Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) are pushing for the return of cultural heritage artefacts taken by former Colonialists before independence.
The regional lawmakers want to enact a law to preserve the cultural heritage of the vast cultures among the partner states.
Uganda and Kenya were colonized by the British while Tanzania was colonized by the German and later the British. Rwanda and Burundi were first colonised by Germany then by Belgium while South Sudan got its independence from the Khartoum government 10 years ago.
All these countries have rich and diverse cultures which their colonial masters treasured. The lawmakers say that the colonial masters grabbed treasured cultural artefacts to keep in their museums.
“And even today when you visit the museums of the former colonial powers, you will realize how much they valued our cultures, art and recreation,” Uganda’s representative on EALA, Mary Mugyenyi says.
“We have some of our cultural dressing and traditional shields, and weapons which were taken. They are still in Sudan,” Dr Jerimiah Woda, South Sudan’s EALA representative says.
The EALA MPs are demanding that these artefacts be returned to facilitate the region in promoting and preserving cultural tourism.
“We need our artefacts back. In Rwanda, we received more than 4,000 songs from the Belgian government,” Francoise Uwumukiza a Rwanda representative at EALA says.
The call to return the antiquities came as the assembly granted leave, the Rwanda representative to introduce a private member’s bill the seeks to promote and preserve the cultural heritage.
Meanwhile, the State Minister in charge of East African affairs, James Magode Ikuya has taken the oath of allegiance in Arusha, Tanzania. He says that brings in a wealth of experience to the region as a Pan-Africanist.
“At least I know of myself that I have not come here to be a disaster,” Magode Ikuya told EALA.
Magode Ikuya deputises Rebecca Kadaga, Uganda’s Minister for East African affairs.