1st INTERNATIONAL LANGO CULTURAL HERITAGE AND TOURISM CONFERENCE
The 1st International Lango Cultural Heritage and Tourism Conference took place from the 21st to 23rd October, 2018 at Lira University.
The theme was ” Sustainable Tourism for Development in the Lango Sub-region.”
The convener of the conference was Associate Professor Okaka Opio Dokotum (PhD)
Deputy Vice Chancellor, Lira University.
The Lango sub-region contains many natural, historical and cultural attractions whose tourism potential has not been harnessed. The tourism gateway to Lango first opened in 2015 with the launch of the Tourism Lango Cluster by then Minister of Tourism Hon. Maria Mutagambwa when the Lango sub-region hosted the 2015 Word Tourism Week culminating into the World Tourism Day celebration on Sept 27th. The week-long event enabled Uganda Safaris to include Lango in its tourism circuit for the first time. This was followed by the “Tulambule Excursion” to Lango led by then Minister of Tourism, Hon. Kiwanda Godfrey which included a tour of the burial place of Dr. Apollo Milton Obote. The Lango sub-region has tremendous potential for Tangible Tourism, Intangible Tourism, Eco Tourism, Atrocity / Dark Tourism, Religious Tourism and Historical Tourism among others. The official tourist sites in the sub-region include: Tyen-Olum (The Footprints of Olum) at Ibuje Hills which could very well be the footprints of the first human; Kangai Bunker in Dokolo where Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda and Omukama Kabalega of Bunyoro were captured by the British colonialists; Got Ngetta (Ngetta Rock) on the outskirts of Lira Municipality (Lango mythology says got Ngetta fell from heaven); Got Otuke (Otuke Hill) in Otuke District where the migrating Lango people group from Abyssinia dispersed into their present settlements; the Kungu Landing site where the first Anglican Missionaries entered into Lango; Barlonyo and Abia Memorials that tell the often marginalized tale of LRA atrocities in the Lango sub-region and the resilience of the local communities. New additions to that list include: 1) Amolatar Monument marking the Center of Uganda. The Lango sub-region is geographically located at the center of Uganda; the very center where the monument has been erected is in Olyaka village in Namasale Sub-county in Amolatar District—also known as Uganda District or Uganda within Uganda because it offered refuge to different tribes during the Karimojong cattle rustling of the 1970’s through to the 80s and early 90s most of whom ended up settling in the district. Amolatar peninsula, this tropical paradise that notably resisted military invasions and annexation by powerful Kabaka Muteesa I of Buganda, the fearless Emorimor Chief of Teso and the Wonyaci of Lango until it was conquered by the British, is a tourist gem in its own right; 2) Lira University Museum of African Culture and Traditional Health Practices, which has over six hundred artefacts collected from Northern and North Eastern Uganda, is another. Apart from positioning itself strongly as the site of education, leisure, research, and cultural inquiry for community interventions, the Lira University Museum of African Culture and Traditional Health Practices can provide the hub and axis for professional and strategic connection with Lango heritage sites and other sites in the Northern and eastern regions which include; The National Peace and Documentation Centre’s War Museum in Kitgum, Karamoja Museum, Iteso Cultural Union Museum, Nyero and Ngora Rock Paintings in Teso, Fort Patiko in Gulu, Kidepo National 2
Park in Karamoja, as well as Murchison Falls National Park in Bunyoro. Lango and Bunyoro have long standing political, military and cultural relationships going back centuries; a heritage that needs exploring. 3) Got Aribi (Aribi Hills) Lula caves and Dr. Apollo Milton Obote’s burial place all in Abyeibuti, Wangcenye and Kwibale in Akokoro Sub-county. Historical tourism in Lango can be linked to the legacies of Lango heroes like Milton Obote, Okello Field Marshal, David Oyite Ojok, John Akii Bua, Bua Atyeno, Odyek Awidi, Ogwang Guji and Engur Wonyaci among others.
The 2015 and 2016 tourism expo in Lango opened the sub-region for tourism and led to some activities like rock climbing and the establishment of UPENDO Art and Craft and Educational Cultural and Social Centre in Oyam District. However, not much has happened since then apart from occasional excursions atop Ngetta and Ibuje hills and most prominently, the Festival of Tyen Olum celebrated for the third year in December 2017. Promotion of local tourism improves the success of local business and plays a great role in the growth strategies of the local governments and their development efforts. There is an urgent need to secure our tourism and heritage sites many of which are in disrepair, or open to the vagaries of nature and misuse by neighboring communities. For instance, it’s common to find cattle grazing on the priceless rock on which Tyen Olum is situated. Legendary warrior Owiny Akullu’s house is in disrepair and so are many others; Got Ngetta is being increasingly destroyed by dynamite quarry blasts for aggregates; this has left an ever-increasing gaping wound at its base, yet even the British colonialists protected this precious rock! In spite of proclamations in different fora against this barbaric act, the destruction of Got Ngetta by a so-called foreign investor continuous unabated.
The 1st Lango Cultural Heritage and Tourism Conference is by no means an inward looking Lango conference but an International and multidisciplinary conference that will theorize and discuss the latest trends in tourism towards sustainable tourism for development globally, including both tangible and intangible heritage, innovation, creativity and sustainable tourism product development. The conference will explore the confluence between cultural ecology, heritage tourism and the creative and hospitality industries. More specifically, it will explore major challenges, risks and opportunities for sustainable and responsible tourism development in the Lango sub-region related to official heritage and local tourism sites, war monuments and memorials and the narrative of post war reconstruction. Cultural tourism will also provide impetus for cultural revival in Lango by bringing a greater sense of identity among the people of Lango in Uganda and in the diaspora through pride in our shared heritage and recreational activities. The boom in creative and service industries will follow, opening employment opportunities for many, given that the creative industries are among the leading employment sectors worldwide— especially youth employment and production. Moreover, the narratives by tour guides will rely on our traditional oral narratives which will feed back into the wave of cultural rejuvenation and historical reconstruction. At the end of the conference, we expect a deeper understanding of heritage studies, tourism and hospitality as academic disciplines and strategies identified for: GIS mapping of our tourist sites and securing the sites; identifying potential supporting activities; approaches to recreating some useful cultural activities of the past; developing a framework for strategic physical designs; investor identification and engagement; global networking and the development and marketing of 3
our heritage and tourism sites, products and services locally and internationally; and best practice in the management of heritage sites and proceeds.
The conference is organized by Lira University in close cooperation with the Lango Cultural Foundation, Lira Chamber of Commerce, District Local Governments of the Lango sub-region and the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities. Suggested topics include but are not limited to:
• • Understanding the Visitor Economy and its Politics.
• • Developing a Master Plan and strategic designs for each tourist site in Lango and surrounding amenities.
• • Mapping the Lango migration corridor through socio-linguistic, cultural, environmental, archeological and museological grids.
• • Networking Lango tourism with wildlife and cultural heritage resources surrounding the sub-region.
• • Supporting local heritage/ tourism investments, improving the business environment and upgrading skills in related industries.
• • Lira University Museum and its contributions to identity and the historical memory of Uganda.
• • Reconstructing and translating local mythology into a global tourist brand; the case of Tyen Olum (Olum’s Footprints) on Ibuje hills in Lango.
• • Object, artefact and narrative: the place of oral/folk narratives in heritage discourses and museology.
• • Locating nature walks in the Lango sub-region and their eco-tourism and recreation potential.
• • Development of innovative nature based rural/ wilderness tourism products.
• • Developing apps for promoting local tourism.
• • Establishing Diaspora networks for promoting tourism excursions into Lango.
• • Tackling the misrepresentation of Lango people and heritage including the crediting of authentic Lango cultural artefacts to other tribes in colonial libraries and museums worldwide.
• • Tourism, innovation and the digital economy.
• • Promoting Lango and its heritage sites as locations for film productions.
• • Negative effects of Tourism and how to mitigate them.
• • The nexus between tourism, creative and hospitality industries and economic development.
• • Rethinking commemorations and memorialization of victims of mass violence in Lango in the context of hegemonic narratives and atrocity tourism: the case of Barlonyo and Abia memorials.
• • Ownership, Legitimacy, Regulation and Control of Heritage/ Tourism sites.