Sunday April 23 2017

Ankole culture comes to life at Igongo centre

An exhibitor explains to tourists the various

An exhibitor explains to tourists the various ornaments Banyankole women use to beautify themselves. Photos by Alfred Tumushabe and Eric Ntalo 

By ALFRED TUMUSHABE

With the recent drive to Buy Ugandan and Build Uganda, the theme of the recent cultural gala at Igongo Cultural Centre in Mbarara Town could not have been more fitting.
‘Culture inspired innovations towards social, economic development,’ read the bold backdrop against which various exhibitors and revellers indulged in the rich heritage of mostly Ankole sub-region, last Saturday. The daylong event showcased innovations in areas of traditional food, fashion, entertainment, medicine, material culture and research.

Individuals and organisations, the Mbarara-based Kazire Health Products Ltd, for instance, showcased agro health products consumed such as energy and health drinks. Bushenyi-based Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development showcased Tooke Flour and its products; porridge, biscuits and cookies.
Silgad Investments displayed long-life shelf Bushera processed from millet, while Sheema-based Numa Food Products had various forms of millet flour.
Bushenyi Connoisseur Honey Ltd showcased various honey products such as wine, propolis that fight infections and heal wounds, candles, cakes and cookies.
Isingiro Multi-Stakeholders Initiative showcased making of Tonto, a local Ankole brew, and how it is served and preserved.
Uganda National Council for Science and Technology displayed works of food science graduates under their incubation, Igara Tea Factory exhibited tea products, among others.

Day’s highlight
Culture, which is fronted to have a big tourism potential, however, was the highlight of the day. There were displays of crafts made from banana fibres including beads and necklaces, traditional millet bread making process, milk products and utensils.
There was also an exhibition of iron smelting where metals are turned into tools such as spears, axes, and knives, as well as display of various pottery utensils used in homes. There were traditional performances; entogoro, ebitaguriro, storytelling, singing and okwevuga (citations), and a fashion show by Igongo Cultural Troupe, an entertainment group attached to the museum at Igongo Cultural Centre.

According to Ramadhan Kimbugwe, the Igongo Cultural Centre and Country Hotel sales coordinator, tourists always ask to see cultural processes. “For instance seeing the processing of local brew, how millet bread is prepared, how milk churning and smoking are done and how traditional ghee is processed. If tapped, these local tourist resources would improve the economic livelihood of local people and boost revenue for the country,” he says.

Guests led by Tourism minister Prof Ephraim

Guests led by Tourism minister Prof Ephraim Kamuntu (centre) and Igongo Cultural Centre proprietor, James Tumusiime, look at pots that are used to store milk in Ankole.


Igongo Cultural Centre was opened in 2009 to preserve, document and promote the culture of the people of south-western Uganda. It has since established a museum, crafts shop and bookshop, traditional food restaurant, eclipse monument and a hotel in Biharwe 10km from Mbarara Town on the Mbarara-Masaka highway.

The cultural centre’s proprietor, James Tumusiime, said the festival gave cultural innovators opportunity to get together, and reminded government of the fact that there is great tourism potential in rural communities that is untapped and underdeveloped. Highlighting the importance of cultural values, Tumusiime said there is need to give children such values given the influence of globalisation on them. “We want to show children the different ways they ought to follow their culture. We want to show them how to speak their language, dress and greet,” Tumusiime said.
Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities minister, who was the guest of honour, pledged government support for such initiatives, highlighting that such a cultural gala should be championed by government as it featured unique aspects of tourism.
The Uganda Tourism Board and Uganda Wildlife Authority had exhibition stalls to provide information on tourism activities in the country.

Brief background about Igongo cultural centre

Igongo Cultural Centre was opened in 2009 to preserve, document and promote the culture of the people of south-western Uganda. It has since established a museum, crafts shop and bookshop, traditional food restaurant, eclipse monument and a hotel in Biharwe 10km from Mbarara Town on the Mbarara-Masaka highway.
The cultural centre’s proprietor, James Tumusiime, said the festival gave cultural innovators opportunity to get together, and reminded government of the fact that there is great tourism potential in rural communities that is untapped and underdeveloped. Highlighting the importance of cultural values, Tumusiime said there is need to give children such values given the influence of globalisation on them.

atumushabe@ug.nationmedia.com

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