Burahya MP Margaret Muhanga has accused white-owned resorts in Fort Portal town Kabarole district that are practicing apartheid policy on black natives just because of the colour of their skin.
Apartheid was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s.
“Beware of raising apartheid in Uganda,” Muhanga tweeted in January 6, 2019.
She added: “Three ‘white’ owned resorts in my constituency don’t allow ‘blacks’ in especially during peak season.”
Muhanga said the main reason Ugandans are blocked from entering these resorts she didn’t name, is because “blacks stare at whites and it scares them”.
The legislator urged security to take keen interest, adding that “there could be something cooking in there”.
To Muhanga, the resorts are probably crime dens for foreign spies or illegal mineral dealers hence the secrecy and segregation.
The word colour bar arose as an ingredient of Apartheid (Afrikaans: “apartness”), a policy that governed relations between South Africa’s white minority and non-white majority and sanctioned racial segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-whites called “coloureds”.
Fort Portal is a town in the Western Region of Uganda. It is the seat of both Kabarole District and the Toro Kingdom.
Founded as a garrison for British soldiers by Gerald Portal in 1859, the area eventually came to be known as Fort Portal. It happens to be the only town with an English name in Uganda.
Also known as “Fort Gerry”, it was a British fortress constructed between 1891 and 1893, on the site of the town’s present day golf club, with the aim of protecting the Tooro Kingdom from guerrilla raids by King Kabalega of the greater Bunyoro Kingdom.
Fort Gerry, as it was originally known, was named posthumously after the British consul general of Zanzibar Sir Gerald Portal, who died of malaria on Zanzibar a few months later.
Beware of raising apetheid in Ug. Three ‘white’ owned resorts in my constituency don’t allow ‘blacks’ in esp during peak season. Reason: blacks stare at whites and it scares them🙉. Security, take keen interest. There could be something cooking in there…
— Margaret Muhanga (@MargaretMuhanga) January 7, 2019
Norma Lorimer, who travelled to Fort portal in 1913, referred to the settlement as Tooro adding that it then consisted of about six bungalows, the bank, the Boma, the huts for a few Kings African Riffles, the Indian bazaar and the native settlement.
The splendid native market at the bottom of the hill mentioned by Lorimer is still in position today, opposite the Gardens Restaurant—now called Mpanga Market.
Above Mpanga market is a plush stretch of tree-lined avenues, cool fresh air leading all the way to palatial residences mostly homes of whites.
This “white area” is called Booma. It is the Muyenga or Kololo of Fort Portal town.
Among the pride of its urban landmarks is the faintly preposterous statute of a gun-wielding Sir Gerald Portal that stands sentinel on the roundabout almost in the middle of the town.
Racism and segregation?
Most notable hotels are; Mountains of the Moon Hotel and Resort, one of Fort Portal’s signature hotels; Fort Motel perfectly located in the prime residential Fort Portal town area and Kalya Courts Hotel that overlooks the Tooro Kingdom Palace and Virika Catholic Cathedral.
There are several others and smaller resorts owned by whites. One of those that featured in replies to Muhanga’s claim was Kyaninga Lodges.
Set against the stunning backdrop of Lake Kyaninga and the Rwenzori Mountains beyond, Kyaninga Lodge has nine exclusive cottages made from hand carved logs, superb dining, and a wealth of adventures await.
The menu is based on classical European cuisine and tweaked to make use of local ingredients, many of which are handpicked from Kyaninga Lodge’s own kitchen garden or the neighbouring markets.
Muhanga said her sister and a friend had gone to such a resort [she did not directly name it] and were denied services.
“Hmmmm…. A friend and her sister went to one of the resorts on 26th Dec and the gateman was quaking while explaining that they won’t enter and that they should leave before the boss finds them negotiating entry,” Muhanga said.
But Asha Williams who identifies herself as wife to owner of the lodges denied the allegations.
“The lodge is owned by my husband and I’m Ugandan. How is it racist if you’re told it’s fully booked? I think this lady needs to take a seat back,” Asha said in a social media message.
She added: “When the lodge is fully booked just like any other hotel, of course they cannot let you in. And I’m glad she mentioned it was the peak season.”
Anne Whitehead who used to do PR for Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, told Muhanga to simply “expose the names of these resorts”. “If “whites” don’t want to engage with “blacks,” then they shouldn’t visit Uganda, really. I’ve experienced for myself the racism in Uganda’s hospitality industry and it must be checked and changed,” said Whitehead who was pushed out of Uganda for communication for Bobi Wine.
But a one John Jude Adnan dismissed Muhanga’s claims: “That’s the way we feel when you practice your tribalism, so name and shame and go tell your boss, there is so much wrong with your gov’t that you could help to sort out, but you prefer the status quo. If we only had competent people in charge of these sectors.”
Social media blogger Kakensa of Kakensa Media also rejected the claims saying: “I can’t trust Muhanga’ word alone ever since she sold goats to get 10 billion shilling she used to buy UBC land. Another reason she can’t be trusted, she is a sister to controversial Andrew Mwenda.”