The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: A Night in Gen Tinye's Bedroom

At the top of Kyengera hill, overlooking the mosque on Masaka road, lies this new hangout - Marabel hotel and spa.

The cool natural breeze in the gardens, a wide variety of flowery-green vegetation and the towering eucalyptus trees epitomise Winston Churchill's vision of the Pearl of Africa. The fact that this is the former residence of outspoken UPDF general, David Sejusa (formerly known as Tinyefuza), comes as a bonus. This is the place where the general lived in a cool and quiet environment only shattered by the early morning call for prayer from the mosque - remember that very public battle he had?

On site, everyone is busy putting final touches to what is bound to be Kyengera's most sought-after hangout. Though the place is not yet open for accommodation and other services like steam bath and massage, residents of Kyengera are already utilising the available ones. They flock in for the competitively priced local and foreign foods, as others come for an evening beer.

Some groups gather for wedding meetings and weekend parties as yet another group just chills in the cool gardens - all trying to erase those memories when coming through these gates was strictly on appointment.

A brand new look:

By the end of March, any Ugandan will be free to sleep in that master bedroom where Tinye used to sleep and possibly dream about becoming 'Sejusa'. Robert Katuntu, the hotel proprietor says the general's former house is still undergoing a state-of-the-art uplift to meet international standards.

"We opened already but we are working in phases. We started with the gardens, bar and restaurant. We are now in completion stages of the accommodation side," he says.

Besides the original house, another block has been constructed to increase the capacity of the hotel.

"Our plan is to make it a one-stop centre and an all-inclusive place. Besides swimming pools and children parks, we want to create an artificial lake on the lower side. Everyone should enjoy their time when they are here," Katuntu explains.

"The new owner is a good man and it is a very cool place for an evening out with friends or on a date. We are hoping for better and affordable services," says Hassan Ssendi, a resident of Kyengera.

Although Katuntu also targets people from the city centre, his primary focus are the Kyengera residents. With Marabel hotel sprawled on ten acres, Katuntu's goal is to reach a point where one has no reason to go to Kampala for a wedding, graduation parties, conference or accommodation.

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