SELAM launches PANAF: A new initiative to promote Artistic Freedom in Uganda


On Friday, Selam launched PANAF – Pan-African Network for Artistic Freedom, a new network building initiative in Uganda funded by the Swedish Arts Council.

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The initiative launched at Hotel Africana in Kampala was enabled in collaboration with Pearlwood and UMA – Uganda Musicians Association will primarily focus on the music and film sector with the intent to gradually involve artists, performers, journalists, writers, cultural workers and activists, as well as officials. It aims to establish a Ugandan network of creatives to strengthen collaborations at national, regional and continental levels, as well as to develop a digital platform for knowledge exchange and new initiatives.

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Dr James Isabirye – SELAM Uganda Director

SELAM is a cultural organisation with offices in Stockholm (Sweden), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Kampala (Uganda), and Nairobi (Kenya). It has been active in cultural development and development aid for over 20 years, using its vast experience and worldwide network to develop and execute diverse cultural programs in Africa, Latin America and Asia. 

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Mzee Bwanika – PEARL WOOD

Pearlwood on the other hand is an Umbrella organization for Uganda’s film industry, whose objectives include uniting film makers for socio-economic development through collective management of their interests and rights across the film Value Chain. The other partner, Uganda Musicians Association (UMA) is an organization whose main objective is to unite musicians in Uganda, aimed for advancing the interests of the Music Industry in Uganda.

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Mrs Sophie Gombya & Mr Jeff Ekongot – UMA Policy Board

This trio partnership will allow the three organisations to work together to develop a unified voice for artists, and cultural producers advocating for artistic freedom in the music and film industries.  The project will include capacity building, lobbying, research, cultural policy development, workshops, conference and report publication as well as monitoring, and documentation oviolations, all with the goal of forming alliances for knowledge exchange and cooperative advocacy campaigns.

“This partnership is extremely important as the space for free thinkers on the continent continues to dwindle; artists are finding it increasingly difficult to practise any of the creative arts that require conscious use of skill and creative imagination,” Selam Regional programme director, Lucy Llado said.

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Lucy Llado – Selam Regional Programmes Director

“Through the networks that will be created, cultural actors will get to support each other on issues such as legal support, opinion formation on specific issues and around processes related to dialogues with decision-makers.” she added.

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Mr Bakaye Lubega -Assistant Commissioner Culture – Ministry Of Gender

In attendance during the launch were various officials in the Arts Leadership of Uganda. Among those in attendance was Mr Bakaye Lubega, the Assistant Culture commissioner at Ministry of Gender, Labour and social development who in his speech echoed about how the potential of the artistic sector in Uganda is limitless.

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Charles Batambuze, Vice Chairperson NCF & Emma Carlos Mulondo, Executive secretary NCF at the Event

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