Olivia Howes | October 9, 2018
While the month of October ushers in the fall season and Halloween festivities, it is also important to recognize the international holidays that take place all over the world during the month. On October 9th the people of Uganda celebrate Ugandan Independence Day. When many people think of the countries within the African continent, they think of more widely known West African countries, but it also important to learn and teach about areas that are not as familiar to us. Uganda is a beautiful, mountainous country located in East-Central Africa that has a rich culture and history. It became independent from Britain in 1962, and is now a country made up of 39, 570, 000 people belonging to different ethnic groups with diverse backgrounds.
Although there are different ethnic groups that speak various indigenous languages, the country’s official language is English. The capital of the Uganda is Kampala where there are many restaurants and dance venues. One of the most popular things to do in Kampala is to visit a theatre and see traveling Ugandan theatre and dance groups perform. These theatre groups usually use music and plays for educational purposes to address Ugandan politics, social changes or trends, and difficult family situations. Also, because the country’s adult population has a low literacy rate, plays have become a unique and important tool to discuss and educate the general population about important health concerns present in the country such as HIV/AIDS and HIV/AIDS prevention.
It is an extremely valuable and eye-opening experience when students can learn more about a culture and country that is very different from their own. On the folkways.si.edu the Smithsonian provides a unique lesson plan for multiple ages that further focuses music as a tool to create unity within a country that has citizens with different backgrounds and beliefs. The lesson plan highlights a cooperative in Uganda where people with different religions and backgrounds, come together to show their unity under the common goal of making music with one another.
It can be challenging to learn all that there is to know about a new culture and people that are different from those you normally surround yourself with, but as educators you can take on this challenge and use Ugandan Independence Day to teach your students about a culture that is different, but just as beautiful as their own!
For more educator resources on teaching about the many unique countries on the African continent please visit the sites below:
Resources for Educators from UNC’s African Studies Center: http://africa.unc.edu/outreach/index.asp
Resources for teaching Africa from Boston University’s African Studies Center: http://www.bu.edu/africa/outreach/teachingresources/
East Africa’s Living Encyclopedia from University of Pennsylvania’s African Studies Center: http://www.africa.upenn.edu/NEH/neh.html
Image source: US Army Africa as part of the Share Your Knowledge project.