President Yoweri Museveni has urged cultural leaders and the elites in Uganda and Africa at large to audit cultural practices in society and identify those that can be retained and modernized.
“African culture and customs had reasons; some are relevant today while others are irrelevant in modern times with no information from science. Therefore, you cultural leaders should do audit of these cultural practices and see the ones to retain and the ones that can be modernized,” he advised.
The President, who was yesterday the chief guest at the official opening of the 2014 circumcision period in the Bugisu Sub-Region at Mutoto Cultural Grounds in Bungokho South Constituency, in eastern Uganda emphasized the need for cultural leaders and the elite to critically examine cultural practices and see those to be retained and modernized.
The bi-annual cultural event that started way back in 1920 at Mutoto grounds, two kilometres East of Mbale Municipality, is a very significant occasion in the culture of the Bamasaba people as it marks the circumcision rites that initiate the youth into manhood.
The President also encouraged the elite to study and find out why the practice that is locally known as ‘Imbalu’ was introduced in Bugisu.
The President’s observations were in reaction to the remark made by the Bamasaba Cultural leader, Umukhuka Wilson Wamimbi who said that the practice started when their own wanted to marry a beautiful Kalenjin woman from Kenya on condition that the groom to be get circumcised first.
Mr. Museveni observed that in the performance of the Imbalu, the courage of young men who had to face a knife without the use of anesthesia was clear.
President Museveni, however, reminded the gathering that he supported cultural institutions because African languages are very rich.
“I am happy that I was able to capture most of the vocabulary before old men pass on. Even with Lumasaba, you must move fast to write a dictionary so that we capture those words to ensure they are kept,” he advised.
The President cautioned them to use clear language when writing a dictionary to enable the coming generations understand things clearly.
Mr. Museveni also used the occasion to reiterate his message to the population to guard against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. He urged parents to be strict with their children and always counsel them. He particularly called on cultural and religious leaders to help save the young generation.
“When my children were growing up, I used to tell them to put padlocks on their private parts. Children get bad counsel from their peers. If you don’t tell your children facts, then you become their enemy,” he said.
President Museveni advised people in Uganda and Africa to embrace modern commercial farming to eradicate household poverty. He stressed that poverty must first be got rid of in order for culture to thrive.
“Culture cannot be strong if you have perpetual poverty. If you don’t create jobs, our children, especially girls, will go for prostitution in towns,” he warned.
The cultural leader of the Bamasaba Umukhuka Wilson Wamimbi thanked his subjects for upholding the tradition. He called on them to respect other people’s customs by ending forceful circumcision of people from other tribes.