Uganda Cultural Heritage

UGANDA’S CULTURAL HERITAGE

In pre-colonial times, traditionalcommunities in what is now Uganda were closely knit units. Their social,political and economic organisation revolved around the family, clan and/ orthe institution of the traditional leader. The daily activities of men, womenand children, whether as individuals or as groups were intrinsically linked toand determined by culture.

Uganda is endowed with a rich and diversecultural heritage, of sixty-five indigenous communities with uniquecharacteristics. This heritage includes artistic and cultural expressions.These are; language and literary arts, performing arts, visual arts andhandicrafts, indigenous knowledge, cultural beliefs, traditions and values,cultural sites monuments and antiquities.

Language and Literary Arts

Uganda has a variety of indigenouslanguages and dialects. English is the official language of Uganda andKiswahili is the second official language.

The various languages are a uniquestorehouse of knowledge and have facilitated the communication between peoplewithin and outside the country. In addition, literary arts are one of theexisting cultural industries in the country.

Performing arts

The performing arts include; dance, drama,music, theatre, motion pictures, opera, traditional sports and the marchingarts such as brass bands. These are used for self-expression, education andsensitisation of communities as well as for entertainment. In the communities,traditional and modern performing arts have been popularised as a means tofacilitate participation by communities in development. In addition, cultural,educational institutions and the private sector have supported the performingarts.

Visual Arts and Handicrafts

The visual arts and handicrafts includeamong others; basketry, mats, ceramics, beads, pottery, hand-woven textiles andproducts, toys, jewellery, bags and ornaments, leather products, batik, woodcarvings and paintings.

The raw materials used in the production ofvisual arts and crafts are readily available in the country. Visual arts andcrafts are produced in almost all regions of the country with productdifferentiation based on culture and history. This has promoted the identitiesof the various communities and created avenues for income generation.

Indigenous Knowledge

Indigenous knowledge is diverse,accessible, affordable and acceptable. IK provides the basis for problemsolving strategies for local communities especially the poor.

IK is commonly used in agriculture,traditional medicine, health care, food preparation, education, naturalresource management and a host of other activities in rural communities. It isalso characteristically relevant for women who use it to perform theirtraditional roles and responsibilities.

Cultural beliefs, traditions and values

Ugandans have different beliefs andtraditions that are deeply rooted in their cultural and religious values. Thebeliefs, traditions and values have contributed to the propagation of socialharmony and development.

These beliefs, traditions and valuessometimes conflict with modern laws. Some of these include; widow inheritance.Ugandan cultures are continuously adopting and adapting because of local and foreigninfluences. In some cases, this has led to the degradation of the moral fabricof the society with the most affected category being the youth.

Cultural Sites, Monuments andAntiquities

Uganda has several cultural sites andmonuments. Some of them are man made while others are natural. These sites,monuments and antiquities are important for socio-cultural and educationalpurposes. They promote tourism and consequently create employment for people.The natural sites also enhance the protection of the environment.

THE PEOPLE OF UGANDA

Uganda’s Indigenous Communities

Uganda has 65 indigenous communitiesrepresenting Uganda’s diverse cultural heritage. The diversity contributes to awealth of indigenous knowledge, languages, folklore, customs and traditions andproducts that can be harnessed for development. Interrelationships as a resultof interactions in educational institutions, at workplaces, intermarriagesenhance understanding of other cultures and enhance harmony and socialcohesion.

The Non- Indigenous Communities ofUganda

There exists in the country non-indigenouscommunities. Some are a result of intermarriages between indigenous people withforeigners while others are foreigners who live in Uganda. Theseinterrelationships have not only enhanced understanding of other cultures buthave also led to the emergence of new cultures.