• Tracing the Footprints of Entangled Narratives
    Anthony K. Wako

Anthony Wako, “Rasik Villa 1935 building along Iganga Road Jinja, Uganda,” 2021. Courtesy the author

From 1900, the growth of Jinja in Eastern Uganda was attributed to its establishment as a port on Lake Victoria, creating a convenient link to the East African coast via Kisumu. Upon completion of the Owen Falls Dam in 1953, Jinja grew to become Uganda’s preeminent industrial hub, only to later stagnate in the 1970s when Uganda’s economy collapsed, leaving the city abandoned. This vacuum left a substantial built heritage that has focused attention on Jinja as a site for conservation of twentieth-century architecture—comprised of remnants of convoluted narratives. This project documents the socio-cultural encounters of Jinja’s built heritage, a visible but hidden legacy of generations of immigrants from South Asia, many arriving as laborers between 1895 and 1901 to construct the famed Uganda Railway. The contribution of Asians to Uganda’s urban and architectural heritage is often talked about, but poorly documented, and this project seeks to rectify this oversight.

Anthony K. Wako is a lecturer in architecture at the Faculty of the Built Environment, Uganda Martyrs University. He holds a master's of architecture from the same university. His teaching tackles the intersection of architecture history, built heritage conservation, and climate-responsive design. Wako’s research interests include built heritage deliberations and their correlation with colonial and postcolonial narratives of East Africa. His noteworthy activity is the contribution towards the 2019 Cross-Cultural Foundation Uganda’s assessment of historic sites in Kampala, Entebbe, and Jinja. His research has been presented and published in international peer-reviewed conferences including the Passive Low-Energy Architecture 2020, WIT Transactions on The Built Environment (STREMAH) 2019 and 2021, and the Centre for Asian and Middle East Architecture (CAMEA) Adelaide Congress 2021.