KAMPALA: The government of Uganda has been asked to gazet land around historical sites as a strategy for preserving and protecting Uganda’s cultural heritage.
The move, known as heritage zoning, allows governments to protect the historical and cultural integrity of a geographical area. It is now being mooted by cultural and heritage conservationists in Kampala as part of the ongoing efforts to collect ideas for the Historical Monuments Ordinance.
The Kampala Capital City Authority is drafting an ordinance to preserve and protect historical monuments and objects of archaeology and traditional interests. The ordinance is also intended to protect and preserve historical buildings in Kampala for the promotion of both cultural and touristic purposes.
Barbra Babetweera, the executive director of the Cross-Cultural Foundation Uganda, a non-governmental organisation advocating for the preservation of such sites, says that the destruction of historical sites indicates a disconnection from the past and has contributed to a loss of indigenous knowledge.
Babetweera says that heritage zoning will leave these places with visibility that gives them value and sanctity. She was talking at a meeting between the Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA and civil society groups last night. The meeting was called a “stakeholders’ consultative meeting.”
Babetweera says that the law would be the first step towards the protection of historical sites because it provides a basis for their preservation. She also calls for incentives for such places as another way of ensuring their safety.
Ham Mukasa, a member of the Ham Mukasa family who surrendered one of their family properties, the Keweerimidde house, built in 1902, to the public as a historical site, says that zoning will give meaning to heritage and tourism because what can’t be seen can’t be protected or even preserved.
The magnificent house with colonial architecture copied from the British still has its original furniture, utensils, and portraits that were preserved by the generations who lived in the house. Mukasa explains that since most properties are privately owned, the law should provide for a Memorandum of Understanding between the owners and the authorities, stipulating each party’s role in the preservation work of these sites;
In the pursuit of protecting Uganda’s heritage, the Executive Director of Buganda Heritage and Tourism Board mentioned that in the pursuit of protecting Uganda’s heritage, she also observes a need for restrictions at some level.
Hakim Kizza, on behalf of the council, committed that heritage zoning, if enshrined in the law, will be a very big step towards the protection of the historical and, once legislated, must be followed and abided to;