Cultural heritage is an important aspect of our identity, history and aspirations. In Uganda, a beautiful collage of 65 culturally diverse ethnic groups presents unique cultures reflected in varied traditional institutions, languages, indigenous knowledge and skills, the creative and performing arts, crafts, dress and food. The country’s natural, cultural and historical landscapes and archaeological sites also showcase our cultural heritage.
In this programme we focus on supporting initiatives to preserve aspects of Uganda’s rich cultural heritage, tangible and intangible. The Foundation in collaboration with various partners, advocates for a favorable policy environment to protect, develop and promote our heritage, nationally and internationally.
1. Support to Community Museums
Inspired by the pride and self motivation exhibited by individuals, families, clans, and community groups to preserve and showcase their artefacts and literature, CCFU chose to support local initiatives to promote and preserve cultural heritage. So far we have worked with close to thirty self motivated and dynamic individuals, groups and families, as our partners. Each have established museums: these community museums display unique ethnographic collections, literature, traditional instruments, all demonstrating the cultural rights of self-expression and identity by a variety of local communities. In 2011 CCFU supported the establishment and recognition of the Uganda Community Museums Association (UCOMA) as an NGO, to raise the profile of the museums and link them to potential funders and other supporters. A digital site for community museums has been developed to further profile their work; and support to selected community museums to establish cultural enterprises is being undertaken. For more information, see these resources. Check out some museums that CCFU has worked with.
2. Safeguarding our built heritage
In 2015, we embarked on a programme whose ultimate objective is to protect and promote historic buildings and sites in Uganda. As a first step, maps of historic properties in Kampala, Entebbe, Jinja and Fort Portal were produced. This was followed by a training for owners and managers of historical buildings and support to the development of information materials on selected properties. The Foundation has also worked with Mengo Hospital and the Ham Mukasa family in a bid to celebrate specific historical buildings in Kampala (these appear on the historical buildings map of Kampala).
CCFU is also engaging with KCCA to promulgate an Ordinance to protect Historic Properties in Kampala. This work complements our active engagement with the International National Trusts Organisation.
In 2018, with support from the European Union, the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU) recognised and unveiled commemorative plaques on notable historical sites in Kampala, Jinja and Entebbe. These events were preceded by a training of photographers and researchers on how to document historical buildings and seminars on the value and contribution of historical buildings and sites in Jinja, Entebbe and Kampala. Three outputs including an executive book, maps and a mobile app (for android and IOS users) were launched.
CCFU established a heritage trust – the Heritage Conservation Trust of Uganda to champion the safeguarding of historic sites, cultivate pride in our heritage and help citizens and foreign visitors alike experience the “spirit” of a city, community and nation. Having a dedicated Trust accelerates our efforts to document historic sites in the country. Thus, the Trust intends to produce maps of historic buildings in all the new cities, complementing those already developed for Kampala, Entebbe, Jinja and Fort Portal.
In collaboration with the Uganda Railways Corporation and support from the European Union and the SOGEA SOTOM/TF Consortium, CCFU has produced a book titled “Our Railways. Our History” aimed at creating awareness about the many facets of Uganda’s heritage and the need to protect it. Through this book, the history of railways in Uganda, their role in the lives of Ugandans who lived and worked along them, and their place in the country’s political and economic development is recognised and celebrated. The book also highlights the importance of conserving the historical properties and artefacts. A National Railway Museum is in the process of being established in Jinja to promote the railway history.
3. Heritage education in Uganda
In 2011, CCFU initiated a programme to enhance heritage education in Uganda, recognising the role of the young generation in promoting cultural rights and heritage. CCFU now supports more than 150 “school heritage clubs” by training teachers and providing materials. CCFU also supports the development of cultural heritage resources in the vicinity of the selected schools by supporting 15 community museums and their outreach activities. The Foundation has also been engaging the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) to integrate culture into the new national curriculum for lower secondary schools. For more information, see HEP resources.
In 2017, CCFU received support from UNESCO for a 3-year project that aims at raising awareness of the management and academic staff in 4 universities in Uganda on the relevance of intangible cultural heritage in Uganda’s current development context.
4. Culture and conservation
CCFU works with local communities, state and non-state agencies to to foster a culturally-aware approach to conservation work.
In 2014 and 2018, CCFU carried out a desk study and action research respectively that confirmed a significant nexus between culture and conservation, with particular focus on the great apes. It highlighted cultural resources linked to ancestry, genealogy, identity, spirituality, social practices, legends and folklore and traditional medicine. It was concluded that such cultural and social attachments contribute to communities’ motivation to conserve nature, and the great apes in particular. In light of the above, and with the continued support from the Arcus Foundation, CCFU embarked on the implementation of a 2-year (2019-2021) project aimed at harnessing positive cultural resources to strengthen collaborative conservation of chimpanzees (between State and non-State actors) in Bunyoro and the Rwenzori regions.
5. Cultural enterprises for youth
CCFU supports groups of youth engaging in cultural enterprises that promote their livelihood through the use of cultural resources. This initiative intends to highlight the value of culture through cultural activities organised and managed by the youth not only as a source of income but also as a way of promoting positive aspects of culture.
6. Policy advocacy for heritage conservation and development
The culture sector is faced with a number of challenges arising from a lack of awareness of the importance of cultural heritage, limited political will and resources to develop and promote heritage and a lack of relevant and updated legal instruments to protect cultural heritage. This, coupled with negative perceptions of culture as backward, and the increasing challenges that modern development and globalisation present, calls for a deliberate effort to save our quickly vanishing heritage. Accordingly, CCFU has contributed to a number of policy instruments, including the National Culture Policy and the National Museums and Monuments Policy.
CCFU is also contributing to the implementation of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. It is accredited to the Inter-Governmental Committee, provides training services, has developed training materials in the context of the Convention and is a member of the Intangible Cultural Heritage NGO Forum