The Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) delegation led by the Chief Political Commissar, Major General (Maj Gen) Henry Masiko visited the South African Air Force Museum on Tuesday, 02 August 2022. The benchmark visit was a strategic exploration, fact-finding exercise, and the analysis of internationally recognized or followed practices in the establishment, administration, and maintenance of military museums.
According to Maj Gen Masiko, South Africa was “chosen as the ideal destination due to the richness of the country’s military, historical and existing museum infrastructure”. He said the experiences and expertise in the country will allow the UPDF to “draw lessons which will determine the establishment of the National Military Museum in Uganda”.
The Acting Officer Commanding of the SAAF Museum, Major Ntokozo Ntshangase gave a brief presentation on the history, governance, structure, management, business strategy, and administration of the SAAF Museum. He explained the importance of not only telling history but ensuring that it reflects a comprehensive and balanced interpretation of events. He stressed that people need to relate and identify with the items and content at the Museums.
To this effect, he referred to the SAAF Museum's collective heritage project as a typical attempt in presenting a balanced and inclusive history. “Collective heritage project was initiated to identify and address the apparent gaps in the presentation of aviation evolution, the participation of former non-statutory forces, and the absence of such force's military artefacts in the displays”, he said.
To contextualise the presentation, the delegation was taken through the Collective Heritage hall, hangars, and outdoor displays by the SAAF Museum's military historian, Warrant Officer Class 2 Alan Taylor. He explained to the delegation how the SAAF Museum has “endeavoured to follow best international practices and current trends with regard to the manner in which exhibits and artifacts are presented and how information is conveyed to visitors”. They were also offered the opportunity to see how aircraft and associated artifacts are displayed in the hangars.
Emphasis was made regarding the role of civilian volunteers in assisting the SAAF Museum with much-needed skills and enthusiasm in several restoration projects. The importance and value of a research library and archive was also explained to the delegation.
The delegation was advised to consider using existing structures which have a historic significance and could be repurposed as exhibition areas.
Speaking on behalf of the delegation, Ms N.H Kasule appreciated and acknowledged the presentation, preservation and maintenance of the South Africa's aviation heritage and continuous efforts in bringing about a collective and inclusive history. According to her, the visit to the SAAF Museum boosted their resolved and will inform their decisions in the establishment of the Uganda People's Defence Force military museum.
The accompanying officers for the delegation were Maj Gen M. Sitshongaye and Brigadier General Z. Dauwa as well as Lieutenant Colonel W.W. Pakade as a Liaison Officer.