A toast to Kampala-Rome

Artist Johnmary Mukiza explains parts of the comic book that was unveiled during the celebration of Kampala-Rome relations. PHOTO/ ANDREW KAGGWA

There is a lot that can be written about the relationship between Italy and Uganda. For instance in 1906, Italian mountaineer and explorer led an expedition to the Rwenzori Range , in Uganda. He scaled 16 summits in the range, including the six principal peaks.

 One of them, Mount Luigi di Savoia, bears his name. The highest peak was reached on June 18,1906. He named it Margarita. 

But the Rwenzori Mountain peak is not the only thing Italy shares with Uganda; both countries share a rich food culture that they have continuously shared with the world.

For example, Italy has successfully shared the pizza with the world, while Uganda, of late  has been showcasing the rolex. And of course their shared love for heritage, music and football. It was such similarities that were highlighted when the annual Italian Cultural and Culinary Week was organised last week. 

The week in the past has seen the Italian Embassy organise music shows, theatre productions and last year, they went big with the Leonardo Da Vinci art exhibition.
This year, the plans were bigger, not just for the Italian Week but throughout the year, the Ambassador, HE Massimiliano Mazzanti, had last year hinted on working with the Uganda Communication Commission to find a way of collaborating with Ugandan filmmakers, then Covid-19 happened. 
The Italian Cultural and Culinary Week had gone on though, this year, they geared towards celebrating the similarities between Italy and Uganda but in an artistic way. 

Using Art
To pull this off, they collaborated with the Ministry of Tourism, the Uganda Tourism Board, the Uganda Communications Commission and the Italian Trade Agency. 

On the culinary side, the highlight was the presence of Italian Celebrity Chef Francesco Mazzei, a social contest Cook and Click, Be an Italian Chef for One Day was activated to get Ugandans posting pictures of their homemade Italian dishes. 

But the bigger picture of the week, was the launch of The City of 7 Hills comic books. Illustrated by artist Johnmary Mukiza, the two books take you on guided tours across Kampala and Rome. 

In the tour of Rome, two crested cranes fly to Italy in search of creativity for their new album, while the tour of Kampala, an Italian she wolf passionate about dance, goes to Uganda to find inspiration. 

According to Mazzanti, Kampala is full of treasures yet some people don’t know that. This became the biggest drive for the need of a comic book, it gives a light hearted tour around the city, showing off monumental structures such as the National Theatre, Parliament and the St Paul’s Cathedral, Namirembe.

Mukiza said the characters of the comics are driven by the countries’ stories, for instance, Uganda has a connection with the crested crane while for Italy on the other side, he chose a wolf for Rome because of a tradition about the twins Romulus and his twin brother, Remus. 

According to legend, the twins were supposed to be drowned on orders of a new king but survived and saved by a she wolf, they later founded Rome. “That story is a very big part of Italian culture and that’s the reason it was obvious for me to use a wolf in the story,” Mukiza says. 

The cultural week closed on Thursday with the ambassador hosting different diginitories to a dinner at his residence.
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