By Aggrey Nshekanabo
Endless superlatives were used to describe Rob Davis of Bungee Uganda and Quad Biking Jinja upon his passing. While he encouraged everyone to bungee jump, he had never done it before or at least no one ever saw him jump.
Yet, according to Mr. Alex Nabongho, his business partner, Rob was the best encourager to whoever had paid for a jump but was now fearing to ‘take a leap of faith’ to kiss the Nile at Bungee Uganda in Bujaggali-Jinja.
It is said that Rob, in search of business opportunities about 7 years ago, coming from Nairobi never went past Jinja. He spent some days in Jinja, met a network of Mzungus residing in Jinja and felt welcomed. It is said that he coined the moniker; “Jinja, East Africa’s Adventure town”
For that, a one Edwin Kanyesigye in tribute when news filtered in on Thursday 18th, Jan, 2024, wrote; “King of Adventure is gone”
Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) wrote on its’ twitter handle; “Rob played a pivotal role in shaping Jinja as the adventure capital. He was a passionate advocate for destination Uganda”
We now know that from the 13th to 17th of February, 2024, Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, with its Explore Uganda initiative will focus on Busoga region. Rob, among other stakeholders had held meetings with the government and a partnership deal had been inked or about to be signed. From last year in November, Rob started promoting and marketing ‘Explore Busoga” with Jinja at the centre of shared adventure.
A poster had already been circulating with someone bungee jumping on the Nile at Rob’s Bungee Uganda. And the among the lined-up activities for the “Explore Busoga”, are bungee jumping and quad biking, which sat at the heart of Rob’s business enterprise.
The Minister of state for Tourism, Hon. Bahinduka Martin Mugarra tweeted thus, on the passing of Rob; “Rob was the pillar of adventure and his legacy will live on for every bungee jump on the Nile” while Falisyll said; “Rob made memories with every ride on the quad bikes. He was the King of adrenaline rush”
Perhaps it is true when they say that when one’s day of exiting this earth are near, there are signs to that effect to which, for the discerning, Rob’s tweets were loud. On 6th December, 2023, Rob tweeted thus; “Well, this week, the road is calling me out of Jinja into Uganda, but where will it take me.”
Earlier on, 27th November, 2023, he tweeted; “Sitting here in Busoga looking across the foreign lands” the accompanying picture was of gold and blue clouds and a lonely tree in the middle ground. It is no surprise therefore, that Rob’s bones are interred out of Busoga, in Njeru where he was putting up a home for his young family. Perhaps that is the foreign lands he meant, but we will never know.
A week before meeting him, on the 7th of December, 2023, he posted a photo of calm waters, a small island, beautiful clouds and two lonely dry poles with the accompanying words thus; “The way, I could get used to this life? But where am I now?
ob was a man that at his age of 56, he was now seeking calmness, quiet. His life in England was about business and especially transport. And we know that there is no calmness in the transport business. He left for the Philippines to begin a new life.
He was restless there and he ended up in Uganda where after running Bungee Uganda and Quad biking Uganda for some time and they were getting steady, it was time to seek for calmness. He had not done a lot of travelling outside Jinja save for the occasional visits to Kampala for meetings. He went to Murchison Falls in December, 2023 and there he came face to face with his spirit animal, the elephant, and he wrote;
“When my spirit animal appears, I know it’s all going the right way” And we are told that when one is dying, their spirit animal appears. Rob told us he was going but we didn’t hear.
I had never met Rob until the afternoon of 12th December, 2023 when he came to Naalya Motel. We belonged to the same group of Tourism Promoters Club and this day was agreed upon as our end of year meet up. While the meeting was for 5pm, he came three hours earlier. I had an opportunity to engage with him at close quarters for nearly three hours.
It was an honour and a privilege and a moment I will forever cherish. We talked about so many things from business, to family but more importantly, tourism. He was an open book and brunt. When the rest of the club members appeared, he knew everyone and it looked like, I was the only one who didn’t know him. Everyone was a mate or a darling.
By the end of the evening, I too had graduated to mate and had extended to me an offer to bungee jump and enjoy some of the best pizza and or fish at Bungee Uganda. It is an offer that I will pay for in his memory and a challenge I will take. While no one knows if ever Rob bungee jumped, when I do, which is soon, I will jump for you mate.
Robert Allun Davis was born in England 56 years ago to English parents who are both alive. He lived, worked and started a family there. He later moved to Philippines in search of opportunities including finding love, which unfortunately did not last but bore him children.
He moved to Uganda and not only did he establish businesses in Jinja, he also established a family. He is survived by five children and the youngest being Robert Davis Jr. whom he begot with Majorine Mutesi.
He was a friendly person, a keeper of time, a believer in grooming people and a reader of character. He according to his Nabongho, he was foresighted, meticulous and an encourager and a people person with great business foresight.
No wonder, he was recommended to take over Bungee jumping from Adrift Uganda who has been in partnership with Mada Hotels. He ran the business meticulously and ensured the best bungee jump experts were brought in from the US to build the current tower. When All Terrain Adventures owner died, Rob was recommended again to take over the business and he ran it with his soul.
Continuity of business
It is perhaps too early to know how things will span out and how a team of 50 staff both at Bungee Uganda and Quad Bikes Jinja will be sustained. The good news is that Bungee Uganda had a General Manager in Melba who was a clear understudy of Rob and Majorine was deeply involved at Quad Bikes Jinja. And, his business partner, Alex Nabongho is committed to ensuring that everyone pulls together for Rob’s spirit to live on. The tourism fraternity was for once united in grieving Rob, and I could hear loud whispers from the travel enthusiasts and promoters that Bungee Jumping and or Quad Biking will always be on their bucket list, in memory of Rob.
Aggrey is a travel writer and the team leader at Naalya Motel and Kyambura Safaris Ltd with special interests in organizational communications, fundraising and sustainability; email@example.com +256703688447
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