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Uganda: Is Uganda mentally, intellectually and creatively broke?

An interview with a Kampala City Council official has blogger Tumwijuke wondering if Uganda is “mentally, intellectually and creatively broke”:

What else would explain the near absence of public art in the city? Rich men and women in Kampala are opening new hotels, shopping centers, office blocks and apartments every month. These are well traveled and widely read (I hope) people who are exposed to things like good architecture, art and culture. So why is the city so bland?

Tumwijuke follows her account of the interview with photos and descriptions of Kampala's existing public art installations, an excellent collection of what few pieces the city has to offer.

The post also calls attention to blogren newcomer kampala.ver, Uganda's first architecture and urban planning blog. Author Filoug's Yes Please! and Urban Sins categories chronicle, with photos, the best and worst of Kampala's architecture, and a multiple-post proposal details a central public transport terminal that would reduce congestion and provide a combined space for transportation and commercial activity:

Clearly, the downside to my previous argument for the need of an organized bus system including the construction of a Central Kampala Public Transport Terminal is this: With the stroke of a pen we have done away with one of Kampala’s prime tourist attractions, the Old Taxi Park.

So we better come up with something really nice as a replacement. Something that doesn’t exist anywhere in town. Something that improves quality of life, for everybody to enjoy.

Such as a shady, relaxing, traffic-free Public Square in the heart of the city. Again.

To achieve this, a ’spine’ of blocks is arranged along Luwum Street and Ben Kiwanuka Street, creating an urban frontage, at the same time shielding the square. Narrow alleyways cut trough the blocks, emphasizing the sense of openness and spaciousness of the square itself. Since Old Taxi Park is located right in between Nakasero and Owino Market, it is also suggested to strengthen this axis by turning Market Street into a pedestrian shopping street. It’s already got the right name for it.

Finally, writing from the United States, Uganda-CAN worries about the effect next year's 10% reduction in U.S. diplomatic posts will have on the ability of the U.S. to support peace talks like the ongoing ones between the government of Uganda and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army:

These cuts (in the midst of the massive disparity) come as U.S. policymakers are realizing the limits of military solutions to complex security problems. Yet, this institutional arrangement continues to privilege military approaches, while limiting the potential for diplomatic engagement. This is having a real impact in northern Uganda and the whole of Africa. The U.S. military, with the advent of AFRICOM, is increasingly becoming the face of U.S. policy on the continent. Though the military does often play a key role, this limits the creative space for the U.S. to support peace negotiations and promote sustainable conflict resolution.

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