We have returned from our trip to a second island in Lake Victoria. Always before I have been told that there is only one island with a ferry, but now I discover a second which has a much more up to date style ferry. It is Bugala Island on the west side of the lake. It is roughly the same land mass as Buvuma Island, but strung out in a series of narrow strips rather than one large mass with several hills as Buvuma.

The Bugala Island Ferry - larger and more ship-like than the Buvuma ferry. The way of the future for Buvuma, I think. Industrialization will cause much upgraded infrastructure.

The Bugala Island Ferry – larger and more ship-like than the Buvuma ferry. The way of the future for Buvuma, I think. Industrialization will cause much upgraded infrastructure..

We stayed in the main town, named Kalangala. It was a small village about 20 miles from the ferry dock. We arrived in the dark after taking the last ferry of the day. The first thing we noticed was that they had electricity that was not generator driven. In the daylight the next day we passed the large solar power installation, with maybe 300 or more solar panels all tilted toward the equatorial sun generating power. This is the source of the island’s electricity.

We also noticed the lack of houses along the main road, which is very different from Buvuma Island, where there are multiple homes along the road from thatched huts to one room wood or brick structures to larger homes with plastered and painted walls. But on Bugala Island, most of the people have been displaced by the palm oil industry, and now huge groves of palm trees grow to the horizon and beyond for much of the way, replacing the homes that once occupied the land.

The people have either left the island or moved into the villages. I am told that the palm oil company, Bittico, has determined that both Buvuma and Bugala will be bought up and the land used for palm oil growth. Bugala is far ahead of the development on Buvuma and gives me a picture of what is in store for Buvuma Island in the future. Much of the agriculture will be replaced with palm trees, oil refining plants will be built and will employ many of the people, and squatters, which applies to most of the people living on and farming the land now, will be moved off the land they are currently using and will move to the villages instead of operating a homestead many miles from the population centers.

Church Planting conference on Bugala Island. Some of these people traveled many miles over the water by motorboat to get here for the conference.

Church Planting conference on Bugala Island. Some of these people traveled many miles over the water by motorboat to get here for the conference.

The landlords who own the land in many cases, I am told, moved out years ago during the tze-tze fly epidemics of the early 1900’s. Their families have historically collected rents from the people now living on their land, while they themselves live off the proceeds in Kampala or some other city. But now most have sold their land to Bittico, as they previously did on Bugala Island, and so the current occupants are slowly being pushed off, by law receiving some compensation, but still leaving their homes of many generations.

So the trip to Bugala Island has been very instructive in that it shows the future changes that will come to Buvuma. The industrial development may even soon cause the construction of an airport on Bugala Island, which will be the first in the lake. Such future changes on Buvuma Island will restructure the simple lives of the islanders forever, just as it already has on Bugala Island.

(To Be Continued in “Another Island, Another Ferry – Part 2”)

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