This was so far my most abrupt trip. One minute I was going to sleep, and the next minute I was packing a bag. That was around midnight. And very early the following morning I was on a bus headed for Fort Portal! Well, what happened was that I got an invitation to visit Fort but for only that weekend. I didn’t even stop to ponder about it. It’s how much I love travel and adventure.
Yeah, so some Friday that December 2016, I made my very first trip to Fort Portal! I even made sure I sit at the front next to the driver in the bus
so that I would not miss seeing anything.
And after around four hours on the road, I was in Fort. I got a motorcycle (boda boda) to take me to where I was supposed to meet my friend and guess what? The boda guy got lost. Apparently he wasn’t sure where the place was. And… that’s how I got a free bike tour around Fort Portal town as we went round and round in circles.
On my tour I saw two main features that stand out in the town. Some weird cube-like structure as you enter the town and another sculpture of a lion in the town center. I found out later that the cube-like structure is a monument that was set up in honor of the Empaako tradition of Tooro Kingdom that lies in Fort Portal. The Empaako tradition is where children are given one of some special twelve names shared across the communities e.g Akiki, Amoti, e.t.c in addition to their given and family names.
We were supposed to head back to Kampala the following morning. (Can you imagine?! I had just reached and I was just getting started.) So anyway I woke up very early the next day, Sunday, to head back to the town and tour some more. On my way I passed by a big nice looking building up on a hill. I figured it must be a hotel or something. But after walking (very fast) for like 15 minutes, guess what? I asked around for how far I still had to walk to reach the town and I was told that I was heading in the opposite direction out of Fort Portal towards Kasese District!.
So I turned around and headed back. And on my way, as I entered the town, you won’t believe who I bumped into. Sir Gerald Herbert Portal himself, not in flesh, but in clay, as a statue. This is the guy whom Fort Portal town is named after because it was his base during his stay in Uganda long ago in the 1880’s. In brief, he was a British commissioner who came to check out Uganda to see if she could be turned into a British protectorate, he went ahead to settle some issues between the French and British missionaries, he signed a treaty with Kabaka Mwanga II and he is also the one who raised the British flag (Union Jack) in Uganda. Before Uganda, he had been to Egypt, Italy, Zanzibar.. and he even wrote books about his adventures ( My mission to Abyssinia, The British mission to Uganda). I bet he would have had a blog if it was possible those days. In addition, he was also a sports man and he used to play cricket. It was really nice to meet him though in statue form. I think we had a a lot in common.
After my chance meeting with Gerry’s statue, I went to find the empaako monument for some pictures. Meanwhile, I just asked a police guard I found on the road to help me take the pictures. And after I was done with the monument he advised me to also check out the Tooro palace. Apparently it was the nice big building I had seen and assumed to be a hotel when I was on my way to Kasese. Since my friends had not called me yet to head back I went to check out the palace. And I am very happy that I did, because I got some real nice optical nutrition from there. There is a winding road that leads up to the palace on top of the hill (Karuzika Hill), interestingly with no security prohibition for anyone to go up there. It is a long walk up but with nice rocks around that you can sit on (I love rocks) and a beautiful all-around wide view on top of the hill. I could not resist first pausing to take a seat on a rock and absorbing the amazing view. I then continued to walk and tour around the palace and even did a small video. Although as I was still enjoying my recording I spotted a guard, and it looked like he had been watching me the whole time and he was not so happy. So I turned around and went back. That’s where my tour ended.
And that was Fort Portal for me. I hope I get a chance to visit again in more detail.
Special thanks to Fred and Paul
And above all to God Almighty!