The Uganda National Museum, National Theatre and and other historic buildings are not to be demolished as they remain key to Uganda’s identity and heritage, the Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu has said.
Addressing the public during celebrations to mark the European year of cultural heritage in Uganda held at Uganda Museum on Tuesday, Kamuntu dismissed the talk of any plans to sell the cultural centre buildings and stressed that with EU support, work is being done to preserve the historic buildings in Kampala, Entebbe and Jinja.
“It is not true that the National Theatre and the Uganda Museum are going to be demolished. Government is committed to protecting these buildings and others historical sites in the country,” Kamuntu said.
However, the minister challenged the caretakers of these historical sites to make them relevant and through tourism turn them into money generating entities to support the development drive of the country.
Today the philosophy is unity in diversity. There are intangible cultural values which we must protect added Prof Kamuntu.
He also said that government had identified and documented a total of 650 new historical sites that need to be preserved for Uganda’s heritage.
Kamuntu revealed that these buildings will be preserved because they have a spiritual value and are part of cultural identity that can never be replaced in case they are destroyed.
In some areas like Mombasa, Zanzibar, Pemba built heritage is part of major tourist attraction which Uganda is missing.
“I have seen historical buildings become big tourist attractions in several countries. If thousands of people come here to see these buildings, they will stay,” Kamuntu said.
So far the Government has spent sh3b in the renovation of Uganda National Cultural Centre (UNCC) also known as the National Theatre.
The minister however said that it was a challenge to maintain these historic buildings as the population increases and demand for space increases.
To celebrate the European year of cultural heritage, the European Union delegation to Uganda chose to celebrate it by supporting the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda in implementing a project for the protection of historical buildings and sites in Kampala, Jinja and Entebbe.
The most four notable sites in Kampala are; the National Museum, Bulange, The Mayor’s Parlour and Mengo Primary School.
The European Union Ambassador Attilio Pacifici, attended the event and urged European countries to up their support to Uganda.
“I want to tell my European ambassadors that let us do something more than what we are doing for Uganda now,” Pacifici said.
He noted that this project also targeted ordinary people who walk and ride in the streets, passing by historical buildings often without paying attention to them.
“These heritage sites have potential to create jobs and foster businesses through tourism,” Pacifici added.