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Preserving Our History is Essential to Building a Stronger Future-U.S. Ambassador

The U.S. Ambassador to Uganda, Natalie E. Brown made the call while unveiling the recently restored Luba-Thurston Fort Memorial, in Walumbe village, Bukaleeba sub-county, Mayuge district on Friday. The memorial is dedicated to preserving and honouring the memory of the men, women, and children who passed through this former slave trading site.
Black History Month3

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The United States Ambassador to Uganda has stressed the need to acknowledge the pain resulting from slavery and its impact on the world, and derive lessons to build a better future, in which all citizens enjoy equal freedoms under the law.    

The U.S. Ambassador to Uganda, Natalie E. Brown made the call while unveiling the recently restored Luba-Thurston Fort Memorial, in Walumbe village, Bukaleeba sub-county, Mayuge district on Friday. The memorial is dedicated to preserving and honouring the memory of the men, women, and children who passed through this former slave trading site.

The Thurston Memorial is said to have been erected in the area, in the early 1900s, in memory of Arthur Blyford Thurston, a British soldier, who was killed by enemy forces on October 19, 1897. His relatives who were angered by this action planted a plague of tsetse flies in the area, which took the lives of an unspecified number of residents including the then cultural chief Luba Mukajanga, who is reported to have succumbed to sleeping sickness.   

The site famed as important for documenting the end of the slave trade in Uganda also has a deep tunnel and caves where slaves were gathered from different parts of the country, before being transported to Mombasa and Mwanza respectively for sale to the highest bidding slave masters. 

The U.S. Mission in Uganda supported the restoration of the monument through a USD 45,000 grant from the U.S. Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) to Uganda’s Department of Museums and Monuments, and the newly restored monument was unveiled at an event also attended by Uganda’s Minister of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, the Hon. Tom Butime, local authorities, and the Walumbe community.

During the ceremony, the Makerere Spirituals Choir performed a series of African-American spirituals to recognize the shared experiences and to celebrate the U.S. Mission in Uganda’s observation of Black History Month, which is marked every February, to honour the achievements and contributions of African-Americans to American society, culture, and nation.

African-American spirituals have their roots in songs sung by enslaved people in the United States. The songs helped African-Americans find hope during their bondage and played a key role in ending slavery. 

Speaking at the concert, Ambassador Browm stressed that; “We must acknowledge the pain slavery brought to communities around the globe, the continuing impact of its legacy, and take lessons from that painful history to build a better future in which all citizens enjoy equal freedoms under the law.”

“Honestly facing our history, including the tragedy of slavery in America, and the systemic racism that continues today, is the only way we will be able to deliver on America’s promise of freedom, equality, and opportunity for all,” Brown said.

Ambassador Browm also stressed the commitment towards supporting the promotion of freedoms of press and association in Uganda and ensuring the dignified treatment, of all people throughout the world, as one of the key tenets of America's foreign policy.

She argues that journalists have often highlighted human rights violations, which provide victims with enough space to express themselves and in turn foster better mechanisms of addressing them.  

//Cue in; “human rights is…    

Cue out…and make improvements.”//    

She noted the reprimand of three American police officers, who participated in the killing of George Floyd and further says that they are committed to ensuring quality service delivery and justice within underserved communities.   

//Cue in; “so much of…  

Cue out…his civil rights.”//    

Meanwhile, the tourism and antiquities minister, Tom Butiime says that they have plans of rallying tour operators to boost the memorial site with hospitality amenities, which will attract both local and foreign tourists to throng the area.