We commemorate African Day on May 25 each year as a chance to recall the signing of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Charter on that date by 32 African nations, which eventually gave rise to the African Union (AU).
Numerous gatherings and events are held during the week to celebrate African Day across the continent.
Africa and many other countries of the world commemorate African culture and heritage on this day.
What culture entails
Culture is described as “the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual, and emotional features of society or a social group that encompasses not only art and literature but also lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions, and beliefs,” by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Before the development of technology and the internet era, the original African traditional civilization was a great example of how our cultures also shape our worldviews and instill discipline in people.
As it provides people a sense of unity and belonging, culture also fosters feelings of security and safety in individuals. Most people have similar thoughts and emotional reactions toward culture as they have toward their family.
Language is a source of easy resource mobilization and labor mobilization in societies where it is widely spoken.
A case of Uganda
If fully utilized, Uganda’s numerous and distinctive cultures could lead to economic development through cultural tourism, gatherings, distinctive cultural fashion exhibitions, cultural food special dinners, and the staging of cultural galas. These are just a few of the numerous ways we may use our distinctive cultures to advance social and economic progress.
Consider the Karamajongs of North Eastern Uganda as an illustration. What if we pushed for economic development while preserving their culture? Many visitors would be astounded at how the Karamajongs live, including their traditional clothing, body piercings, Manyata homes, and nomadic lifestyle (similar to the Masai of Kenya), as well as how their distinctive way of life generates foreign exchange for the nation through tourism.
Economic empowerment through culture
The twice-yearly festivities of the Bakiga Nation are well known to us all. Here, the Bakiga come to exhibit off the Kiga culture, which includes local cuisine, clothing, beverages (enturire and omuramba), traditional dances, local traditional music, as well as displaying upcoming Kiga talent and local musicians. In addition to Bakiga, a large number of individuals from other cultures who are curious about or merely interested in learning about Bakiga also attend these gatherings.
Additionally, there was the Batooro-Banyoro Kwegonza Avenue, where Tooro and Bunyoro people gathered to demonstrate their customs.
Imagine if Kampala hosted a cultural week where representatives from the Alurs, Bafumbira, Baganda, Bamasaba, Karamajongs, Banyoro, Batooro, Bakiga, Banyakore, Itesots, Acholis, Langis, Basamia, Lugbara, and all other ethnicities gathered in large numbers to share something about their respective traditions. This will generate income for other service providers in addition to the government.
During these cultural weeks, we would draw upon what could be promoted. For instance, we have luwombo in Buganda, which is uniquely prepared; we have eshabwe from Ankore, which is also a distinctive sauce; and there are many other distinctive cuisines in Uganda that could be adopted and promoted in order to be placed on international menus, similar to how Indian and Chinese foods have dominated menus even in this region of Africa.
Reconnecting with our heritage through culture
In addition to providing revenue, the cultural galas would provide opportunity for people to connect with their roots and history since, as technology advances and the internet becomes more widely used, most people are becoming increasingly cut off from authentic African traditional traditions.
As a means of communication and the transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next, certain societies used special musical instruments including drums, adungu, thumb pianos, xylophones, and others to generate creative music.
Imagine if the Ndere Cultural Center received more attention for its cultural performances and if such facilities were evenly spread around the country in order to highlight cultural values and traditions. Through traditional music, dance, and drama, enormous talent would be fostered and a great deal of cultural values would be preserved.
Mahatma Gandhi once said that “a nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the souls of its people”.