The swimming hobby for children on Lake Albert

Children swim on Lake Albert at Kaiso-Tonya landing site in Hoima District. (Photo: Gad Asaba).

Swimming is the most apparent way for children on Lake Albert to exercise their right to play.

Children always mobilise themselves and move into the lake to swim and finally collect water for domestic consumption which is also drunk as fresh as it is save for the few that have learnt to boil it.

Our reporter saw the children enjoy swimming at the sabmerged areas of the vacated fisheries offices at Kaiso-Tonya landing site in Kabaale sub-county, Hoima district.

These are children of the Bakobya people, a traditional sub-division of the Banyoro.

The Bagungu, Batyaba, Bakobya and Bakibiro are other traditional Banyoro people sub-divisions that are good at swimming and fishing.

“They learn swimming as young as two years of age. They grow knowing to swim, fetch water and fishing for the male children,” says Ms Sylvia Kemigisa, an opinion leader there.

Asked about the safety of children in terms of accidents and sanitation, Mr Henry Irumba, the chairman Kaiso-Tonya landing site told Kazi-njema News that it is rare to report a death of child that was swimming for fan.

“It is travellers’ boats and fishermen that are normally trapped by high waves on waters but not children,” says Mr Irumba.

He added that the risk they appreciate is crocodile attacks which they have mastered by avoiding dangerous areas during evening and early morning hours when crocodiles and hippopotami advance to the shore.

The poor sanitation posed by excreting in the same water used for domestic consumption is not taken seriously since it is a traditional practice.

What is clear is that dwellers on Lake Albert are prone to cholera outbreaks during rainy seasons.

Risks and opportunities in the swimming hobby

Children swim on Lake Albert in Hoima District. (Photo: Gad Asaba)

This practice is a sleeping giant that Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom can tap into to boost tourism and promote talents amongst its subjects.

“If it is promoted through competitions for swimming just like football and other games, we could see international swimmers emerging from our lake and win us a lot of medals and money. This could promote the image of Bunyoro to the country and the globe,” says Mr Robert Businge from Buliisa district.

All the adult Lakers can afford to swim since it is s tradition.

The water body is a convenient playground since it is free, available all the time with no maintenance costs.

The talents can be promoted using the traditional practices than looking for games that are far from the minds of children.

However, there are risks that swimming is currently posing.

Mr Robert Mugabe, a community Health Educator for Buliisa district local government says there is always transmission water borne diseases like bilharzia and others since children swim without any protective gear moreover in the water they drink and use to cook food. These are always threatening.

Drowning of children cannot be underestimated because it happens.

James Asaba, 8, says they train the young ones starting from the shallow waters because they have known the depth of water save for now when floods have disorganised the terrains.

There is serious dollar exchange in swimming competitions organised at different levels across the globe.


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