Uganda Looks to its History

Ann Hills assesses how the African country is protecting its past

'Uganda needs its history to progress', says Paul Wamala, director of the National Museum in Kampala. This autumn he is mounting an exhibition which fully examines the country's often very violent past - 'Uganda Yesterday and Today'. It tells the story since Independence in 1962, through the horrors of Idi Amin and Obote, and the early days of President Museveni in the bush. 'There is a tendency for people to sweep history under the carpet. My target is the children', says Wamala, whose father was prime minister of this colony in the 1940s, and who is adamant that peace demands an understanding of the past.He arrived at the museum in 1991 when it was in ruins, and even now half is still closed. The World Bank is showing interest in providing funds, but it will take a large sum to mount professional displays for the many exhibits, from fossils to tribal headdresses. One of the larger items behind the scenes is a 1925 Model T Ford, owned by the mother of the Bugandan tribal leader, King Freddy. He died in exile in London, and his son Ronny was forced to return home, without any political power.

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