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Ugandans urged to invest in Imbalu Festival, development of Elgon region

President Yoweri Museveni at the 2014 Imbalu celebrations.

Mbale, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A group of dedicated individuals, passionate about preserving the cultural heritage and promoting socio-economic progress in the areas surrounding Mount Elgon, are calling for substantial investment in the region, with a particular focus on the Imbalu, the traditional circumcision festival.

This revered festival, predominantly practiced by the Bagisu people residing in districts around Mount Elgon, signifies the rite of passage from boyhood to manhood and draws a large number of spectators from across the globe.

These advocates, representing districts such as Buduuda, Bukwo, Butalejja, Kapikworwa, Manafwa, Mbale, Bulambuli, Namisindwa, Sironko, and Tororo, have joined forces under the guidance of Gudie Leisure Farm, an esteemed investment company. Their collective aim is to shed light on the investment potential in the region, coinciding with the upcoming Elgon Region Investment Symposium scheduled for mid-next month.

Edimau Wesonga, the Town Clerk of Lwakhakha Town Council in Namisindwa district, underscores the region’s vast tourism potential, which stems from its distinctive culture and natural wonders, such as the renowned Mount Elgon. He stresses the necessity for purposeful investment to cater to the festival’s attendees, including the provision of adequate facilities, accommodation options, and dining services. Currently, the available offerings fall short of meeting the demands of the festival.

“Before we open up, there is always a festival, which is for everyone. A potential investor can get a good place, enclose it and charge an entry fee. Then the accommodation for the so many tourists who throng the region from August to December of every even year, because we only have facilities in a few places yet the festival is all over the region. And the food itself. The other is the goats and chicken business because every candidate is required to have either of the two, but the investment here especially the goats is still very low,” Wesoga explained.

Mutebo Isaac, a youth leader in the region, emphasizes that the true potential of Mount Elgon remains largely undiscovered by the world. “The world has not yet fully known what is inside of Mount Elgon, but there is a lot of edible Bamboo alias Maleya, and if marketed very well, one can make a lot of money because of its nutritional benefits, which are yet to be known to the world,” he said.

Michael Ojarulu, the Tororo District Youth Council Secretary for Finance, unveils lesser-known yet culturally significant tourist spots in the region, such as Osukuru Hill and the Tororo cave, which possess rich religious history. Ojarulu advocates for their recognition and development through strategic investment initiatives.

Gudular Nayiga Basazza, the Executive Director of Gudie Leisure Farm, perceives the Imbalu cultural ceremony as a captivating opportunity for filmmakers to capture authentic and compelling real-life narratives. “The other economic potential of the Imbalu festival is for the people who make films, this ceremony gives real-life films and one sells real-life events, but again in any place where many people gather it is an opportunity for one to sell their products and services, which has also not been well tapped into,” she said.

Gudie Leisure Farm has successfully trained over 1000 skilled youths in the region, who are well-prepared to contribute to and benefit from potential investment opportunities arising from the diverse and promising sectors in the area.

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