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American Black History Month in Uganda

U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Natalie E. Brown, Uganda’s Minister of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, the Hon. TomButime, local authorities, and the Walumbe community came together to unveil the restored Luba-Thurston Fort Memorial. This is located in Mayuge district,

It was dedicated to preserving and honoring the memory of the men, women, and children who passed through this former slave trading site. During the ceremony, the Makerere Spirituals Choir performed a series of African-American spirituals to recognize shared.

It was to celebrate the U.S. Mission in Uganda’s observation of Black history month.

In a statement issued by Dorothy Nanyonga, Information Assistant, the U.S. Mission Uganda  , presented a USD 45,000 grant from the U.S.Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP).

In support of the restoration of the monument at the Luba Thurston Fort in Walumbe Village, Mayuge District, which is important for documenting the end of the slave trade in Uganda.  

To date, the United States has funded eight projects under the AFCP in Uganda.

Speaking at the concert, Ambassador Brown said, “We must acknowledge the pain slavery brought to communities around the globe, and the continuing impact of its legacy.

We need to take lessons from that painful history to build a better future in which all citizens enjoy equal freedoms under the law.”

Every February, the United States celebrates Black History Month to honor the achievements and contributions of African-Americans to our society, culture, and nation.

African-American spirituals have their roots in songs sung by enslaved people in the United States. The songs helped African-Americans find hope during their bondage.

It played a key role in ending slavery.

“Honestly facing our history, including the tragedy of slavery in America, and the systemic racism that continues today, is the only way we will be able to deliver on America’s promise of freedom, equality, and opportunity for all,” Brown said.

Established by the US Congress in the fall of 2000, the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) awards grants for the preservation of cultural sites, cultural objects, collections, and forms of traditional cultural expression in more than 100 countries.

Congress noted that “Cultural preservation offers an opportunity to show a different American face to other countries, one that is not-commercial, non-political, and non-military.

By taking a leading role in efforts to preserve cultural heritage, we show our respect for other cultures.”

Since 2001, the AFCP has demonstrated America’srespect for the cultural heritage of others by supporting more than640 preservation projects worldwide.

History of Fort Luba-Thurston

According to the Department of Museums and Monuments, Uganda , the Fort was once occupied by a powerful Chief – Luba of Bunya Chiefdom in Usoga (Busoga), located in current eastern Uganda.

 It was a landing site for canoes by which men and goods were ferried to and from the Kyagwe shore. By 1891, the British commander Fredrick Lugard recruited Sudanesetroops (“Nubians”) as armed mercenaries to help administer what became the Uganda Protectorate in 1894.

A year before, a British Colonialgarrison had been established at Luba’s Fort with the posting of 40Sudanese troops strategically situated near the caravan trade route that crossed the Napoleon Gulf between Bunya and Buganda.

This was partly to reduce insecurity associated with the eastern caravan route. It is believed that Basoga Chiefs exchanged slaves for firearms from Buganda and the presence of a British garrison at Luba’s Fort. It helped suppress motives for such activity.

In 1897, the Sudanese soldiers mutinied in much of the Uganda Protectorate overpay, rations, and clothes that were in arrears. The rebellion included Sudanese troops garrisoned in Kenya that joined those at Luba’s Fort.

Major Thruston entered the Fort unarmed to negotiate a surrender, but he and Wilson, a British civilian, and steamer engineer Scott were shot dead.

The mutineers stayed at the fort for two months before it was attacked by British forces. C.LPilkington of the CMS and Lt Norman MacDonald was killed. The mutineers evacuated the Fort and escaped by dhow on 9th January 1898. Luba’s Fort was abandoned and another short-lived Fort Thruston was built nearby the following year.

Chief Luba died of sleeping sickness on17th July 1906, during the first outbreak of the epidemic that ravaged the region.

The current monument was originally built in 1900, in memory of those who lost their lives during ‘the war at Bukaleba”. The site’s cultural landscape consists of caves, a man-made ditch system, with significant scatter of iron slag, pottery, and the Walumbe sacred tree. Kiando Hill the ancient home of Chief Luba in present-day Mayugedistrict also marks the spot where Bishop James Hannington (3 September 1847 – 29 October 1885) an English Anglican missionary and his Christian porters met their death.

Oblivious to the political consequences of traversing the Buganda kingdom from the east. This was after an oracle  (Amanda) had predicted that Buganda’s conqueror would come from the East.

This was followed by persecution of Christians in Buganda culminating in their martyrdom on 3rd  June 1886  leading to by civil wars of colonial conquest and rivalry between French and British, German, Anglican, Catholic, and Muslim factions leading to Mwanga’s eventual ouster and the declaration of Uganda as a British protectorate in 1894 solidified by the Uganda Agreement in 1900.

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Tony Ofungi - eTN Uganda

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