You would probably guess that this picture is taken somewhere on the tropical coast of Mombasa or Zanzibar if I didn’t put Lake Victoria in the title of this post. And, yes, this is a beautiful beach on the shores of Lake Victoria, not the Indian Ocean.
Last Saturday we went to Entebbe, a nice town located on a small peninsula, on the shores of Lake Victoria, and only 37km from Kampala. It’s a typical resort for Ugandans who come here very often for socials or parties at Entebbe Beach. As Uganda is a landlocked country, it’s the only opportunity for a mini holiday for Ugandans, unless some of them want to go to resorts in Kenya or Tanzania.
Entebbe is an important transport hub for Uganda. Entebbe International Airport is Uganda’s main (and, in fact, the only one) commercial and military airport. Apart from its transport and military functions, Entebbe has always played a representative role. Before the British period, it was the place when the chief of the Baganda tribe (the main tribe in today’s Uganda) had his residence. This theory makes sense when we analyse the name Entebbe which in Luganda, the language of Baganda, simply means a seat. Prior to the Independence in 1962, Entebbe was the headquarters of the Protectorate of Uganda. Interestingly, Entebbe Aiport was also the place where Queen Elisabeth II departed Africa to return to the UK in 1952 when she learned of her father’s death and that she had become Queen. Nowadays, it is the location of State House, the official office and residence of the President of Uganda.
With Emmy, my Ugandan counterpart, we live together in 1 room for the next 6 weeks.
Saturday social with the whole team at Entebbe beach was amazing. It was a good way of escaping from the hustle and bustle of dusty Kampala and having a pleasurable lake breeze in Entebbe. I strolled along the beach, ate good barbecue chicken, played volleyball and enjoyed warm water with other volunteers and Ugandans for the whole afternoon. The social day, as we call it, is really important to build our volunteers’ team. We don’t have a lot of time together apart from Saturdays and Fridays (although Fridays are training and workshop days). So, such activities are really the best moments of the programme when everyone can get to know each other better.
Last few words should be said about the lake. I was actually amazed at how big this lake is. From Entebbe you cannot see the second shore; only some small islands on the horizon. So, I felt really like being at the seaside. I should give you some stats about the lake so as to be aware of its size.
Lake Victoria, known also as Nalubaale in Luganda, was named after Queen Victoria by the explorer John Hanning Speke while he was on an expedition with Richard Burton in 1858 to locate the source of the Nile (find out more in my previous post). It has a surface area of 68,800 square kilometres which makes it Africa’s largest lake by area, and the largest tropical lake in the world. Additionally, Lake Victoria is the world’s second largest freshwater lake by surface area; only Lake Superior in North America is larger. How does the lake receive its water from? Mainly from direct precipitation (which are very common here) as well as from other small streams. Interestingly, Lake Victoria occupies a shallow depression on the continent with a maximum depth of 84m and an average depth of 40m. It is divided among three countries: Kenya (6%), Uganda (45%) and Tanzania (49% of its surface area).