The Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU) an organization that champions the promotion and preservation of culture has urged the government to expedite the passing of the Museums and Monuments Bill, 2022 which will go a long way on protecting heritage and cultural sites and museums in the country.
The call was made by the CCFU Executive Director, Barbra Babweteera Mutambi during the launch of the 5th Annual National Heritage Awards 2023 in Kampala.
The Uganda National Culture Policy reviewed in 2019, Policy objective 5.1, aims ‘To promote respect for the diversity of cultural expressions and raise awareness of its value at the local, regional and international level’.
Clause 19 Article 2 of the Museums and Monuments Act 2022 stipulates that ‘a relevant actor including civil society, media, private sector and academia may promote or advocate, for the protection of heritage resources.
This Bill was passed into law by Parliament but the President referred it back to Parliament to reconsider the listed heritage sites in the second schedule of the proposed law for ‘economically’ viable sites listed.
Babweteera noted that in the abuse of the law, a number of museums, cultural sites, historical buildings will continue to vanish in the name of modernity and development.
“It’s our humble appeal that Parliament quickly handles the changes that have so far been made to the listed heritage sites and send the bill back to the President for assent,” Babweteera said.
The CCFU boss noted that despite several engagements and promises from the leadership of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) for an ordinance to protect historical buildings and sites, this has not been done 5 years down the road.
“If the Bill is passed, it will provide for protection of built heritage in Kampala which is being destroyed or planned to be destroyed, for example the Watoto Church management that plans to demolish the historical structure formerly known as Norman Cinema, to put up a ‘modern’ structure,” Babweteera said.
She noted that despite the challenges faced, efforts to promote and protect cultural heritage, whether by individuals, families, organisations or communities, are slowly but steadily growing.
“The growing numbers of community museums, artistic productions, ethnic cultural galas, innovative ways of transmitting cultural values, cultural centres and cultural troupes attest to; however, these passionate efforts are however often hampered by the lack of support and remain isolated endeavours, unrecognised and unpublicized,” She added.
Jackline Nyiracyiza Besigye, the Ag. Commissioner Museums and Monument in the Ministry of Tourism and WildLife Antiquities, commended CCFU for championing the promotion of heritage, committing to continue working with the organization to the similar agenda.
“It’s important to protect our heritage sites, we have rich heritage that needs to be safe guarded. Yes we have laws in place and we need more laws but we need each one of us to act and save our culture, let’s cooperate and empower our communities to preserve the priceless heritage sites in the country,” Nyiracyiza said.
Speaking about the awards, CCFU ED noted that these will be held on Wednesday, 24th May, 2023 in Kampala as part of the activities to commemorate the World Culture Day, an international day that celebrates Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
“The main objective of the Heritage Awards is to raise awareness about the importance of safeguarding our nation’s cultural heritage for future generations to access, enjoy and express. These awards are held every 2 years and individuals, institutions or groups of people that have consistently contributed to the safeguarding of Uganda’s heritage are appreciated,” Babweteera said.
She has appealed to the general public to submit nominations of an individual, family or institution that has preserved Uganda’s cultural heritage.
The heritage could be a historical site, a historical building, indigenous knowledge, practice, skill or tradition.
Nominations should be dropped at CCFU offices, the Department of Culture and Family Affairs at the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development and at the Uganda Museum; or nominated online.
6 awards will be presented to the successful nominees during the Awarding Ceremony. A special Heritage Press Grant has also been prepared. Journalists should submit evidence of their previous work regarding heritage promotion and a brief for a proposed project.