President Yoweri Museveni wants cultural institutions in Uganda to concentrate on the protection cultural values which define ethnic identities of the country rather than interfere in the politics.
Speaking in Gulu district on Saturday, the president said instead of interfering in politics of the nations, cultural institutions should concentrate on protecting ethnic identities central to their existence. According to Museveni, politics already has enough politicians and needs no additions through cultural institutions.
He cited protection of language, traditional medicines, marriage and food from adverse influence of modernization.
“When I talk of culture, I remember a number of things. Our languages must not die and that is why I supported a culture of institutions. Not to interfere in politics because we already have a a lot of politicians, we do not need additional politicians through culture because those ones we have plenty – LCI, LCII, Members of Parliament.
There are so many but to concentrate on for instance the language, to concentrate on [incest] because we don’t people from the same clan to marry one another because they are from the same sister,” Museveni said.
Museveni said the secret to his good health is buried in traditional foods which require protection as well. According to the president, there are many elements of culture which require modifications including the roles of parents in marriage to decide spouses for their children and grandchildren.
“Bread causes a lot of constipation, but who will talk about this? There are so many things – the medicine, the what… So has got an important role to play in our modern life. I don’t have to decide for my grandchild whom to marry like we did in the past.
Among the Banyankole, it would not be the boy who marries, you just go and marry on his behalf in the family of choice. You decide; this is a good family, I will go and get a wife from there and the boy would just go a long. That must be modified, the children must look for their own people whom they like but the parents must be consultants,” Museveni added.
The president was officiating over the inaugural Acholi cultural festival in Gulu district. He launched “Aduku Pa Rwot” (the basket of the chief) with a donation of Shs 20 million.
Citing disagreement between Teso and Jopadhola ethnic groups in Eastern Uganda, Museveni said culture should not be a source of friction in the country because ethnic groups need each other to thrive and survive.
The president said protection of strong cultural values is the key behind India’s impressive growth and development in modern countries. He urged that strong cultural values be integrated with modern practices such as modern religion to drive speedy growth and development.
Cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is at the heart of international campaigns for abolition. In Acholi, handing out virgin girls to bereaved families as redress for murder has been abolished.
Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) has embarked in fresh campaign to eliminate corporal punishment superintended by cultural chiefs and leaders among the Acholi and Lango ethnic groups.
Paramount Chief of Acholi chiefdom, His Highness David Onen Achana II later underscored Museveni’s remarks on culture saying subjects living in diaspora should emphasize language to their children.