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UK returns looted historic Ugandan artifacts on a three-year loan

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The University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom has agreed to return 39 traditional Ugandan artefacts which were looted from the country over a century ago.

However, the return of the artifacts would be for an initial loan period of three years, similar to a deal the UK government struck with Ghana.

The objects to be returned include tribal regalia, delicate pottery and abstract carvings the Ugandan people once held in high esteem.

Speaking on the return of the historical objects, Mark Elliot, the senior curator at Cambridge University said:

“These objects have been away from home for so long, now is the time that they come back and it’s the time to research the history of these objects, to research their contemporary significance and to help make decisions about their future.

“Really importantly, this is research that could be done in Cambridge but it shouldn’t be done in Cambridge, it should be done here and it should be led by Ugandan people.”

The Cambridge University had acquired most Ugandan artifacts as donations from private collections, and many were given by an Anglican missionary active in Uganda after the nation was made a British protectorate in 1894.

“There was a lot of plundering Africa and so Africa being plundered, it’s not that they only took gold,” Jackline Nyiracyiza, Ugandan Government Commissioner in charge of Museums and Monuments said on the return of the artifacts.

“They took gold and associated heritage and so a part of the gold, I would say, that they removed from Africa, is the cultural heritage because they were spreading the gospel of Christ and so they did not want anything associated with traditions.”

Nyiracyiza added that Uganda’s agreement with Cambridge is renewable, allowing for the possibility of a permanent loan and perhaps local ownership.

“We have a variety of objects that have been brought from Buganda (Bantu kingdom within Uganda) and I have seen and I would be seeing these objects, most especially. I shouldn’t say it. Most especially ‘Omulamula’ (or) ‘Ddamula (a traditional stick or sceptre handed to the Kingdom’s prime minister by the King) for the Katikiro (Buganda Kingdom’s prime minister), that is the most fascinating object I have seen,” Nyiracyiza explained.

“These items represent a small fraction of about 1,500 Ugandan ethnographic objects that the British University owns.

“The African Union aims to have a common policy on the return of looted cultural property,” the Minister said.

Culture

Ghanaian music producer wins $250k in copyright damages against CAF

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A Ghanaian music producer, Kwabena Ofei-Kwadey Nkrumah, also known as Spiky, has won $250,000 and legal costs of GH¢40,000 against the Confederation of African Football (CAF) after he sued the football governing body for intellectual property rights violations.

Nkrumah had dragged CAF to the Commercial Court 7 in Accra for not seeking permission from him before using the beat of his music titled, ‘Okomfo Anokye,’ as part of promotional materials for the 2018 CAF awards.

While delivering judgement in the case on Wednesday, Justice Emmanuel Loddoh who presided over the case found CAF guilty of failing to obtain legal permission before using Nkrumah’s music.

Nkrumah who spoke after the verdict went in his favour, said CAF’s act of using his song without permission was a total disrespect for his intellectual property rights, causing him to lose money from any licensing of his music for commercial use.

Before instituting the lawsuit, Spiky had called out CAF in 2029 for copyright infringement in a series of tweets.

He had noted that even though CAF had sent an email admitting to using his work without his consent and had apologised, they did not reply to him when he made a demand for compensation.

“This is a win for the creative industry: CAF vs Spiky’s,” he wrote on social media.

While admitting to the offence, CAF said the musical work was “available online for free download without any restrictions or conditions, to use for the artwork posted on CAF’s social media platforms.”

They however, denied using the soundtrack for commercial purposes, citing that the CAF Awards was not a profit-making venture.

They further explained that they had deleted the work from their social media accounts and apologised to Spiky.

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Two African lions make record-breaking swim in crocodile-infested river in Uganda

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Two African lions, Jacob and Tibu, have made history by swimming at night to break the record for the longest swim in predator-infested waters, attempting to cross the Kazinga Channel in Uganda.

According Alexander Braczkowski, from the Griffith University’s Centre for Planetary Health and Food Security who led a team that used high-definition heat-detection cameras on drones to film the two male lions crossing the river at night, the feat was even more remarkable as Jacob made the 1 kilometre-long swim with only three legs, having lost his fourth in a poaching incident when he was caught in a steel trap.

“This swim across a channel filled with high densities of hippos and crocodiles is a record breaker and is a truly amazing show of resilience in the face of such risk,” Dr Braczkowski said.

“Jacob is Africa’s most resilient lion and he is a cat with nine lives given the adversities he had overcome.

Jacob has become famous for surviving a multitude of life-threatening incidents, including being gored by a buffalo, having his family poisoned for the lion body part trade, and escaping after being caught in a poacher’s snare.

“The fact that he and his brother Tibu have managed to survive as long as they have in a national park that has experienced significant human pressures and high poaching rates is a feat in itself,” Dr Braczkowski said.

In an article published in the recent edition of Ecology and Evolution, Braczkowski said the two lions showed strong their determination to find females by ploughing on through waters teeming with crocodiles and hippos and arrived at the opposite bank, some 1.5 kilometers later.

“So, from a behavioral standpoint, it’s fascinating to see them cross such a large water body and over such a long distance.

“I think it’s also a testament to a much larger problem, and it’s a symptom of a much larger problem. And that’s why animals are having to take much bigger risks in a human-dominated world,” he adds.

Braczkowski believes Jacob and Tibu were forced to make the swim due to a lack of females in the national park.

“Female lions are more susceptible to being killed by farmers in retaliation for the killing of cattle and this has led to males outnumbering lionesses.

“A healthy lion population should have a ratio of two females to one male, but in Queen Elizabeth National Park, those numbers have been reversed, and there are twice as many males as females,” says Braczkowski.

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