“I want to congratulate Natasha for going back to our roots. What Natasha is doing is in the right direction, I’m glad you people are encouraging her,” President Museveni said.
The President made the remarks yesterday November 11, 2023 as he launched the Pacu Album at State House Entebbe. Pacu Album is a compilation of music from Acholi and Lango, curated by Steve Ayeny and other musicians, under the Heritage Foundation umbrella.
President Museveni explained that before the coming of colonialists to Africa, the continent had made a lot of developments but the indigenous people were let down by some internal weaknesses which the cultural leaders failed to deal with.
“You remember Africa is the origin of man and we had made a lot of progress. However, we had some internal weaknesses which the foreigners used to conquer us.We were conquered because we had some gaps which our leaders, the chiefs did not correct in time. And when that happened, we had a lot of trauma,” he said.
The President disclosed that the number one trauma which Africans faced at that time was the attempt by the colonialists to extinguish their culture.
“In the 1960s, I was the President of the Scripture Union at Ntare School, but I had to leave the union after having disagreements with some of my colleagues. One of the disagreements was the overdose of Christianity because medicine is good but if it is an overdose, it can also kill you,” he stressed.
“Now with our revival, there was an overdose. My mother was part of the group that was convinced that all African cultures were infidel and we had to forget about them. But my father was half Christian and was also traditional. Once in a while, he would bring his beer and bring his friends and then they would sing these traditional songs at night when I would be sleeping. They were so nice, and yet my mother was denouncing them.”
President Museveni who is also the Patron of Heritage Foundation, further asserted that after the NRA’s victory in 1986, one of the things he did was go to Rwakitura with his young children to re-introduce them to their culture.
“I got married during the fighting and we had children who were born in exile but when we came back in 1986, I took the first opportunity to take them to the village. Now in the village, we still have our firmbase especially in the economy; the cattle, the crops and so on. I would always go with these children and be part of our indigenous culture where the economy, the language and music are strong,” H.E Museveni expounded.
He added that in the course of regularly taking them back to their roots, he didn’t know that his children were absorbing the culture which they now appreciate so much.
“When they grew up, they all went into their different interests; Muhoozi went to the army, politics and ideology, Natasha is into cows and culture, Patience is the first Priest in my house and recently she wrote a very powerful book which taught me so many things about Christianity. She is also into cows and Diana is into cows and tourism. So they are very active,” he said.
“Natasha also has very much interest in music. She reinforced me because I didn’t have time but I was able to collect for her more than 130 old traditional songs and she launched an album. These music items are very good but also capture contemporary phenomena.”
The President also revealed that some of these traditional songs which he collected for Mrs. Karugire contained tribal chauvinism, so he also had to help her edit out those tribal sentiments.
“I had to help her edit out that nonsense of tribal chauvinism.”
On the other hand, President Museveni called upon leaders and other culture stakeholders to enrich and promote Swahili as a regional language.
“Now we need to agree that as we revive these languages, we should also agree on a common lingua franca- Swahili, so that we promote it. Yes we have Runyankore, and other respective languages, but we have the East African language-Swahili. Now, Swahili is a good denominator, able to be absorbed by everybody but it does not have as much vocabulary as the languages here,” he said.
“I think the strategy should be, preserve our individual languages but promote Swahili also and enrich it. Promote it as a regional language while we maintain English as an international language.”
The Chief Justice, His Lordship Alfonse Owiny-Dollo thanked President Museveni for raising his children well and that have turned into responsible and productive citizens of Uganda.
“Ordinarily, they would be spending their time in high end places of this world but one of your children has gathered us here reminding and urging us that we should go back to our roots,” he said.
The Chief Justice also called upon Ugandans and Africans at large to preserve their precious culture and do away with cultural Imperialism.
“We need not throw away our culture in order to be modern. We can be modern in the context of our culture,” Justice Dollo said.
“You have my full support, I’m a traditionalist. It is incumbent on all of us to promote our culture. Let us be proud of who we are, let us be proud of our culture,” he added.
The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Norbert Mao said Mrs. Natasha deserves praise for raising an alarm about the existential threat the African culture faces.
“All of us are here in response to that alarm,” he said.
Hon. Mao also thanked President Museveni and the First Lady Maama Janet Museveni for hosting the event which affirms their faith that even though colonialism subdued their forefathers, they nevertheless left seeds of resistance.
“Mr. President, you are one of those seeds. We consider you to be the ideological and intellectual heir to the late Mwalimu Nyerere and in that capacity, you have got the historical responsibility to protect those who come after you so that they can continue the resistance against the erosion and corruption of our rich African culture.”
The Minister of State for Economic Monitoring, Hon. Beatrice Akello lauded President Museveni for his unwavering support to the young people of Northern Uganda and the country at large.
“Your commitment to empowering the young generation has not only inspired growth to their socio-economic transformation but has also fostered a sense of hope and possibility for greatness,” the Minister said.
“Your Excellency, we acknowledge your involvement of the youth in managing the affairs of the State in several aspects.”
On her part, Mrs. NatashaKarugire thanked President Museveni for hosting the patriotic and Pan-African effort to shine a light on Uganda’s culture.
“Uganda is blessed to be a home to diverse cultures and varying dialects,” she said.
“We all know Mzee as a strong advocate for sciences. His reasons for encouraging children to study science subjects are clear; poetry doesn’t build bridges or make machines. However, he has a healthy appreciation for the arts and that is a blessing to many of us who are so inclined.”
Mrs.Karugire added that the Heritage Foundation was set up a year ago with an aim of promoting all the positive aspects of Uganda’s cultures.
“We recognize that each of our small groups, whether clan or tribe, each group is one piece of the masterpiece. One piece has no effect on its own but when you put the different colors of mosaic together, you get a beautiful work of art. So when we all come together in agreement, we get the masterpiece Uganda,” she asserted.
“Through Heritage, we would like our young generation to know that it is important to appreciate and value where we come from while realising that as Africans, we must understand that to love this culture does not require us to hate another one,” said Mrs. Karugire.
The event was also attended by the Prime Minister, Rt.Hon. Robinah Nabbanja, Cultural and religious leaders, among others.