Uganda marks World Culture Day

KAMPALA, May 21, 2024 – Uganda today joined the rest of the world to commemorate the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development commonly known as World Culture Day.

The Day of 21st May was declared by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation [UNESCO] under the United Nations General Assembly, Resolution No 51/249. 3.

According to the State Minister for Gender and Cultural Affairs Peace Regis Mutuuzo, Uganda has since 1999 been joining others in the world to commemorate the Day. “We are once again happy to join in the commemoration of World Culture Day 21st May 2024 under the theme: “Digital transformation of the culture and creative industries: Packaging Art and Culture as a national public good”.

Mutuuzo who was addressing reporters at the government-owned Uganda Media Centre in Kampala said the theme was selected to emphasise the need to modernise legal structures to support the digital transformation of the creative industries, while ensuring that art and culture remain accessible and beneficial to all members of society. “It requires a thoughtful approach that balances creators’ rights with public access and supports the preservation and celebration of cultural heritage,” she said.

She said the theme is in line with Conference of Ministers of Culture held in Mondiacult, September 2022 in Mexico in which 150 States declared for the first time that culture is a “global public good”. Consequently, States made a call for culture to be included “as a specific objective in its own right” among the next United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

As culture becomes a public good, the minister said there is a need for the substantial regulation of the digital sector, notably of the major platforms, for the benefit of online cultural diversity, artists’ intellectual property rights and fair access to content for all.

The commemoration of the National event is taking place at the National Theatre in Kampala and other venues across the country in the decentralised arrangement.

According to the minister, the purpose of this Day is to create awareness among the public on the importance of culture in development, deepen understanding of the norms, values of Cultural Diversity and appreciate Uganda’s heritages.

Minister Mutuuzo and other guests looking at art crafts made in Uganda during the national celebrations to mark World Culture Day in Kampala (Photo by Hanifar Samula).

It provides a platform for governments, organisations and individuals or groups of cultural practitioners to share and celebrate the Ugandan rich and diverse cultural heritages. The day is further intended to review progress, identify challenges and map out strategies for overcoming them.

Uganda’s Constitution Article 37 provides that: every person has a right as applicable to belong to, enjoy, practice, profess, maintain and promote any culture. Uganda is also member of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO].

The key objective is to mobilize the public and raise awareness of the importance of culture and the need to strengthen the sector for socio-economic transformation.

Mutuuzo said government, through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, the Uganda National Cultural Centre, and other stakeholders, recognise the role of culture in the lives of people and the country’s development.

She said there has been some achievements in terms of cultural development in the form of recent policy initiatives, including; The review of Uganda’s National Culture Policy [2006] and the Copyright and Neighboring Rights Act [2006]; The reporting of Uganda’s implementation of the UNESCO Conventions; and the integration of culture in the National Development Plan III and ongoing [NDP IV] among others.

“The Government is committed to strengthening the culture and creative industry, through the development of new policies and legal frameworks, the re-structuring of the culture and creative industry, the building of capacity of stakeholders and improving the status of artists in Uganda,” she said. “The Ministry is partnering with, the Uganda National Commission for UNESCO, Uganda National Cultural Centre, Pearlwood, Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda, Corporate bodies, and Private sector organizations such as Media Houses to commemorate the day.”

Prof. Juma Wasswa Balunywa speaking during the World Culture Day celebrations at the Uganda National Cultural Centre on Tuesday (Photo by Hanifar Samula).

Meanwhile, Speaking at the Uganda National Cultural Centre, the former Principal of Makerere Business School [MUBS], Prof. Juma Wasswa Balunywa called for the preservation of local languages, beliefs, norms and others.

He added: “If we are to protect our culture, we must preserve it safely. We need cultural policies that align with cultural preservation,” he said. “Most of the African tribes don’t have scripts and because of that, we have had a challenge in recording what we have achieved. How then do we preserve our culture?”


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