Saturday, 14 November 2009

The Pain-bending Ragem Beach

Where can a stressed Lugbara relax his mind? When I first heard about Ragem Beach on River Enyau just over 3 Kms from Arua Town (on the Nebbi Road) sometime at the beginning of the millenium, I thought it was impossible since there was no mapped lake or ocean in the near area. If this beach was really as good as residents claimed, then maybe it was just small but suited for their liking. Definitely, there can't be a distant horizon of water here to let your painful thoughts and agonising experiences sail into oblivion like magic but walking in this mysteriously canopied rivershed can trap them for you. The longest (River Nile) tributary in the West Nile area is River Enyau which you also cross while approaching Ediofe (Name coined because of the many broad leafed and black seeded 'Edio' trees common in the area; 'Fe' means tree). Enyau starts somewhere further south and at Ragem it forms one of the Most Amazing and Unique Sceneries you will ever witness in West Nile. The place is so peacefully hidden that it might not draw attention but when you get there, your mind will take a trip far away from the hustle and bustle of town life characterised by tiresome board meetings, changing car gears, signing papers, photocopying and the noise from generators plus Senke motorbikes. I took a walk to that "beach" on Wednesday 11th November 2009 with a cousin who had just finished his Senior Four UCE exams the previous week and was amazed at how mindbending the river meanders were, things I only read about in Geography textbooks a decade ago. It's not really a sand beach as you might expect but in its own way, it refreshingly brings you close to one of the Elements of Nature, which is Water. When viewed from the north, the Ragem meanders form a shape like the numbers 2 and 5 stretched plus joined together but with rounded bends. This seems like a good place for Christians and others to break bread (you know, like Jesus and the 2 fish plus 5 loaves). There are grass thatched 'payotts' on the banks, big trees, floating roots, several trees forming canopies (that remind you of the beastly River Ruzizi in Burundi or the Amazonic forests in Mel Gibson's exciting movie "Apocalypto") plus three bridges to cross over the meanders though only one seemed to have good side barriers. The sound of water rolling and falling downstream near the most visible starting point of the beach is so refreshing that it reminds you of Adriko's Sunshine Mineral Water or Wavah Water. There is also a dangerous slope on the East End, the deepest as you approach the watershed. On the upper side is a garden where you can relax (like at the Source of the Nile while you watch the Nile in Jinja, the Adventure Capital of East Africa). There is also a building that used to be a bar and restaurant but was unfortunately stripped of its windows. The inspiring artwork on the southern end was also vandalised. You can see that it used to be really wonderful but now is "Not Functioning" until an investor comes and resuscitates the business here. Ragem Beach is a very fine recreation ground that can accommodate picnics, parties and other celebrations. Located about half a kilometre from CEFORD Arua and a few metres after the Ragem Technical Institute signpost, you turn right and cut in about 200 metres. No beer was allowed from outside, refreshment was catered for by the management. From Monday to Thursday, entrance fee used to be 300 UgX, Beer 1,500 UgX and Soda 700 UgX while Friday to Sunday, children would enter for 200 Ugx while adults part with 500 UgX. If this place is redeveloped along with Rhino Camp County banks of the Nile or the resort beach in Chilua or Chilo (Terego), West Nilers can have an alternative for sand beaches they visit elsewhere.