Written by Timothy Makokha
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Uganda President Yoweri Museveni greeting the Umukuka of the Bamasaaba people, at Mbale Resort, Eastern Uganda in a past function. The President called for the preservation of cultural instituions as a way of preserving culture.[PHOTO | Wes FM]
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni the President for Uganda has faulted the idea of creating homes for the aged people saying it separates the community from its advisors on cultural issues.
The President who was speaking on the “Place and role of traditional/ cultural institutions in Uganda today” at the Inzu Ya Masaaba 1st leadership Retreat Agenda in Uganda, reiterated that culture is a system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviours and rituals that members of a society use to cope with another. Thus, communication cannot be overestimated for without no society can exist.
“Family bond is very important, the idea of homes for the aged to be avoided at all times as we need the elders to hand to us cultural matters,” he said adding that, “Native language has the power; Write it, speak it and propagate it as it is the major tool for culture to Africa as whole.”
Some of the Bamasaaba community delegates who met at the Mbale Resort in Uganda with an aim of enhancing the capacity of Inzu ya Masaaba leaders to atake a proactive role in collaborating and cooperating amongst each other in order to sustain the community's goals.
The fear is language could be eroded if not well institutionalized. The president compared language to a living organism saying that it has to be nurtured and cared for its survival.
“The society is changing and the young generation does not know some terms and meaning of some native language vocabularies,” he said.
He on the same note expressed his need for establishing a dictionary of our native languages.
“Our mother tongue is much richer than English and other foreign language,” he said. For instance, English verbs are more general than our mother tongue words which are usually many and varied to point out a particular action that a speaker is referring to.
The retreats’ main agenda of: Re- positioning Inzu for cohesion and sustainable development of Masaabaland, He explained the need for writing in native languages as a way of preserving the language. He gave an example of the oldest language of the world Hebrew, whose original speakers died, but it’s remembered because it was written and it has been revived after so many years.
He explained the need for documenting written culture, in its original language. He as well cautioned members present about borrowing of vocabulary from other foreign languages like the way Swahili is borrowing a lot from the Arabic, saying that it is not the best as eventually the language may change.
“Preserving language is a service to us and humanity as language is species specific. Our role is to store language for the future generations,” he emphasized.
At the same time, the President explained the need for feeding on Indigenous food as is the best. He said that indigenous meals are very rich in nutrients and fresh.
He gave example of millet, cassava and bananas as the best traditional food. He mentioned for example sour porridge, millet, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and traditional vegetables as special.
He called upon Bamasaaba and other members present to stop running away from their culture or aping foreign mannerisms.
“Do not like sweet things as the preservatives in them are more harmful than the food value itself,” He therefore, advised that fresh fruits and juice is better for health than the preserved ones. He also advised delegates to continue using herbal medicine.
The head of state also appreciated the Dini Ya Misambwa, circumcision and its positive contribution to society.
The president urged Bamasaaba to preserve land and avoid sub-dividing the land in form sharing among children in a home but to stay in homesteads and leave the land for productivity. “Avoid building houses all over the land but built flats or stay together and avoid wasting space that can be put into better use”, he said.
Land fragmentation affects some farm mechanization and other key activities. He emphasized that Bamasaaba should be agents of teaching others on land fragmentation which will enable people to invest in Agriculture and hence food security.
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