Did You Know Kampala Was The Cultural Hub Of East Africa In The 1960s?

They say the more things change, the more they stay the same. This could apply to Kampala’s stance on enjoyments / the party capital of East Africa.

Kampala’s reputation as the cultural hub of East Africa may be debatable at the moment. However, its party scene and vibe creator through its nightlife in the region remain unmatched.

Background / History
According to the Journal of East African Studies that examines journalist and children’s book author Barbara Kimenye, Kampala served as the intellectual and cultural capital of East Africa, as it was ‘then at the height of its reputation as the region’s most beautiful city, and the most sophisticated’ in the 1950s and 1960s. Prominent figures from across the world were attracted to Kampala’s vibrant social and cultural scene, as well as its supposed ‘liberal’ reputation that allowed for ‘a great deal of mixing to go on all over the place’ between different races. That said, Kampala's liberal attributes stood in stark juxtaposition to apartheid Nairobi in the settler colony of Kenya, where the Emergency had made strict segregation laws even harsher.

The Iconic Makerere University As A Centre For Cultural Excellence
Kampala was not only a cultural hub in the the Eastern African region, but was also ‘home to arguably the best university in Africa at the time’, which was then known as Makerere College: "Kampala enjoyed the attentions of a diversity of scholars and artists who contributed to the intellectual life of the university and city. Its cultural scene was no less significant, and there was regular diversion offered by theatre groups, music societies, and art galleries. The city also boasted a vibrant nightlife, sustained by its clubs and bars, which were popular among its residents and visitors. The best of Kampala’s intellectual and social scene was amalgamated in the glittering literary salons hosted by Rajat Neogy, journalist and founder of Uganda’s famous Transition magazine, ‘the most daring and important literary and political journal of the 1960s’. These events were popular among Kampala’s intellectual elite,” adds the Journal of Eastern African Studies.

Concluding Thoughts
You can’t help but wonder what a present-day cultural hub of any region would be if you factor in the dehumanising process that is visas. Given some countries’ stringent/rigid visa requirements that literally ask for your great-grandparents’ umbilical cord; yeah, so much for Pan-Africanism. Is this the part where we say Uganda used to be a country? Or… Never mind.

Forget about regionally, what is the cultural hub of Africa?

Photo Credit: Ugandan History | Twitter
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