National Heritage Awards 2021 winners announced

An award winning illustration showcased during the National Youth Heritage Awards 2021. PHOTO/ COURTESY

What you need to know:

Abraham Mawanda’s illustration of three Ugandan drums, a xylophone, harp and horn has won him the overall prize in the 2021 National Youth Heritage Competition organised by the Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU)

According to Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda, amidst pressure to modernise everything in the country, the responsibility of transmission and preservation of cultural values and identity is entrusted with young people who are the custodians of our heritage.

Abraham Mawanda’s illustration of three Ugandan drums, a xylophone, harp and horn has won him the overall prize in the 2021 National Youth Heritage Competition organised by the Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU).

Mawanda’s drawing titled “Engoma - the drum” is about the communication tool used to pass on information pertaining to diff erent events and circumstances such as alerting people in case of any danger in a community. For instance, if thieves attack a village, masses can be mobilised by a drum sound traditionally known in Buganda as ggwanga mujje, to surround and arrest the thieves.

Drums are also used for mobilizing masses for communal work. The drum sound, saagala agalamidde, invites people together to clean water sources, community access roads, activities popularly known among the Baganda as “bulungibwansi.” Christians use drums to invite people for prayers. In hunting, a chief hunter sounds a drum or horn to alert others that he has identified an animal.

During the coronation of the Kabaka, the drum sound, mujaguzo is sounded. Drums are also used during the installation of heirs, during which a clan slogan, known as omubala is sounded to communicate the values and principles of a given clan totem. Mawanda, the award winner, is a Senior Four student at St Jude Secondary School in Masaka District.

Ivan Topira Awori, a Senior Five student at Kitgum Comprehensive College in northern Uganda, took the second prize for his drawing of “Bila - an Acholi flute.”

In the Acholi culture, bila is one of the communication instruments made of material obtained from nature. It is skillfully made from animal horns obtained by hunting specifically male animals that have developed strong horns, such as antelopes.

Bila is used by the Acholi to communicate in times of both trouble and peace. In times of trouble such as the invasion of enemies or a dangerous wild animal, this instrument is blown to sound an alarm.

In peaceful moments, bila is blown to inform the community about a dance which has been organised. When they hear its sound, people move to where the sound is coming from and merrily dance.

All the Acholi traditional leaders including the Rwot (chief) and various clan chiefs keep the bila at their royal homes because they use it for community mobilisation.

The third prize went to Stephen Amamaru, a Senior Six student at Moyo Secondary Senior School in northern Uganda for his drawing “O’di – the Ma’di Bowl Lyre.” O’di the Ma’di bowl lyre, a Ma’di harp, is a musical instrument that dominates high profi le leisure moments.

The O’di is played with respect and dignity because it is used to praise chiefs, their families and some distinguished clan figures. Playing the O’di communicates happiness.

The players of this instrumentexude humour and are usually invited as special guests during traditional ceremonies. The O’di also demonstrates respect because it is a taboo not to respect the instrument itself. The players must shake it before and aft er playing it as a sign of respect.

The Ma’di bowl lyre music and dance was inscribed on the UNESCO

List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in 2016. The Ma’di bowl lyre music and dance is one of the oldest cultural practices of the Ma’di people of Uganda.

The traditional songs and dances, performed for various occasions, including weddings and to celebrate harvests, are a tool for strengthening family ties and learning about community culture. Rituals are also involved. Transmitted by senior bearers, the future of the practice is at risk due to it being considered old-fashioned by millennials and materials used come from species that are now considered endangered.

This year’s 14 winners were recognized at the awards ceremony that was held in Fort Portal, Kabarole District on December, 2, 2021.

The chief guest, Omukama Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV, represented by the 1st deputy prime minister, Harriet Nyakake, from Tooro Kingdom, offi ciated at the awards ceremony.

This was the 11th edition of the annual competition organised by CCFU under its Heritage Education Programme, which aims at involving young people in preserving and promoting culture as well as appreciating cultural diversity.

In this year’s edition, people below the age of 20, were invited to draw or paint illustrations under the theme – Culture and Communication (key aspects of our culture that demonstrate communication).

Of the 171 entries received from different parts of the country, 14 winners were selected by a panel of cultural heritage experts. Entries were assessed on the criteria of adherence to instructions, originality, artistic and creative skills, innovation as well as regional and gender representation.

The 13 best entries have been used to design the 2021 National Heritage Calendar.

According to CCFU, “As pressure to modernise every aspect of development in our country increases, we place the responsibility of transmission and preservation of our cultural values and identity on young people who are the future custodians of our heritage. We call upon all stakeholders to embrace cultural heritage education in schools.”

To date, CCFU supports over 160 school cultural heritage clubs across the country in partnership with community museums and has engaged the National Curriculum

Development Centre to incorporate cultural heritage in the revised secondary school curriculum.

The foundation also implements a cultural entrepreneurship project for youth, which demonstrates how young people can make money using cultural resources.

CCFU, with support from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has initiated a degree programme on cultural heritage studies in selected universities in Ugandan


You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.