Kabale Museum Struggles to Attract Visitors 10 Years After Relocation.

By Naboth Isaac Niwagaba.

The Kabale Regional Museum and Cultural Center in Kabale Municipality is struggling to attract visitors despite its relocation to Bunyonyi tourist road.

Kabale Regional Museum is a public museum in Kabale, south-western Uganda, established in 1978 under the Department of Museums and Monuments in the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities. Located in Northern Division, Kabale Municipality, about 8 km from Lake Bunyonyi, the museum tells the story of the culture and tradition of the people in the Kigezi sub-region, who are predominantly Bakiga.

However, the cultural center is struggling to attract visitors despite the 2014 government’s decision to strategically shift its location from Kabale town to Ibumba Cell in Rutooma Ward, along the Bunyonyi road that is frequently used by tourists going to Lake Bunyonyi.

The site attendant, Mr. Mukiza Horace Edgar, told our reporter that since its relocation in 2014, the museum had been registering less than 10 visitors in a month, and most of them were university students doing research, while the local neighboring communities had shunned the place, almost “totally.”.

“The general turn-up for visitors is still very low. We expected people from around, especially the younger generation, to show interest in coming to look at the traditional tools of work and other art crafts in this place, ask questions, and learn about their culture and origin, but they are literally not interested.,” Mukiza said.

Mr. Mukiza attributed the challenge to Banyakigezi parents, who were no longer bothering to educate children about their culture and tradition. He also said that the government had not invested enough in marketing tourism in the antiquities sector.

However, locals who spoke to our reporter, including Gerald Kanyankore from Kabale District and Bright Aheibwomugisha from Rubanda District, blamed the museum management for not doing enough sensitization about the museum. Mr. Kanyankore added that he visited the museum once and found out that a lot of traditional items were also missing, asking the management to look for more art crafts.

Mr. Ronald Mwebebesa, a boda boda motorcyclist in Kabale Municipality, said the museum should offer free entrance to locals since it’s a public facility managed by staff whose pay comes from the government. The entrance fee for Ugandans is Ug. 5,000, while foreigners pay Shs. 15, 000.

“If this is a government facility whose operation is facilitated by taxpayers’ funds, why should we pay to visit the place?” Mwebesa asked.

The Kabale Regional Museum was established in 1978 by the Board of Trustees of the Uganda Museums, Department of Antiquities, in the Hindu temple located in the center of Kabale town, after President Idi Amin Dada expelled the Asians from Uganda.

The museum was closed in 2007 after Indians repossessed the building and reestablished the Hindu temple. The objects were taken to the Kabale government archive and Uganda Museum for security and preservation purposes.

In 2005, the land where the museum is currently located was acquired under the leadership of the then Commissioner of Museums and Monuments, Kamuhangire Ephraim. In 2007, construction of the building started under the leadership of Commissioner Mwanja Nkaale Rose.

Kabale Regional Museum was re-opened to the public in September 2014.

The museum has hundreds of ethnographic collections with very few archeology, geology, painting, and photograph collections.

It showcases basic information about Kigezi. The topics include historical background, how Kigezi came into existence, migrations of inhabitants, evolution of boundaries and current area of Kigezi, landscape and weather and how they are economically being utilized by the people, their cultural history, and economic and political history.

It has information about the Kigezi people’s origin, ethnic groupings and the way they live, cultural history, set-ups, ceremonies such as marriage, food and drinks, music, and dance, among others.

The museum also showcases endangered artifacts in the greater Kigezi community.