[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“Kampala is constantly changing,” my boda boda rider said as we began our tour. “If you leave now and come back in four months, you’ll almost be turned into a tourist considering the significant changes that would have happened”. As he spoke, I couldn’t help wondering if the hoards of hustling crowd in the city had time to appreciate the changes that their busy city sees so frequently. Anyway, Malik my new friend is evidence that some to them do.
I met Malik at a small bar where I went to cool off the evening I arrived at Kampala. We struck up conversation after a few glasses of drink during which I shared my experience in the city’s hectic traffic with him. He pitied me for getting a wrong introduction to his city (he was repeatedly saying my city) and offered to should me around whenever I was free. Before we parted ways, we fixed a date for a tour.
“I took the liberty to take you out on boda boda today I hope you are not afraid of using one?” Yusuf asked with a smile. “In Kampala, this is what everyone rides. With it we’ll beat the traffic and get to many places,” he said with so much conviction. Boda boda is the city’s word for motorcycle, which is a major means of transportation throughout Uganda. The rider takes at most two passengers per time. They are usually feared because of their dangerous driving in traffic.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”26311″ img_size=”600×400″ add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_border”][vc_column_text]Before we set out, Yusuf gave me a crash preview of what to expect. “You’ve heard of Muammar Gaddafi mosque, (I nodded in response though he didn’t seem interested in my answer) most visitors go there to see the grand architectural masterpiece which is believed to be Kampala’s biggest attraction, but I will show you another grand building designed and built by local architects.” By this, Yusuf was talking about the Mapeera House. The 19-storey building is located in Kampala road where it imposes itself on its environs[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”26314″ img_size=”600×400″ add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_border”][vc_single_image image=”26315″ img_size=”600×400″ add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_border”][vc_column_text]On Kampala road, you can almost not miss the Mapeera, the name is written boldly on the tall building which dramatically peers down over its surrounding in downtown Kampala. Mapeera essentially houses offices, so there was really no opportunity to explore it. We only had a look from outside and zooming off to our next destination; the grand Muammar Gaddafi Mosque.
Muammar Gaddafi who built the mosques on Idi Amin’s request must have had a taste for something grand. Like the mosque itself, the busy road leading to it is named after the former Libya leader who was famously called king of kings by his fans in Uganda. The mosque is built at the top of old Kampala hill.
For a fee, the mosque, including its offices, conference halls, the minaret and, of course, the prayer halls, is open to anyone to visit. It has two floors, with the lower one for daily prayers and, the upper for special events.
The upper prayer hall is the richest and biggest, and offers more in terms of sightseeing. It is divided into two parts; that is the ground level reserved for men and an upper balcony reserved for women. For the best view over Kampala’s city centre, the mosque’s 65m-high minaret, must not be missed.
We were led into the mosque by one of the staff. As our tour guide, he took us through all the highlights of the mosque. First, we entered the large main hall which sits 15000 people. It has big chandeliers with elaborate interior decor. At its centre in front is a large copy of the Quran. The Holy Book has thick colourful hardcover and is placed on a wooden rehal. Then we climbed the minarets.
At the top of the minaret (if you haven’t been using long steps, getting to the top of the minaret will be a task for you), I found spread before me the city of Kampala. In view were the markets, the hills in the distance, the old colonial buildings, government offices, the red earth and the busy roads leading up to the mosque. The climb was totally worth it.
I was busy taking in the view as our guide points out some of the city’s landmarks including the Nakasero Market, the parliament building, the Bahia temple, and spots where the British first stayed.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”26316″ img_size=”600×400″ add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_border”][vc_column_text]We left the mosque for a restaurant where Malik ordered a Rolex, not the watch. Rolex is popular in Uganda as a meal than a watch. It’s about the best street food you can find any time of the day in Kampala. It is fried egg pre-mixed with tomato, onion, cabbage and some green peppers, then wrapped in a chapatti.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”26317″ img_size=”600×400″ add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_border”][vc_column_text]I chowed down my Rolex as we switch from one topic about Uganda to the other, from Anne Kansiime, the multi-award winning talent trending on social media, to the budding art scene and Ugandan’s love for soccer. Later that day, we had a stopover at Uganda National Museum and the famous Owino market where I bought Kitenga, a popular local fabric.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”26318″ img_size=”600×400″ add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_border”][vc_column_text]After the eventful tour, I retire to me hotel to laze around the large swimming pool for the better part of the evening.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Drop your comments below and let us know what you think. You can also send in your travel stories to [email protected] and follow us on twitter, facebook and instagram.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]