Bunyoro Kingdom trains custodians in heritage sites preservation for economic transformation

Kibiro hot springs in Kiganja Sub-county, Hoima District.

Despite their existence in Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom, heritage and cultural sites are yet to fetch income to the kingdom, reveals Dr Yolamu Nsamba, a member of the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom Royal Commission.

Training the custodians of heritage and cultural sites of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom, Dr Nsamba said the cultural institution has for years been struggling to promote these sites for income generation to enable the facilitation of activities geared towards development in diversity.

However, it was noted that without the participation of the custodians on ground, the goal will not be appropriately achieved; disclosing that even some kingdom officials do not know the locations of some of these sites.

“Some of us [kingdom officials] do not know some locations of some of the cultural sites. But it is only the custodians on ground who can help us to identify them so they can be rehabilitated and we construct good roads for tourists to visit these sites in order to benefit the kingdom and people neighbouring them financially,” he said.

The Special Assistant in charge of Culture in the kingdom Prime Minister’s office, Hajj Burhan Kyakuhaire, noted that promotion of these sites requires the custodians’ zeal to disseminate information about them at various functions including graduation, marriage and wedding and burial ceremonies among others.

He challenged the custodians to ensure that they are smartly dressed while at those sites so the public does not perceive them negatively as people associate with witchcraft and creating a damaging impression about the heritage and cultural sites.

Students at Kibiro hot springs for a field study tour.

“Custodians ought to be very knowledgeable about the sites with a vast capacity of explanation about them to people, their history and use. You also need to keep them clean because it has been noted that there are no roads leading to some of these cultural sites to attract tourists there. I appeal to the custodians to establish some facilities like latrines at those sites to provide good sanitary conditions for tourists. If that isn’t done, then, it will be a disservice to the kingdom since it’s looking forward to making them tourist sites,” Hajj Kyakuhaire said.

Mr Robert Rukahemura, the Kingdom Culture Officer, regretted that most of the sites have been encroached on while artefacts depreciated because of land demarcations and the development of oil and gas resource in the kingdom.

However, he was optimistic that with the training, the custodians on ground will play a pivotal role in protecting the heritage and cultural sites amidst the ongoing oil and gas developments in the kingdom.

Mr Rukahemura stressed that the kingdom is committed to turning these sites into tourism attractions.

Audio: Rukahemura on heritage sites preservation (English)

During the training at Hoima Public Library in West Division, Hoima Oil city, the custodians were taught how to sustainably manage, conserve and promote the 200 heritage and cultural sites for social, material and cultural dimensions in the kingdom.

The heritage and cultural sites to be conserved include both tangible and intangible ones including archeological features, antiquities and monuments, artefacts like pottery, stone tools, metal implements, baskets and bark cloth among others.

In this training, the custodians were even taught basic knowledge in management, safety and security of the sacred and heritage sites, profiling and documenting the basic information about them in inventories for proper record keeping.

Participants were drawn from Bugahya and Kigorobya counties and the training covers the entire Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom.

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