We should preserve Uganda’s heritage

Monday April 20 2020

BEFORE: The Kasubi Tombs before they were

BEFORE: The Kasubi Tombs before they were burnt. FILE PHOTO 

By Editor

This year’s World Heritage Day, marked on Saturday, April 18, like many activities around this time, was overshadowed by the coronavirus outbreak. Many countries around the world, including Uganda, are currently in a lockdown as a measure to control the rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The importance of our heritage, which the World Heritage Day celebrates through spreading awareness about the importance of protecting culture and diversity, cannot be gainsaid. For Uganda, beyond the Unesco recognised World Heritage Sites – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mountain Rwenzori National Park, and Kasubi Tombs – we generally have a rich heritage and historical monuments.
The country’s historical buildings, according to Yao Bulenzi, a retired Unesco expert on cultural heritage, should be documented for preservation. In an interview with Saturday Monitor, Bulenzi said an inventory of Uganda’s historical buildings could be compiled and sent to Unesco to evaluate them and have them included on the list of heritage sites and buildings in the world.
Uganda currently has five sites on Unesco’s tentative list. They include Bigo bya Mugyenyi Archaeological Earthworks in Mawogola, Sembabule District, Kibiro Salt producing village in Hoima District, Ntusi man-made mounds and Basin in Sembabule District, Nyero and other hunter-gatherer geometric rock art sites in eastern Uganda, and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Kisoro District.
These heritage sites are not just a source of national pride. They are tourism attractions - an industry that, with deliberate effort and marketing, has grown as a big revenue earner for a country with vast tourism potential.
All regions in Uganda have unique attractions that, if developed and promoted well, will increase tourist numbers thus boosting local economies. Busoga, for instance, has been doing this through an annual event – the Kagulu Hill Climbing challenge – which aims to promote cultural and community tourism in the area.
As Nelson Mandela once said, our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our nation. The various heritage sites across this country are our collective national treasure and asset.
We must therefore work together right from community level to save and preserve Uganda’s rich heritage.