The Ruins of Kilembe Mines

There was once a prestigious place as the Kilembe Mines. Then it was ruined.  Kilembe Mines is one place that gives the word meaning. It was the place where the children of the elite in Kasese had their childhood as their parents worked in the first class establishment. It was unique. It was one of those organised estate projects which kicked off well. In the current times, you could say, it was one of the Uganda A addresses. The mines attracted people from all parts of the country which made the first language of communication Kiswahili.

The roads were paved, the streets were lit. The estate houses were all clearly marked and labelled. The schools were closer as one wished. There were quite a number which made it possible for one to have choice. The mines were linked to the train by the Uganda railways which made transport to other parts of the country way cheaper and easier.

The children growing up in this environment were exposed to a different world compared to their other contemporaries. It was a beautiful place. It was a beautiful experience. Copper was the gold and all was gold.

The things that time does happened to Kilembe Mines too. Before you make your way into the boundaries of the mines, the winding R. Nyamwamba welcomes you with a scene of floating white stone, the debris of all the former things washed away. More than thrice, in the course of the last 20 years, the river has burst its banks carrying along with it whatever it lays its hands on. It has excavated the hills revealing the secrets hidden beneath.

But this is only the icing on the cake. Kilembe Mines had its trouble with the changes in governments that happened in the 1980s. The glory sunk with the blazing of guns. Copper, the main gold, lost its power on the market. It was strained. It lacked the support at home to keep it going. There was a great deal of work that needed to be done and it was supposed to be a combined effort.

A sign post of the defunct Caltex Fuel Station at the Mines

When the support did not come through, the staff needed to find means of continuing their lives. They had children that needed to continue with school. Careers to pursue and a life to live. So one by one they left. The expatriates left. The senior staff too left. The casual staff had no more work to do. They too left. And there stood a big establishment full of echoes. The switches had been turned off. The noise of “work-in-progress” was no more. The immediate option was to find work elsewhere for life to continue. Many hoped that maybe someone would come up with a solution to revamp the mines. The wait turned out to so long.

The current government had plans. It made promises. But that was all it was. Promises. Ten years passed. Another ten years passed. It is coming to the third decade and still waiting on the promises.

It was during this time that nature through R. Nyamwamba which borders the mines burst its banks washing away its remains. The river washed away schools, office blocks, roads.  It cut off people from accessing the mines. One day the residents of the campus housing units were caught off guard when the waters came for their houses too. Houses were brought down to their knees. Today, it takes someone who had the opportunity of seeing what was there before to point out what was where.

Today, what remains is a shadow of a once glorious place. It is a place of ruins. They say ruins come to life. Maybe one day, these too shall.

5 thoughts on “The Ruins of Kilembe Mines

  1. This is so sad. I remember Kilembe mines from my classroom sessions in primary and high school. Sad that this happened to it and there is nothing that can be done about it. I would have loved to see photos of whatever is left.

  2. Kilembe raised us so well, some of us got to know about water bills and electricity when we came to Kampala. Kilembe will always be missed, it was a Nation of its own, it could have employed its own residents if they were done with school.

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