The Cross-Cultural Foundation (CCFU) has this year awarded six individuals and organizations for their role in the conservation and protection of Uganda’s cultural and social heritage.
Started in 2013, the National Heritage Awards aim at promoting and safeguarding the coutry's cultural heritage. Unlike the previous episodes, this year, the awardees were six in total, the extra one being the media personality award, which went to Bismac Amumpaire, a Next Media journalist, who according to the organizers, got the highest number of nominations.
From the Intangible category, the first award went to the Francis Walakira family of Mpambire along Masaka road for preserving the skill of making traditional drums within the family for more than 75 years.
This family is also behind the famous Buganda band drums, Mujjaguzzo, which are sounded by the king on several kingdom occasions.
In the same category, Judith Kirya was awarded for her contribution towards promoting herbal medicine and using it for treatment, which she has done for more than 20 years.
The last awardee from this category is Mercy Mirembe Ntangaare, a lecturer at Makerere University's School of Performing Arts, who was awarded for promoting oral literature and traditional music.
For the Tangible Heritage category, the first awardee was the Makerere University's College of Health Sciences, which was awarded for preserving rare medical history since 1897 at the Albert Cook Library.
The school is also recognized for preserving Albert Cook’s personal life writings, as well as the ashes of his body which are still kept in this place. Cook is the founder of Mengo hospital, and is regarded as the father of modern medicine in Uganda.
The other in this category is Hana Longole, who established the Ateker Cultural Center in Moroto, a place where the indigenous Karamojong lifestyle is spotlighted.
While receiving the award, Longole said that she was inspired to open this center after learning about the killing of Karimojongs who were trying to resist modernization from eroding their culture.
The last in this category is the Ankole Diocese, which was recognized for establishing the African Revival Museum which demonstrates the relationship between culture and religion, which has been around for more than 50 years, with a record of deeply instilling Christian values in its associates.
It also produced hard-core Christians, who have maintained their Christian value but also respected the cultural aspects. Jan Sadek, the European Union ambassador to Uganda says that the Ugandans should be proud of their social and cultural heritage because this is what forms future development and creates a common identity among the citizens.
“We think that cultural heritage is important for any country because it creates some sort of common identity and a cohesion that is important for the development of the country,” he said.
According to Sadek, the EU is now considering supporting cultural heritage preservation, the same way it is doing to infrastructure and other sectors.
Barbra Babwetera, CCFU executive director, says that these awards were initiated to boost morale for cultural heritage preservation in the country, and mainly go to those people who have made an exclusive job in this line. She says they are looking forward to the government taking up the program for the better.
“We hope and appreciate that even the government of Uganda, can pick it up from where we are and even magnify it and make it bigger and better to recognize and appreciate the efforts of our own people, and what they are doing to safeguard our heritage,” she said.