Lifestyle: Let’s all use culture as a positive force

Despite the political hubbub over the age limit Bill, Ugandans of all shades of political opinion found time and common space to celebrate culture.

The unity ran across the country from Gulu at the Acholi Cultural Festival to the Bamasaba Cultural festival in Mbale, and onto Kapchorwa. For once, Ugandans found something common in culture that unites all.

This signifies that Ugandans can all assemble in a common space, make merry, share food, dance together and make fun.

And true to its unifying spirit, the educated, political, military, business elite and the wananchi, all found common space, freely mingled, shared the frothy kwete malt brew, enjoyed traditional delicacies, and made merry for three solid days without having any dustup.

The same weekend witnessed preparations in Kapchorwa to mark three-days of annual cultural festival set for December 28 and to climax on December 30.

Even President Museveni, who was seen by a section of the Acholi elite as a ‘delicate’ guest of honour for a purely cultural event, came, did his bit and left without stirring any controversy.

He did the same in Mbale and steered off politics, save for his plea to the cultural leaders to work for peace, stability and harmony in their communities.

But there was one exception to the weekend of cultural festivities and fun across the country. In Tororo, one person was shot dead as police dispersed a group of protestors from the Jopadhola community opposed to the Iteso holding their cultural festival in Tororo Municipality.

Despite the blocking of the Teso king and the fracas in Tororo, culture speaks to our shared heritage. Our cultural leaders also play a crucial role of unifying their subjects with diverse political shades of political opinion.

And just as President Museveni said, cultural institutions play the all-important roles of showcasing aspects of our unique cultures, mobilising and educating subjects on social and economic empowerment.

This is why the initiatives by Ker Kwaro Acholi (Acholi Cultural Heritage), the Bamasaba Cultural Institution, and the Sebei Cultural Centre are all commendable. But individually the Acholi have established a cultural seed fund, while the Bamasaba have planned a resources centre complete with a library, a vocational centre, museum, auditorium and a health facility.

For the Sabiny, the Sebei Cultural Centre and the annual Cultural Day is to be used as a unique centre for rites of passage to creatively initiate girls into womanhood without female genital mutilation.

All these initiatives seek to showcase culture, art and history, with all members of the communities emerging winners with no losers. In the end, our culture can be effectively exploited as a force for good.

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