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Uganda Martyrs University Museum, Nkozi

Houses under the Centre for African Studies at Uganda Martyrs University (CAS@UMU) at the Uganda Martyrs University, the museum collects and showcases indigenous cultural artefacts and sculptures from Uganda and elsewhere in Africa’s Great Lakes region. It is one of the few anthropological museums in Uganda, whose sources of provenance of the exhibits are community-based. The Museum’s mission is to preserve and promote multi-faceted dimensions of the African culture from different temporal registers (from the pre-colonial through the colonial to the post-independence times), as well as to facilitate research on its significance in the present African and world development contexts. Additionally, CAS@UMU stores written, photographic, audio and audio-visual archival materials from various research and publication projects undertaken by CAS Fellows and Affiliates/Associates.

In our commitment to promoting backcloth-making as a UNESCO-sanctioned cultural heritage of humanity, CAS@UMU commissioned an in-depth study on bark cloth making, which will be published as a book under the UMU Press. The ethnographic fieldwork for this book project is still ongoing under the authorship of Dr Bendicto Kabiito. Provisionally under the title of Mutuba bark-cloth and the fashioning of a people’s identity: The Case of (B)Uganda, the book focuses on the following themes: a) World history of Mutuba bark cloth, b) Sartorial etiquette in pre-colonial Buganda, c) Processes of making and use values of Mutuba bark cloth in (B)Uganda, d) Ecological, ethical and cultural norms relating to Olubugo, e) Mutuba bark cloth and the contemporary neo-liberal capitalist market, f) Mutuba bark cloth and the contemporary identity politics, and g) The future of Mutuba bark cloth and sartorial fashion in the face of climate change. On being published, the book will also contain chapter summaries (no more than 500 words) in the Luganda language as well as other local language translations, all in a bid to increase its readership beyond the confines of the Anglophone literati.

The Museum plans—hopefully with additional funding from the US-based Heritage Management Organisation—to implement a community-owned project, which will consist of (i) a medium-scale tree-planting of the Mutuba on an earmarked and soil-prepared landscape at the Uganda Martyrs University (UMU) Valley Farm, (ii) a series of training-of-trainers (ToTs) centrally involving residual craftsmen of the Buganda Ngonge clan (Kaboggozas) of the hereditary chief craftsman, who have been manufacturing bark cloth for the Ganda royal family, and (iii) the setting up of two model production workshops (one for trainers and the other for trainees) aimed at bolstering qualitative and quantitative productivity as well as promoting employment opportunities along the entire value chain. The project will directly benefit surrounding community members, students, and staff. Cumulatively, this project will deliver on micro-climate change action (through afforestation) while pursuing the ideals of UN SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and UN SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production). It will also contribute to the University’s Goal 5 of Strategic Objective C (Establish and support mechanisms for interdisciplinary national, regional, and international collaborations for research, innovation, consultancy, and training).

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