THROW BACK: WHEN KANYE WEST AND KIM KARDASHIAN VISITED THE UGANDAN JUNGLE
By Caroline Ariba
It wasn’t the buffalo that set pace for the most emotional stop of the day, albeit very essential to the trip. It was the elegant giraffe that did.According to Lalobo, in the heart of the game drive, they would come across a tower of at least 25 giraffes and a beaming Kanye would quickly jump out of the truck. Drunk in the wonders of the Ugandan wild, he lifted his daughter shoulder high and run towards the tower of giraffes.
How it begun...
Until pictures started sauntering in, instantly sending a wave of exhilaration across the country, US rapper, Kanye West’s visit was but a rumour. Not even a video of the rapper naming Uganda among the countries he would be visiting was believable. Not in the wake of fake news, no Sir. But alas! He came. He saw. He explored and it was surreal. William Olwoch-Lalobo, proprietor of Heritage Holiday Safaris provided the ground transport, and he was Kanye’s tour guide for the day. He gladly re-traced Kanye’s journey through the wild, step by step.
See, it begun at 11am, on Saturday, 13th-October. The guards at Pakuba Airport in the heart of Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park, would receive news of the arrival of eminent guests. 30 minutes later, four planes would touch ground, one of which was a presidential jet. Kanye West, his socialite and reality TV star of a wife, Kim Kardashian and their daughter North West, emerged out of the presidential jet. With them came a 50 man entourage and a vitality that could only be expressed in the Ugandan wild.
To this day, if you ask, Lalobo will maintain that Kanye was definitely seeking inspiration. “He didn’t even have any sort of plan, he just wanted to connect with nature,” Lalobo begins quite empathically. “But the lions, the buffalos, the cats really, these were definitely a must see.” That would define the game drive, or as they call it in the wild: the trucking route. Lalobo would take the Jesus Walks rapper through Queen trucking route, a path bursting with variety.
“To see the lion, I had to take the route which has mating kobs,” he explains. “Chances that you will see a lion here are very high.” These grounds, also known as koblets, often attract many kobs, a specie known to be easy to be prey for the lion. But before the kobs, Kanye and team would spot the Jackson Arch-beast, which the Acholi people (the tribe that hosts the park), call Apura. It was the very first animal they would see, as a matter of fact, and quickly, the shy animal would run off into the wild, as if to alert the others.
Something wasn’t quite right, not for the controversial rapper, at least. He needed just the right music to set the gear in motion. “In the middle of his game drive, he requested that I stop and that a member of his entourage join him,” Lalobo narrates. “He wanted his Bob Marley music; he specifically wanted to draw inspiration from the song, Buffalo soldiers.”
Once they brought the Bob Marley music, Lalobo recalls Kanye insisting that the ‘bravery and fighting spirit’ line, be replayed several times. “He loved that part so much, and coupled with the energies from the wild, he seemed to get really energized,” he recalls.
Emotions run wild
It wasn’t the buffalo that set pace for the most emotional stop of the day, albeit very essential to the trip. It was the elegant giraffe that did. According to Lalobo, in the heart of the game drive, they would come across a tower of at least 25 giraffes and a beaming Kanye would quickly jump out of the truck. Drunk in the wonders of the Ugandan wild, he lifted his daughter shoulder high and run towards the tower of giraffes.
“His face was filled with emotions and he was just full of energy!” Lalobo recalls. “He hoisted the daughter shoulder high,” Lalobo re-counts expressively. A father-daughter bond oozing through every second was displayed for the wild to see. “He started running, actually sprinting, so he would touch the giraffe.” Yes, Kanye wanted to touch a giraffe, and he wanted that for the little West as well. Soon the entire crew, made up of not just family, but security and producers too, were running along. “He wanted to touch it. He wanted his daughter to also feel it. Kanye had definitely come to bond with nature,” Lalobo adds. And the giraffes, elegant as always, scampered away making for what looked like an animal print runway.
Almost simultaneously, there would be a sighting of buffalos, a very large herd of buffalos, that is. It started with the lone buffalos, but soon there would be plenty for everyone to see, and the tune of Bob Marley’s Buffalo soldiers to go with it. The sandy parts of the path would also reveal that hyenas would be somewhere close by. “Again, you can only trace this if you have good knowledge of the park, no shortcuts here,” Lalobo laughingly boasts. “This is why we advise tourists to always come with a guide that has knowledge of the park.”