THIS week people in the United States enjoyed a solar eclipse so much that even I got a notification on Monday evening that I needed to prepare to look up into the sky right here in Kampala.
I thought it incredulous that we could be expected to see a solar eclipse in the middle of the night, and straight away forgot to look up at the appointed hour. Americans, including those Ugandans who have changed citizenship and location, created surprisingly excited chatter that made me focus on more important things than my WhatsApp groups.
Having survived the experience without a hitch, I was slightly irritated on Wednesday morning to receive a link to a story advising Americans not to throw away their solar eclipse viewing glasses, but to collect them for Uganda.
The impression the headline created in my mind was that I belong to a country of hand-me-downs for almost anything and everything. Considering that we had our solar eclipse before America did, surely we should be counted as being more advanced at least in that one respect? (please calm down – my tongue is stuck fast within cheek there).
I mean, we made our own solar eclipse viewing devices back then without anyone handing stuff down to us!
The cloud of resentment under which I approached the story was quickly eclipsed by a bright spark of hope at the news that we, in Uganda, would soon be having ANOTHER eclipse viewing event, but not of the solar kind.
Next year, Uganda will enjoy a Total Lunar Eclipse!
Now, this is not exciting news simply for the scientific value or for meteorological enthusiasm, if that’s the phrase an educated person would choose.
That story I read told me about a group of enthusiasts called Astronomers Without Borders, who are excited about such things. It is a global community with membership in most countries round the world. Uganda has two (2) members listed there, and bigger economies have hundreds of them.
Opportunity? But of course!
Not to hire tents and chairs and drive them to locations for speeches to be held starting with an LC 1 Chairman granting permission for the gathering to happen – NO!
This is a direct, automatic opportunity for our Tourism marketing people to go directly to everybody who might be interested in viewing the Total Lunar Eclipse in Uganda and invite them here with special packages and privileges.
Restaurants and hotels must immediately begin designing special offers for all these people – who are even listed by name, if you choose to find them using the internet.
And we don’t even have to work hard at it. We can copy directly from what the Americans have just done – within seconds of checking I found a website that predicted that millions would be traveling to and around the country just to catch their solar eclipse.
One fellow suggested that, “The sum estimate from (his) analysis is that between 1.85 and 7.4 million people will visit the path of totality on eclipse day.” – that’s on https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/.
A couple of other websites detailed many different ways in which they marketed or could market merchandising and experiences and hundreds of other economy-boosting things that made the eclipse a money-making activity for hundreds of Americans and their businesses!
What are we doing, ladies and gentlemen?
We have had these conversations before, and it is scary to imagine that we still might not get it right.
There are few excuses – especially when the internet tells you that the Lunar Eclipse will happen on Friday, July 27, 2018 at exactly 11:21pm.
“This total lunar eclipse is fully visible in Kampala. The total lunar eclipse is sometimes called a blood moon, as the Moon turns red,” reads on website – basically writing out our Tourism Marketing copy for us!
We have a one-year head start, organisations like the Uganda Tourism Board and Astronomers Without Borders, and lessons from other countries that have just done this.
Surely – what more do we need?