The Uganda National Cultural Center (UNCC) in a bid to preserve Uganda’s heritage and culture have skilled fifteen youths in Kawaala in making items out of the back cloth.
The back cloth is popularly known as a traditional cloth for the Baganda tribe and it is derived from the bark of the Mutuba or fig tree. Before the advent of western civilization, it was used for numerous purposes including clothing, coronation and funeral ceremonies.
The youths were skilled in making items like key holders, cards, wall hangings, photo album covers out of the fabric.
Maureen Mutoni Kiyaga the heritage officer at the UNCC revealed that such skills held in mindset change amongst people to revive the glory of Uganda’s culture. She noted that they chose Kawaala because it is a community with vulnerable young people, some are vulnerable, and others are young Mothers while others could not go back to school because of money constraints.
“These young people are energetic and bright so bringing this skill to them is to make them understand that there are artists who survive on crafts like these. As a cultural institution, we can only come up with ideas and skills attached to our cultural values that can improve people’s livelihoods. Fifteen youths have benefited, fifteen others benefited from making mats and cooking local delicacies like oluwombo and we are to skill others in another project.” She said,
“As UNCC, we don’t have the market for these but we are also going to skill them on how to market them because they need to know how to sell their craft. They have to learn online marketing since times are changing and many people are selling their goods on phones.” She added
Robert Musiitwa the Public Relations Officer at the Uganda National Cultural Center said UNCC carries out such outreach activities to support young people and also help the government in solving the unemployment issue among the youths.
“It is one way UNCC is fulfilling her mandate of preserving, promoting and popularizing Ugandan Culture. One of the reasons we decided to take on the back cloth is to preserve it and if we want to preserve it, we need to work with the young generation,” said Musiitwa.
He adde:“It is also for mindset change as many of the young people and Ugandans at large look at the back cloth as something used for burial and other times, we find it in shrines.We are trying to tell the public that basically a backcloth is more than just being used to bury or being used in the shrines. We can use the back cloth to create wallets, good hand bags and seasonal greetings cards. One of the ways we can do that is to train young people so that they can earn a living while also think positively about the back cloth.