Uganda: Leisure - Ugandan, German Fusion

The Ugandan German Cultural Society (UGCS)--now Goethe-Zentrum Kampala (GZK/UGCS)--is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Line up is an exhibition, music, dance, poetry, fashion and cuisine at the Makerere Art Gallery in Kampala.

The event seeks to appreciate the German language and friendships, promote cultural activities and exchanges as well as provide a platform for artistes from both countries to exchange ideas.

"What started as a small society offering German classes in the evening to adults and organising cultural events like concerts and exhibitions has grown into a large organisation with hundreds of members, more than 1,000 students and numerous cultural events organised every year," the director, GZK/UGCS, Barbara Sommer, said.

At one point, the society was the meeting point for visual artists in Kampala, she added.

"We also learned that by becoming a Goethe-Zentrum standardised language learning centre, we were officially an examination centre hence student numbers have been growing constantly," Sommer added.

But it has not been all smooth for the society, which has had to grapple with limited space and finances.

Project funding by Goethe-Institut from 2006 onwards, has helped, but the organisation still has to find ways to meet the cost of rent, salaries and other fixed charges not covered under this category.

At the Makerere event, GZK/UGCS chairman Taga Francis Nuwagaba argued for embracing "what is ours."

"In Uganda, we celebrate Christmas, Easter, Eid al-Fitr, Valentines and even Halloween but how come we don't have one indigenous season we celebrate? Does it mean we have nothing to celebrate as a people? Are we ashamed of our traditional celebrations? We need to create an opportunity for home products to be sold and support our cultural industry," said Nuwagaba.

According to Nuwagaba, the path to protecting all that is Ugandan is through a vibrant cultural presence since "culture is the soul of a nation."

"We need a day or two in a year where everyone dresses Ugandan, eats Ugandan, dances Ugandan and speaks Ugandan, to give Ugandans in Uganda a chance and our global friends an opportunity to see what we are capable of producing. When matters cascade from diplomatic and high political levels to the ordinary people, I begin to see, feel and enjoy bilateral co-operation," Nuwagaba added.

UGCS was founded in March 1989 by Ugandan and German dignitaries. It became Goethe-Zentrum Kampala /UGCS in 2008.

The society supports and hosts a myriad of cultural events including art, music, film screenings, photography, poetry, readings, exhibitions and architecture.

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