Earlier this year, Harriet earned her ‘Cultural Enthusiast’ medal for a poem about cultural loss:
“I once spoke my mother language, where did it go? The one you are hearing now is foreign.
I once pounded our cassava flour using the mortar but machines have taken it away, my culture.
I once danced around the fire place after supper but where do l go these days? Mariana night club.
I once danced to the tune of the drum but Mr. Piano has erased my drum beat.
I once wore bark cloth that grandma made for me but the cloth am wearing now, I don’t know who made it.
Where did I throw them? Will I find the torn pieces?
I must go and search for it, where did it go, my beautiful and lovely culture?
Join me to search for my culture.”
Lovely, but the yearning for a cultural heritage eroded by technology and globalisation is particularly poignant.
Harriet is being helped in her search by attending a Heritage Club at the Kilembe Secondary School in Western Uganda, one of over 100 organised by our partner, the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda.
Our project aims to educate and enthuse over 300 young people in Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zimbabwe so that they can preserve vital African heritage for future generations to enjoy and learn from.
Heritage can be seen as something for the elite – or as an irrelevant harping back to the past. Its economic value is not widely recognised. In fact, heritage is often associated with poverty. And yet culture, historic buildings, landscapes and traditions are essential to shaping our future wherever we are in the world. They form a vital part of our identity and we must keep alive even the most hard-to-tell stories to avoid making the same mistakes.
Please help us encourage young people like Harriet into becoming the next generation of heritage defenders, educators, activists and practitioners.
More information and details of how to donate can be found at www.bitly.com/INTOAfrica. Thank you!