The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has appreciated Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU) for its continued efforts towards the preservation and promotion of Uganda’s culture and heritage.
The remarks were made by the Commissioner for Youth and Children Affairs in the Ministry of Gender, Mondo Kyateeka while presiding over the Annual National Youth Heritage Awarding ceremony.
Kyateeka revealed that as a way of passing on cultural values to the youth and young generation, the Ministry has kicked off a process of reviving Ekyoto (Fireplace) which will bring together the elderly and the young people to discuss their culture.
The fireplace was in the ancient days used by families and clans to hold deeper conversations between the leaders and children about their history and culture.
Mondo said that as such, government has started reaching out to the different cultural institutions to interest them in coming up with several fireplaces to pass on their cultural values.
“Ekyoto (Fireplace) was set up either inside the house or compound and stories are told by the old people to the young one about norms, values, things that define us, culture, our history and everything about us. This would help contribute towards keeping and knowing our heritage,” Mondo said.
He added that, “The elders and young ones sit around the fireplace and interesting stories are told. This way, the young generation will get to know about their cultures.”
Mondo noted that heritage is part of our being and it is us. “Heritage defines us; if we celebrate it, we are celebrating life, way of life , what defines us, how they live and what they eat, dress and how they walk. Everything we do has a bearing on our heritage. That’s why it is important to protect our heritage.”
CCFU Deputy Executive Director, Fredrick Nsibambi underscored the importance of the Fireplace noting that it is an important space in the transmission of culture.
“If somebody has a modern compound, they would want to have a fireplace in it but also the cost of firewood is high. What we need to do is to use our dining tables, sitting rooms and spaces like Ekisaakaate in Buganda, Ekigango in Busoga and Akasaka in Tooro so that we engage young people in the promotion and safeguarding of our heritage,” Nsibambi said.
He said the biggest problem to promotion of Ugandan cultures is limited documentation that he said CCFU is trying to solve by encouraging students to participate in the heritage awards that we conduct every year and other interventions.
“In Africa, we have been known to transmit our cultures orally but times have changed because elders with information are dying off and if we don’t document, we will lose a whole generation of heritage. As an organization, whatever intervention or project we are to implement starts from the documentation angle. It is why we have produced a lot of publications on historical buildings, oral history, illustrations by young people and cultural resources.”
Speaking about the heritage awards, Nsibambi said that the awards are aimed at ensuring preservation and documentation of culture.
“The awards are meant to celebrate and recognize young Ugandans who participate in the national heritage competition. It is important that we engage young people in promotion and safeguarding of our cultural heritage because they are the leaders of tomorrow and form majority of Ugandans. In future we want to have MPs, ministers and other members of the public who understand their culture. This is what the awards want to achieve.”
A total of 13 students were awarded for their paintings about culture and the overall winner was Abraham Mawanda, a senior five student at St. Jude Secondary School in Masaka.