GERALDINE NABABITTO: Understanding the diversity of culture in Uganda

the Uganda culture is made up of a diverse range of ethnic groups with over 50 African ethnic groups, a small population of Europeans, Asians and Arabian people.

The Uganda culture is made up of a diverse range of ethnic groups with over 50 African ethnic groups, a small population of Europeans, Asians and Arabian people (PHOTO/Courtesy)

KAMPALA —Speaking about multiculturalism, Uganda has 4 major ethnic groups; the Bantu, the Nilotic, the Nilo Hamites and the Hamites, with atleast 44 languages. English and Swahili, to the chagrin of some, of course remain our official languages.

Traditional Institutions were re- instated in 1993, phased into 4, where the first phase was the precolonial, characterized with experience of knit societies classifying both families and communities as main transmitters and preservers of culture through social treasure like folk tales, rituals, traditional dance and music, hand crafts, hunting and fire camping, farming, among others, promoted by the traditional institutions like kingdoms, chiefdoms and clan heads who played a fundamental role in preserving the norms, values and practices of the community.

Moving on to the second phase which was the colonial advent where colonialists introduced new socio-economic, political and religious ethos, which led to the introduction and commencement of new religion that came with strong agitation of discouraging and classifying cultural or traditional practices as barbaric and devilish.

Still on culture and its diversity, the third phase was addressed as the post-colonial one, which came with increased creativity, technology and collapse of our traditional culture then, our culture was transferred to market space where practitioners produced, aimed and performed for economic gains. Art and creativity gradually became the focal point of traditional industry. Traditional items became professionalized, and the industry is now competitive.

Lastly, the fourth phase which is the final stage is the post modernity which is summarized with industrialization and technology, characterized by increased application, use of computers, technology advancement, innovation, and slowly flashing away cultural practices, also aided by urbanization.

This phase appreciates the use of technology and creativity in promoting cultures hence leading to economic growth and development, as well as responding to the national and global challenges of unemployment and inadequate revenues bedevilling our African countries.

All this being said, there is Uganda National Cultural Policy that defines culture as; the total sum of the ways of living of a society transmitted from one generation to another, including how it preserves, identifies, organizes, sustains and expresses itself. However, the growth and development of Uganda’s culture can be classified into four phases basing on the social, economic and political actions.

These have had fundamental ramification on the preservation, promotion and protection of the cultural heritage of the people of Uganda.

The Constitution of Uganda 1995 represents Uganda’s diverse cultural heritage, through customary law. For example, without prejudice to article 32 of this Constitution, women shall have the right to affirmative action for the purpose of redressing the imbalances created by history, tradition or custom.

Subordinate courts, as Parliament may by law establish, including Qadhi’s courts for marriage, divorce, inheritance of property and guardianship, as may be prescribed shall be in accordance with the following land tenure systems- customary, freehold, mailo and leasehold, and so many more with the multiformity of the law aiming at promoting and preserving those cultural values and practices which enhance the dignity and well-being of Ugandans.

National Culture Forum (NCF) shall be established to promote cultural diversity, enhance in the implementation of Uganda National Cultural Policy, including all the cultural domains; aiming at not only providing a forum for its members to collaborate and organize joint activities but also advocating lobby especially for its Members so as to maintain this platform hence serving citizens the best of their cultural history, dynamics and uniqueness to help them appreciate their cultures.

However, “If we are to preserve culture we must continue to create it.” says Johan Huizinga.

The writer is a Communications Assistant at Ministry of ICT & National Guidance.


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