PROPOSAL FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A PRIVATELY OWNED CULTURAL AND   ARTS CENTRE IN GULU NORTH UGANDA

The district would benefit considerably from having a well-designed cultural and arts centre to exhibit Acholi culture and arts.The centre would showcase the best of Acholi culture and would provide a much needed cultural focus place that promotes confidence and self-esteem at a time of radical change and uncertainty. The Centre would be a welcoming place where both the locals and tourist alike would come and explore share new experiences and ideas. It would also present a positive statement on Acholi culture and way of life, and hopefully become an international showcase for the best of Acholi culture and arts. 

Luo People

Acholi, also spelled Acoli, also called Gang or Shuli, ethnolinguistic group of northern Uganda and South Sudan. Acholi speak a Western Nilotic language of the Eastern Sudanic branch of the Nilo-Saharan family and are culturally and historically related to the neighbouring Lango tribe.

The Acholi are the descendants of a variety of Luo-speaking peoples who are believed to have migrated three or four centuries ago from adjacent areas of what is now South Sudan into what is now the Acholi district of Uganda.

The Acholi have small chiefdoms of one or more villages, each with several patrilineal clans. Chiefs are chosen from one lineage. The Acholi live in small hamlets among patrilineal kin. They keep sheep and cattle but are not as committed to pastoralism as some other Nilotic peoples are. Millet is the staple food of the Acholi, and tobacco is grown for trade. Corn (maize), sorghum, beans, squash, peanuts (groundnuts), and other savanna crops also are grown. Hunting tracts are owned by clans. Stream and swamp fishing are important.

Social custom traditionally they lived in circular huts with a high peak, furnished with a mud sleeping-platform, jars of grain and a sunken fireplace. The walls are daubed with mud and decorated with geometrical or conventional designs in red, white or grey. They were skilled hunters, using nets and spears, and kept goats, sheep and cattle. In war they used spears and long, narrow shields of giraffe or ox hide. Family life in Acholi has traditionally always been stable. Once a man and a woman are married and have children, they take pride in remaining faithful to each other. Children were taught to respect their parents and the homestead

Background

Cultural effect of war in northern Uganda from 1986 to late 2006, a rebel army known as the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) terrorised villages and abducted children across the entire northern region of Uganda. As payment for their lack of support, the LRA abducted Acholi children to be sex slaves and soldiers, often forcing the children to kill their own parents or siblings.                                                                                                                                                                The LRA attacked villages indiscriminately and fiercely, leaving destruction and misery in its path. This threat created great unrest and disturbance in the social structure of the Acholi people, leading to the perceived social breakdown that persists today.Because of this constant state of fear, many people ceased to participate in cultural events, and communal gatherings. Further complicating issues, the government forced almost the entire Acholi population (approximately 1.9 million people) except for those already living in town centres into Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camps in 1996. 


Cultural revival

The restoration and renewal of cultural values and traditions can be enormously helpful in assisting people to deal with the past, forge a new post conflict identity and rebuild social cohesion. However there are also risks. Culture, if it is to be seen as meaningful and accepted by future generations cannot be static and has to evolve and constantly incorporate new ideas, technological integration and expressions.

This has led to the widely recognised need for a revitalisation of the cultural mechanisms that were largely abandoned in the past two decades. Cultural practices like traditional dancing, songs, initiation to manhood, crafts, arts, cultivation, moral values and oral tradition have ceased to be practiced in some places.

Cultural revival is a vital aspect of post-conflict reconstruction. Many Acholi believe it will foster peace between elders and youth and restore social structures that can be highly empowering, enabling the Acholi to re-establish a kind of unity and togetherness that will help them to achieve some political clout. In northern Uganda, cultural revival has become a major topic of concern after the decades-long civil conflict that displaced 1.9 million people. In order to have peace and stability, many people feel they must return to their traditions as a means of returning to their true selves.


The aims                                             

The centre will offer an experiential outdoor and indoor learning and entertainment environment for all visitors to experience real cultural living in one place. We expect have families, school children and people from all over the world to visit and participated in The centre. The centre will offer educational experiences that will spark the imagination, delight the senses and touch the hearts of many visitors. 

The objective of the cultural centre is to engage visitors with a practical experience of living and participating in cultural activities.

Gang Waa cultural centre

  • Arts and crafts gallery
  • Picnic park / children play area
  • Living museum
  • Onsite lodges / apartments 
  • Bar and restaurant
  • Gift shop
  • Outdoor performance stage
  • Conference / cinema / theatre hall capacity of up to 80 people
  • Digital cultural exhibition room

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