President Museveni urges on culture preservation

Tuesday 19th August 2014

President Yoweri Museveni has urged cultural leaders in the country and the elite to audit cultural practices in society and identify those that can be retained and modernized.

"African culture and customs had reasons; some are relevant today while others are irrelevant in modern times. Therefore, you cultural leaders should audit these cultural practices and see the ones to retain and the ones that can be modernized,” he advised.

The President, who was the chief guest at the official opening of the 2014 circumcision period in the Bugisu Sub-Region at Mutoto Cultural grounds Bungokho South Constituency, emphasized the need for cultural leaders and the elite to critically examine cultural practices and see those to be retained and modernized.

The bi-annual cultural event that started way back in 1920 at Mutoto grounds, 2 kilometres East of Mbale Municipality, is a very significant occasion in the culture of the Bamasaba people as it marks the circumcision rites that initiate the youth into manhood.

The President also encouraged the elite to study and find out why the practice that is locally known as ‘Imbalu' was introduced in Bugisu.

The President's observations were in response to remarks made by the Bamasaba Cultural leader, Umukhuka Wilson Wamimbi who said that the practice started when their own wanted to marry a beautiful Kalenjin woman from Kenya on condition that the groom to be was circumcised first.

President Museveni observed that in the performance of the Imbalu, the courage of young men who had to face a knife without the use of anaesthesia was clear.

President Museveni, however, reminded the gathering that he supported cultural institutions because African languages are very rich

"I am happy that I was able to capture most of the vocabulary before old men pass on. Even with Lumasaba, you must move fast to write a dictionary so that we capture those words to ensure they are kept", he advised.

The President cautioned them to use clear language when writing a dictionary to enable the coming generations understand things clearly.

He also used the occasion to reiterate his message to the population to guard against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

He urged parents to be strict with their children and always counsel them. He particularly called on cultural and religious leaders to help save the young generation.

"When my children were growing up, I cautioned them against wreckless sexual behaviour. It is unnecessary. Children are misled by their peers. You must counsel them and tell them the facts. If you don't, you are their enemy," he said.

President Museveni who told the gathering how he miraculously escaped Amin's soldiers in 1972 on the very spot where the Imbalu ceremony was taking place, strongly advised the people of Bugisu Sub-Region to embrace modern commercial farming to eradicate household poverty.

He stressed that poverty must first be got rid of in order for culture to thrive.

"Culture cannot be strong if you have perpetual poverty. If you don't create jobs, our children, especially girls, will go for prostitution in towns", he warned.

He lauded the Bamasaba cultural leader for distributing one million seedlings and pledged to find a way of working with cultural institutions to modernize agriculture, industry and services.

The President also pledged to find Shs. 4bn required for compensating people living in the Industrial Park in Mbale to allow 10 industries now lined up, to start construction at the site.

The Minister of Tourism, Ms. Maria Mutagamba pledged her Ministry's support to develop Mutoto Cultural Centre into a tourism site.

The Minister of Energy and Minerals, Engineer Irene Muloni, whose constituency is hosting this year's Imbalu festival, thanked President Museveni for gracing the event.


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