After the Bootcamp: How to Make This Really Big?


Darth Vader, pardon, Steven G. West interviewing film director Sharpe Ssewali in the aftermath of the Gorilla Highlands Bootcamp 2018

After 22 people from 10 countries submitted their opinions, 20 people from 6 countries gathered at Lake Bunyonyi last week for the third Gorilla Highlands Bootcamp to bring it all together…

Gorilla Highlands Bootcamp 2018 accommodation and canoeing

This is the grand vision of the Gorilla Highlands Initiative growing into the Gorilla Highlands Society (GHS), a vision that can — and should — be challenged by anyone who cares about it. Two days ago we began a cycle of face-to-face consultations in Kampala, and we welcome any feedback through any channel before 1/1/2019. In the new year we will get down to work, hopefully making the final vision a reality by the Batwa Jamboree.

It may not be easy or quick, because we envisage something big and international. Hear us out…

Visit to the Batwa “Pygmies” of Rwamahano during the Gorilla Highlands Bootcamp 2018

GHS’s purpose will be to help achieve peace and prosperity in the region encompassing Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. We think that can be best achieved with a mass organisation bringing together Ugandans, Rwandans, the Congolese and other people around the world who share that purpose. Individual membership will be the predominant arrangement but corporations and other entities wishing to support GHS will get an appropriate solution as well.

Trip to Tom’s Homestay for Gorilla Highlands Bootcamp 2018 campfire debates

From Batwa communities to parliamentarians, everybody will be welcome to become a card-carrying member of GHS; there will be special involvement opportunities for the youth. We will continue to use tourism as a tool of economic and social development, however, it is going to be only one of our tools.

We have long attracted people from the conservation, development, media and travel fields; that is the best short list of our interests. But it might prove not be conclusive. Whatever assists with peace and prosperity, we will consider integrating.

Gorilla Highlands Bootcamp 2018 presentations, meals and the final trek (Mama Bena’s Bonus)

There will be an advisory council of 12 experienced individuals meeting electronically to assist the GHS staff; it will include people who live in the region, people who originate from the region and experts from around the world. The staff will be sourced globally, with preference for skilled East Africans whenever possible; a series of job descriptions shall be published in early 2019. We will be looking for paid staff and for interns, working on-site or electronically.

A transboundary organisation with a simple triad of an advisory (not governing) council, staff and membership might be a challenge to register in different countries. We will seek legal advice and make adjustments — but only after you give us your feedback!

You are also welcome to take part in our #IAmGorillaHighlands campaign

Steve consulting Patience (BBC), Andy (East Africa Maps), Keren’s mother Gloria with Jonathan (Association of Uganda Tour Operators) and Ignatius (freelance journalist)

photo: Paul Busomoke, Miha Logar, Isabelle Masozera, Roland Byagaba

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