Akampene is one of the 19 islands found in Lake Bunyonyi. Situated in south western Uganda, this is one of the must visit islands within the Lake Bunyonyi of the Kigezi region. It was named the punishment island for the strange traditional practice of being a place where punishing young girls who would get pregnant before marriage occured. The girls would be taken forcefully to the island and abandoned and starved to death. Some would starve to death and die as a result of gettind drown in the waters of Lake Bunyonyi. Remember Lake Bunyonyi is the second deepest lake in Africa, and without a boat you cannot cross to the main land.
The lucky ones would survive by being saved by the poor members of the community who couldn’t pay dowry. These were mostly fisher men who heard mysterious cries and groans on the island, and then pick up these abandoned girls.
As strange as it may sound, punishing girls who would engage in premarital sex was common elsewhere in Kigezi region. A girl would be pushed over a cliff or tied on a tree in the forest. However the practice was abandoned in the 1940’s. Stories about its disappearance are connected to the influence of missionaries and Christianity while other say parents of the victims were against the practice. Some of the last survivors of the Akampene Punishment Island are still alive and you can get the chance to visit them in Kigezi.
The Akampene island is big in size occupying about 3 acres. This island is at the verge of vanishing due to the water waves and nature. However, the local people say that the spiritual powers of girls who were dumped are responsible as the island has reduced in size and seems like it will submerge and vanish with time to come. Standing on the island is not possible because it is getting submerged in water. However there’s another island where visitors can walk under the caves to see remains of human Skelton. Akampane was supposedly large island about 3 acres but has reduced to almost 100ft plot of land. Local legends say the spirits of the girls could be responsible. However, the real reason is that water levels on Lake Bunyonyi rise during rainy season and the waves could be washing the island. Many other islands on the lake such as sharp have also reduced in size. Sharp was a missionary doctor who lived on Lake Bunyonyi in the 1920’s.
You can visit the Lake Bunyonyi to see the punishment on a guided tour through Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. There are guided tours to the island rom Lake Bunyonyi shores in Kabale. Lake Bunyonyi attracts tourists who want to relax and enjoy its beautiful scenery, birds, local culture and outdoor activities like boat cruise, canoe riding, zip lining and hiking. There are 19 islands but Akampene is mostly identified and visited due to its history. Visitors can see the island from a distance.