Uganda reclaims 39 stolen artefacts from Cambridge University

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Uganda has received 39 cultural heritage artefacts from Cambridge University. These pieces, taken during the 1890s and early 1900s by British colonial administrators, anthropologists, missionaries, and soldiers, have been housed at the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology for over a century.

The pieces were stolen from Buganda, Bunyoro, Lango, and Ankole in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Martin Mugarra, the state minister of tourism, said that while there are still many Ugandan tourism products in the United Kingdom, this is the biggest consignment among all African countries.

Minister Mugarra said the returned artefacts will increase the tourism products in the country.

“This is an important addition. It will increase tourism products and boost the tourism and cultural heritage of the country,” the minister said.

He added, “The ministry will continue to analyse the artefacts at the Uganda Museum and is expecting all Ugandans and foreign visitors to see the historical objects returned from Europe.”

The artefacts, which had been housed at the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology for more than 100 years, were returned following negotiations between Uganda and the British university.

Jackline Besigye Nyiracyiza, the acting commissioner of museums and monuments at the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, said among the artefacts are five human remains, the Balongo from Buganda, taken from Wamala tombs.

“We are going to return the artefacts to their respective communities/kingdoms, and negotiations are ongoing,” Nyiracyiza said.

This is the second time Uganda is receiving its cultural heritage artefacts from Cambridge University. The first return occurred in July 1962, during the independence celebrations, when the Kibuuka Regalia were repatriated.

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