Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A new cultural museum, the first of its kind has been set up in Kalangala, to preserve and promote the islands’ rich heritage to the rest of the world.
Kalangala’s heritage stretches from the royal regalia in the Bukasa and Bubembe shrines, the tree species where the royal mace is moulded, nature and forest walks in forests and landscape, birding, among other activities.
The district’s attractions include the Mapeera site where the first missionaries Amans Delamans and Simeone Loudel constructed the first Catholic Church in Uganda, Nanziri waterfalls and Wanema shrine on Bukasa Island, several caves, the John Speke site in Lutoboka and the Ssese tree. But most of the tourism sites and regalia had been neglected, burying hundreds of years of history in scrubs and ignorance.
The district local government has now partnered with the Buganda Kingdom, through its culture and tourism ministry with the help of John Ssempebwa, the former Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Uganda Tourism Board to start up a museum which will also serve as an information centre for residents and tourists visiting the island-district.
Ssempebwa says that among other activities, the museum will also hold a cultural restaurant where visitors will taste the Ssese delicacies including fish mixed with Matooke, a meal locally known as akabeero and the edible beetles (Amasiinya).
Ssempebwa adds that currently, the central region earns less than 10 percent of the total tourism earnings for the country because many of the tourist attractions have been abandoned. Uganda earns up to USD 1.5 billion (about 5.5 trillion Shillings), from tourism annually.
Kalangala district chairperson Willy Lugoloobi is optimistic that the move will enable them to exploit the tourism potential of the island and greatly boost their local revenues. The district generates 438 million Shillings annually in revenues.
The district tourism officer Gladys Nabukenya says that they hope to earn up to 100 million Shillings from the instituted museum in the first year alone if every tourist who gets to the island district visits the museum.
“Our district engineering department is reviewing the artistic impression of the museum. But even in its current state, we expect each tourist to pay 10,000 Shillings to learn about our culture,” Nabukenya says.
Samuel Kwesiga, a member of the hotel association in Kalangala says that the establishment of the museum was long overdue.
Marion Nakku, a Buganda Kingdom Tourism Ambassador implores the youths to preserve, uphold and promote cultural tourism if they are to benefit from the sector.
Thomson Otim, the chairperson of the Kalangala Tour Guides Association says that there is also need to develop transport and the tourism sites in the outlying islands such that people who view the potential of Kalangala through the museum can easily get to the sites for value addition and further revenue generation.