Bakonjo Bamba


The Bakonzo who at time called the Banande or the Bayira belong to the Bantu ethnicity settling in the west of Uganda and the East of DRC. In Uganda, the Bakonzo are concentrated in districts of Kabarole, Kasese and Bundibugyo.

The Bakonzo are noted to be short in their physical outlook though they are continually losing their initial structure due to intermarriages with other people. The Bakonzo believe that Mount Rwenzori the famous Mountains of the moon belong to them and they live on its foot hills ensuring its adequate protection. The mountain which was originally called Rwenzururu in Konjo language was changed to the current term by the European explorer Henry Morton Stanley after failing to pronounce the local name.

The origin of the Bakonzo is not all that clear as a range of traditions contradict one another. One of the traditions assert that the Bakonzo are indigenous to the area where they are living today and believe that their ancestors emerged from one of the caves in Mount Rwenzori and then produced the entire descendants.

Another tradition of the Bakonzo origin asserts that transferred from the place near Lake Victoria formerly Nalubaale. The art works at Kasubi heritage site of Buganda Kingdom show that two clans escaped from the Buganda region and headed to the Rwenzori Mountains forming the community of the Konzo. This tradition mentions that the Bakonzo fled following a tough clash with the Baganda after they had made a clay boat for the Kabaka but unfortunately it broke while on water leaving many people dead.

Regarding the marriage, the Bakonzo attributed great concern to this social practice. The more women that were possessed by a man, the more respect he had in society as long as he catered for them which shows that the Bakonzo were polygamous people. The woman was not respected until she produced Children. The spouses were booked early enough by the boy’s family and the booking would be made when the boy undergone an initiation ceremony of adult hood. The father had the Authority to choose the husband of his daughter who had no choice at all and it was not strange for old men to marry young girls.

The marriage was not socially recognized until the bride wealth has been paid. The bride wealth included 12 goats, a digging stick and a hoe, animal skin locally known as Omukagha and local brew (Tonto).

Regarding divorce, it was not common for the Bakonzo to separate and any misunderstanding was a concern of the society. The elders in the community including the relatives gave considerable attention and teaching about family to the newly introduced couples. The event of divorce will then be reached by elders, brothers and sisters. Following divorce, the man was meant to give some property to the girl’s family to as symbol of separation and these were called engomoro. The y included a goat, a stool and a bark cloth piece. The girl’s family would then bring back the bride wealth and if they were not able, they would wait until she remarries and then they get the property to pay. The common causes of divorce included if the woman committed adultery, witchery, impotence, and intolerable behavior, dangerous diseases like leprosy & epilepsy and barrenness.

Regarding giving births, the Bakonzo would marry for the sake of producing children and expand the family. If the woman delayed to conceive, certain herbs were administered and if she failed completely, divorce would be named. During the woman’s labor, the husband would keep outside waiting for the response while the woman would keep inside the house along with other elderly women, friends and relatives. After birth, the relatives of the woman would organize food both cooked and uncooked the relatives of the man and goat was slaughtered and the section of it would be taken to the woman’s parents. This was locally referred to as Orekukundulha omulemba. If the twins were born and one of them died, the mother was not meant to cry and if it happened during the sowing season, the woman would plant in the upper side of the house to prevent poor yields. The twin parents were not supposed to quarrel when they were still breast feeding. If the twins were fighting, you were not supposed to stop or separate time, they would turn against you.