WRITERS and critics at the ongoing literary convention have raised a red flag against poor funding and political alienation as the leading factors hindering growth of the arts industry
By Clare Muhindo and Gloria Nakajubi
WRITERS and critics at the ongoing literary convention have raised a red flag against poor funding and political alienation as the leading factors hindering growth of the arts industry.
Delivering her key note address at the 2nd East African Literary and Cultural studies Conference at Makerere University, Prof. Peninah Mhando Mlama, a playwright from the University of Dar es Salaam said arts literature and humanities have traditionally not been seen to generate income for universities and some governments have withdrawn sponsorship.
Sadly, Mlama condemned the ongoing privatisation of national theatres and across the region, arguing that it active performing space is fast disappearing to private investors, making it hard for artists to be creative.
“Musicians at a national theatre in Tanzania are now supposed to pay a total of $800(about Sh2.5m) for space that was initially given to them freely to practice or hold concerts,” Mlama said.
It has taken over forty years for such an engagement to be hosted again at Makerere University, since 1973, a trend that experts blame on the lack of funding.
Dr. Susan Kiguli, the convener and the head of the Literature department at Makerere University revealed that for humanities, it’s not easy to attract funding especially for such causes.
This in a way as Kiguli said disables debate relevant to informing policy and shaping the future of the country, arguing that people have scepticism about sponsoring humanities.
“It is a long time problem that people don’t deem it important for people to know about the major problems in their society. If it is science, society expects a tangible product, maybe a car, something they do not expect from humanities,” She said.
Although Humanities and social sciences are known to shape society, Kiguli says that people do not think that reflecting on the nature of behaviour can advise any society.
Additionally Dr James Ocita, a senior lecturer at the department of literature regards this trend as a perception issue where by even politicians continuously campaign against arts.
“Funding towards humanities is very limited and the more its relevancy is questioned, the more relegated it gets.” he said
The three day conference has attracted participants from different continents with particular interest in African writing.
Investments in arts crucial for national development - experts