Gov’t urged to expedite law to protect Uganda’s historic buildings, sites from tasteless investors

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The Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU), an NGO that champions promotion and preservation of culture has appealed to government to  fast-track laws that deter investors  from breaking down and replacing historical structures and sites in the country to put up high rising buildings and other developments.

Speaking  during the launch of the 5th CCFU initiated the national heritage awards in Kampala, said Barbra Babwetera, the CCFU Executive Director said passing of the Museums and Monuments Bill, 2022  will go a long way in protecting heritage and cultural sites and museums in the country.

Babweteera noted that in the abuse of the law, a number of museums, cultural sites, historical buildings will continue to vanish in the name of modernity and development.

“It’s our humble appeal that Parliament quickly handles the changes that have so far been made to the listed heritage sites and send the bill back to the president for assent,” Babwetera said.

She also asked KCCA to fast-track a similar ordinance to protect historic buildings in the city.

The CCFU boss noted that despite several engagements and promises from the leadership of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) for an ordinance to protect historical buildings and sites, this has not been done 5 years down the road.

“The Kampala City Council Authority’s ordinance to protect historical buildings and sites has not been passed in spite of advocacy for over five years. If the ordinance  is passed, it will provide for protection of built heritage in Kampala which is being destroyed or being planned to be destroyed, for example the Watoto Church management that plans to demolish the historical structure formerly known as Norman Cinema, to put up a ‘modern’ structure,”she noted.

Babwetera noted that historic buildings and sites form a large part of the country’s heritage and consequently need to be protected.

She noted that unless there are deliberate efforts to protect the country’s cultural heritage, it will in a few years be no more.

“Our tangible and intangible cultural heritage is under threat: rapid population growth, demand for land, economic activities and natural disasters, all threaten the thriving of our cultural heritage; while the influences of modernity  and a disconnect with young people have significantly and negatively impacted on the perception and values associated with culture. If measures are not taken to safeguard our cultural heritage, as a matter of urgency, Uganda’s heritage will soon vanish.”

Jackline Nyiracyiza Besigye, the acting commissioner  in charge of museums and monuments in the Ministry of Tourism commended CCFU for championing the promotion of heritage committing to continue working with the organization to the similar agenda.

“It’s important to protect our heritage sites, we have rich heritage that needs to be safe guarded. Yes we have laws in place and we need more laws but we need each one of us to act and save our culture, let’s cooperate and empower our communities to preserve the priceless heritage sites in the country,” Nyiracyiza said.

The awards

According to the CCFU, the national heritage awards aim at recognizing people who have played a critical role in protecting the country’s cultural heritage as a way of encouraging others to do so.

“The awards provide a missing incentive of  social recognition, publicity and money  through a heritage prize to individuals and organisations for their outstanding contribution to preserving and promoting our heritage  whether build, natural or intangible,” Babwetera said.

“The awards respond to the urgent need to preserve and promote Uganda’s rapidly vanishing cultural heritage. We have the responsibility to define what aspects of our heritage should be preserved and passed on to future generations. Uganda is a country endowed with a rich cultural heritage composed of both tangible and intangible elements. These if well protected could become a vehicle for economic development through many ways including cultural tourism and in promoting social cohesion.”

She noted that the awards help to raise awareness about the importance of  safeguarding the country’s cultural heritage for future generations to access, enjoy and express.

According to CCFU, this year’s edition will be held on May,24, 2023 in Kampala as part of the activities to commemorate the World Culture Day.

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