, the arraying and scenic hills and swaying V-shaped and U-shaped valleys without necessarily destroying their natural configuration and scenery. 

The streams are still flowing with fresh natural waters, the hot springs bubbling, the birds always chirping away, forests and gardens as green as ever, Africa’s second deepest lake, Bunyonyi with 29 islands so calm – Kabale is a breath of fresh air in every sense of the word. 

Nature has been respected and it seems to have reciprocated the gesture. Although there are the occasional landslides, these are not at worrying levels as happens year after year in eastern Uganda in Bududa and Mbale.  

People here fit into nature, and not the other way round. You see no forest or hill razed to the ground for a project. No hill is too high for a house, and likewise, no valley is too shallow for a health centre or a church building; getting there is the real problem. 

Houses downhill in Kabale

You may see your destination downhill or uphill but to reach there, you actually first drive away in circles, losing sight of it before reaching. You can only hold it up in praise for the road contractors who had to blast through rocky hillsides to construct the roads. 

Boda bodas of course go uphill but you literally hear their engines struggling for power. The snaking single-lane murram road going round the hills sends a chilling bout to any new travellers. This road would actually make a nice rally circuit with all the blind corners, but as it is, any mistake with the vehicle’s braking system would simply be a point of no return.  

With rocks everywhere, stone mining dominated by women and children is a common sight. Seeing the all-conquering heights of the hills and the contour farmlands, my primary school social studies and secondary school geography lessons were brought to life.  

The slightly dark and brownish “volcanic, ferralitic and peat” soils – give dwellers appetizing and healthy yields. Crops, mainly beans, Irish potatoes, maize, coffee, sorghum, a few bananas, yams and even the weeds look so healthy, but that is before you even see the goats and cows. 

The animals are predominantly the local breed but my, they look so healthy. No wonder the milk here is so authentically rich. Nobody loves the hills more than the baby goats. They keep racing up and downhill without a misstep. The official geographical narrative is that it is the plutonic formation of the Kabale hills that led to the creation of present-day Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga after the water flow got reversed, creating depressions and flooding more than 400km away. 

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