By Augustine Otuko
Whereas the National flags fly at half-mast as the Country joins the families of the fallen citizens in Lake Nalubale popularly known as Lake Victoria accident, Allow me thank the great patriots; the volunteer Lifesaving fishermen, Uganda Police Force (UPF), Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), the Ministry of Works staff and the ordinary citizens at the Nalubale shores for the great contribution they made towards humanity.
When the Shocking news of a possible wreck in lake Victoria came through a tweet made by Police Spokesperson Emilian Kahima in the dyeing hours of a silent Saturday 24th November 2018, it sounded like the usual social media quagmire that we have been struggling with as a country lately. It took me to press a button of my TV remote to understand the magnitude of the darkness that had befallen us again. Lifeless bodies were littered and their pictures circulated on all social media platforms. The next day, we all felt heaviness of this matter. Losing loved ones, bread winners and soul mates, What a tragedy.
As the Patriotic Ugandan men and women combed the waters searching for more lives to save or extra bodies to recover in the mysterious incident, many questions remain unanswered.
Meanwhile, the Media, Government, the public and the families have continued to build scenarios on the possibilities of what could have happened in this gruesome sail accident. We hope the questions lingering in many people’s minds will be answered by the factor of time and authoritarian responsibility. All these and more will be helpful building to the future.
Apparently this is not the first boat accident that Uganda has experienced. There have been other accidents in Lake Victoria and smaller lakes since time immemorial and I think MV Templar brings an opportunity for reflection on safety, Vessel management and regulations in the waters. We should not make a mistake to let this incident just pass by.
Considering the magnitude of this vessel wreck, I confer upon myself the power to make propositions into preserving the remains of MV Templar for posterity.
MV Templar wreck is a challenging window into the study and presentation of our past. Whether for research or investigation these submerged resources are valuable classrooms within which a vast array of knowledge, beauty and heritage resides. The story MV Templar is woven into the intricate tapestry of the great lakes regional history. On a much grander scale, preservation and research of this sunken vessel provides information on the history of ships and ship management in Uganda and the great lakes.
Items recovered such as Phones, Wallets, National Ids, Hand Bags, Wigs, Wines, Wine bottles, beers, sodas, plates, empty bottles, names of the fallen citizens, the survivors and those not yet found should be preserved and kept in National Museum for posterity to create future learning, research and tourism. In fact a place should be gazetted, sealed off and Protected within Lake Victoria where all the wreckages including MV Templar should be stationed and the incident’s history properly documented.
Countries in Asia like China, Singapore, South and North korea, Japan preserve their history as a National culture and Tourism Plan. While in country like China, the historical incidents are properly documented and generation after generation stories are told as if they happened yesterday. The governments there invest colossal amounts of funds to maintain the historical sites and they are a great source of knowledge and tourism income. Sites like the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square in Beijing China. Other preserved Marine sites in Asia include; MV Demas Victory in Qatar 2009, MV Glen Sannox in Saudi Arabia 2004, HMIS Jamnagar in Bangladesh 1948, SMS Cormoran in China 1914 to mention but a few.
Ship wreckage preservation is significant as a viable component in marine ecology. Water archaeologists should investigate and study the history left on the Lake Victoria floor. By studying this vessel, researchers will gain a better sense of the physical and economic development in and around the water bodies, evolving ship management methods. Archaeologists also should seek an insight into understanding the people that were sailing and their economic capabilities. Who were they and what they did they stood for.
In conclusion therefore Shipwreck exploration is a wonderful practice. To ensure same opportunities to future divers and researchers requires an understanding of the complex environment surrounding shipwrecks and a commitment to shipwreck site preservation. Protecting these resources will allow the continued interpretation and understanding of the lives of mariners and the struggles and successes they encountered while navigating the dangerous shoals and straits that surround the water bodies in Uganda.
The writer is the NRM Youth Chairman, Katakwi District.