By Kampala Sun Writer
The Ugandan Embassy in Washington, DC, in conjunction with the African Textile Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, yesterday (February 26) held an event to showcase Uganda’s cultural heritage to recognise Black History Month, commemorated during the month of February.
The event, dubbed Barkcloth to the Roots, which took place at the African Textile Museum situated in the New Black Wall Street Market in Stonecrest, a suburb of Atlanta, put a spotlight on the Uganda barkcloth as the oldest known African textile.
The event also showcased literature on Ankole long-horn cattle and house décor made out of cow horns.
The Ankole long-horn cattle breed is one of the oldest indigenous cattle breed, found only in the Great Lakes Region, particularly the western and part of central Uganda cattle corridor, whose distinctive horns can measure up to eight feet in length.
A release from Uganda’s mission in Washington states that the event, which was graced by members of Atlanta high society, celebrities and government officials, was recognised as a major step in bridging the gap between Americans of African descent and Africa, both in the Diaspora and on the African continent.
The Ugandan Embassy commissioned the two barkcloth installations donated to the museum from London-based fashion designer Jose Hendo, a Ugandan-born British national who has honed and specialised the craft of using barkcloth in renewable and recyclable materials for over 20 years, and has exhibited various barkcloth designs and installations around the world.
In addition, the museum received a donation from the embassy of two extra-large pairs of polished Ankole cow horn.
A release from the Uganda mission in Washington states that on the sidelines of the event, Mull S. Katende, Uganda’s ambassador to the US, had a brief media interview to explain the rationale behind the selection of the two products to be installed in the museum.
“Barkcloth production is a highly skilled craft passed down through many generations, which has dwindled over recent decades due to economic and political pressures” he said. “The process of making barkcloth existed before weaving was invented and has been passed down from generation to generation for over 700 years. This makes it one of the oldest natural textiles in history and one whose stamp of ownership we must clearly express.”
The materials will be introduced to costume designers and the fashion industry alike to promote their use.
The city of Atlanta, Georgia in the US, is considered the place where culture and commerce meet. It has long been considered the “Cultural Mecca” of the US, due to its rich history and consideration as the birthplace of the late Martin Luther King Jr.