Weak laws have been
identified as the biggest challenge to the efforts to protect and preserve
historical buildings and monuments in Uganda.
Conservationists say proprietors
of historical buildings and monuments are at liberty to do whatever pleases them
since the legal framework doesn't compel them to protect and preserve them.
James Galabuzi, a conservationist says there is need to enact
stringent laws to protect and conserve historical buildings.
1968 Historian Monuments Act provides for the preservation and protection of
historical monuments and objects of archaeological, palaeontological,
ethnographical and traditional interest.
However, conservationists say the law is insufficient in
dealing with people who own such property and those that destroy them. It doesn’t
compel owners of such building to preserve and protect them.
Those that destroy
or damage them are subjected to a fine of Shillings 2000 or six months in
prison or both, according to the Act.
Galabuzi, who comes from the famous Ham Mukasa family, which
owns a historical building, says people like him shouldn’t act selfishly and
destroy these historical heritages because of public interest.
//Cue in: "What if one...
Cue out: ...should consider others"//
Galabuzi was speaking during an online dialogue organized by
the Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda, which is running a campaign to save
Watoto Church from demolition by its current owners.
Originally Norman Godihno Cinema, Watoto Church building was
the first purpose built structure in Kampala. Last year, Watoto Church submitted
a plan to Kampala Capital City Authority to demolish the building and put up a
12 storied structure.
The move prompted the campaign by CCFU to protect the
historical value of the structure and its architectural design of Indian origin.
Solomon Musasizi, the CCFU program manager, says they have engaged Watoto
management to revise their plan in vain.
He says there is need for a law to compel owners of historic
buildings to protect and preserve them. He says they are working with KCCA to
pass an ordinance for protection of Historic buildings in Kampala.
According to the 1968 Historian Monuments Act, the Minister
for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities has the powers to declare a building with
archaeological, palaeontological, ethnographical and traditional interest, a
protected building. Its then that government can influence its protection and
Watoto church says they need to expand their building to
accommodate their growing number of guests. In a July 20th, 2020
letter to the Watoto family, Pastor Julius Rwotlonyo, the Associate Team Leader
of Watoto, says the structure is their own and that they haven’t been formally
engaged on any process of gazetting the building as a historic one.
Catherine Ajiambo a Senior Researcher in the
Department of Museums and Monuments in the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and
Antiquities, says until the Minister declares the building historical and is
gazetted, the department can only do much.
She says they are documenting historical sites in the country
and working on a bill to protect and preserve them. Ajiambo also called
out to Engineers to make architectural designs that serve interest of modernity
and preservation of the cultural, historical and architectural heritage of
//cue in: “The madate to...
cue out: ...a hundred years”//
Deo Katekere Rubongoya, the Senior Project Manager Profica
International Pty, says it is possible to modernize while preserving the
buildings. He says a building can be partly reconstructed while preserving its
//Cue in: "Existing building should...
Cue out: ...inherently sustainable practice"//
Moses Serugo, an art journalist and former student of Buganda
Road Primary School also founded by Norman Godihno, says the cinema brings back
primary school memories when they performed there. Serugo says the building
should be taken back to its original purpose, cinema hall.