105-year-old woman blocks Busoga kingdom tourist site plan

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A 105-year-old woman from Namutumba district has protested against plans by Busoga kingdom officials responsible for promoting tourism to designate her rock site as a tourist attraction without her consent.

Bugobi Town Council resident Eunike Kiire has strongly opposed the planned launch this week, June 15, of her rock site at Lugulu Village in Bugobi Rural Sub-County, Namutumba District, as one of the tourist sites from Busoga.

Eunike Kiire, the owner of the rock site.  (Photo by Ivan Wakibi)

Eunike Kiire, the owner of the rock site. (Photo by Ivan Wakibi)

According to Kiire, the cultural leaders of the Busiki chiefdom, in charge of identifying the sites, never approached or consulted with her on the matter. She only heard rumors about the development.

She claims the rock site, which spans about two acres, is the only source of income for her family as they engage in farming and stone quarrying to support themselves.

Kiire stressed that he could not give up his land unchecked and appealed to the relevant authorities to intervene and protect his land.

The elderly woman’s relatives also expressed concern over the development and promised not to allow the site to be launched as a tourist attraction without committing them to terms and conditions.

Michael Lulume, one of the grandsons, claimed that Chief Yolorimu Nabongo, who identified the site, never approached them. He accused Nabongo of colluding with others who were not landowners.

He mentioned that they possess all the documents of the land and urged the First Deputy Prime Minister, Rebecca Kadaga, who is expected to launch the rock along with others, to stop preparations until the matter is resolved.

The president of the LC1 area, Samuel Makaka, confirmed that the land that houses the rock belongs to the old woman, who has owned it for more than 50 years. He expressed concern that organizers proceeded with preparations without involving landowners, calling it a form of land grab.

Makaka called on stakeholders and political leaders at all levels to intervene in the matter to prevent the family from losing their valuable land.

Charles Mwanja, another grandson, reported the issue to the office of the district resident commissioner, Thomas Matende, who ordered Chief Nabongo to contact them before any development took place. However, Nabongo did not comply with the directive.

The rocky site covered by a banana plantation.  (Photo by Ivan Wakibi)

The rocky site covered by a banana plantation. (Photo by Ivan Wakibi)

RDC Matende confirmed receiving complaints from the family and ordered Chief Nabongo to suspend preparations until a consensus was reached. He promised to address the matter promptly.

Chief Nabongo acknowledged the complaints and promised to withdraw from the site. He stated that they cannot proceed with the launch amid complaints when other potential sites are available.

Busoga Kingdom Tourism Minister Helen Namutamba acknowledged the complaints and stated that they would exclude the site from the launch as they cannot proceed without the consent of the owners.

He assured that this Saturday they will proceed to inaugurate other tourist sites in the area to promote tourism in the kingdom.