Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi  (“place of many little birds”) is in south-western Uganda between Kisoro and Kabale, and it is close to the border with Rwanda. Lake Bunyonyi appears on the 5,000 Ugandan shilling note under title “Lake Bunyonyi and terraces”.

The Bakiga used to leave unmarried pregnant girls on this small island to die of hunger or while trying to swim to the mainland (swimming skills were rare). This was to intimidate the rest, to show them not to do the same. A man without cows to pay the bride price could go to the island and park up a girl. The practice got abandoned in the first half of the 20th century.

In 1921, English missionary Leonard sharp came to this part of Uganda and in 1931 established a leprosy treatment Centre on the then uninhabited buwama island a church, patient quarters (model villages), and a medical facility were built, while sharp settled on njuyeera island (probably meaning “white cottage” after the similarity of the doctor’s small white sharp’s father’s house in shanklin, now the white house hotel). The rationale of the leprosy clony was that of “voluntary segregation”, where the provision of a happy community to live in would attract leprosy sufferers, so removing them from the communities where they might infect others.

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