Fred Mutebi and I welcomed some friends to Uganda on Monday. They are art educators from Texas. Fred has formed a partnership with the University of North Texas that started when he collaborated with the university during his visit to Dallas in October 2008. He was a guest lecturer at the university and conducted printmaking workshops. He also played a key role in facilitating art education workshops at local elementary schools.
The team that he worked with in Texas is now here in Uganda. Leslie Robertson, Rebecca Schaefer, andAmanda Batson have organized workshops that will take place in rural primary schools in the Maskaka area. It’s the community where Fred was born and raised. Many of his family still live there. It’s a great example of how Fred is contributing to his community. They brought with them lots of art supplies that were generously donated from supporters. They packed a great variety of items like crayons, construction paper, paints, brushes, colored pencils, markers, and other useful items. They will all be used during the workshops and more importantly the items will be able to be utilized by the teachers and students in the future.
One of the other projects that our friends are here to collaborate with Fred on is the use of Ugandan barkcloth. It’s a facinating renewable fiber that is harvested and crafted from the mutuba tree in Uganda. The making of barkcloth has been a part of Ugandan culture for centuries. It’s a very special fabric in the Buganda kingdom. The art of making barkcloth is disappearing to modern conveniences. I made this short video showing how barkcloth is made during one of my previous visits to Uganda.
The Making of Barkcloth
Fred wants to revitalize the barkcloth supply. He has a vision to help the enviroment in Uganda by planting a million mutuba trees. Deforestationis Uganda is a big problem. It’s a problem all over Africa. Barkcloth can be harvested from the mutuba tree without killing the tree. The bark regenerates each time and the tree can live for over a hundred years. Barkcloth is a perfect example of a renewable fabric that is enviromentally friendly. We want to be able to provide an income for the communities that provide barkcloth by creating a global demand for the unique fabric. We are exploring it’s uses with researchers, students, artists, fashion designers, interior decorators, and others. I’m an advocate of promoting trade with Uganda, not aid. This is a great initiative for the developed world to be enviromentally conscientious and provide jobs and income for Ugandans.
You can learn more about the “Renewing Materials” barkcloth project on this great website. Check it out!
Ugandan Barkcloth Project
Blessed by Africa,