They say home is where the heart is. The journey home is usually an exciting one as it comes with a lot of memories and anticipation. Good things are always at home. Paulo Coelho writes in the Alchemist of the shepherd boy, Santiago who had to first travel to a faraway place to realize that the fortune he was looking for was indeed at home.
The journey home was not any different for Gerald Nkusi. As a young man, he dreamt of a better future as is promised by the books of education. He needed to get that university degree which could land him a better job that would later see him get that dream job that would polish up his life with a fat cheque.
Achieving this was as hard as hard gets. He settled in Kampala, Uganda’s headquarter for hustlers. He was a statistic that would, par chance, make it through. During his days in Kampala, the dream to transform his home and the entire community stayed and haunted him long. In all his efforts, he wanted to establish something that would transform his community.
With the passing of time, the times were kinder and he was living what many would call a comfortable life for a man his age in Kampala. But the call for home became louder and louder. Each time he visited his home, he saw things that needed to change. He saw how littered the community was, how culture was eroding away and how the environment was being strangled. He knew he had to do something.
All his savings in tow, he packed up all his bags and left for home. His official address changed to the one he had all his younger life; Nyakabande, Kisoro.
Usually, when people return home, they bring fruits of their harvest. Or they are retired and home is the place where one warmly looks back on their active years of service. It is a very different story when one returns home in the most productive years of their life to settle down.
Society had its expectations which were far different from those of Gerald. But nothing was going to stop him from pursuing the desires of his heart. The gospel he wanted to preach to the community was in three fold, conservation of the environment, preservation of culture and tourism.
As a young boy in Nyakabande, Gerald grew up fetching water at a little known Lake Kigezi which is located behind their home. It is alleged that it was at that little lake that the greater Kigezi region was born. That gave him a sense of pride. He promised himself that whatever project he’d ever do later in life, it would be carry the name Kigezi.
Upon his return, the first project he set out to do was the Kigezi Tourism Festival where a number of players in the different fields and disciplines were invited to take part, through the festival, the community of Kisoro would get learn about their culture, environment and tourism potential. The reality on ground was different though. It dented and taunted him. All his savings were blown out in one sitting and there was nothing worth writing home about.
He went back on the drawing board. This time round, he had nothing to draw with. He only had himself to think of a way forward.
That was 2006. With nothing to do than stay home, he decided to establish something right at the place where he grew up; his family home. It would be called THE HOME OF KIGEZI.
Gerald has been on a journey of building the museum; collecting artefacts of the Kifumbira tradition and culture over the years. The home is also a conservation space for different species of organic medicines. And on top of that, it is a tourism site. Gerald has also established Adventure Africa, a tours and travel company which caters to the interests of those in need of safari needs.
More than a decade later, Home of Kigezi is an outstanding brand at the foot of Kisoro that proudly tells the story of the Bafumbira in Uganda but also the hidden treasure that is the Kigezi Region. On top of this, Gerald practices permaculture on the premises. When you visit the Home of Kigezi you can tell that conservation and all matters environment are central to his heart.