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National Theatre to be demolished for shopping mall

Tenants at the National Theatre have been given until the end of this month to vacate the premises. Uganda National Cultural Center (UNCC) ordered the tenants to pack their wares and move out during a meeting held on Wednesday last week.

The National Theater has been in a sorry state for over six decades despite its prime location next to the parliament building. The building is among 51 buildings and sites in Kampala, which were constructed before 1969.

This iconic 60-year-old piano-shaped building that houses the National Theatre in Kampala is set for demolition to pave way for a 36-storey modern tower.

According to the proposed plan, the facility is set to be transformed into a mega complex with a multi-million shopping mall, arcades, modern restaurants, bars, cinemas, state of the art auditoriums and a six underground car parking lots

This mega project will cost $100 million (about Shs 360 billion). UNCC is expected to sign a contract with the developers by next week. Currently, UNCC generates Shs 2 billion from the National Theater in rent and projects to generates Shs 50 billion annually once the project is complete.

National Theatre

Ivan Amanya, a lawyer with Mayende & Associated Advocates has been occupying suite no. 15-17 on the second floor of the National Theatre building. According to Amanya, although he knew this was coming, given the redevelopment plans, he thinks tenants would be given more time, adding that month eviction notice is unfair.

Amanya says they are still consulting and will announce their next course of action when they receive the formal eviction notices. Veteran artist, Jack Sserunkuma, says they are concerned by the way government has taken their industry for granted.
He claims that they were never consulted about the proposed redevelopment of the theatre. Sserunkuma told URN on Monday that the National Theater has been his sole source of income since 1974 where he has been performing from. He faults the UNCC for giving them short notice, saying they had already planned shows at the theater.
Some of the shows advertised on the National Theater notice boards include among others Batalo Dance Fest, which is scheduled between August 21st and 27th, 2017.
Julius Lugaya and Charles Batambuze, the secretary of the International Theater Institute Uganda Centre (ITI), share the same sentiments with Sserunkuma. The two say they are still waiting for a response from the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga on their petition on the matter.
Peter Francis Ojede, the director UNCC declined to speak to URN and instead referred our reporter to the public relations officer. Roberts Musiitwa, the spokesperson UNCC confirmed the development, saying they will issue an official communication this week.
"Why do you want to pick things that are not yet ready, we will inform you at the right time. We are finalizing on a few things and we shall call you possibly this week to communicate the whole procedure," Musiitwa said.


+6 #1 Kabinda 2017-06-14 00:50
A society that does not respect and treasure its history is lost.

Neglect of the National theatre is the excuse for its demolition? BS.
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+4 #2 opoya 2017-06-14 03:22
I cannot believe this that National Monuments are being sold of '...butundu tundu...' and no one bats an eyelid.

The conclusion is that the new Uganda post-1986 has nothing to do with pre-1986 Uganda.

This post-1986 Uganda of People is now FINALLY and TRULY expunged itself of BIOLOGICAL SUBSTANCES.

The Uganda we knew or think we know is finally and truly abolished. There cannot be any other better evidence than SELLING OFF a National Monument - THE NATIONAL THEATER, whatever the excuses.
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0 #3 Samuel Ibanda 2017-06-14 11:04
A people that does not respect, value, and relate with its immediate self a like, is in practise of divide and rule, segregation, ill proud , materialistic, has no knowledge of ones rights, cause its when we thinking work together that we can move mountains, make changes, install our powers,systems that can last beyond great grans to great great grans.

It all start with you that person next to you to growing past the glories you put in ministies , presidents, pastors, Revrandes, Fathers, etc and insteady elevate Family, friends and Faith.

Change starts within you, do not be afraid, there is two things that a constant, Time and God.

Like Bob Marley sung' emancipate yourselves from mental slavery non but ourselves can free our minds, have no fear for atomic energy beacuse non of them can stop the time.
Fear that has no end only keeps you away from yourself.
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0 #4 kironde 2017-06-14 15:38
very sad indeed
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+1 #5 Richard Sseruwagi 2017-06-14 20:37
Its a very very sad moment for Uganda history. The National Theatre in a monument and a tourist attraction.

It's one of it's kind in the world. Why erase history?!!. Many famous plays Ugandan directors , singers and actors have had their base there.

The famous Abafumi Theatre Company actors were educated in that building. Why not turn it into a museum for the world to see. It is a very sad moment for us who know the value history.

Richard Sseruwagi
Educated at the National Theater by Abafumi Theatre Company.
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0 #6 D 2017-06-15 02:30
I had the pleasure of visiting The National Theater in 2014 seeing an Anne Kansiime show that I heard about through the internet while touring East Africa.

I thought the premises had real character and was a proud representation of Ugandan culture. It was a highlight of my trip!

I'm sorry to hear about history potentially being erased for profit.

Strength to all Ugandan artists! I hope your beautiful facility can be saved so that your stories can continue to be told in premises that echo a proud past, rather than another McDonald's or KFC littering the cultural landscape. The world doesn't need another Starbucks, trust me.

In the words of my fellow countrywoman, singer Joni Mitchell- "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot. You don't know what you got till it's gone."

Darren Toronto Canada
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0 #7 Moodleprof 2017-06-15 03:32
This is outrageous and shocking news.
Some of my best memories of Uganda, and certainly Kampala, were attending the National Theatre.

In the UK this would certainly be a listed building and could not be touched however many politicians pockets were being lined by a corrupt property developer.

This is scandalous.:/
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0 #8 nkuutu kibedi 2017-06-15 13:30
Does UNCC have an alternative venue for the construction of a National Theatre?

If not then we are doomed! They should at least have looked into that before taking bribes to sell our icon! Parliament should institute a commission to look into this.
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0 #9 Jimmy Biyomotho 2017-06-15 18:57
I respect the previous submissions. My own view is that redevelopment is a good move. The building is beyond the design age.

Given the age of the building and current purpose and needs, the redevelopment will bring in new and exiting buildings and maximise profits, I imagine there should be theatre training wing, vocational and professional acting introduced,

Nigeria and other nations reap a lot from theatre activities, that is in tandem with modernity. Lamentations of history about the theatre can be preserved.

My view is that redevelop the place and get 50bn plus and move forward.
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0 #10 Mulenga 2017-06-20 19:48
Couldn't they have had a clause to incorporate the theater within the mall?
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