Social Media Engages Oral Culture at Ugandan Heritage Sites
IRDL Research Team Members: Mary Leigh Morbey (research lead), Maureen Senoga (PhD candidate), Mary Pat O’Meara (MEd graduate and project videographer), Dennis York (PhD graduate), Stephan Chan (MEd student), and Abeer Naushahi (Seneca College Media student)
Uganda in East Africa possesses 100 heritage sites illustrating the rich culture of Uganda little known by Ugandans and the world. Collaboration between the Uganda National Museum and a York University Institute for Research on Digital Learning research team is capturing the heritage sites through video and photograph, and stories of older people living in the shadow of the sites through videoed interviews in English and Luganda. The collected data situated in a Social Media structure centered in the museum website, preserves potential lost heritage.
Supported strongly, and politically, by the Uganda Commissioner of Museums and Monuments, along with the Uganda Ambassador to France representing UNESCO Uganda, the project team has developed a non-colonizing framework, methodologies, and Web Social Media conceptualization to represent Ugandan heritage sites and related oral stories of those who have lived in the shadow of these sites. The current focus is the virtual preservation, presentation, and education of 10 of 100 heritage sites beginning with the Kampala Kasubi Tombs destroyed by fire in 2010 and now under re-construction, so that Ugandan heritage sites and cultural history along with oral stories about them live on as structures are lost and older Ugandans who know these stories die. Little is known about the sites by Ugandans, and by the rest of the world. Working with Social Media the project objective is to virtually, through video and photographs, record the historic sites, and orally, through interview and story telling, video record local stories about the sites. The field research data collection of the first 10 heritage and memorial sites was completed in Uganda in August 2013.
The physically massive heritage structures, and the oral stories illuminating them, are located throughout Uganda and cannot be placed inside the walls of the Uganda National Museum: our work develops a virtual representation of this key Ugandan heritage. The Uganda Commissioner of Monuments and Museums and her research team chose with the York University team national and UNESCO heritage sites and stories that it would like recorded: the Kasubi Tombs, Namugongo Martyrs, Barlonyo Camp Memorial, Aboke Girls School, Dolwe Rock site, Nyero Rock art, and so on. This work will be presented through Web Social Media collaborative community and educative spaces the research team is currently building, involving cutting-edge ways of employing technology, using Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and blogs situated in a WordPress site linked into the Uganda National Museum website. The work progressed rapidly in August 2013 through data collection of heritage sites across the country and interviews with 30 older Ugandans in English and Luganda. Captured amongst many stories were those of the brutal murders and abductions by the Lord’s Resistance Army on February 21, 2004 in the northern Uganda Barlonyo Camp. Site videos and stories of survivors bring to life the horror of what occurred: also apparent is a choice by the community to forgive, to heal, and to make new lives. Work progresses towards a first Social Media structure, with current data about heritage sites and the stories surrounding them located in the center of the Uganda National Museum website and in place by mid-2014.
For more about the project see:
- Trailer of the Uganda Heritage Sites and Oral Stories Social Media projects – Web 2.0 Expressions of Heritage Sites: Architecture of Participation with the Uganda National Museum at https://www.facebook.com/UGinherit
- UGinherit YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCe4tk5lKbTXU_O51cORhsig
- Uganda Heritage Sites Video Clip at http://youtu.be/KpG7OpP2F50
- Uganda Heritage Sites Slideshow at http://youtu.be/fyPqkJvvxJ0
- Uganda Heritage Sites + Stories Trailer at http://youtu.be/BrnfvEBq9_g