Some Things Bright & Beautiful – Community Beautification

Some Things Bright & Beautiful – Community Beautification

Image: Outside the Afrikan Arts Kollective – Photo by Tambularts

A look at community-beautification and public-art projects – by Dr. Nathaniel Dunigan

As you drive east from Kampala, towards Mabira Forest and Jinja, the crowded trading centers transition into rolling plantations and farms; a nice, natural change in scenery. And then as you approach yet another trading center—expecting more congestion and dust—you instead discover delightful Lugazi!

Lugazi community Beautification Efforts and Photo by The Mehta Group
Lugazi Beautification Efforts and Photo by The Mehta Group

While the buildings and trading-outlets are not really any different than the others you have passed, these roadsides have been planted with trees—which are surrounded by temporary fences of timber—highlighting their value, and a desire to protect them. One can only imagine how much cooler and even-more-delightful Lugazi will become as these trees mature. The road then sends you around the central roundabout which is impressively tended, and has a vibrant offering of plants and shrubs. This is all thanks to the work of Lugazi Sugar of the Mehta Group.

A recent repeat-trip through lovely Lugazi got me wondering about other community beautification projects in Uganda, and so I set out to find them. I have learned about many efforts ranging from presentations of public art, reuses of waste and contraband, and education through art, to general clean-up co-ops. Here, I highlight just a few—with hopes that these initiatives will inspire all of us to brighten our own corners and communities.

Community-Wide Initiatives

The Bulago Island Club Residents Association (ali@oneminutesouth.com) is very active in its corner of paradise.  It funds and tends tree-lined paths to hilltop viewing points, and to tranquil beaches—protecting them from encroachment, and preserving them for public use. Their property agreements require the use of hedges and natural vegetation instead of perimeter walls; this alone maintains the island’s character, spirit, and sense of unity. Contraband like illegal fishing-nets and -boats become hammocks and decorative displays instead of being sent to the landfill. The club also maintains the collection and disposal of non-organic rubbish with strategically positioned bins around the island—for household-generated garbage and the flotsam which comes up on the beaches daily. That non-organic rubbish is transported off the island by public boat to Ggaba, once each month. The Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) then transports the rubbish to landfill/incineration sites.

Bulago Island community beautificationillegal fishing boats become Boat Bar at One Minute South
Bulago Island illegal fishing boats become Boat Bar at One Minute South by Alison Porteous
Bulago Island maintained paths by Alison Porteous
Bulago Island maintained paths - Photo courtesy of Alison Porteous

Public Art from Waste

If you have recently passed by the equator on Masaka Road, you have likely seen “Courtship: Crested Cranes in scrap metal,” by Kandole Reagan—just a few steps north of the monument-marker. Or if you have travelled between the Kibale National Forest entrance and Fort Portal, you have seen in a roundabout, the enormous “Elephant in the Room,” by the same artist—also in scrap metal. These are just two examples of public art created from waste by Kandole and EcoAction, the CBO he founded. (EcoAction and Artist Kandole Reagan: @ecoactionuganda [f].) “Courtship” was funded by the AidChild Equator Shop; “Elephant in the Room” was funded by The Roofings Group.

community beautification project uganda
"Elephant in the Room" by Kandole Reagan

Public Art as Education

In Kyebando, around the Afrikan Arts Kollective, messaging through public art abounds, worth a visit at this intersection of beautification and education (@afrikaartskolle [f]). Similarly, in Entebbe, you’re likely to encounter at least one of the murals done by community kids together with Tambularts’ volunteers. At the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre (UWEC), for example, their anti-poaching messaging showcases the beauty and habitat of the rhino. In Kisalu, the community’s roadside walls at ViaVia Guesthouse have been made beautiful through abstract art, while several NGO offices and places of business have also been made brighter and happier by their murals. (Tambularts: @tambularts [i].)

At UWEC Entebbe by Tambularts
At UWEC Entebbe by Tambularts

If you know of other community beautification efforts, or if you would like to learn from these best practices, feel free to reach out to me (f) @nathaniel.dunigan.

We love our world’s natural beauty. Let’s all do our part to contribute to it, protect it, and celebrate it!

community beautification - mural in Kampala
A mural in Kampala by EcoAction

2 Comments


  1. Jay Lassey

    I would absolutely love to be part of this project! I am an artist from Australia and will be here for the next two months.

    Reply
  2. Marcus Warry

    What a brilliant post, I love it! Imagine if we all took a small interest in trying to beautify our public spaces. I’ll look forward to checking out and visiting the various organisations and places you mentioned. Please also check out my new kyoto foundation – we use art and science to inspire tomorrow’s sustainability champions. We’ve done a little bit of graffiti in the poor community in naguru, next to our little art studio, but we have loads more to do! We also do Art Jams, that are live, interactive art works involving anyone who wants to participate – usually with an environmental, sustainability or Artivist (art and activism!!) message of some kind! Please follow us on Instagram:

    https://instagram.com/kyoto_foundation?igshid=OGQ5ZDc2ODk2ZA==

    Reply

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