Buliisa leads in protecting sacred natural sites in Bunyoro

Guests tour around a granary in Buliisa District. (Image: Samuel Baguma/Kazi-njema News)

Buliisa has been identified as the leading district in efforts to preserve sacred natural sites in Bunyoro as promoted by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights under Resolution 372 made in 2017.

The district is dominated by the indigenous Bagungu and Batyaba are the communities.

During an interview with Kazi-njema News after the East African regional tour and meeting in Hoima city, Mr Denis Tabaaro, the Executive Director for African Centre for Ecology (AFRICE), said mooting a bylaw on sacred sites is among the key attributes that put Buliisa on top in regard to the protection of sacred natural sites.

The regional meeting was aimed at expanding the network and building solidarity to support the communities to revive traditional knowledge, documentation and rebuild customary laws regarding the protection of sacred natural sites.

He said in the five-year project on protection of sacred natural sites, AFRICE succeeded in helping communities to pass an ordinance through their district local government.

“It is not only the first district to pass an ordinance on sacred natural sites in Bunyoro but also in Uganda and Africa in general. The community attitude on those sites has also changed for good which gives hope that those sites of spiritual social and environmental importance are protected,” said Mr Tabaaro.

According to him, sacred natural sites have for time immemorial helped to preserve indigenous seeds because they are used by custodians of sacred natural sites in performance of rituals.

Mr Tabaaro hopes that with the steps taken so far, indigenous seeds will be redeemed from extinction since people have started valuing the scared sites in the past years deemed to be satanic and unnecessary as western religion expands.

He added that Buliisa was used as a pilot district as they work to expand the campaign to other parts of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom (BKK) and the country at large.

Guests gather around the vertically elongated granary specifically for seeds or serving as a seed bank for the forefathers of Bunyoro. (Image: Samuel Baguma/Kazi-njema News)

“We have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with BKK to work together to sensitise communities about the protection and promotion of sacred natural sites and we are starting this year,” he said.

Mr Mutiti Nyendwooha, the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture in BKK welcomed the efforts made by AFRICE saying sacred sites are important elements of culture that have unfortunately been becoming unpopular amongst the Banyoro due to different religious beliefs.

“People should stop thinking that these natural sacred sites are satanic. They existed even before these religions came. People would pray to God and he would listen and answer their prayers,” he said.

Mr Nyendwoha urged the people of Bunyoro to resort to or promote growing indigenous crops because they are more nutritive, medicinal and resilient to climate changes compared to modified species.

He highlighted the need to preserve the remaining indigenous seeds to avert the growing risk of extinction and replacement with modified ones.

Audio: Mutiti on indigenous seeds (English)

Dr Fasil Gabeyehu, working with the regional body – Africa Biodiversity Network based in Nairobi, Kenya was among the guests hosted by AFRICE.

He was impressed by the efforts made by AFRICE and the Bagungu community in Buliisa district and the local government leaders in responding to Resolution 372 of Africa Commission on Human and People’s Rights.

“AFRICE now serves as a model in championing the protection of sacred natural sites as the Bagungu community and Buliisa district serve as model for responding to the need to protect natural sites,” he said.

On the other hand, he faulted the African governments for laxity to promote sacred natural sites well knowing that they are instrumental towards protection of environment and other development objectives including food security.

Audio: Gabeyehu on governments (English)

Mr Robert Turyomurugyendo Katemburura highlighted the need for more sensitisation engagements to ensure more women come on board since they play a bigger role in relation to conservation of indigenous seeds and ensuring food security.

He said under their project as AFRICE, they have been encouraging women to promote traditional farming methods that include mulching, use of bio fertilizers to ensure water retention in the soil for increased food production free from chemicals dangerous to human health.

Audio: Katemburura on farming (English)

Mr Fred Lukumu, the Chairperson of Buliisa District Local Government expressed commitment to promote positive cultural practices and cultural identity.


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