By Titus Kakembo
The Kampala City’s cream of the cream thronged to Speke Resort Munyonyo for the high-end pool side Christmas Party.
Obese diners waddled out of 4WD for metal detection and sanitizing at the entrance. The corporates brought had their fore heads corrugated with anger as their grannies and parents had to be checked. But nothing was going to stop them from sampling the fine dining in Kampala City where a tumbler of sparkling wine was the reception at the entrance. Those who do not drink alcohol got a glass of fruit juice.
Children sat on Father Christmas’ lap who put sweets, chocolate and cookies in their palms. Fascinated ones asked their parents to take him to their homes for a sleepover.
As the little ones plunged in the pool to swim and din of their noise competed for attention with 446 Entertainment Band. They treated diners to renditions of Malaika by Miriam Makeba, Mario by Franco Luambo Makhiadi, No Woman No Cry by Bob Marley and a string of ABA legendary tunes.
Fingers could be heard clicking and the audience sang along while asking for more. Some wanted to know more about fruit carving.
“Mukimono is what fruit carving is called in Japan,” says Chef Association of Uganda Reagan Kawuki. “It dates back centuries. The theme depends on the occasion.”
The food court was an exhibition of smiling water melons, birds on pineapples and strawberry flowers. Cookie art was also food to be eaten and seen by diners.
I saw repeat diners. One of them was the Minister of Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem who was there on time. Chubby cheeks, he was visibly physically fit as he was last Christmas.
So was Sarah Muwonge with her children filling a whole table as they dripped with water and bubbling with glee.
Among the numerous stations was a Salad Bar which was a vegetarian’s Mecca. Liquors had price tags of sh8, 000 for a beer as the finest whiskies left consumers sh380, 000 and above less. Uganda Waragi was the most pocket friendly at sh100, 000 for a muzinga (big bottle).
The lengthy menu had whole pork somersaulting on a rod. The scent left tongues wagging as the chief fanned the charcoal to hasten making it ready. Ears were booked by the first guest to arrive.
Huge portions of marinated, browned and spiced turkey were served.
The fish stall had ten trays with different species of open oven smoked fish. They were dressed impeccably with rings of onions, slices of carrots, sprinkled with spices and cabbage strips.
Indian cuisines featured chicken tikka delivered ten to twenty minutes after ordering. The waiters shuttled about like mice on the screen once one placed an order.
The BBQ table had steamed and mashed bananas with thick groundnut stew, pilao, Nan, spaghetti and stroganoff.
Tables had name tags which many shook hands, exchanged pleasantries and darted to their own territory.
The salad bar with a decorous display of sliced fruits attracted bees that scared some diners with sting fright. Some watermelons were artistically sliced; they looked like some people they know in the business circles.
By 6:00pm more diners were snuggling through the check point of metal detectors, sanitizing palms and temperature reading. The cars in the parking lot were dominated by 4WD plush ones.
The Kayanja Restaurant on the shores of Lake Victoria also filled to capacity with diners and winners. Wedding couple went about having photo opportunities in the neatly manicured gardens as if it was their special day and not Christmas.
The sailing club splashed water as their boats shot deeper into the lake at lightning speed. Those who arrived towing boats rolled them on the water and went flying like bats from hell. The lake was jammed by water lovers taking a ride from one end to another.
Sport fishing was engaging with fans who trapped them, weighed, took photos and shoved their catch back in the water.
“How does God give you food or call it money and you shove it back,” wondered Henry Kintu, a fisherman in Gaba.
“But to us sport fishing fans, the thrill is catching and enabling another fan to get the 120 kg catch,” says Hans George. “It is environmentally friendly and conservative.”
According to a seasoned bird watcher Herbert Byaruhanga Munyonyo is ideal for the hobby as the atmosphere is studded with King Fishers, Weaver birds, African Fishing Eagles and pelicans.
“All you need is time, ears, eyes and a guide book to help you identify what you have seen and tick it,” said Byaruhanga. “Bird watchers have logged 200 different species for 24 hours.”
According to Uganda Tourism Board CEO Lilly Ajarova the story of Uganda is incomplete minus faith tourism that has a chapter in Munyonyo where some of the martyrs breathed their last while destined to the hangman Mukajanga in Namugongo for execution.
“It is not far from Speke Resort Munyonyo,” says Ajarova. “Churches and monuments are all over the place in memory of those who died for the word of God. Faith tourism has been shooting up in the area since the construction of Martyr’s Shrine-Basilica of Uganda.”
True to Ajarova’s words, some of the diners had their prayers in the Basilica or at St Matia Lwanga Church in Salama.
From Speke Resort history enthusiasts sailed to Mulungu Landing site where Kabaka Mwanga, a fan of marine sports used to have the annual regatta. A boat or horse ride is how merry makers made their way there.