Andronico is a pioneer. In 1950, he built the first house of brick on his home island in Lake Victoria and opened the island’s first lodge in that very same building in 1970, which he still operates today. He was the first person to ride a motorcycle in his town. A primary school teacher by profession and now an old man, Andronico is still energetic and full of life. Upon his invitation, we enter a roomfull of different things that it seems would take several days go over and take in. He has a story to share for every single one of the documents, certificates and picture covering the walls, to every item carefully placed around the room.
There’s the wall overflowing with cut-out newspaper articles, pictures and photographs. Mandela at a young age speaking in a microphone. A hippo tooth, placed next to a small figurine and framed portrait of Jesus. Andronicos parents – Yozefu and Maria – smiling down on us from paintings and an old photograph. Overwhelmed by this load of pictures, I wonder how it must be to live among all these memories. Does the old man still pause every once in a while, I ask myself, looking at a photo, touching an old item, thinking about the story behind, getting lost in memories?
He tells us the story of how bricks used to be transported to the island via water plane. Italian-made bricks. “Just a few years ago”, he says. “A few years ago?” I ask, not having heard anything about a water plane shuttle to the island before. Turns out, it happened 20 or 30 years ago. Time doesn’t seem to have the same meaning to him as to me.
We ask about traditional music and culture of the islands. Not much is still remembered, even by the old Mr Andronicus. This much he tells us: The Ssese islands are named after the Bassese people, who are the indigenous inhabitants of the islands. At some point in time the Bassese decided to join the Buganda kingdom, which was a powerful kingdowm on Uganda’s mainland, as one of her tribes. It seems that most of the original culture of the Bassese is lost by today and intertwined with the Baganda culture to a point that few remember the origins.
The Ssesse Island are a magnificent place on Lake Victoria about 60 km off the shores of Uganda’s mainland. It’s an archipelago of 84 islands, of which only about half are inhabited. Bugala island, on which Andronicos Lodge is located, is the biggest one. To read more about the islands, visit Wikipedia
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