So naturally on my first day off I decided to visit Uganda’s National Museum, a destination that google will inform you is unworthy of your time or energy. Aside from Senegal’s National Museum which had less dust, it was by far the best museum I have visited in Africa. I was EXTREMELY impressed. The exhibits are haphazard but informative and extensive, ranging from Olympics, Uganda in the Stone Age, Malaria Consortium, Products of the Forest, music and more.
Most artifacts were behind glass that was well cleaned although the thick layers of dust on the objects themselves made it clear that the artifacts themselves had not been cleaned for years. There were great descriptions of the history and significance printed on plain white paper, peeling paper. The front atrium was airy, white and after going through metal security detectors (which are everywhere here) you come upon a well stocked gift shop and library.
The masks were large and well displayed, but nothing like the array of bows and arrows and shields that were scattered throughout. The headdresses impressed me the most, partially in how different they look from ones I have seen in West Africa. Most had feathers, horns, cowiery shells or more colonial, rounded hat look.
The ‘Model T’ Ford stood out in the Museum, partially because it seemed so displaced, surrounded by a large boat and lovely, massive wooden carving of Uganda that spanned over 10 feet. These two objects received no description, but the history of Ford and the Model T was well detailed and this car in particular was donated by the British prior to independence in 1962.
I was horrified by the newest exhibit- a history of Oil and refineries in Uganda funded by Total and two other gas companies. It had horrific explanations of how ‘history and development’ in Uganda have happened along side of oil. Explanations of various digging tools and hopes for the future of oil in Uganda. All on gaudy, printed plastic boards that were taller than me, clearly standing out from the rest of the museum’s peeling paper labels.
Through the whole exhibit I was highly confused by the blaring music outside- Rihanna, Chris Brown, Jay-Z made it difficult to concentrate. I walked around the building to learn where this obnoxiously loud music was coming from and found a beer festival, full stage, food booths, multiple beer and wine sellers. And volunteers like the one below wearing matching shirts, the back saying ‘Keep drinking, we can make more’. All before 1 pm. Kampala is a happening place.