Kitara Community

Background to Kitara Region:

Kitara Community

Kitara area lies across the Equator right in the heart of East Africa. The history of Kitara dates as far back as 1889 when Uganda was still a British protectorate and part of this region was nicknamed ‘the Switzerland of Africa’ because of the hilly nature and its unique vegetation and weather.

Kitara lies entirely between the two arms of the Great Rift Valley in East Africa. To the far west it borders Zaire (former Belgian Congo). This border concedes with the western Rift Valley occupied from north to south by Lakes Albert, Edward, George and Kivu. On this border with Zaire exist also, the Rwenzori mountain ranges, the highest point of which (Mt Margarita) is 5,119 meters high. Further south west between Lake Edward and lake Kivu ,there is the volcanic Muhabura range protruding from the rift Valley between 3,500 meters and 4,000 meters high.

On the other side Kitara borders Tanzania (former German East Africa). Boundary adjustments in 1910 between the British, the Belgians and the Germans fixed the southern limit of Uganda by including in Uganda, Kigezi which was formerly part of Belgian Congo and Bufumbira, formerly part of Germany East Africa. Kigezi was formerly part of Rwanda which together with Burundi and Tanganyika, formed German East Africa.

Generally, Kitara is a land of plateaus though in some areas there are hills which are 200 to 500 meters high. In most places, the hills are heavily eroded. In the extreme west, the ancient tabular areas still remain.

The Equator crosses Kitara region and the climate is equatorial but moderated by the altitude. In the region two dry seasons occur in the year. The highest temperatures occur on the Lake Albert flats while the lowest temperatures occur on the glaciated zone of Mt Rwenzori.

In the higher regions, the vegetation groups itself in levels such that the thick vegetation forest with under growth of liana appears at the bottom on the lower slopes.  Mountain forest extends to about 3,200 meters and above this; there are bamboo groves and air pine prairie.

The earliest man in Uganda lived in Kitara

The earliest man in Uganda lived around 60,000-50,000 B.C. This was the early Stone Age man known as Homo erectus. Traces of Homo erectus in Kitara were found at a place called Nsongezi. He had the knowledge of making and using stone tools, especially the hand axe. Between 50,000 and 15,000 B.C, there emerged the middle Stone – Age man. During this period, man invented fire and more stone tools and began to become widely distributed. In Uganda, sites of the Middle Stone – Age man can be traced only at Nsongezi and Sango Bay.

The development of the present man is said to have taken place during the period 10,000 to 1,500 B.C. This falls within the Late Stone – Age period which is said to have lasted between some five hundred to six hundred years but traces of which still exist in most African societies. Between A.D. 500 and 1,500, other people began to migrate to Uganda from different parts of Africa. The first and largest group of such people was the Bantu. The earliest surviving inhabitants the Bantu found in Uganda are the pygmaean, Batwa and the Bambuti mostly found in Kitara region.

Apart from being known to be the home of the stout and majestic, bold, and hard working Bantu ethnic groups, Kitara is also defined by green, interlocking and heavily-cultivated hills that range from 1,219 metres (3,999 ft) to 2,347 metres (7,700 ft) above sea level especially in far southwest Kigezi.

The region is home to the highly endangered animal species such as mountain gorillas in Bwindi National Park, and of the world’s most endangered birds such as the African hill babbler, cinnamon bracken warbler, chubb’s cistocola, doherty’s Bush shrike, malachite sunbird, Yellow belled waxbill, olive thrush, streaky seed eater, common stone chart, and grauers rush warbler.

The region is uniquely characterized by the African Great Lakes, which include Lake Bunyonyi, Lake Edward, Lake George, Lake Albert, Lake Mutanda and Lake Kyahafi. Kitara region is also the location of the volcanic mountains known as Muhavura Mountains. There are very high mountain ranges, particularly in Kabale District, Kisoro District and Kasese district. In the intervening valleys, often one finds expansive swampy areas, some of which, particularly those in Kigezi region and Ankole region, Butuku and Busongora have been reclaimed for pastureland.

Margherita Peak is at 5,109 metres above sea level on Mt Stanley in the Rwenzori Mountains and is Africa’s third highest mountain, however the real beauty is in the climb up the Kilembe route, the forests and valleys, the flora is diverse from giant heather trees and valleys of ferns. Climbing Margherita Peak is now technical due to the ever increasing number of crevasses. However scaling the actual peak is more of a hard scramble than a climb and when it snows it is difficult, however the rewards and exhilaration of reaching the top is enormous as you look across Albert Peak to the DRC (Congo) then east across the spectra of the Rwenzori Mountains. This is a journey of 120km going through 5 different vegetation zones.