Uganda Museum – A Forgotten Rich Cultural heritage?
The Uganda Museum, which occupies 3.359 hectares (approximately 13 acres), located on Plot 5, Kira road in Kamwokya, is in dire need of a facelift. Although it is evident that the exterior recently got a fresh brush of paint, a number of things need to be fixed. For instance, the benches in the garden are dilapidated, while the parking yard needs to be widened and repaved.
The Uganda museum was founded in 1908 and has exhibits and artifacts of traditional culture, archeology, history and science. It has various interesting sections riddled with artifacts that bring to life the different historical aspects of our society. For instance, in the Stone Age section, one is able to observe physical tools used by Stone Age people. These tools include stones, bones and wood used for cutting, scraping and chipping, and how they evolved into the modern tools that Ugandans use today, or used in the recent past.
One is also able to see how we evolved from our ancestors, from the pre-historic period through the history of apes and how they evolved into humans. The story is told by the displayed pictures, as well as real tools and bones or skulls that make the history we learn in school seem more real.
Uganda’s multicultural and colourful past comes alive as one tours the History and Iron Age displays depicting the traditional ways of life in different kingdoms, tribes and communities of Uganda. Here one finds striking displays of traditional clothing (mostly bark cloth and animal skin), headdress, hairdressing, as well as hunting, the history of transportation, fishing, agriculture, war, religion, and how our ancestors spent their free time (traditional recreation).
Also of interest is the display that describes how justice was dispensed in Uganda many years ago. With no penal code, police force or criminal investigations department as they exist today, how did people in earlier days know/prove who had committed which crime and what punishment fitted him/her? One would be able to learn that the Madi and Lugbara used divine pots to assess the innocence of the accused.
However, despite this rich cultural heritage value, government believes that the museum has become a liability, having failed to generate any meaningful revenue. A trade centre in the same place, government feels, would perform much better. Yet government must also take part of the blame, having continually underfunded the museum. For instance, for the 2011/2012 financial year, it was allocated a mere Shs 50 million, money that certainly is not enough to meet its needs.
Over the years, the management of the Uganda museum has tried to come up with innovative ways to circumvent the funding crisis. It has, for instance, leased part of its land to the Uganda Wildlife Authority, which has established offices and to private developers like Ibamba restaurant. However, sources told us that the museum has no direct control over the resources generated from these ventures.
Management also introduced entry charges to boost the facility’s income. Until the early 2000s, Ugandans visiting the museum were not charged but, today, adults pay Shs 1,000 to enter and children, Shs 500. The entry fees for foreigners are Shs 3,000 for adults and Shs 1,500 for children. Visitors carrying still and video cameras pay an additional Shs 5,000 and Shs 20,000 respectively.