The government of Uganda elevated to cities the municipalities of Arua in the West Nile region near the DR Congo and South Sudan borders, Gulu in the Central North, Mbale and Jinja in the east, Mbarara in the Midwest, Fort Portal in the west and Masaka in central region.
In our 7 days series, starting Monday, 6th July 2020 – we bring you what you need to know about each of these new Cities starting with Mbale City.
Mbale City At A Glance;
Mbale is approximately 225 kilometres (140 mi), by road, northeast of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and oldest city, on an all weather tarmac highway.
The city also lies on the railway from Tororo to Pakwach. Mount Elgon, one of the highest peaks in East Africa, is approximately 57 kilometres (35 mi) north-east of Mbale, by road.
According to the 2002 national census, the population of Mbale was about 71,130. In 2010, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) estimated the population at 81,900. In 2011, UBOS estimated the mid-year population at 91,800. In 2014, the national population census put the population at 96,189.
√ City Status
In 2019 the Cabinet of Uganda, resolved to award Mbale, city status effective July 2021. In November of the same year, Cabinet revised the date of city status to 1 July 2020.
√ Notable People
Lydia Wanyoto: Lawyer, politician and diplomat.
Naminya Saleh: CEO at Casa Uganda Safaris & Lodges.
Nathan Nandala Mafabi is a Ugandan accountant, lawyer, and politician. He represents Budadiri County West in Sironko District in the Ugandan parliament. From May 2011 until January 2014, he was the leader of the opposition in the parliament.
√ Things To Do In Mbale
1. Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon is home to the World’s Largest Caldera. The Caldera was formed as a result of magma being drained from the chamber.
2. Wanale Hill
Wanale Hill is an impressive mountain replete with precipices, escarpments, deep valleys, water streaked cliffs, caves and rocks. It is the most visible mountain range of Mount Elgon
3. Sip falls
Sipi Falls is a series of three waterfalls in the district of Kapchorwa, northeast of Sironko and Mbale.
Hikes around the falls offer stunning views of the Karamoja plains, Lake Kyoga, and the slopes of Mt. Elgon.
4. Sisiyi falls
Sisiyi Falls is located in Buyagasub-region, Bulambuli district, Eastern Uganda. This magnificent falls is located a distance as you take the highway from Mbale to the districts of Sironko,Bulambuli, Kapchorwa and Moroto. The area around Sysiyi falls is good for camping, family Picnics, Team Building activities, relaxing e.t.c
5. Nyero Rock Paintings
65km north of Mbale, the Nyero Rock Paintings are the finest of several rock art sites in the region. Three panels are found within the extensive granite outcrop of Moru Ikara, 10km from Kumi Town and 55km from Mbale on the Soroti road. The most impressive is Panel Two which includes two canoes bearing human figures
6. Imbalu Circumcision Ceremony
The imbalu (male circumcision) is a legendary ceremony among the Bagisu ethnic group marks the initiation of boys into manhood. The ritual brings a festive atmosphere in the Elgon region: Music blares, the dance is engrossing, food is in plenty. The opening ceremony is usually around the Month of August of every even year. Due to the outbreak of the Corona Virus, we might not have this event this year.
7. Bududa Bull Fighting
The fights are organized in Namasho village, Bulucheke sub-county, Bududa District every fortnight on Saturdays.The bull fighting tradition in Bududa began in 1956.
8. The Tororo Rock
The rock is situated approximately 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) southeast of the central business district of the town. It is reported that Tororo Rock is visible from anywhere in Tororo District. There is saying in Tororo: “The Eiffel Tower is to Paris as the magnificent Tororo Rock is to Tororo District. The rock is a major tourist attraction.
9. The Jewish Community (Semei Kakungulu site)
Semei Kakungulu (1869 – 24 November 1928) was a Ugandan man who founded the Abayudaya (Luganda: Jews) community in Uganda in 1917. He studied and meditated on the Old Testament, adopted the observance of all Moses’ commandments, including circumcision, and suggested this observance for all his followers. The Abayudaya follow Jewish practices and consider themselves Jews despite the absence of Israelite ancestry. Kakungulu died on 24 November 1928 of tetanus. He was buried a short distance from the main Abayudaya synagogue in Gangama, a short distance from Mbale Town.
10. Kapkwai Forest Exploration Center
The Forest Exploration Centre at Kapkwai, 13km from Sipi town, doubles as an educational center for schools and the trailhead for climbers using the Sipi trail to the caldera. Three circuits of between 3-7km run through the surrounding regenerating forest, where visitors can visit caves, waterfalls, escarpments and viewpoints; and observe birds and primates.
11. Pian-upe & Matheniko Bokora Game Reserve
In the plains of Karamoja to the north of Mount Elgon lie Matheniko Bokora Wildlife Reserve and the expansive Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve, the second largest protected area in Uganda, with an area of 2,788km2. Wildlife found here includes rare species such as the roan antelope, lesser kudu, Bright’s gazelle and ostriches which, in Uganda, are found only here and in Kidepo Valley National Park. Wildlife is concentrated around the Loporokocho swamp.
Circumcision in Africa is an old culture as practiced by the Bamasaaba in Eastern Uganda. The culture of circumcision was adopted by the Bamasaba from their in-laws the Maasai people. The men among the Bagisu tribe undergo initiation ceremonies known as Imbalu. The initiation ceremonies among the Bamasaaba are held every two years during August.
The Bamasaaba ancestors lived on bamboo shoots also known as malewa in the Lugisu language.These bamboo shoots are collected from bamboo trees on top of Mt. Elgon.
√ The Mbale People
The Gisu people, or Bamasaba people of Elgon, alternately Bugisu, Gishu, Masaba, or Sokwia, are a tribe of the Masaba people of eastern Uganda, closely related to the Bukusu people of Kenya. Bamasaba live mainly in the Mbale District of Uganda on the slopes of Mount Elgon.
The distance between Kampala and Mbale is 197 km. The road distance is 222.1 km.
You can get in and out of Mbale by Bus, Taxi or private car. Within Mbale town the main means of transport is by Boda Boda (motorcycles or Bicycles)
√ Where To Stay In Mbale
There are 22+ hotels available in Mbale. Prices start at $10 Per Night