EDUCATION | HERITAGE |
Preservationists in Uganda have called upon the government and Makerere university authority to restore the University's iconic main building that many refer to as the Ivory Tower to its original state.
Executive Director of the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU), Emily Drani says the University's main building is of significance as a landmark building not only for the university but for Kampala city and the country at large.
On Sunday, September 20, 2020, the country woke up to the disturbing news of fire gutting the University's main building and since then, several dignitaries have visited the university including the Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni.
In her statement she said: "For us who believe in God, we know that everything works out for our good. This is a chance for Makerere to be rebuilt, not just buildings but the culture, the morals of the people and everything that pertains to our prestigious university."
"We hope that this statement will not be misinterpreted to mean constructing a totally new building," says Drani.
The Makerere fire comes on the back of several controversial fires that have razed properties including among others, Owino Market, Kasubi tombs, and the Buddo fire.
"In the case of Owino market, the traders blamed some rich individuals interested in their land. And indeed, a few years down the road, this space is now dotted with shopping arcades."
According to the New Vision of January 8, 2020, Makerere University lost much of its property to fraudsters in the different parts of the country.
This includes land in Kololo and on Sir Apollo Kaggwa road (1.6 acres). Even within the main campus.
Also, a New Vision article reported in April 2020 that the Buganda Land Board was yet to renew the lease for the land on which the faculty of law and the Makerere Institute of Social Research are located, demanding a swap with the university land in Makindye, which houses the birthplace for the first Ugandan president Sir Edward Muteesa.
"There haave been media reports of unclear motives behind the fire at the Ivory Tower and we hope that this time round the Uganda Police Force will do due diligence and report to the public the cause of this disaster," says Drani.
Drani worries Uganda's built heritage is under threat and will remain so if efforts are not made to protect and preserve it.
"In a rush to ‘modernise', most iconic buildings are fast disappearing, whilst surviving ones are dwarfed by newly constructed structures."
"This means a lost connection with our shared past and abandoning the unique features that prevent our cities from becoming indistinguishable from each other," she says.
In light of iconic building's disappearing, CCFU with support from the European Union and Embassy of Ireland, has documented and produced maps of historic buildings in Kampala, Entebbe, Jinja and Fort Portal in a bid to create awareness and preserve them.
The maps and profiles of the buildings are also on a mobile App "Uganda's Built Heritage".
"There is a popular African saying that If you don't know where you coming from, you will not know who you are and where you are going. This is every reason why architectural heritage including Makerere University main building needs to be protected."
"The preservation is about respecting what people before you have done to enrich your heritage and also respecting their skills and intellect," says Drani.
CCFU is also actively engaged in the process of drafting of the Kampala Historic Buildings Ordinance, which is currently before the Council.
"We call upon Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to expedite its promulgation in order to facilitate efforts to safeguard historic buildings in Kampala," says Drani.