Room 06: Moving Matters

Wall: Uganda


The movement of matter is integral to mining, whether gold flowing down a river or excavation by miners. People, ideas, technology, goods, and gold, are all highly mobile. In the wetlands of Busia and Buhweju, miners deploy rhythmic panning to move matter for a livelihood. In Buhweju, the excavation of gold is intimately bound to directing the movement of water. Use of banana fibers is ubiquitous for diverting and capturing small river channels. As well as for materials, bananas are the basis of local agriculture and a staple food for miners. Some mine sites on the hillslopes coexist with bananas. Where there is water, these sites may be transformed into artisanal distilleries for waragi, banana liqueur. In Busia, people have mined rich gold reserves for generations, more recently attracting new technology, innovation and finance. Change is not linear; many technologies and practices co-exist. ASMOs facilitate movement. Miners have travelled to Tanzania to learn and Tanzanian engineers have returned. This has led to innovation and to gold moving into new markets; some is sold internationally as ‘fairly traded’ or‘ecological’. All the while, this movement of matter transforms the local economy, society, and environment.

Next Wall:
Moving Matters
West Africa