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“Abandoning our rituals, weakening institutions, weak language threatening the extinction of our culture.” Clan leaders.

Clan leaders from Empaako communities in Western Uganda have identified a weakening language, weakening institutions at both family and clan levels and abandoning our traditional rituals as some of the main threats which threatens the extinction of our culture especially the Empaako intangible tradition during a clan leaders meeting held in Fort Portal.

Abandoning our traditional wear, deteriorating cultural morals especially among the youth, abandoning our traditional meals were also identified as some of the threats to our culture.

The one day clan leaders meeting held on Saturday April 7th, 2018 at Engabu Za Tooro main offices located in Fort Portal attracted over 80 clan leaders or representatives from the Empaako communities of Batooro, Banyoro, Batuku, Batagwenda, Banyaruguru, Banyabindi, Basongora and Ba Nyamboga from Uganda and the DR Congo respectively.

Stephen Rwagweri, Executive Director Engabu Za Tooro while addressing the clan leaders meeting indicated that the main objectives of the meeting is to strengthen the safeguarding of Empaako naming system especially using clan systems and ratifying the Empaako inscription and safeguarding by the Empaako communities.

“To revitalise our culture, we need to focus on documentation, capacity building especially for clan leaders, community self documentation of rituals and traditions and dissemination of documented materials.” Said Rwagweri.

Rwagweri further emphasised that the documented cultural traditions in books, music, photos and videos among others should not just be kept in museums but used for the revitalisation of their cultural traditions like Empaako.

The clan leader of the Basiita clan and head of the Empaako safeguarding committee further appealed to the clan leaders not to get tired of safeguarding our culture like Empaako heritage since they contributed immensely to the inscription of Empaako on the UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage.

This clan meeting follows a decision by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) which was adopted during the 12th session of the UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage which was held in December, 2017 at the International Convention Centre located in Jeju Island in the Republic of South Korea to co-fund a two year project for the safeguarding of Empaako naming system .

Empaako is naming system whereby in addition to a family and given name, a child is given a special name called Empaako selected from a fixed and closed list of 12 Empaako names shared by the entire society and used as a declaration of respect, endearment or affection.

This practice has been shared and transmitted from generation to generation in communities located in Western Uganda, Eastern DR Congo and Northern Tanzania.

May 2, 2019


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The Empaako Platform and Database is an online tool to bring together and unite the people from the Empaako communities so they can interact, promote and safeguard their rich cultural heritage of Empaako.

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