Dead men receive no flowers. This reflection hit hardest after deciphering Amos Wekesa’s effort to keep the Uganda Tourism industry afloat. Sometime stretching as much far as his passion can get. Quite often, the private sector has been accused not so lofty at anything beyond making profits but with his great safaris company, Wekesa has shaken the Tourism industry with some breath taking ideas. These ideas have soared the beauty of Uganda and also been a scathing indictment of our culture that believes “Tourism is for Bzungu”. His sacrifice to see Domestic Tourism grow has been phenomenal. Indeed quite often it has been compressed into arguing that it has become his lifestyle!
Whilst the industry has suffered shocks accruing from the pandemic. Wekesa’s creativity has been triggered thus fostering extraordinary leadership and innovation, as his vast knowledge has proved instrumental not only for the Tourism industry but also for the entire economy. In many circles, he is described as the driver of Uganda Tourism as seen through His legacy for conservation advocacy and Tourism investments.
A tireless champion of conservation and truly “uncompromising” both in his passion for Tourism and environmental conservation. This nuance was witnessed In 2019, when the government wanted to build a power dam near Murchison falls, an idea Wekesa greatly objected to. Not many can dare a powerful status quo over anything it is involved in for the risk is so high to pay sometimes ultimately leading to crumbling of your business empire. Indeed a few like Wekesa can dare!
When travel took a forced break last year, many in the industry took a wait-and-see approach hoping that the pandemic would blow over, but a year down the road, it seems the tough times will be with us for a while, and Wekesa seemed to realize this and started on a campaign to promote domestic tourism, For a man whose countrymen haven’t fully embraced Tourism and treat it as a “white man business”, a man who is laboring to make sure that they fully embrace it in the middle of a pandemic approaches the realm of greatness. He has also made sure that his Ugandans continue on a surviving mode, and set up an agro processing plant in Soroti to create more employment opportunities.
He has made us fall in love with local tourism and inspired the young generation into embracing tourism. The 90’s kids have grown up knowing that Tourism is Wekesa and Wekesa is Tourism. He was the first Ugandan to be granted permission to construct a lodge inside a national park. Talk of breaking the ceiling. Most of the safari companies that are owned by Ugandans now owe much of their inspiration to Wekesa’s work and success story in the Uganda Tourism Industry. His enthusiasm for tourism melts in my heart like good chocolate melts in my mouth. Go ahead, have some good chocolate. Follow his works and you will definitely agree that he is worth a paragon status, for the magic he has done in the Uganda tourism industry and the change he has inspired.
Wekesa is not only a hero but a special hero but nothing has come easy for this Lwakhakha born. His story has all spices of motivation; failure, pain, persistence, innovativeness and passion. And in the past 20 years, Wekesa has steadily worked his way out of the shadows to the front row.
As we celebrated this year’s hero’s day , I wondered what Wekesa has to do to receive a hero’s medal for his heroic contribution to the Tourism industry in Uganda. People should be celebrated when they earn stripes for self and country. Wekesa has done his bit and his celebration need to be no more in waiting!
The writer is a travel critique and freelance writer with Ugabus.com
Wembi Denis Twitter: WembiReports