We Are Walukuba: August 2015

Building on the momentum and success of the first ‘We are Walukuba’ event, this knowledge exchange workshop was an opportunity for the people of Walukuba to speak directly to those in power.

The workshop focussed on three key issues central to sustainable development: gender inequality, land insecurity, and bridging the generational gap. Drawing on the findings of nine months’ embedded research, this workshop combined three intergenerational community theatre performances and a photographic exhibition with round-table discussions and break-out activities, to draw community members and key stakeholders together to debate how to build a sustainable and just future for Ugandan urban societies.

Scene 1 - We are the Foundations

A team of eleven members of We Are Walukuba ranging from 19-56 years of age were trained in research skills, and set out to conduct an intergenerational research project to understand and share knowledge about sustainability across the generations. Between them, they carried out 27 interviews with someone from a different generation across the community of Walukuba. From these interviews members of the young generation composed a poem, We Are the Foundations, from the direct words spoken by people they had interviewed from the older generation. Whilst this poem was recited to the audience, a group of six old and young men and women worked together to present a series of image theatre scenes to embody the meaning of the words through performance. After the performance we hosted round-table discussions on strategies for bridging the generational gap in Uganda.

Scene 2 - Precious Women: A Play for Five Ladies from Walukuba

A group of three young women and two older women performed a play entitled “Precious Women”. This script was written using the direct words spoken by women across Jinja, who had either shared their stories as part of group discussions or in individual interviews. The play drew attention to the huge distance the community and policy-makers must travel in order to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.After the play we hosted a panel presentation by Ugandan gender experts and following round-table discussions on how to support women’s rights and empowerment within a sustainable community. This play has also been performed for Jinja Municipal Council employees at the Town Hall on two occasions.

Scene 3 - "This land is ours, but not ours": Walukuba Speaks Out

Land is a highly contentious issue in Uganda today, particularly in Walukuba where community members have been trying to acquire land titles for properties in which they have been sitting tenants. Ownership and control over land and other forms of property is particularly difficult for the Walukuba community, with the urban poor, women and girl-children frequently disenfranchised by a process steeped in bureaucracy and corruption. Community members performed the play “This land is ours, but not ours”, using comedy to illustrate the process they must pass through in order to claim a lease-hold land title where you have been a sitting tenant in Walukuba. This play is based on the real-life experiences of the community, drawn from interviews and focus groups and collated from official documents, aiming to highlight an approximate set of steps, costs and timings, to claim a land title. After the performance we hosted a break out activity in which community members and key stakeholders sat together to discuss recommendations on how to streamline the acquisition of land titles.

“We Are the Foundations”: A Poem to Bridge the Generations

They don’t care about us
Neither do they respect us
Taking us to be worn out in the society
Having no patience to leave the tree standing,
Not caring about the future generations
Because they realised making money from charcoal.
Children have forgotten their parents
We, trying to link them back together.
The elderly are the foundation, especially for knowledge.
This current generation has never tasted war,
We have; and still living, they too know where to find us.
We can help the government without being paid.
We are the foundations, with the history of our country
With the knowledge that can help the youth
And build our nation.
African youth used to live in harmony with the environment.
The water bodies represented gods,
People were afraid to tamper with lakes, rivers and swamps,
Trees were protected
In the belief they were inhabited by ancestors
And if tampered with, demons would run,
And the place would soon become deserted.
The young generation must first learn
How to love and respect where they live
For, that is where the environment starts
Us the creator, producers, own no land in our culture
That land is for the clan.
We advise the young generations
Never to sell land if you have.
You are not a person without land in Uganda here.
Our children, please control the land!
This is our duty, to tell this generation
To use properly what we have,
How to use the small land we have.
This is how we can encourage people out of poverty.
Trees were planted alongside plantations
They acted as windbreakers
They too acted as land boundaries
As well used for harvesting herbs.
The young should plant productive trees
Like mangoes, guavas, apple and orange
Planting long-lasting trees like mvule,
Which can benefit two generations.
The older generations should guide and demonstrate
On how to conserve the environment naturally,
Using cow-dung as fertilisers,
Wells made in swamps for water conservation,
They would help during drought and combat famine.
They should not clear ground completely when digging,
Should plant pasparum grass, on well-levelled ground.
The young generations should also improvise
To use other methods of cooking like brickets and gas cookers.
We need to fight corruption
By sensitising the government
To prevent corrupt leaders
From selling the wetlands to foreign investors
On which they construct their companies.
Because we have sons, children,
It is our duty to tell them and others
To have discipline,
Do not have greed for money!
There is too much congestion,
Land fragmentation,
It’s we ourselves with the power to do!
We have seen more times, tried more times
And heard more times.
The two generations should work together
To be an example to the coming one.
Planting trees, land and water body protection
We should be united!
Our grands also lived and passed on.

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