Declining cultural heritage resources are rarely presented as a humanitarian issue, we are convinced that immediate action is necessary to protect our vanishing cultural heritage as a means to strengthen the observance of Ugandans’ cultural rights. Thus, one of CCFU’s main programme areas focuses on enhancing an appreciation and promotion of cultural rights.
1. Protection of cultural rights
Few Ugandans are conversant with cultural rights, yet these are as important as any others and they are provided for under national and international law. We must indeed express to policy makers the need for policy change to place cultural rights much higher on the national agenda than is currently the case. Accordingly, CCFU is promoting a better understanding of cultural rights in Uganda through publications and exposure events and, in collaboration with a range of other organisations and cultural heritage activists has spearheaded a coalition to lobby relevant key policy makers and government to make the necessary changes.
The cultural rights of ethnic minorities are especially at risk and require urgent attention (in terms of status, access to one’s language and cultural heritage, political representation and access to cultural sites). Further, ethnic minorities are often at risk of seeing their culture assimilated by more numerous neighbouring groups. CCFU therefore works with indigenous minorities to develop status reports and engage district authorities on their cultural rights. The Foundation is also active in documenting oral histories, supporting advocacy platforms at district and national level; and developing cultural resource centres and Community Museums as sustainable enterprises.
2. Promoting the cultural rights of women and girls
Culture and traditions have been often perceived in Uganda as re-inforcing gender equality and abetting the oppression and sub-ordination of women and girls. In 2017, CCFU started a programme aimed at enhancing women empowerment using culturally defined rights. So far, the Foundation has produced several case studies and implemented projects in various cultural communities in Uganda highlighting how cultural resources can be harnessed to end violence against women and girls, promote sexual reproductive health and rights, and enhance women and girls’ access to justice.
3. Development of cultural heritage through support to community-based plans and micro-projects in three selected districts
This intervention focuses on assisting local government or traditional institutions in selected districts to mobilise their respective communities to conserve tangible or intangible cultural heritage in their vicinity (for instance a sacred forest, literature, oral history, monuments). Stakeholders in these districts are facilitated to identify cultural heritage resources in selected areas and design and to implement heritage development plans which involve Community Development and Tourism Officers, Environmental Officers and traditional institutions, including capacity building, where appropriate.