With the entire modernization taking place in African countries, it is going to be hard in future to trace our history, culture and heritage.
There are very few places where the traditional African culture tools and equipments that our forefathers used before the era of colonization can be found.
The Uganda museum now located at Kitante hill is one place to visit for a good throw back at Uganda’s cultural background as well as the present state of Uganda’s social, economic and political majors.
Initially, it was first established by colonialists at Lugard’s fort at old Kampala in 1908.
Due to increased collection of materials in the museum that limited the space available for display, there was need to get a bigger space and in 1941, the museum was shifted to Makerere University at the school of fine art and Margret Trowel took over duties of a curator.
This did not solve the problem of limited space as it was also small; this prompted the government to raise funds and establish a permanent place which is the current premises at Kitante in 1954.
Various collections are on display according to different sectors; with the help of a tour guide Christopher Ssebuyungo, we moved around the museum as we identified the various collections on display.
This displays a comprehensive collection of musical instruments from all parts of Uganda.
The instruments are arranged according to the major groups of music instruments such as drums, percussion, wind, string instruments, flutes, xylophones.
Music in Ugandan culture is used for both communication and entertainment.
Science industry sector
We didn’t stop at the music gallery but proceeded to the science industry sector. This contains stones, minerals and rocks that are found in Uganda.
Minerals include limestone, phosphate, tin, iron, wolfram among others. It also displays transport means especially the Dhow and Canoes that were used by the Arabs into Uganda and the Litter that was used to carry Ugandan kings and queens.
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Under this section, background of agriculture is displayed for example the banana plantation in the central part of Buganda, sorghum in the kigezi and eastern part and millet in the northern parts of Uganda.
This is the most interesting section in the Ugandan museum. It shows evolution of man up to present day.
The section also contains iron implements that were made from iron ore. Such include cloth that was made from the back of the fig tree for clothing especially among the Bantu.
The hunting materials such as spears, horns and arrows of all kinds are displayed in this section.
The historical sites are also an item on display and they include “Bigobyamugyenyi”, tombs of Kings, “Kibuuka Omumbale” and the shrine of the Kabaka of Buganda.
Traditional life in Uganda
This covers the culture and tribes of people and how they created with the society. The dress code for men and women in Buganda is kanzu and gomesi respectively and busuti for the Nkole and Kiga cultures.
It displays the materials used in our homes such as pots, mats, milk containers, knives, and bowls, among others.
The local industries fishing, salt working, clothing and settlements. Besides, the head dresses and popular hair styles of different ethnic groups are also displayed in this section.
This involves the insect, fish, reptile and bird species in Uganda. Uganda has over 1, 000 bird species and those on display include bearded wood pecker, casqued horn bill, and secretary bird among others.
There are a number of insects displayed such as grasshoppers, butterflies, moths, bees, ants and wasps.
The fish displayed include tillapilagalilaea, barbusbynny and many more. The reptiles displayed include water cobra, boom, slang, gecko, and cabon viper.
Another interesting section is the fossil which involves the remains of plants and animals. Under this section, there is display of monetary forms such as the cowrie shells that were used for trade to replace barter trade.
There is the first printing press that was introduced by Church Missionary Society, monuments like king John of England on display.
This contains the traditional huts that remind us of our early settlement. They are built outside the museum. On display also are the cars that have been driven by Ugandan presidents.
The Ugandan museum has created space for new exhibits. A particular place is reserved to showcase the modern way of living as compared to the past life.
During the museum tour, Namuwongo- a city suburb in Kampala city was showcased. Total of six families were sampled and interviewed about the kind of living and the pictures were taken and displayed in the museum. Every place is showcased for one month.
The number of visitors depends on the season. There are peak seasons usually in April and July where by the museum receives the biggest number of visitors per day.
This amounts to 2,000 visitors per day. The biggest numbers of visitors are the school children.
“In some scenarios, only two visitors show up per day but on average they are 10 visitors per day.” said Ssebuyungo.
The entrance fee at the museum is charged according to age; Ugandan elders are charged Shs2, 000 and children Shs1, 000 per head.
For non-Ugandans, it is Shs5, 000 for elders and Shs1, 500 for children. In dollar terms; visitors are charged 3 dollars per head.
The Uganda museum attracts many foreign visitors. It is usually dominated by school going visitors.
In an interview, the museum commissioner Mrs. Rose Mwanja says the Ugandan museum has future plans of expansion so that they have a transport gallery to showcase presidential cars, the steam engines and the old motorcycle and bicycle.
They also intend to build stores and laboratories and another gallery to showcase contemporary art in Uganda.
The Ugandan museum has three regional branches located in Moroto that showcase most of the northern part collections, Soroti that showcase most of the eastern collection and in Kabale which showcase the southern collections and the plan to expand them is in progress.