Sukuma Museum & Bujora Cultural
If you're interested in learning about Sukuma culture, the Sukuma Museum & Bujora Cultural Centre (http://photo.net/sukuma; admission Tsh3000;
S 8am-6pm Mon-Sat, 1-6pm Sun) makes a worthwhile day trip from Mwanza. The centrepiece is an open-air museum where, among other things, you'll see traditional Sukuma dwellings, the house of a traditional healer, a wooden trough used for rainmaking potions and a blacksmith's house and tools. There is also a large map showing the old Sukuma kingdoms, and nearby a rotating cylinder illustrating different Sukuma systems for counting from one to 10. Traditionally, these systems were used by various Sukuma age-based groups as a sort of secret language or symbol of initiation. Each group - girls, boys, women, men - had its own counting system, which would be used within the group, but which would not be understood by members of any other group.
Also on the grounds is the royal drum pavilion, built in the shape of the stool used by Sukuma kings. On the pavilion's upper level is a collection of royal drums that are still played on church feast days, official government visits and at other special events. Traditionally, each Sukuma kingdom had a special place such as this one - though not on the same scale - for preserving its royal drums.
The round church in the centre of the museum was built in 1969 by David Fumbuka Clement, the Quebecois missionary priest who founded the museum. Inside are some traditionally styled altar pieces. Although services (10am Sunday) are in Swahili, much of the singing is in Sukuma.
On request, the museum can organise performances of traditional drumming and dancing for a flat fee of Tsh60,000 per performance, for up to 10 persons. It's best to arrange this in advance, although sometimes you can organise things on the spot. It's also possible to arrange Sukuma drumming lessons. There are no set fees; you'll need to negotiate with the instructors, but don't expect it to be cheap. An English-speaking guide is available at the museum.
SLEEPING & EATING
There's camping (per person Tsh4000) on the grounds of the centre, and no-frills rooms (s/d without bathroom Tsh3000/6000) with mosquito nets and tiny windows. Bucket showers can be arranged, as can meals, with advance notice. Otherwise, you can bring your own food and cook it yourself, or make arrangements for staff to cook it. The closest market is in Kisesa, about 3km away.
GETTING THERE & AWAY
Bujora is about 20km east of Mwanza off the Musoma road. Take a dalla-dalla to Igoma, from where you can get a 4WD or pick-up on to Kisesa. Once in Kisesa, walk a short way along the main road until you see the sign for Bujora Primary School (Shule ya Msingi Bujora). Turn left at the sign and follow the small dirt road for about 2km to 3km to the cultural centre. There is no public transport along this road.
En route from Mwanza, around 2km past Igoma on the western side of the main road, is a graveyard for victims of the 1996 sinking of the Lake Victoria ferry MV Bukoba.
The large and densely populated Ukerewe Island is in the southeastern corner of Lake Victoria, and north of Mwanza. It is well off the beaten track, with no paved roads and -outside Nansio, the major town - no electricity. While there isn't much to 'do' here, the island makes an intriguing, offbeat diversion and, with its friendly people and rocky terrain broken by lake vistas and tiny patches of forest, it's an ideal place for getting acquainted with local life. Staff at Gallu Beach Hotel are the best connections for arranging walking and bicycle tours of the island.
SLEEPING & EATING
There's no running water at either place here, but buckets are provided.
Gallu Beach Hotel (% 0784-682488; www.gallu.net; s/d/tr with shared bathroom Tsh6000/7000/10,000) This unassuming local guesthouse in Nansio town has clean but very basic rooms and arguably the best meals - all local style - in Nansio. The website is also a good general source of information on the island.
Monarch Hotel (s/d Tsh15,000/25,000/32,000) Just a few minutes' walk from the ferry on the lake shore, this is Nansio's only proper hotel, with self-contained rooms and a small restaurant.
GETTING THERE & AWAY
The MV Butiama and MV Clarius sail on alternate days between Mwanza's North Port and Nansio, departing Mwanza at 9am and 2pm, and departing Nansio at 8am and 1.30pm (Tsh5000/3500 for 2nd/3rd class plus US$5 port tax, two hours).
It's also possible to reach Nansio from Bunda, about 30km north of the Serengeti's Ndabaka Gate on the Mwanza-Musoma road, which means that you can go from Mwanza to Ukerewe and then on towards Musoma or the Serengeti, or vice-versa, without backtracking. Via public transport, take any vehicle between Mwanza and Musoma and disembark at Bunda. From Bunda, you can get transport to Kibara-Kisorya (Tsh3500), from where it's a short boat ride (Tsh500 to Tsh1000, 30 minutes) to Ukerewe. This route is usually operated by a vehicle ferry, though it was under repair as this book was researched. When operational, it runs every two to three hours, with the first departure from the mainland at about 8am, and the last at 5.30pm. Plan on leaving Bunda by about 3pm at the latest in order to connect with the last ferry to Ukerewe.
There is little public transport on Ukerewe. A few vehicles meet boat arrivals, and there are daily dalla-dallas between Nansio and Rugezi for catching the boat over to Kibara-Kisorya (Tsh500). Otherwise, the only option is walking or bargaining for a lift on a bicycle.
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