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Uganda: Introduction

Uganda: Introduction

 

The Ugandan state possesses a rich cultural heritage in its sixty-five indigenous communities, all of which have unique characteristics. The Ugandan government understands culture as ‘the sum total of the ways in which a society preserves, identifies and organizes, sustain and expresses itself.’ They also acknowledge that culture is a valuable and important part of every individual’s identity and potential to move out of poverty, as well as a vehicle for economic development on a national level. The government works towards enhancing social cohesion, collaboration and participation of all its citizens, at the same time respecting the country´s diverse cultural identities.

The Ugandan government faces a number of challenges regarding the promotion of culture. Uganda is still suffering from the historical legacy of colonialism; traditional socio-political setups, indigenous knowledge and traditional health care systems were all ignored and belittled under colonial rule. Therefore these aspects of society have to be recognised and taken care of to a greater extent in the future, in order to provide future generations with a firm cultural base from which to build their identity. Another challenge in the promotion of cultural diversity in Uganda is the preservation of indigenous languages. Information and art in local dialects has to be translated into English and vice versa, often leading to distortion and loss of meaning. The Ugandan government also recognizes that there is a general lack of understanding of the need to integrate cultural policies as an important part of the governing of the nation. It stresses that the importance of working to promote Uganda´s cultural heritage must have greater emphasis and organisation, in order for the nation to meet its development goals.

The Ugandan government stresses that appreciation of the country’s cultural diversity is a prerequisite for peace and social cohesion. Traditional cultural institutions like Kingdoms and Clans are also believed to have a role to play in terms of their high levels of indigenous knowledge and cultural identity.

Looking into the future, the Ugandan government has set up an initiative known as Vision 2025 as a guide for Uganda´s movement towards its cultural development. The initiative’s central aims are the enhancement of unity in diversity, national pride and respect for and conservation of cultural heritage, through the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders from local governments, private sector and civil society.

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