Overcoming Lockdown Stress by Swimming in Lake Mutanda
By Alex Gahima
The first and second lockdown for most Ugandans has been an extremely stressful ordeal because people could not have meaningful human interactions due to the restrictions on work and movements, wouldn’t you agree?
The Government’s plan was to save as many lives as possible by keeping people in their homes and out of harms’ way.
Any right thinking Ugandan had to understand the logic behind the lockdown, but when days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, people’s patience was truly tested.
Trusted news outlets across the country, raised the issue of rising poverty in homes, increased cases of gender based violence, teenage pregnancies and mental health issues among others. People soon began falling apart.
A band of friends in Kisoro decided to go to Lake Mutanda, located near Chihe primary school for the sole purpose of blowing steam through swimming.
At this point, I feel it is important to mention that it is very dangerous to swim in a lake. If you wish to swim in a lake, you must have at least a life guard on standby, you must have a life jacket and most importantly, you must be sober (little to no alcoholic content in your body)
Lake Mutanda unites all walks of life.
A group of friends decided to walk to Lake Mutanda on a weekly basis to enjoy the cool waters. These friends, majority of whom could not swim before the lockdown can now confidently dive and jump into the fresh and free flowing lake.
Meet Shaban the banker
Mr. Shaban is a banker in one of the commercial banks in Kisoro district. He is not originally from Kisoro district but he says, the cool breeze and natural scenery is unmatched to anywhere he has been.
Before heading to the lake, Shaban and his friends stop over at a Rolex stand near Kisoro hospital to buy snack (RolexUG) which he simply described as a foundational meal for any outdoor activity.
Shaban does not swim but he says Lake Mutanda offered an alternative avenue to relax and meet new friends especially during the lockdown where his family are unreachable, in the physical sense.
“The kind of work I do doesn’t allow me much time to experience much outside the workplace but when I heard that young people go to Lake Mutanda to swim, I was intrigued and interested”, Shaban said
Laban the tour guide
Laban Joseph Niyongabo is a renowned tour guide and sports pundit on one of the radios in Kisoro. You most likely will find Laban donning an Arsenal jersey and shorts.
Laban explained to me that the walk to Lake Mutanda from Kisoro town is approximately 4kms taking close to an hour and half at a relaxed pace.
Laban has been committed to swimming lessons since the onset of the lockdown and often makes the trip at least once a week.
“We realized that it was possible to visit Mutanda Eco- community where the public has access to the lake at literally no cost. The walk to the lake has allowed me to connect with my friends and forget briefly that COVID -19 had cut off my clients, family and friends”, said Niyongabo
Georgina the researcher
According to Georgina, water always makes her feel safe and reminds her of her early childhood where life was much easier.
Though Georgina doesn’t really know how to swim, she is courageous and jumps into the water.
“Am glad I managed to overcome this fear of water but most importantly I am so glad to have friends that have pushed me to take a risk”, Georgina said
Tony Mutabazi, the People’s person
Tony is the kind of guy who will definitely make you feel at home. Brave, articulate and prepared to help a friend.
Tony’s economical exploits cannot easily be categorized thanks to the lockdown but he says all is well in his life.
An excellent swimmer, Tonny said, his visits to lake allow him to meet new friends, relax his mind and give him an opportunity to get away from town.
Meet Joachim Hashakimana the deputy Speakership Kisoro Municipality
A first time swimmer in any lake, Joachim said visiting Lake Mutanda is a good idea for anyone who wishes to relax.
He noted that the district needs to invest more in recreational areas like Lake Mutanda for both locals and foreigners.
Meet Samuel Mwondha, the Guild President Metropolitan International University
Samuel is a fun loving fellow who said the lake is a great asset for Kisoro district.
He explained that Lockdown was so stressful but he thanks God that he met friends who think about positive ways to find solutions to problems
Facts about Lake Mutanda.
- Lake Mutanda is a small, freshwater lake in the far southwest of Uganda, close to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. It is drained by the Rutshuru River, flowing northward to Lake Edward.
- Lake Mutanda is a 30-minute drive from the center of Kisoro.
- It is one of the few lakes in Kisoro that is Bilharzia free.
Proprietor of Mutanda Eco Community Sheba Hanyurwa says his premises have been a place of solace for many people, young and old seeking to get away from home.
He noted that the premises provide food, drinks and accommodation to all people who love to be by the lakeside.
Kisoro Nature walkers
Another group of people who love Kisoro and were tired of being locked up in the house decided to walk the breadth and width of Kisoro district.
Voice of Muhabura director Prince Trevor Mugenga. Kisoro district Police Community Liaison officer Boaz Arintatwe have been walking and conquering hills across the district.
Prince said walking has helped him to see firsthand the true beauty of Kisoro.
“I walk every day Monday to Friday. Thanks to the support of my friends we have seen some beautiful places in Kisoro”, said Prince
“Today I walked from Kamonyi in Kisoro town to Kanaba and it was so worth it”, Prince exclaimed