Thursday, August 28, 2014

Destination Jungle organizes Run for Nature 2014

Sunday 7th September 2014 is a very important day for Destination Jungle. After months of preparation, the day of the RUN for Nature has come. We have used all our resources to sensitize the general public about this event: we have organized promotional materials, registration tables; we have disseminated information and invitation letters. Now the day is coming soon and all our staff is finalizing the preparation.
           
Press Conference Run for Nature 19th August 2014
The idea to organize Run for Nature2014 came in April 2014 when we were discussing about the situation of one of the important but neglected forest of Uganda, Bugoma Forest. Our company Destination Jungle is part of the consortium of Bugoma Forest Conservation Campaign, group which we have launched in April 2014. In this group we share the same passion and interest to make positive and tangible steps in favour of forest conservation, particularly after we spent one year observing the deforestation and illegal logging that was taking place in Bugoma Central Forest Reserve (Hoima District). In our company Mission and core values conservation and engagement in conservation is the priority, therefore we decided to act directly as a responsible civil society actor in regards of Bugoma Forest.
            The idea of organizing the Run for Nature came with the intention to sensitive and to give public visibility to the plague of Bugoma Forest, the destruction of the environment which is taking place there and the suffering of the endangered chimpanzees and other animals living in the forest. The run is a run for fun, open to all public and people can register for 5 or 10 km only. The final objective of the run is to fund raise for an assisted reforestation project of degraded areas of Bugoma Forest. In recent history, according to sources from the National Forestry Authority, no any reforestation – enrichment planting was carried out in Bugoma forest, despite the fact that many acres of forested land was lost due to encroachment and deforestation.
Illegal logging devastates Bugoma Forest
Finally we had our press conference for the launch on 19th August 2014 at the Uganda Society Library. In the occasion, the National Forestry Authority was represented by the Public Relation Manager Mr. Gilbert Kadillo, who explained very well about what the government is doing to improve the central forest reserved managed by the authority. Particularly he also said that Bugoma Forest will be one of the forests receiving the official demarcation exercise to open the boundaries. He also appreciated the idea of the enrichment planting, which is an assisted reforestation, which is needed in a degraded areas, in order to concentrate the recovery of trees species important to the habitat, for example the food to the chimpanzees.

            So here we are to explain to everyone the importance to join our little efforts to make a huge impact. The message is clear: in Bugoma forest and other forests of Uganda is no longer time for illegal deforestation, but for protecting the resources and possibly to create new eco-tourist sites where visitors can enjoy the beauty of the tropical forests. Please you can also join our Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bugomaforest/

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Trekking of Mount Muhavura in Mgahinga National Park, 4127 meters

There are moments in which you feel it is important regaining a bit of freedom from the congestion of the daily routine, something that can fresh up your mind. Of course it is not easy working in office then spending time in the traffic jam of Kampala and breathing all air pollution every single day. However there are those things which everyone knows can give you freedom: in my case, those things are going cycling, trekking in the mountain and, to a different extend, lying down in front of a beautiful sea. Well, I got my new bicycle ready for new adventures; meantime, there was a trekking I postponed over the years, waiting for the right time to come, the trekking of Muhavura Volcano.
On 15th November I travelled all the way from Kampala to Kisoro, at the foothills of Virunga Volcanoes. The following day, early morning, the check in time for the Muhavura trekking was at 8 am from the gate of Muhavura of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. I climbed the rocky mountain roads which take up to the national park boundary, which is visible because it is built with a wall made of volcanic stones all along. The weather was not easily predictable for the day, with some fog in the air but also some promise of sun. With a guide from the Uganda Wildlife Authority and a porter which was carrying my small bag, I started walking through the mountain forest. I felt like when I was in the Italian Alpes, doing the day excursion with the group of the scouts, with the difference that I was not carrying the rucksack by myself this time. I immediately appreciated the good, fresh air as the route was not proceeding steep but zig zagging up. The starting altitude of the trekking is at about 2500 meters. After one hour we reached the limit of the ericaceus zone, at 3.116 meters where a small shelter allows you a stop over and to take some photographs. From this point on the mountain forest leaves the ground to an alpine vegetation of ericacia plants, senecios and lobelias, something like a heather zone, where the vegetation is basically shorter and, with good weather, you can see the panorama far distant to Lake Mutanda and Lake Bunyonyi behond Kisoro and even up to Bwindi. The second stop over was at 3.855 meters, where another small shelter indicated that we are in the giant lobelia and senecios area. The trekking was becoming more steep and we were now climbing the upper part of the volcano. I found a bit distressing the presence of a lot of wooden ladders which were supposed to help the walk, but in fact for what concerns me it was actually causing more delay and fear of sliding as these ladders are not much sophisticated and not straight.
We arrived at the peak, at 4127 meters, when an icy rain started to beat our heads and we could not enjoy the crater lake in the caldera. Of course even the temperature went down with the rain at that altitude and a good warm jacked was necessary. On the other side, it was very difficult to prevent the rain from entering our shoes and from making us wet, however even this experience reminded me of some torrential rain beating me while walking along an alpine route and the rain coat was never enough. It took us basically four hours to arrive at the peak, keeping a moderately slow speed allowing the body to breathe and also to enjoy the environment. The descent was much faster, though a bit complicated by the wooden ladders which I was trying to avoid all the time (but some acrobatic fall here and there was inevitable). I was comforted by the fact that I did not feel to be unprepared for the trekking; indeed I had a minimum training in the last period, though not so much preparation. I was also comforted by the fact that the guide was falling down much more often than I did, poor guy, I guess it was the shoes and I felt sorry for him. During the descent, actually we had good panoramic views of the valley in front of the Muhavura, we could see Lake Mutanda and Lake Mulehe. By 4 in the afternoon we were back to the gate, I imagine this can be an average time for completing the trekking. Walking in the mountain is something that takes away my fears, which brings my mind back to the ground, a kind of natural therapy.  
Costantino Tessarin


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The spread of fascist culture at the Uganda National Cultural Centre

Yesterday Monday 24th February I went with some visitors from Germany to see the music jam session at the Uganda National Cultural Centre. What should have been a moment of entertainment, a show case of Ugandan talents, was transformed into the stage for the political campaign of right-wing extremists, in other words a real fascist preach which incredibly was coming from a Cultural Centre like the National Theatre.
It seems that fascist culture is actually spreading in the last years in Uganda but I never had a real feeling of it until I heard with my own ears.
What does it mean fascist culture? Historically, “fascism” is a political ideology which defines different regimes and people, in all part of the world, and that was initially originated by the Italian “fascism” (led by Benito Mussolini between 1922 and 1943) and having one of the major examples in Adolf Hitler of German Nazism.
There are common aspects to define a fascist political culture, which I would like to briefly highlight here and all of them came out yesterday from the preach of Pastor Martin Sempa.
First of all the belief that the culture is “one”, without differences and that the “African culture” is one versus any other culture. Culture is the justification for a political ideology: it is the culture that condemns the freedom of the people; but in reality, it is a fascist ideology/culture that allows some people to refuse the right of freedom of other people. Culture is not one and uniform; there are differences between person and person, between country and country community and community. But according to the fascists, the culture is one, the “African culture”.
Secondly, the aspect of promoting hate and not acceptance of any diversion from the so called “culture”. Fascist culture is the apology of the so called “traditional society”. Everything that is not liked, through it exists, should not exist. There is no freedom for the people: the people are entirely subjects to the rules dictated by the "society". For example the ladies should always marry and have children and they should not wear a miniskirt unless very long. Gay people should not exist even though they exist. It is well known in all history and all societies that gays are part of humanity, though a minority; it is well known that their sexual orientation is not a choice but a fact of nature, therefore there is nothing to be objected and nothing is cultural against gays, but only political, the fascist politics which does not want to view the facts of nature because they simply do not like it. It is like to say that if we do not like that there are disabled people, then they should be banned, yet they exist. It is like to say that if we do not like the moon to be in the sky, then we need to cover with tarpaulins all the sky so that we don’t see the moon and the moon no longer exists. This is unrealistic. This is a culture which is based on refusal of science and therefore creates hates and divisions among people based on “culture”. This is not culture, is fascist ideology. We have already seen that the fascist culture produced the Nazis’ concentration camps where (what coincidence!) were killed millions of gays, disabled people, anti-fascists (communists) and also Jewish. So this culture is here in Uganda, promoted at national level.
Thirdly, the racist aspect and hate for the foreigners. The fascist discourse says that the African people are oppressed and made slaves by the Foreigners, therefore creating a false myth of all the Foreigners been enemies to the African people. Fascist culture promotes the population growth (more children) because this number will facilitate the capacity to resists the foreign enemies. The fascist culture is always anti-American, like yesterday Martin Sempa condemned Barack Obama for defending peoples’ human rights. He said yesterday “if you do not like this country, go away”. This is pure racist intimidation which is definitely shocking any civilized persons and especially tourists. Again, fascist politics does not look at the population growth from the scientific environmental sustainability: how many people are on earth? Is there need to multiply? Is there enough resources? What is the environmental impact?
My friends from Germany, who did not expect this type of fascist campaign, immediately told me that it is obvious that tourists and foreigners will not like to visit a country like Uganda. Remember that fascist regimes believed also in “autarchy” in other words that you do not need other people to survive; your own economy is self-sufficient. Indeed all fascists’ regimes ended up by destroying the economies and generating poverty.  
In other countries than in Uganda there is the crime of “association of fascist ideology”, because any healthy society must protect itself from whoever is perceived as causing troubles to the common social background. Indeed fascists are creating divisions, preaching intolerance and hate, disseminating false mythologies to young generations who are na├»ve to political culture, preaching racist approached who can scare anyone away.

In other words, probably it is because of freedom of expression that fascists’ leaders can talk in public places like National Theatre in Uganda. In other countries they will never have such a good reception. It will be the political task of all democratic Ugandans (majority) to fight away these fascist ideologies, to reduce them to what they always are, a political phenomenon of few extremists, before they actually spread further and destroy the democratic Ugandan society which is actually at its start. I feel more than sorry for all those people in minority, gays and disables, people who are not married nor have children, ladies who like miniskirts, because in this moment they must resist against this political fascist degeneration, which in any case was not inside the history of Ugandan people, except perhaps the Idi Amin regime. For those who work in the tourist economy, the welcome industry, perhaps it is time to react to this fascist evil before it can affect the industry and creating poverty out of poverty. As a foreigner in Uganda and as Director of Destination Jungle Ltd. I feel offended by the racist preach of the fascists leaders. As a foreigner, I can only hope that the Democratic Ugandans will come out more strongly, that only will bring progress and development to Uganda.
Costantino Tessarin bachelor degree in History at University of Bologna, Msc in Development Studies at SOAS London and Director of Destination Jungle