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Akampene Punishment Island - Kabale

 

Picture this; you are a young girl expecting your first child conceived out of wedlock. You are woken up in the middle of the night,

tied up and carried by the strongest men in the village.

You have no idea where you are being taken and to add to your confusion you get on a boat, disembark on an island,given just a pole for your own defence and left to your means. Oh and lest we forget, you have no phone because this was way back before       technological advancement.One would hope that a smitten boyfriend would follow and rescue his girl but the circumstances were different.At that time, the no nonsense Bakiga would also shove pregnant girls off a cliff. Therefore, if your sweetheart disappeared in the night, you would have no idea whether she had been drowned or abandoned on this small island, tied to a tree and left to die of hunger.         

The punishment was meant to show the gravity of engaging in premarital sex.However, some girls would be saved by men who had no cows to pay the bride price who would literally go fishing for women on the island.In the first half of the 20th century, the practice got abandoned but it is still possible to find women who were picked up from Punishment Island today living with the men who rescued them.According to Steven Tiwangye, 50, a tour guide at Lake Bunyonyi, the men who would rescue the girls and marry them would also be banished from their homes. “If a man married a girl from Akampene, he would never return to his parents’ home. It was a taboo to marry a ‘fallen’ girl,” Tiwangye explains. In his documentary, ‘The Bakiga - How We Throw Away Our African Culture,’ Festo Karwemera, an elder in Kigezi and an activist for the promotion of the Bakiga culture talks about the Akampene tradition with remorse. Much as the practice was barbaric and inhuman, it served its purpose and it was a good day when the Bakiga decided to abandon it.

Born in 1925, Karwemera lived through the time the tradition was being practiced and says that the Bakiga were not necessarily murderous but had a strong sense of morality and tradition. Being but had a strong sense of morality and tradition. Being no nonsense people, naturally the elders expected everyone to heed the customs and traditions and whoever failed to do so, was expected to pay for it. Akempene Island is one of the 29 islands dotting Lake Bunyonyi the scenic crater Lake located in the highlands of South Western Uganda, in Bufuka village. Due to the vagaries of nature, the island keeps getting reclaimed by the lake and most of its land is already submerged by the water making it one of the tiniest islands on the lake. There are motor boats and local canoes that take tourists from the main land to the island.

Today, the terror of the past has been buried and forgotten and the island turned into a peaceful and tranquil place for the discerning tourist in search of rest acommunion with nature. You can have a family picnic or enjoy a swim in bilharzia free clear water. An overnight experience in this beautiful setting is nothing but memorable. Just like the rest of the area, the island boasts of a rich birdlife for the bird lover. Enjoy the rich every day life and culture of the Batwa, and the Bakiga who make the largest numbers in the area. A walk on the island is no ordinary walk because of the birds mixed with the sound of waves and the cool fresh breeze a no nonsense people, naturally the elders expected everyone to heed the customs and traditions and whoever failed to do so, was expected to pay for it.

Akempene Island is one of the 29 islands dotting Lake Bunyonyi the scenic crater Lake located in the highlands of South Western Uganda, in Bufuka village. Due to the vagaries of nature, the island keeps getting reclaimed by the lake and most of its land is already submerged by the water making it one of the tiniest islands on the lake. There are motor boats and local canoes that take tourists from the main land to the island. Today, the terror of the past has been buried and forgotten and the island turned into a peaceful and tranquil place for the discerning tourist in search of rest and communion with nature. You can have a family picnic or enjoy a swim in bilharzia free clear water. An overnight experience in this beautiful setting is nothing but memorable. Just like the rest of the area, the island boasts of a rich birdlife for the bird lover. Enjoy the rich everyday life and culture of the Batwa, and the Bakiga who make the largest numbers in the area.

 

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