Uganda, deservedly dubbed the Pearl of Africa, is located in the Great Lakes Region in East Africa and boasts an ecological diversity that rivals many larger countries. Here, Eastern savannah meets West African jungle – Uganda really does offer visitors incredible diversity with its multitude of varying ecosystems. Bordered by the Rwenzori Mountains (often called the Mountains of the Moon, the 3rd highest in Africa), the Virunga Mountains and Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria, it’s a beautiful country bursting with bird and wildlife.
Welcomes you to:-
Fort Baker, Patiko, Gulu (Northern Uganda)
A beauty born out of slave trade
Fort Patiko was a military fort built by Samuel Baker in Patiko, Gulu, Uganda and the Construction of the fort was completed on December 25, 1872. Sir Samuel Baker’s Fort at Patiko is located north of Gulu Town in Ajulu parish, Patiko sub-county, AswaCounty.its about 28km (45minutes drive).The fort is enclosed by a 16 feet wide and 15 feet deep trench dug by slaves on the orders of the Arabs to avoid the escape of captives. The tourism site, located in Patiko Sub-county in Gulu District covers about 9.4 hectares. The fort was initially constructed by the Arabs as a slave collection centre. Sir Samuel Baker took over the fort from 1872 to 1888 when he was sent on a mission by the Queen of England to stop the slave trade which was being carried out by the Arabs slave traders. The slaves were being sent to Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey and Somalia. The fort then became the headquarters for Emin Pasha and Gordon, the respective Governors of the Equatorial Province of the British Protectorate after Sir Samuel baker.
The Arabs could not have found a better slave harbor and trade link. They descended upon Ocecu Hill and built three square-shaped huts to serve as stores for ammunition, ivory and foodstuff as well as hides and skins.
Slaves were a key trading item for the Arabs too and were captured from northern Uganda, Gondokoro in Sudan and other areas. Ocecu Hill became a sorting ground for slaves. Healthy-looking ones were forced to trek from Patiko, through Sudan across the Red Sea and sold in Egypt.
The journey to the slave markets was not easy. “The slaves were forced to carry looted millet, simsim, ammunition and ivory,” Slaves who were too weak as a result of beatings and long treks were killed by firing squad or beheaded in the designated ‘execution slab/prosecution chamber’ on the hill. Barter trade was the major form of exchange. Traditional chiefs in Patiko supplied ivory to the Arabs in exchange for sukas, beads, guns and gun powder.The Arabs turned Ocecu Hill into a trading centre and business boomed. However, when village raids intensified, fear, hunger and disease befell Patiko. Something had to be done. The then chief of Patiko – Rwot Kikwiyakare – organised the relocation of children, elders and the sick to a nearby mountain so that his people are not wiped away by slave trade.
Baker and the birth of Fort Patiko
That mountain, located about 2kms from Ocecu Hill, became known as Got Ajulu (Julu is Acholi for ‘nurture’, Got means mountain/hill). According to the Chief of Patiko, Rwot Jeremiah MuttuBonojane, RwotKikwiyakare said to his people: “Let’s nurture (julu) our people so that our clan is not wiped away.” As a result, the mountain has since then been called Got Ajulu.
As Britain spread its colonial wings across Africa, quashing slave trade was one of their missions. Explorer Sir Samuel Baker was commissioned by the Queen of England to oversee that mission. Although Britain would colonize Uganda in 1894, by 1863, Sir Samuel Baker and the chief of Patiko - Rwot Kikwiyakare met and discussed the slave trade menace in the area.
In 1872, Baker returned from Egypt with Nubian soldiers, passed through Bunyoro to quash the Kabalega resistance against the British and headed to Patiko. He over-run the slave harbor, expelled about 250 Arabs and fortified the place. Fort Patiko, also known as Baker’s Fort Patiko, was born.
Mr Too says the name Patiko was misspelled by Baker, while writing the inscription. The metallic plate that bore the inscription is no more and according to RwotMuttu, it was recently stolen. Next to the three huts stand a giant rock, about 150 high and is known as Baker’s leap/seat. It was on top of this rock, that the Arabs would sit to monitor any infiltration by their enemies to the area. Behind the three square-shaped huts is the execution slab and further left of the slab is a cave where slaves –destined for execution were ‘imprisoned’.
The ‘execution slab’ is dotted with dents which Mr Too says were caused by axes used to behead slaves. Dark spots, believed to be blood stains of slaves, can also be seen on the rock. Fort Patiko might have witnessed terror from Arab slave trade dealers, but the natural beauty of the place, rose above its dark history.
There are so many activities that can done at the site and these include;
Nature walk: Guided Nature walk can be done around the fort up to Ajulu hills, on the walk you are expected to see monkeys, rock Hyrax, and many other smaller mammals.
Camping: Camping is one of the most preferred activity visitors tend to do at any time on the flat rocks of the hills coupling with number of activities like BBQ/ Roasting meat, dancing at the camp fire while cheering and tossing drinks in the air.
Bird watching, Mini Hike/ rock climbing and many others!!!
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