Palaeoweek 2015 : a celebration of the France-Uganda collaboration in the paleontology
The Palaeoweek, a week dedicated to paleontology in Uganda, happily begun on Saturday June 13th with workshops for kids, and ended the next Thursday with a panel discussion that was followed by the official inauguration of an exhibition at the National Museum of Kampala, officiated by Hon. Barbara Nekesa, Minister of State for Karamoja and H.E. Sophie Makame, Ambassador of France to Uganda.
Educative workshops about paleontological research
Nearly 200 French and Ugandan school children aged 6 to 14 years were welcomed at the National Museum on June 13th, where they were introduced to the ABC of paleontology. Many activities were on the menu, from the presentation of the job of a paleontologist with Brigitte Senut, Professor at the Earth Museum, to the guided visit of the museum by Martin Pickford, Professor at the Collège de France in Paris, or the fabrication of fossils molds with Dominique Gommery, research director at the Ecology and environment institute of the CNRS and at Pretoria University. This pedagogic journey filled the kids with joy, and some of them probably discovered a new vocation.
A panel discussion under the theme “study the past to understand the present”
The day began with a panel discussions under the theme “study the past to understand the present” with presentations from French and Ugandan paleontologists. Brigitte Senut, to whom we owe the discovery of the Ugandapithecus major cranium, has in particular presented the state of her research works in Uganda, surrounded by some members of her team, like Martin Pickford, Dominique Gommery and Joan Pouech, researcher at the Earth Museum. The following were also participating : Charles K. Twesigye, lecturer at the biology departement of Kyambogo University, Sarah Musalizi, museum curator at the National Museum of Kampala, Julius B. Lejju, lecturer at the biology department of Mbarara University and Joshua Lukaye, geochemist at the ministry of energy and of mines.
This panel discussion, brilliantly orchestrated by Dominique Gommery, provided the opportunity to highlight the results of the excavations done in Uganda over the last 30 years. A specific attention was given to climate change and its impact on the environment on a 20-million-year scale. Those results were the culmination of the study of sediments and fossils, whose conservation conditions are particularly remarkable in Uganda, making it a privileged searching site for paleontologists. Joshua Lukaye concluded by tackling the economic aspects of paleontological research in Uganda.
This event was thus able to strengthen the collaboration between scientists and raise the Ugandan public interest towards the conservation of its natural heritage.
The inauguration of an exhibition celebrating the France and Uganda scientific cooperation
Hon. Barbara Nekesa, Minister of state for Karamoja, and H.E Sophie Makame, Ambassador of France to Uganda, then proceeded to unveil an exhibition tracing the 30 years of paleontological research led by the half-French half-Ugandan team.
Mrs. Makame especially emphasized the importance of these research works for Uganda’s cultural and natural heritage and, in this regard, underscored the importance of developing tourism in the Karamoja region. She mentioned the Moroto Museum, whose aim is to sensitize the local communities and the general public about he richness of the karimojong cultural heritage and traditions.
The exhibition will remain open to the public until July 12th 2015.