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Crafts Industry Holding Uganda's Potential for Sustainable Development.

Friday, 28th July 2017

By Unatcom Team.

Ugandan craft works are so varied that one needs to pay attention to various ethnic settings in order to exhaust it.

The rich cultural heritage that largely shapes craftsmanship is clearly brought out through entertainment, traditional leadership (kingship), economic orientation such as cattle keeping, fishing among others.

Craft works has bridged the inequality gap, as the physically disabled persons are actively engaging in weaving baskets, pottery, making beads among others. With an average annual income of 1 million to 5 million, there is need to invest in the cultural, specifically craft sector to improve productivity.

Ms. Rosie Agoi, the secretary general Uganda National Commission for UNESCO notes that unlike in the past, culture is now being recognized as one of the driving forces towards sustainable development. She however advocates for the ratification of the 1954 and 1970 conventions and implementation of those have been ratified,  as this helps one understand the value of culture, safeguard and protect it.

According to the permanent secretary Ministry of Gender,Labor and Social Development, Ms Jane Mpagi, it is important to map and assess the sites and practice of creative arts, as these are used to lobby for resources towards promoting culture and creative arts.

  "There is a whole program in the 2nd National Development Plan on culture" says Ms Mpagi.

One would suggest that it is high time training institutions in craftsmanship got established and made functional to reduce on the unemployment phenomenon.

Ms. Jane added that as the project is being implemented, stakeholders should be mindful of the environment since many of the cultural products depend on the environment for raw materials and other natural resources.

"There should therefore be a cohabitation between cultural products and the environment. This cohabitation should not be exploitative and parasitic but a cohabitation that is symbiotic where both can gain from." Jane advised.

Meanwhile, as part of the drive towards enhancing the industry, attention should be drawn to laws and policies.  Lack of patenting and copyrighting of Uganda's designs has often witnessed misrepresentation of the crafts in both domestic and regional markets. In improving and broadening market for the craft industry, patenting would be a stitch in time to safeguard originality and enhance creativity.

"You find the Chinese with their nimble fingers making perfect finishing to Uganda's products, but if you buy from Uganda, the edges are rough and unequal with strands. This shows that there is still work to be done if Uganda's products are to hold value." Says Amos Tindyebwa, TBDC Consultant.

Craftsmanship in Uganda is a practice that has been passed down from generation to generation. It includes crafts like basketry, pottery, wood-curving and the like.

Majority of craftsmen and women adopt the skills from the elderly. This group is however phasing out; leaving the field to the young generation that is largely taken up by modernity.

However,some artists have assimilated modernity into culture. As such, they have resorted to making beads out of papers and glasses, unlike the original crafts that had natural raw materials.

The vibrancy of culture, according to Mr. Tindyebwa, largely impacts upon creative arts. It is no wonder that crafts flourish in rural areas where the aspect of culture is highly valued. Perhaps to also note, is that the differences that appear in crafts are consequences of the cultural practices of each ethnic group.








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