Jackline Nyiracyiza Besigye (ITP 2013, Uganda): Road to Reconciliation update
Jackline Nyiracyiza Besigye, Principal Conservator, Sites and Monuments, Uganda National Museum (ITP 2013, Uganda)
The concept of road to reconciliation came way back in 2009 from my colleague Nelson Abiti (ITP 2013, Uganda), after he completed a short training course in heritage management and conservation in Mombasa, Kenya. We wanted to carry out a pilot study in northern Uganda of refugees and people who were once internally displaced. We wanted to help these people on a road to reconciliation which would be achieved through awareness, education and exhibitions.
In February 2018 a road to reconcilation workshop took place over three days; on day one we had an ITP Alumni meeting where we planned for the workshop and on day two we had presentations from other group members, community representatives, ITP fellows and British Museum mentor John Giblin. On the final day we heard about community experiences and challenges and understood the opportunities available to us. We also had a presentation from a Law refugee project officer who heads the resource center in Kitgum.
I participated fully in the workshop and was the moderator of all day two presentations In these sessions, Nelson Abiti introduced the project to the group and clearly explained how it was our desire to link museums and communities as a way of creating peace. This follows on from the international definition of Museums, as a place of enjoyment and leisure and also focusing on UNESCO recommendations of cultural diversity and museums facilitating social cohesion and peace building.
Nelson also informed members of the group that the project will work in collaboration with ITP Alumni from Kenya, Sudan and Egypt, and the British Museum.
Kiziili Chole (ITP 2013, Kenya), curator of the Kapegulia Museum, presented a project he successfully implemented without government funding. Through the project he promoted cultural diversity among the Pokot community. He informed us how he engaged the youth to take part in almost all the activities set up by the museum. Although the project was difficult at times because some people did not like what the museum was doing, overall the project was successful. Kiziili said he felt the whole experience was a lesson that not everything the museum does is liked or appreciated by all, but is good for the community so long as it is contributing towards conservation and preservation of museums and artifacts which display our past.
Francis Nono from Kitugm resource center/museum gave an excellent presentation too. He talked of promoting peaceful co-existence between and among communities through collections of stories, war artifacts and others. He said their documentation center has more than 55,000 items. I also learnt from group members from north Ugandan communities, who had brilliant ideas about how road to reconciliation exhibitions should be.
Overall, the meeting and workshop was a good learning experience, especially hearing testimonies from a refugee who now wishes to become a Ugandan. It was interesting and useful to hear how the communities in northern Uganda want us to exhibit road to reconciliation and their willingness to be part of the project. I also learnt a lot about Sudanese artifacts, I noted some of the Kansyore pottery artifacts whose type-site is in Uganda along the Kagera River.