By Edwin Muhumuza
Parliament has passed a motion urging government to recognize and protect the unique languages, culture and customs of minorities .
This following a motion moved by Hon. Asamo Hellen Grace ,the representative of Persons With Disabilities in the Eastern region and /Chairperson, Committee On Equal Opportunities and seconded by Hon.Kumama Nsamba,Bbaale county.
Accordingly it demands that government Clearly defines and recognize ethnic minorities in the country and put in place specific laws and guidelines for the protection of ethnic minorities; Recognizes and protects the unique languages, culture and customs of minority communities in Uganda, address historical injustices suffered by ethnic minorities in Uganda and ensure their right to access and occupy their historical sites especially those located in protected areas is recognized and protected.
Additionally government is expected to takes urgent steps to promote the peaceful coexistence and eradicate the discrimination and persecution of ethnic minorities, develop inclusive and intercultural educational curricula,which ensures that all ethnic minorities have an understanding of their multicultural society,adopts policies that promote and develop the cultural heritage and distinctive cultural practices of ethnic minorities,and finally to ratify the ILO Convention Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, 1989.
Uganda has a number of ethnic minority communities who are scattered across the country such as the Alur, Ik (Teuso), Kakwa, Karamojong cluster, Lugbara, Luluba, Ma’di, Nubian, Bagungu, Bakenyi, Bavuma, Ik (Teuso), Soo, Abayanda, Batwa, Ba’amba, Bakonzo, Benet, Bakyingwe, Bagabo and the Maragoli;
However it is of concern that these minority groups suffer from negative perceptions of their ways of life, traditional livelihoods,occupations and land use leading to the loss of their identity,language, cultures and customs as well as their subjugation by their more dominant neighbors.
According to demographic surveys and research from a wide range of organizations the indigenous communities in Uganda continue to experience challenges to their existence including the lack of security in land tenure, marginalization in terms of political representation, exclusion from Government programs, human rights violations, including forced evictions from their ancestral lands, violence, intimidation and destruction of their properties and historical injustices such as the demarcation of national boundaries as well as the creation of national parks and game reserves during the colonial period;
It is basing on these facts that parliament warns that unless remedial measures are undertaken to address the challenges and historical injustices suffered by the minority communities in Uganda, the existing minority communities will lose their unique culture, language and identity resulting in their extinction.