UTA President Herbert Byaruhanga made the call on Tuesday, August 30, 2022, when he and members of the association appeared before the Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industries chaired by the Hon. Mwine Mpaka.
According to Byaruhanga, who introduced the 2022 Museums and Monuments Bill, various artifacts from different archaeological and historical sites were taken by different entities such as the British and, to date, they have never been returned.
The Museums and Monuments Bill seeks to repeal the outdated 1967 Historic Monuments Act. Among other things, it seeks to provide for the development, management and maintenance of museums and monuments and to formalize, control and protect tangible and intangible heritage and collections of works of art.
Byaruhanga said it was a great achievement for a number of countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), that are returning their stolen or poached items, and called for Ugandan authorities to do the same.
AUDIO: Mr. Herbert Byaruhanga “We only have paintings in museums.
The bill should start the process of recovering these artifacts.
We need to form a committee to inspect, investigate and recover the artifacts that were taken from places like Bigo bya Mugenyi, Ntuusi, Bwogero and Nshogezi, among others,” he said.
On specific provisions of the bill, Byaruhanga proposes that the administration and management of museums or sites be done at the district, community, and under the supervision of a government department.
He is also against the proposal that tangible and intangible heritage be managed by different ministries and departments.
“The management of the imbalu site is under the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities and the management of the rituals is under the Ministry of Gender, this confusion will affect the promotion and development of tourism.”
Byaruhanga said that each city or district should have a monument, for example the Bull in Mbarara and the Elephant in Gulu, among others.
Honorable Hannington Musoke Wakayima, MP for Nansana Township, questioned whether it is not costly to repatriate artifacts.
“These artifacts are expensive to maintain when they are returned, there are several items that were once returned and some of them are still in boxes, how can you help the committee see how we can work on them despite these challenges?” he asked him.
The Honorable Ronald Afidra, MP for Lower Madi County, said it is important that the association begins by sharing the profile of heritage that might have been taken from them by colonialists.
He says that as legislators, this will help them in the process of searching for the artifacts.
AUDIO: Br. Ronald Afidra “What are some of the legacies that the colonialists have taken?
We know these things were taken, but what’s the profile of those artifacts?
he asked him.
For the Kingdom of Bunyoro Kitara alone, the British are reported to have taken more than 300 artifacts, including the traditional nine-legged stool, a symbol of the throne.