In a bid to bring Uganda’s history to life and enable people from all walks of life to access crucial information about Uganda’s architectural heritage, the European Union together with the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Finance have partnered with a private organization, Cross-cultural Formation Uganda, to come up with a trio of utilities that might help one quickly get a grasp of Uganda’s architectural heritage.
Under the partnership, a free mobile phone app, a photographic book titled “Beyond the Reed and Bricks” and a collection of several maps were launched today at the European Union offices in Kampala. The photographic book, titled “Beyond the Reeds and Bricks: Historical Sites and Buildings in Kampala, Jinja and Entebbe”, comes in glossy format with exclusive and beautiful pictures, while the annotated maps detail the historical buildings and sites for each of the three cities
The mobile app, “Uganda’s Built Heritage” (available on both android and Iphone), digitalizes the content for easy access for every smart phone user. The content features at least 60 buildings in the project, representing Uganda’s architectural history, covering the pre-colonial era and post-independence Uganda.
In attendance was the permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Doreen Katusiime; the Acting Director Debt and Cash Policy at the Ministry of Finance, Maris Wanyera; Executive Director CCFU, Emily Drani and His Excellency Ambassador Attilio Pacifici of the European Union.
During the launch several historical buildings and sites were singled out as an important point of common heritage between Uganda and Europe, providing an avenue to share experiences in documentation, protection, rehabilitation and economic opportunities in protection of cultural heritage.
In the development of the project, European experts worked with their Ugandan counterparts to develop capacities in documentation and research and photography. The project’s outputs are the result of the excellent work carried out by trained Ugandan specialists.
“The pioneering strategy of this project will pave the way for a ground-breaking understanding and perspective about historical buildings in Uganda,” said Ambassador Pacifici. He expressed positive expectation on the results of the project, which he said aims at “raising awareness of the value of historical buildings in Uganda while generating opportunities to create new jobs and develop innovative business especially for young people.”
Uganda, a country gifted with diverse cultural, natural and built heritage, is no exception, as consequences of urbanisation, rapid population growth and the pressing drive for modernity have created a constant demand for or new, higher-density development, often on plots which are already occupied by historical buildings and sites. Many valuable built and natural heritage sites have been already lost forever. The risk of further losing this heritage is real, and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
“We are proud and privileged to be part of this partnership,” stated Ms. Katusiime. “We are actually in the process of changing the name of our ministry, to make it official to include heritage in our title; which actually stands at the core of the ministry’s mandate.”
Ms. Wanyera on her part stressed on the economic opportunities opened by protecting cultural heritage. “As country we relay a lot on income from exports: last financial year, the tourism sector fetched Uganda 1. 8 billion USD, followed by coffee and gold. Yet this is an area not fully exploited. There is still room to develop further the tourism industry. If we partner with the private sector we can go a long way.”
And Ms. Drani said: “It is anticipated that the availability of these three maps, the gift book and the mobile app, as well as the existence of our irreplaceable historical buildings and sites, will trigger public interest in preserving and promoting them as important aspects of the history, identity and heritage of our communities, cities and of Uganda as a nation.”