Day of Ugandan history, culture ends with artistic surprise
The group's tour guide, Allen, is one of several who sell their bark cloth art. (Gwenyth Hurley | The Media School)

The group’s tour guide, Allen, is one of several who sell their bark cloth art. (Mike Conway | The Media School)

On our third day in Kampala, I am still surprised every place we go. Today we went on two tours, one to Uganda National Museum and one to the Kabaka’s Palace.

At the Ugandan National Museum, our tour guide told showed us examples of Bugandan crafts, which showed the use of fig tree bark to make clothing, clothes and many other items. Buganda is the kingdom in the present day area of Kampala. We also saw firsthand how Ugandans use this bark.

After arriving at Kabaka’s Palace, we met our tour guide, Allen. On the way to see the torture chambers of Idi Amin, Uganda’s brutal dictator in the ‘70s, Allen pointed out a type of fig tree used to make bark cloth in the Buganda Kingdom.

Throughout the tour, Allen kept mentioning that at the end of the tour, we would be taken to see his paintings and those of other tour guides that were for sale. I think most of us wary of the opportunity to buy souvenirs. But when we finished the tour and walked over to see the paintings, which were laid out on the porch of a small building on the palace compound, we were taken aback by the incredible art we saw.

The three tour guides had made beautiful paintings using canvas made from the bark cloth. Another tour guide, Augustine, told me they used some acrylic paint and powder mixed with water. Paintings featured animals found in Uganda and traditional African figures. Augustine said when we get back to the United States, we should unwrap our paintings and iron the back of them so that the colors will last.  Of our group of 14, nine of us ended up buying paintings.

Professor Kelly told us was Ugandans are very friendly. So far this has proven to be more than true. I am looking forward to starting work at the Daily Monitor and meeting more of the citizens of this vibrant country.