OpED

OPINION: We should take deliberate efforts to safeguard our cultural heritage

Najib Nsubuga is a sociopolitical commentator and a member of Buganda Youth Council (PHOTO /Courtesy)

By Najib S. Nsubuga

On the 31st of July 2021, the Kabaka of Buganda shall celebrate the 28th anniversary of his coronation as the reigning King of Buganda.

This is a great milestone for the person of the Kabaka and his subjects since it makes him the longest serving Buganda monarch in modern time. I congratulate His Majesty Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II and the whole of Buganda for the journey thus moved.

The 28th anniversary comes at a very critical moment in our time characterized by high technological advancement and unprecedented challenges to our traditional culture. It is important to note that the progress in international telecommunications has promoted globalization with all its implications.

The exposure to foreign cultures through television and the internet has had adverse implications on our traditional norms and customs. A number of people have ignorantly adopted foreign cultures, some of which are totally antagonistic to our humanistic and cultural values such as gay practices and others under the guise of modernity, liberalism and free will.

The traditional avenues through which traditional cultures were previously transmitted from one generation to the other have gradually been ignored and may not be applicable in modern times.

The celebrated evening assemblies at fire places in Buganda where elders through storytelling and deliberate teaching, passed on cultural concepts to the young ones have almost phased out.

The death of senior elders who are the custodians of our culture has also left a huge vacuum.

There is a very close relationship between our cultural heritage and the natural heritage. In Buganda for example, our clan and totem system is based on our flora and fauna.

Mountains, forests, lakes, rivers and swamps comprise critical elements attached to our culture most especially when it comes to the spiritual matters of the “Lubaale”. However, there has been unprecedented encroachment on those sites resulting into the destruction of key cultural elements.

Apart from giving us identity, cultural heritage directly contributes to the tourism sector which is currently one of the leading sources of foreign exchange for the country. Through strong adherence to our customs, it becomes easy to maintain some of the key sites that attract tourists to the Pearl of Africa.

The theme for this year’s Kabaka coronation anniversary may be lightly translated as “Culture as a tool for development”. This is a very important insight that should allow people understand that through our cultures, there is much that we could do to foster development.

The initiative that is exhibited in our cultures and how our ancestors managed to come up with amazing innovations like the backcloth and the welding of tools should give us great lessons.

Additionally, the theme also indirectly proposes a need to re-examine our traditions in order to ensure the feasibility of development. Components that are counterproductive and not suitable for modern times be phased out to give way to progress.

However, a mere theme is not enough to stir the minds of individuals that have been polluted by religious doctrines that preach against culture and foreign culture that presents itself as modernity and depicts our traditional culture as archaic and satanic.

There is need for deliberate efforts that will reignite the love for our culture and help individuals realize that there is much that they could achieve through their cultures.

The best example should be set by our leaders whose influence directly impacts the lives of their subjects. Modernity cannot be dismissed in the current times, however, it is still very possible for us to portray modernity within our cultures.

A section of educated people has completely phased out the use of their mother tongue in their homes and have adopted English taking it to be a symbol of modernity.

Government should take the lead in the protection and preservation of our natural heritage from encroachment through the implementation of the laws that govern their usage.

Additionally, there is need for inclusion of a variety of cultural concepts in our curricula at all levels to substitute the traditional ways of cultural transmission.

There is need for considerable investment in the compilation of our cultural concepts in well preserved forms of literature including written and oral formats.

This will enable us ensure that generations to come shall always have a source of reference. Authorities and elders also need to deliberately cultivate a sense of liking for our culture by the young generation through targeted exposure.

The internet allows us to compete with the “modern cultures through the digitization of our cultural concepts and make them available by just a click.

This will not only attract the locals but also make our cultures known to the outside world and in the long run will attract more tourists yearning to know more about us.

The notion that culture is transmitted casually has lost meaning as a result to the exposure to numerous cultures, necessitating that we embark on a direct and deliberate campaign to ensure that our cultures remain dominant among the people.

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The writer is a sociopolitical commentator and a member of Buganda Youth Council

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