PARLIAMENT. Parliament on Wednesday passed a motion that seeks to recognise and protect the languages, culture and customs of minority tribes in the country.
The motion was moved by Ms Grace Hellen Asamo (PWD Eastern) and seconded by Ms Janet Grace Akech (Abim Woman).
Ms Asamo urged the government to clearly define and recognise ethnic minorities in the country, recognise and protect their languages and customs, and address historical injustices they suffered. She also called on the state to develop inclusive and intercultural educational curricula, which will ensure that all ethnic minorities have an understanding of their multicultural society.
“Some of these small tribes; their population is getting less because of diseases, for example, the Batwa of Kanungu and Bundibugyo districts. We realised that some of them have been acquiring HIV/Aids because some people are told that when they sleep with Batwa women, they are healed of HIV,’” she said.
Padyere County MP Joshua Anywarach said there is a need for government to recognise the minority tribes beyond their names and location so that they are internationally catered for.
“The recognition of these indigenous minorities will help us a lot because UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation] has opportunities that such tribes are missing,” he said.
Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa also urged government to domesticate the international instruments that provide for the welfare and socio-economic benefits of the minority communities.
Only two MPs opposed the motion, arguing that it is time for Uganda to be united as a nation other than people being referred to according to tribes.
Mitooma District Woman MP Jovah Kamateka said: “Much as the beautiful dances and preparation of foods are being lost, focusing much on them (tribes) means we are running a danger of dividing ourselves. We should be looking at the nationality like it is in Tanzania and Kenya.”
The army representative, Lt Gen Pecos Kutesa, also said Uganda needs to copy from civilised countries such as India where people are united for development without basing on tribes.
Uganda has 56 tribes, according to the 1995 Constitution.