Incongruous to many of my peers who have no other hankering than to draw their remunerations, go out, hit the bar and have fun, l have always had a curious desire to explore my country.
My most recent trip was to Hoima, thanks to the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT) that hosted I and a group of journalists to a thrilling yet educative excursion.
Tucked away in the middle of Hoima, is one spot that was discovered by hunters ages ago called Kibiro.
Kibiro is located in Kigorobya Sub-County, 33.4 kilometers North of Hoima town in Bunyoro sub-region.
It’s 5pm, the sun is winding down with a stunning reflection of colorful rays mingled with the beautiful lake albert.
We hiked for about one hour and thirty minutes before meeting the Chairperson Local Council One Kibiro, Godfrey Abigaba.
He welcomed us to his village and wished us a safe stay.
Abigaba told us that this place was discovered by hunters who later settled in the natural forest.
“The place is called Kibiro, because when the hunters discovered it, it was full of natural trees. Later on they discovered a hot spring, which enticed them to stay. Hot springs are often associated to miraculous cure for various maladies.
The locals today are no longer in the hunting business, but live off on fishing and salt mining.
“Women do the salt mining while men carry out fishing. That’s all people in our community do. We do not practice farming at all,” Abigaba said.
The hot spring, Abugaba says, is an important part of the Kibiro community because first; it’s a healing god to them and in fact once in a while the natives go and seek blessings from it. Same goes for healing diseases, more so skin diseases.
Just a few minute’s walk from the hot springs, is a special spot in Kibiro called Muntero where women engage in salt mining.
The women in the wee hours of the morning dig up soil in this spot and spread it out dry for about two weeks.
Philder Kirokimu, a salt miner, says they do not allow rain to hit the soil because it would wash out the salt.
Later the dried soil is scooped and put into a saucepan with holes. Water is then poured into the saucepan and it is sieved slowly into another pan.
The water is then changed to another clean pan and boiled for a few hours.
“The water is boiled until it evaporates and what remains in the saucepan is good quality salt which is then put around the fire place to dry,” Kirokimu explains.
“The money we get from the salt mining is what we use maintain our households, educate our children and once in a while get something nice for ourselves like clothes,” Kirokimu said as she smiled.
I tasted the final product and it was super concentrated salt.
Men on the other hand are engaged in fishing to supplement on the women’s income.
They go out in groups and fish, and on their return, sell the fish to nearby villages like Kigorobya and many others.
Unfortunately, these spend most of their incomes on drinking.
“Sometimes they end up consuming all the money leaving the women as the bread winners at home,” he noted.
Abigaba added the Kibiro Salt Mines and Hot Springs are slowly but steadily becoming a major tourist attraction in the Bunyoro sub-region.