CNN’s Inside Africa talks to #KoiKoiUG

It was exciting to receive the call.

23 months ago, we had started #KoikoiUg to change mindsets and break stereotypes about Uganda. Our inspiration was drawn from a fading practice of telling riddles. Someone older, who was also considered wiser by a virtue of how long they had lived, would start a riddle by saying ‘Koyi Koyi.’ What would follow was an intellectual experience intended to make you wiser or pass on an important lesson. more “CNN’s Inside Africa talks to #KoiKoiUG”

WHAT IS YOUR EXCUSE NOT TO SEE UGANDA?

Contrary to popular belief the people at #koikoiug do not get paid to travel. We are accountants, doctors, lawyers, mothers and daughters who, out of a passion for Uganda, find nooks of time in our demanding schedule to travel the country and tell the Ugandan story. This reality highlights a couple of things.

That “I am too busy” excuse you have been holding on to not to come along for a #KoikoiUg experience, or to contribute to the Ugandan story will not cut it. We make time for the things we care about. So if you care about breaking stereotypes and changing mindsets about Uganda, maybe the first step should be signing up to the #KoiKoiUg Newsletter so we can let you know how you can get involved.

Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. There are lots of budget accommodation options you can use. And if you travel as a group of friends, the bargains you can get increase significantly. Okay, so maybe you say you don’t have the money for national packs and paid attractions ( which would be a surprise since entry to most national parks is 15,000 UGX for Ugandans) there are a lot of things you could do that would cost you nothing. Quick idea, a walk around a new town. As mundane as this might sound, its actually really fun and exciting. Most times, we treat towns as gateways, just passing through to our next destination. You will be surprised what happens when you decide to stop to take in the sights, sounds and culture.

Most time, because your leave is for grandparents and weddings,  travel time is relegated to the weekends. It would be nice if we planned otherwise, but what if all you had is a weekend, 48 hours tops, to travel to and from, and squeeze exciting activities in there. How much can one really do in 48 hours? The answer is A LOT. First thing to do is manage your time. Cut out all the things that will cost you time. Make fewer stops. So its always easier to stop at places where you can achieve more than one thing. We do our potty breaks at Shell stations. That way we can refuel, shop, fix any service hickups that might have arisen, use Airtel money and so much more. That way, you have much more time for the actual travel. Also, its important to note that it is called Travel, not arrival. Purposing to enjoy every moment, including the time on the road is important too, a part of the experience.

So whats your excuse again to not go see this beautiful country. Nothing. So we are looking forward to hearing about your adventures. Share them with us via the hash tag #KoikoiUG on all social media. Or if you have another excuse, leave it in the comments below, and we shall find a creative solution to that too.

 

AIRTEL’S 800KM FIBER AND THE KOIKOIUG STORY.

When we started #KoikoiUg almost 2 years ago,the idea was simple. Use the world’s biggest fire place, the internet, to tell stories that change mindsets and break stereotypes.  Being multimedia based, their was always the problem of connectivity especially for people up country. So you can imagine our excitement when we heard the news that Airtel was partnering with  BCS and Facebook to lay 800KM of fiber in North West Uganda, specifically in Gulu, Adjumani, Koboko, Nebbi and Kamdini. KoikoiUg is multimedia based. working with top class photographers and videographers to tell stories about Uganda. Sharing and accessing these stories requires a steady, more affordable internet connection, and that’s exactly what we see this opportunity creating.

Now we are empowered to bridge the gap, sharing stories from the South West corner of the country with children in Koboko. Children who ordinarily would have never had the chance to experience the Islands of Bunyonyi or the mysticism of the Kalangala islands. Yonas Maru, managing director BCS put it beautifully, “Imagine a world where the learning in rural areas is not limited by their teachers but by our collective knowledge.” That world we love. Its the kind of world we want to live in. The world where someone in Kamdini is connected to someone in Mbarara, one big fireplace.

Airtel also announced ongoing work with Facebook to introduce facebook cache technology. Simply put, your phone or PC wont have to get information all the way from the states or wherever facebook stores its data because that will be stored locally. An overall improvement in the experience using Facebook.

The future looks very bright. The quality of stories we will be able share, the mindsets we will break if the internet services continue expanding and improving like this. A thumbs up to Airtel. Thank you for being a supporter of the Ugandan story.

4 THINGS TO KNOW WHEN TRAVELLING TO BUNYONYI

IT’S A TRAP:

The beauty of Lake Bunyonyi is enchanting, in the true sense of the word. The lush green islands and the tranquil water will make you forget that by virtue of it being in the valley, everything is a climb up. I think this is what everyone means when they say it’s devastatingly beautiful. Every time you get off a boat, yo u are doing some sort of climbing. So please pack a pair of sturdy shoes just next to your RnR flip flops.


LEAVE YOUR COMFORTS

When you arrive at your lodging, it is tempting to dig in, kick your feet up and slouch in a comfy chair with the view of lake. Don’t. Bunyonyi has a lot to offer. From the rich history of the Batwa people, to the interesting tales of the medicine man, to adrenaline sports. Something for the scholar and the junkie. Of course it goes without mentioning that the most breath-taking views are along unbeaten paths.

TAKE A DRIVE.

This is the stuff of romance. You and bae on the open road, wind in your hair, Shell FuelSave in your tank, driving around the winding roads of Kisoro. The Escarpment rising above you, tarmac unfolding ahead of you, its breath-taking. Intoxicating even.

DO NOT DISCONNECT

Normally, travel advisories will encourage you to disconnect when visiting nooks like Bunyonyi. Think of your social media as a valve. If you do the full Bunyonyi experience, its quite much, and sharing with your family, friends and us here at #koikoiug is a good way not to get overwhelmed. The Airtel network is crisp even on the lake, so you don’t have to wait for that spot under that specific tree to share that selfie.

#KOIKOISW – JANA’S STORY

3 years ago, Jana Jachmanova, a life coach and mentor decided to embark on a journey. She left behind my job, my friends, my family and all what people could call stability in search for something deeper.

That journey brought her to Uganda where she says she is living the life she has always wanted. She coaches women on breaking their limiting beliefs and helping them to create a life they want.

Jana travelled to Bunyonyi and Kisoro with #KoikoiUg, an initiative by Kafunda Kreative in partnership with Airtel and Shell Fuels and Lubricants that seeks to tell more authentic Ugandan stories through documentation of affordable, more off-the-path possible local adventures. By documenting and highlighting Ugandan sights and sounds, people and culture, the campaign shows Uganda in a different, more positive light which ultimately works to challenge stereotypes and uplift local and international tourism.

Lake Bunyonyi loosely translated to mean “Place of many little birds” is in south-western Uganda between Kisoro and Kabale and it is close to the border with Rwanda. The lake is believed to be the 2nd deepest lake in Africa going up to 900m at its deepest point. The lake appears on the 5,000 Ugandan shilling note under the title “Lake Bunyonyi and terraces” but It is more famous for its 29 islands; From the one shaped like a musical note, to the punishment Island where girls who got pregnant out of wedlock would be left to die. Its rich in both myth and history. From the Leprosy Colony of 1921 started by Dr Leonard Sharp on Bwama Island, that currently houses a school, to an island that supposedly was flipped upside down because selfish men refused to share local brew with an enchantress. It is a place of a thousand tales. Maybe a thousand and one, if you add Jana’s story.

See Jana’s breath-taking story here.

 

5 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE ABSEILING

One of the biggest attractions in Kapchorwa is abseiling down a 100m waterfall. Its magical. Imagine being suspended from a rope, coming down the distance equivalent to the length of a football field with nothing but the full glory of nature’s wonder underneath you: lush green bushes, flowing streams and an expanse of the natural plains further than the eye can see. Its breath-taking in every sense of the word, both in awe and in fright, in almost equal measure. I recommend that everyone does this at least once before they die. But before you do, here are something’s I think you should know. Must haves before you go abseiling in Kapchorwa, Uganda.

1. Balls: You must have a pair of big ones. The first time I abseiled, the instructor kept saying “Your mind will lie you, don’t let it.” You need to overcome the fear of being supported by a rope barely an inch in diameter, fastened by climbing protection the size of a key ring, in the hands of an instructor who is less than half your size (if you are as ‘small’ as I am), faced with a potential plunge to sudden death with no protective gear. As I said, big ones.

2. Friends: Abseiling is like sex. Although it’s possible to go by yourself, its more fulfilling done with others. Never do it alone, and here is why. The moral support or the fear of online shame, whichever drives you, goes a long way in calming your nerves. And if you let a couple go before you, the cheers coming from the bottom give you the much needed boost to keep going. And then there is the journey back, that’s where you need them, for the morale and the extra hand.

3. Hydration: This is never in the brochure, the hike to and from abseiling is to be revered. This is compounded by the fact that most of us carry a flimsy bottle of water for the entire distance. Pro Tip, carry as much water as you can comfortably carry. You never really imagine it, but you have to climb back up the entire length of the 100m back to the point of pick up, and Kapchorwa does get rather hot so dehydration is a common scenario. A couple of us almost passed out if it wasn’t for the heroic works of a good Samaritan.

4. Fitness: If you have read points 1 to 3, it is obvious that abseiling required you to be in some sort of descent physical shape. You will enjoy your experience much more that way because you won’t have aching muscles and difficulty to breathe robbing you of the ability to appreciate the beauty all around you.

5. An Action Camera: No, your camera phone is not an option here. The likelihood that you will drop it is highest. Between the nerves, the awe, and most likely hanging on tightly to the rope, this is almost inevitable. However, we live in a world of , if it’s not on Instagram, it never happened. So grab an action cam, like a go pro, strap it to yourself or to the rope, and share your scared face with the world.

Abseiling will cost you anything between 60,000 and 100,000 Uganda Shillings depending on season, numbers and your bargaining skills, for Ugandans. Peter Chemonges of Mountain Adventures is a good option, call him via 0750971682 will hook you up, literally. Tell him #KoiKoiUg sent you. So what are you waiting for, fill up your tank with Shell FuelSave (that’s more than sufficient to get you there) and head to the beautiful hills of Kapchorwa for an unforgettable experience. Don’t forget to share your experiences with us via the #KoikoiUg tag, and with Airtel you won’t have to wait till you get back.

#KOIKOIEAST IN 60 SECONDS

Kafunda Kreative in the company of 30 photographers, writers, social media influencers and travel enthusiasts competed their second #KoiKoiEast tour in their first excursion of 2017. We did our best to fit it in 60 seconds.

 

 

 

KAFUNDA KREATIVE RESUMES KOIKOIUG TRIPS

Kafunda Kreative in the company of 30 photographers, writers, social media influencers and travel enthusiasts competed their second #KoiKoiEast tour in their first excursion of 2017.

The #KoiKoiUg initiative is a road trip experience that seeks to tell more authentic Ugandan stories through documentation of affordable, more off-the-path possible local adventures. By documenting and highlighting Ugandan sights and sounds, people and culture, the campaign shows Uganda in a different, more positive light which ultimately works to challenge stereotypes and uplift local and international tourism.

The Kafunda Kreative #KoikoiEast trip in partnership with Airtel Uganda and Shell Fuels & Lubricants traveled to Kapchorwa to explore the legends around the Sipi Falls where participants experienced everything from the high adrenaline abseiling, breathtaking vistas of the Kaphcorwa escarpment and Rift Valley, Sipi Falls, the Sebei culture and the therapeutic experience of traditional root beer tasting

Mr Emmannual Ssebunya, Brand Manager Shell Fuel brands at Vivo Energy Uganda flagging off the #KoiKoiEast trip participants
Airtel Manager for Devices Simon Akuguzibwe flagging off the #KoiKoiEast trip participants as they headed East to Kapchorwa

“Returning to be able to continue telling Ugandan stories 18 months after we started this in 2015 is so thrilling for us. That has only been possible due to partners like Airtel Uganda and Vivo Energy Uganda. Our first 2017 excursion into Kapchorwa and the source of the Nile will seek to highlight what we believe is one of the richest tourism regions and culturally rich areas of this country. “ – David Ogutu. Team leader, Kafunda Kreative.

Speaking at the flag off, Airtel Uganda’s Head of Products, Simon Akuguzibwe commended Kafunda Kreatives for their Koikoi concept.

“At Airtel Uganda, we pride in promoting the magnificent pearl of Africa. Our partnership with Kafunda Kreative goes beyond Kampala to the countryside to bring this beauty closer to our fans through our social media platforms. This is in line with our commitment to reaching out to every Ugandan with quality service and an enduring experience with the smartphone network,” he added.

Shell Marketing Manager, Jean Mugisha who was also on the trip commented “These trips have the potential to really change how people see Uganda. I cant believe some of the things I have heard and seen. The serenity and landscape are breathtaking but the people are warm welcoming and come from a very rich heritage. I am sure that partnership bringing young people to such places expands their experience of this country and opens new opportunities. That way they find new ways of doing more.”

About #KoiKoiUg

It is an initiative by Kafunda Kreative started in 2015 which aims to harness the power of social media utilising a variety of mediums like photography, film, written word and music to bring to the world stage stories about Uganda told from the perspective of Ugandan artists while creating fresh exciting content about Uganda.

About Kafunda Kreative:

A fellowship of creative professionals learning from one another, growing their skills and collaborating, working with existing and emerging brands to help build effective and relevant brands, products and services that kick ass in Uganda and then the world.

POSTCARD FROM KAPCHORWA

When I joined the KoiKoi Uganda team on the tour of the East, I decided to be open minded. I did not have big expectations.

I have always loved to travel. Unfortunately there was not much of an opportunity to do so because I settled down early and tucked away some of that while I found different dreams and hobbies that fit within my schedule. But, life doesn’t wait for free time in a schedule. You have to make it.

And I did.

It was hard to relax amidst the focus of the numerous camera lenses, those with flashes and the ones that might have gone unnoticed. I was anxious but I had set out to adventure. And all of it faded away when I became at home with the true spirit of KoiKoi Uganda.

I was able to truly see my country. I used to think that the highlight of Kapchorwa was the three waterfalls and the ruthless FGM of the Sabiny girls. But there is much more: the humility and strength of the Sebei children who helped me climb the steep slopes, the rare jewel stones from the cliffs, the rich history of the Kalenjin people, the cultivation and livelihood practices of the area, the tasty local honey tonic and corn beer.

And the waterfalls! They are serene and unique. From a domineering high water cliff, to the cool meditation spot with a shallow pool and the exciting screaming water spray. All three falls presented breathtaking views and experiences.

I wouldn’t just recommend this as your next destination. I insist- this is a must visit location. [Note to self: How could you have thought Sipi falls was in Mbale? Obviously did not pay attention in Geography class.]

The experience wouldn’t be complete without the group mealtimes, the thrill of abseiling with its subsequent unspoken mountain crawling and rib cracking conversations at the camp fire.

Even as I file away this adventure into my box of favorite things, I am happy because I will keep the memory like a postcard that one day my great-grandchildren will read at a campfire.

About the Author;

Alive and glowing from the inside Juliet Mpiima brought mirth and her infectious smile to#KoiKoiEast making the trip a delectable sojourn. A trait we have found to be common amongst people who eat life with a big spoon. We certainly hope she can bring her vivacious life view to more trips and explore more of Uganda