Project Aims to Preserve Cultural Astronomy of Refugees in Uganda

Possible venue for focus group discussions

The aim of this project is to gather indigenous cultural astronomy, such as local names of celestial bodies and their meanings in day to day lives, from the people at the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Uganda. The project will catalogue and provide a formal structure for storing and sharing this knowledge. And it will also facilitate the introduction of astronomy in the camps. Data gathered from this project will be incorporated in a mobile astronomy lab for replication in other regions of Uganda.

The team has gathered data from 8 focus group discussions and over 30 key informant interviews who were identified for follow-up qualitative research. Discussions were conducted to obtain information about cultural astronomy and the impact of this knowledge to their daily lives. The report highlights the need to increase awareness of cultural astronomy and the preservation of this knowledge. The key findings from the report shows that there is vast knowledge about cultural astronomy among communities but limited access to this knowledge creates a danger of it being extinct.

Africa has a long history of sky watching and a rich collection of sky lore that can be used to gain an understanding of those celestial bodies that are culturally important and, in some cases, why they are culturally important. In some parts of Africa, people believe that some celestial bodies are female or male. Others use different lights in the sky to track different seasons, time keeping and noting fertility cycles. Cultural astronomy in Uganda has been documented by a few researchers like Oruru et al,2020 by studying a few ethnic groups like Baganda, Bagisu, Langi and Banyoro but there has been no effort towards documenting cultural astronomy knowledge from the refugees hosted within the country.

The Pojulu tribe believes that the appearance of the full moon brings peace

The Aringa believe that shooting stars are falling bodies from planets

Pale red sun indicates the dry season