Basoga Culture

The Basoga people live in the South east of Uganda and dwell in the area in between the Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga in the present day districts of Kamuli, Iganga and Jinja. Regarding the origins, the Basoga’s history is rather complicated than being clear. The Basoga are noted to have migrated from the north Katanga in the present day Democratic Republic of Congo between the 400 and 1000 AD. From 1250 and 1750, the migration and settlement of the Basoga was shaped by two (2) great cultural heroes namely Kintu and Mukama. The migrations and settlement around Lake Victoria are attached to Kintu who moved from the Mount Elgon area establishing the state in the areas near Lake Victoria before moving to the neighboring state Buganda in the west. The Basoga people also have an effect of the Luo migrations in the 1550 and 1700 period and these are associated with Mukama figure. Emanating from the east, Mukama moved west wards making a stop in Busoga where he produced several children before continuing to the state of Bunyoro. These migrations made Busoga to have various cultural zones with the area close to Lake Victoria dominated the Bantu and the north of Kyoga and the Mpologoma River dominated by the Luo.

Prior to the migrations of Kintu and mukama, the Basoga had considerable cultural cooperation and would cement this through inter-clan marriages and for over time it became a closer group living in harmony with the neighbors. The cultural relationships were also formulated though the traditional religious institutions that made Busoga to worship together. For example all people in Busoga would meet at the religious shrines built for the founding figures of Mukama and Kintu.

Also about the origins, there are three legends that attempt to explain the origin of the Basoga. The first one notes that there was a famous hunter called Mukuma who together with wife, two dogs and the followers came in from the east of Mount Elgon and passé through the present day Bugisu and Budama. The Mukuma had in possession eight (8) sons and during his stay in Busoga, he appointed them the rulers over varies provinces. Mukuma later proceeded to Bunyoro where he established a kingdom. He died of small pox a reason why the relatives of Mukuma do not look at a patient with small pox. Another legend noted that Mukuma only sent his sons to rule Busoga as there were no able leaders in Busoga.

busoga 2

The last legend talks of Kintu who is also thought to have come in from the east of Mount Elgon. He left his sons in Busoga before continuing to the neighboring Buganda. However, he later returned to Busoga settled at a place called Buswikira at Igombe in Bunya. It is the same place where he was buried and his tomb later became a rock which is worshiped by the some Basoga even up to today.

Regarding he language the Basoga speak Lusoga and it closely related with Luganda especially that one spoken by the Islanders of Ssese. Also there are various dialects of the Lusoga language which is difficult to reach agreement on the best way pronounce certain words. For example in the north thy use H while in the south, they do not consider it as part of Lusoga.

Also the Basoga were influenced by the Luo who were rulers of Bunyoro Kingdom. The Basoga followed some of the Luo customs including the extraction of sixth teeth in the lower jaw as adulthood initiation which was common among the Alur of the West Nile and Kenya’s Jaluo. The extremes regarding death also resemble those of Luo.

Regarding the land ownership, the land belonged to a clan and Mutaka the clan head was responsible for it. The land could not be owned by another clan and the member who has been granted land by the clan head be stripped of it. The non-clan member would be given opportunity to cultivate crops as a tenant (Mugiha) and that land would be removed from him if any member of the clan really wanted it. The Basoga were settled agriculturalists and had plenty of food and cattle.

Regarding the death and burial rites, when the chief was sick, few counts of people would be allowed to come close to him. The death could be held in secrecy until his cattle, wives, hoes, ivory and male slaves had been secured. Early in the morning an announcement would be made by the funeral officer (Mujwa) and it was then that the chief’s wives, herd’s men and other people would weep and kissed the corpse. There was no work that would be carried out including cooking or visiting. If there were other ordinary people who had died, they would wait until the chief’s rites are done. It was considered a taboo for any cock to crow in that period and no individual shaved until the rites are over. The older Chief’s wives would be gathered and put in the death hut for 7 days supporting the chief’s boy cross their feet. They were not supposed to touch food of any sort. Regarding the actual burial, the chief would be buried in the hut of his first wife along with some objects and his body would be facing their place of origin. The grave of the chief was deep around 10 meters. Prior to the burial, the body of the corpse would be washed by all the wives and anew bark cloth would be hanged in the door way of the hut. The butter would be smeared on the corpse and a large colored bead would be tied around his neck. In the county of Bugabula, a flayed cow hide piece would be taken form a cow sacrificed to the dead and would be laid at the fore head of the corpse. Things like bracelets, beads, beads would be tied in the legs and the arms of the corpse. The body would then be taken to the burial hut by the Bwagwa and would be paced in the grave but no earth would be put yet. The bullock would be tied on the hut’s door way and offered to the dead chief. The function would be extended to inaugurate the heir to the throne.


Regarding the burial of a family head, the all children would kiss the corpse as hey wailed loudly. The cooking would be prohibited that day. The grave could be dug in his own hut, courtyard or the garden. At the time of burial, the heir would be appointed. In case of a childless man, if he was a young man would be treated like an old man and if he was unmarried or a widower or married without children, a broom would be placed on the grave and words would be aired out that go straight away and never return to the world, you the childless one.

Regarding religion, the Basoga believes in the existence of a spirit world and called the Supreme Being Lubaale. There were human agents who operated as agents of Lubaale, minor gods or ancestors. They believed in existence of gods and semi gods. Below the Lubaale, there existed Mukama who was the creator of all things, Jingo a public god that attended to needs of the people, Bilungo and Nawandyo the god of plagues. Other gods included; Kitaka, Semanda and Gasani.

Regarding the political setting, the Basoga were organized into chiefdoms and paid allegiance to the Bunyoro Kingdom and later Buganda. Upon the death no a chief, the King of Bunyoro could be the first to break the news and would send funeral bark cloth and the requirements for the burial rites. On a range of occasions, the King of Bunyoro would appoint the heir or at times send the chief’s son who used to be at the King’s court in Bunyoro. However, after the coming of the British colonialists, the chiefdoms of Busoga were amalgamated to form the Busoga Lukiiko which was first headed by Semei Kakunguku a Muganda British Collaborator. After the end of his tenure, the Basoga maintained the arrangement and the title of Isebantu Kyabazinga was born and eventual Busoga settled for a centralized monarchy that it enjoys up to today.

Batwa Bambuti

The Batwa people are the ancient inhabitant of the forests of south western Uganda and regarded themselves as the keepers of the forest. The Batwa people lived in a harmonious state with the forests gathering plats for medicine and food. They complimented their survival with small game hunting. This tribe of hunter gatherer is known to have lived in the trees and caves of the equatorial Africa for over 60, 000 years or more.   With the gazettion of their dwelling places as protected to ensure the continued protection of mountain gorillas, the Batwa’ life started to change in 1992 after Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area had been gazetted.


The counts of the Batwa passed away in exile as they tried to cope up with life that they were not accustomed to. They were put to the forest margins and exposed to the life that they never understood. The society around stigmatized them which greatly affected their wellbeing.

The Batwa used bows and arrows to hunt most of their livelihood depended on natural resources. Physically they are short than an average person and were used to putting on animal skins. The Batwa gathered wild honey, made Bamboo Cups and a centralized chieftaincy where the famous Ngarama Cave in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park provides a center for their encounter.


The Batwa are keen dancers and do the jumping and rhythmic stomping which demonstrates passion and energy in their dancing area. They play an African hand harp that is made from wood an thin metal strands present a melodious music play.

Bunyoro Culture

The Banyoro people are living in the west of Uganda in the present day districts of Masindi, Hoima and Kibale. They are Bantu speaking community and just like the other Bantu community; they are known to have migrated from Congo.

The Banyoro belong to the centralized Monarchical Kingdom of Bunyoro Kitara and are organized under their King with the tittle Omukama. The Kingdom of Bunyoro Kitara is a remainder of the Bunyoro Kitara Empire which consisted of a broad expanse of the great lakes region including the parts of western Kenya, Eastern Congo and northern Tanzania and the present day Hoima, Masindi, Kasese, Kabarole and Kibale districts. The greater Kingdom was brought to a reduced figure that it stands today by the colonial forces after the fierce battle that occurred between the King Kabalega and the British colonial forces. King Kabalega was captured on 9th April 1899 and put to exile in Seychelles Islands. Following the capture of Kabalega, Bunyoro was left weakened socially, military and economically which affected their strength.

The present day Kingdom came into existence following the collapse of the Kitara Empire in the 16th Century. The initial founders are known to have been the Batembuzi who were later succeeded by the Bachwezi. At the helm of its expansion, the Kingdom extended to the area between Lake Victoria, Lake Albert and Lake Edward.

Bunyoro controlled the major holy shrines in the region and the lucrative Kibiro Salt Gardens on the shores of Lake Albert which has got high quality metallurgy in the region making a strong military Kingdom which was also economically empowered. Towards the ends of eighteenth century, the Kingdom began to collapse as a result of internal divisions. The Counties of Kooki and Budu were seized by Buganda, Toro departed in the 1830s while in the south Ankole and Rwanda were growing at a faster rate. After the death of King (Omukama) Kyebambe II, the period of instability followed and with the coming of the British colonialists and the fall of King Kabalega in 1899, Bunyoro was put under the governance of Buganda administrators. This was rejected by the Banyoro and in 1907, they revolted and in 1934 an agreement was signed with the British giving the Bunyoro back its autonomy.

Regarding the traditions, the Banyoro were polygamous people so long as one afforded it. It was a bit common to divorce and as thus marriages could not last. Bride Wealth payment was not so important and would be paid after several years in marriage. Premarital sex among the Banyoro was so common. The family had a head named Nyineka and the village would be led by an elected elder chosen by the elders of the village and he would be referred to as Omukuru w’ omugongo.

Regarding Birth, the bay would be named after a few months following his / her birth. The naming was always done by a close relative but the father would have the final say on the name to given to his child. Two names would be given and these included; a personal name and a tradition Mpako name. The name would at time be relating to the features of the child, circumstances surrounding the birth of the child or an ancestral name.

These pet names (Empaako) were used for greeting each other among the Banyoro and a re known to have been of Luo orign. They are eleven pet names with the twelth resrved for the King (Okali) tough it was not all that considered as empaako. The exact Empaako include; Adyeli, Abwoli, Araali, Atwooki, Akiiki, Abwoki, Bala, Apuuli and Acaali not firgetting the Amooti and Atenyi. During the greeting, when the greeting people were relatives, the young would sit on the laps of the old and among the Babito, the young would touch the elders chin with the fingers of the right hand following the greeting. The guests would be treated to coffee berries for chewing which were always kept in a small basket. After this, a tobacco pipe would be offered for those smoking.

The greeting of the King was different. The King if in his palace would sit in a certain advertised place a given time to enable his subjects that wanted to see him to come. The procedures for addressing the King could vary and there were more over 20 ways through which the King would be addressed at different times of the day. The women could kneel down and greet the King in a normal way and he would respond to them verbally.

bunyoro king

Regarding death, the Banyoro believed that death was a cause of the ghosts, evil magic among other things. The gossip was believed among the Banyoro to have a magical effect or harm the people. When the person passed away, the oldest woman in the family would do the body cleaning, hair and beard cutting and then close the eyes of the deceased. The body would then be left for the public to see the person for last time and the women and children were allowed to weep/cry but the men were not supposed to. If the dead was the family head, a mixture of grain ensigosigo would be out in his hand and his children would take a small part of the grain and eat it to pass on his magical powers. Following two days of mourning the body would be wrapped in a cloth a range of rites would be conducted and these rites were for the head of the family; For a man, the wrapping would be done in front of the house but for a woman, it would be done inside the house.

The nephew would take down the central pole of the hut and throw it in the middle of the compound. The nephew would also take the bow and the eating bowl of the deceased and throw it along with the pole. The fire place in the hut would be extinguished, the banana plant from the plantation of the family and a pot of water would be added on the pile, the family rooster had to be caught and put to death, the main bull of the family herd of cattle had to be prevented from mating and would be slaughtered and eaten through put the four days of mourning, the house of the departed would not be put to use again.   This bull would be slaughtered after four days and eaten.

The burial would be conducted in the morning or afternoon but not midday as it was believed to dangerous for the sun to shine direct in the grave, the women were required to minimize on their weeping as he body was being carried to the grave as it was forbidden to weep on the grave. The pregnant women would be barred from participating in the funeral as it was thought that negative forces of magic related to the burial would be too strong for the unborn child to survive. Following the burial, the family would shave off the hair and put it onto the grave and also all burial participants would wash themselves entirely as it was thought that negative forces of magic could harm the crops. If the deceased has a grudge with the living, the mouth and the anus would be sealed with clay to prevent the ghost from haunting the living.

Regarding the economy, the Banyoro carried out hunting especially big game hunting but apparently, they are more into crop cultivation including millet, cassava, bananas, cotton, yam, tobacco, coffee among others. With the coming of the foreign religion, the Banyoro are largely Christians.

bunyoro hunter

Regarding the political set up, the Banyoro had a King on top and ruled a hereditary monarchy. He was helped by chiefs that governed provinces and the council of the notables. The King was the Commander in Chief of the Armed forces and the provincial chief was the commander of the military unit attached in his province. The chief would send his favorite son the King’s court as a sign of allegiance. The leadership in Bunyoro was not restricted to men only. For example, the Nyakauma and Kogire the rulers of Busongora were women. King was assisted by a council of advisors locally referred to as Abajwara Nkondo (crown wearers made out of monkey skins). The Kingdom had a leadership school in Mwenge and the chiefs had to go through it. The Prime Minister was also of great importance in the Bunyoro Kingdom, the physician of the Baruli Clan, Kasoira Nyamumara of the Batwaire clan and a leading Mubitto were also notable people in the Kingdom.

Regarding the festivities, Bunyoro had the Empaango Ceremony which commemorated the new moon. The people would father at the Kings palace dancing the music played by local bands all jubilating for the Kin to have lived to see a new moon. The annual jubilation could extend to nine (9) days and would be celebrated at the Kings Mother enclosure. It used to take place in the dry season of December and January.


Iteso Culture

The Iteso live in the East of Uganda in the areas of Soroti and the Kumi. The other Iteso are in Tororo and Palisa. The political unrest that hit the area in the 1990s made many Iteso to stretch down to Iganga. The Iteso are a section of the Langi group which is believed to have originated from Abyssinia. The Iteso had settled on the shores of Lake Salisbury by 18th Century. Regarding the origin, the Iteso came in from the Abyssinia from Karamoja. However, the historians assert that the Iteso are part of the Nilo Hamitic group who share the common origins with the Karimojong, Langi, the Kumam and Jie.

Regarding the social set up, the clan among the Iteso was the basic political and the social set up. The clan was also judicial and administrative. Formerly the Iteso society had nine (9) Clans but a range of other clans eventually broke off from the nine. The clan was headed by Akolon ka Ateker. The clan head would be elected by the elders in a function named Airukorin. The person selected was mostly a person of courage, wisdom and impartiality. The exact inauguration ceremony included opening up a road which was deliberately blocked for two weeks. The person selected often acted as arbitrator in the event of disputes. The position initially wielded a lot of power but with coming of the British, it was reduced to a third grade Magistrate level and named Omusalatuo.

Regarding the dispute settlement, the leader of the clan would be assisted by a council of elders called Airabis Aurianet. The council handled cases of debts and murder. In the event of murder, the compensation could be effected and this was in form of a cow or a girl. During the inter clan settlements, the elders would come to the event well-armed and incase of uncompromising behavior on one side, the fight would eventually break out. Following the settlement of a dispute, a ceremony named epucit or aijuk would be performed and the bull would be extracted from the offending side, killed, roasted and eaten there and then. Thus was a symbol of gesture and renewed friendship between the two clans. The respective compensation of a girl or a cow would then be handed over. The girl would have a pin or ring put in her ear robe. If the girl was not aesthetically endowed, some cows would be added to supplement her value. After all this it would be assumed that the murder case was fully settled. For the cases of a bad debtor, the accused would be asked to pay the amount within the agreed period and if she refuted or defaulted, he would be caught and tied on a log until his clan came to his rescue after clearing the debts.

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Regarding he military organization, the Iteso had different age grades known as Aturio which formed the basis for military organization. The army was named Ajore while the war leader was named Arowok. Before the war declaration, the fortune teller (Amurwok) had to be consulted. If the fortune teller predicted success, then the declaration of the war would be reached upon with the general approval of the elders.

Regarding marriage, the Iteso Parents arranged marriage for their children even with the knowledge of these children. However, at times, the boy would consult the girl directly and if the girl consented, she would have to inform her mother and secretly move away to commence her life with the boy. When the clan mate of the girl learnt of this development, they would complain on how their daughter was being used and then arrangements would be made for the introduction. The bride wealth would then be agreed upon and delivered accordingly. After all the people have gathered, the boy would put a present on top of the table that was placed on top of it. The girl would then pick it if she was in love with the boy and accepted their marriage but she would refuse to pick it if she was not willing to get married to the boy. After the girls’ refusal all arrangements would come to an end.

After returning home, the boy’s delegation would inform the boy’s parent s of what happened and in case of consent then the bride wealth payments could be arranged. On day of selecting the bride wealth, it was fine for the girl to go to the boy’s family and welcome her own people as they come to select the bride wealth. When the cows have been seen, approved and selected, they would be taken to the girl’s family on the specified date and this was the very day that the girl would be escorted to the boy’s home to commerce her marriage life. Prior to entering the compound, the boy’s delegation that had brought the cows would ask for a hen to roast and then would be followed with lots of dancing, eating and drinking. After this, the entourage would escort the bride to her husband’s home. The journey was marked by dancing and rejoicing. The bride and other two girls would be left that the husbands home and the two girls would go back home after a month or so leaving the newly married couple to manage their lives.

Regarding the birth and naming, the Iteso had three typed of birth and these included; single child, twin and the spiritual birth. The first two were considered normal but the third one would be in form of air or water. It was believed that such a child would always manifest in a home in form of a cat or another animal of the sort. The naming of the children followed a certain formula including the circumstances that surrounded their birth or the conditions that the mother experienced while still in labor. The naming of the child could also be influenced by the seasons such as famine, drought or harvest. At time the child could be named basing on the day of the week or the time of his/her birth like morning, day or night. At times, it was also common for the child to be named after the ancestors as a sign of commemorating them.

A ritual function called etale would be conducted to initiate the child into the clan and after this function; he would be regarded as the member of the clan. Though the function was restricted to the clan members, some clans would allow other people to participate. The roads leading to the compound where the ceremony would be conducted would be lined with thrones to prevent other non-clan members from attending. The out siders would be prevented from attending in fear that they would cause harm to the child and the intruders were considered as evil and if caught would be beaten seriously or fined. The function involved lots of eating and drinking. The food served included millet which was not mixed with Cassava, unsalted peas along with groundnut paste and oil. They would also consume Cucumber species named akobokob along with simsim paste. The pot use was prohibited and the use of tubes while drinking. Calabashes only would be used to drink ajon. The fights and quarrels of any nature were prohibited and the offenders would be fined by bringing goats and hens. The function had a spiritual attachment as it was believed that failure to accomplish it would result into the maligning and the weakening of the child.

Regarding death, the Iteso never considered death as a normal consequence. It was attributed to spirits and witch craft. When the person passed on, the witch doctor would be consulted to ascertain the cause of death. The body would be washed in the court yard and would be wrapped in bark cloth locally known as abangut after which it was buried. The woman’s body would be placed facing the right while that of a man would face the left. The corpses would be buried with objects like needles or razorblades to prevent them from the cannibals who used the magic to extract the bodies from the grave. If the copse was buried with the needle and when called upon, it would say that it was busy mending its clothes and would thus not come out to be eaten by the cannibals.

Regarding the religion, the Iteso believed in a supreme King named Edeke. However, the Iteso were more engaged in ancestral spirits which were believed to be causes of bad luck if not given the considerable attention. Each family had a shrine where drinks and other offerings would be poured and placed to please the ancestors. Among the Iteso, it was a taboo for a woman to eat chicken. The clans had specific taboos which were mainly animals and were not permitted to eat them.

Regarding the entertainment, when the mother among the Iteso gave birth to twins, she would be called the mother of the many (toto idwe) and a special type of drum would be beaten and people would gather to dance to their best. There was another dance type named Akembe and it was normally organized by two boys who would then invite girls to join the company in some generally accepted place away from home.     It was a get together dance where the boys would spot their future spouses. At time, when the need necessitated, a special dance would be held in order to invoke the ancestors for consultation. The drum would be beaten and people would dance and in the process, some people would be possessed and start communicating to living in the voices of the ancestors.

Japadhola Culture

The Japadhola people thrive in the east of Uganda and are noted to have settled there in the mid-16th Century. The Japadhola people are enclosed by the Bantu group and the Nile-Hamites. Regarding the origin, the Japadhola have got a range of similar traditions like the Acholi, Alur and the Kenya’s Jaluo. It is note that the earliest migrants of the luo settled in the peninsular of Kaberamaido before being joined by the Luo from Pawir in Bunyoro. After that, other migrants from Teso, Busoga and Bugwere came in in the second half of the 18th Century pushing the Japadhola south wards and later to the east. They occupied the lands which was primarily vacant which helped them to maintain their culture free from foreign intrigue. And unlike the Bit- Luo who got assimilated in to Bantu setting, the Japadhola maintained a distinct Luo grouping the middle of the Nilo Hamitic and Bantu groups.

Regarding religion, the Japadhola has jok as their supreme king. The jok concept was later merged in to the belief of the Bantu named Were who was perceived as the chief of fertility to mankind. The traditions of the Japadhola indicate that they believed in Supreme Being named Were and physically Were was thought to be a white merciful and good being who had the power to manifest himself in a range of forms. The god of the courtyard named Were madiodiopo and was thought to be responsible for the defense of the family and the home. The god of wilderness named Othin was believed to guard and guide the Japadhola men while out for hunting, a journey or fighting. Every Japadhola home a shrine set up for Were and on the every side of the shrine there were two white feathers planted in the ground. As a practice, the family head would get up every morning and open the gate to the Were shrine to request him to bless the day and make it as white as the feathers. The person in the journey would also reach at Were’s shrine to ask for merciful and blissful journey. Apart from Were, the Japadhola believed in a cult named Bura and this thing is noted to be foreign to the Japadhola and it is believed to have been brought by Akure from Bugwere. However other traditions note that it was not Akullo but his Nephew Majanga who made a cult a universal institution among the Japadhola people. It was noted that it was under the leadership of Majanga that a range of Japadhola clans were brought together.

japadhola 2

Regarding Marriage, the Japadhola Parents would identify the girl for their son and then marriage arrangements would be entered to. The number of factors was considered in the selection of a wife including; the conduct, the physical strength, beauty and the relationship between the two families. The people to be married must be from different clans. After the girl identification, the parents of the boy would approach the girl’s parents and if they accepted, the girl would be earmarked as a form of engagement. The traditional method of effecting this among the Japadhola would be tying a ring on the finger of the girl or neck lace around her neck. Other aspirants would read between the lines that the girl was already engaged.

Alternatively, the boys would organize and carry the girl forcefully to the interested boy home for marriage. The boy would then go ahead and sleep with her and that would mean that the girl had become a wife. Arrangements would then be made to settle the issues with the parents of the girl. Regardless of the situation that the marriage had been conducted, bride price would be made. The parents of the boy would pay 5 cows, 6 goats, a knife, a cock, salt, meat and bark cloth. Seven confinement days in the hut would follow after the girl has been handed over to the boy or marriage. The girl would be fed on pea stew and after this time, the elders of the clan would assemble and the girl would be introduced to them. The Japadhola were polygamous people and could only be limited by age and bride wealth.

Regarding birth, the Japadhola woman during pregnancy would avoid certain wood types to lit fire or cook. The names of the snakes or the dead were not supposed to be mentioned at the presence of a pregnant woman. There was no other man that was supposed to pass behind the pregnant woman while seated except her husband. Because it was believed that it could cause a miscarriage or any other misfortune. The Japadhola woman would give birth in a hut in attendance of traditional mid-wives or her mother in law. Special banana leaves from specific banana Species would be used as bedding for the woman. After giving birth, the woman would be held in confinement for four (4) days for that sake of a female child and the 3 days in case of a male child. In the confinement days, the woman would bath only cold water mixed with herbs to better her health and that of the child. She would be fed on pew stew along with porridge as her initial meal every morning during the confinement days. If the born bay was a boy, goat and hen sacrifices would be offered to God in charge of fertility of women. Following the day’s of confinement, the child would be named and the grandfather of the child would the one to name him. The naming ceremony was a big feast marked by lots of drinking and eating as it was a way of accepting a child in the clan. The children would be given ancestral names and during the naming the ancestors would be evoked so as to accept the child in the clan. In case of twin birth, the father and the mother of the born twins would not leave the house for seven (7) consecutive days. The uncle of the twins would welcome them by offering the mother food, drinks along with other ritual gifts. No person would talk to the twin parents without offering gifts to them.

japadhola kongo brew

Regarding death, when a Japadhola died, the corpse would remain in the house for overnight. At night, a long drum would be played and the corpse would be bathed and wrapped in a bark cloth. A cow would be slaughtered near the grave so that it could go with the dead and feed him with milk in the world of the dead. The fire would be lit and people would remain seated outside until Kongo was brewed and a ceremony held that would mark the end of mourning.

Kakwa Culture

The Kakwa live in in the far north west of Uganda occupying the Koboko County in the district of Arua. The Katwa are plain Nilotic by ethnicity and thus they have the Cushitic descent. Regarding the origin, the Kakwa haave two theories. One of the traditions claims that the Kakwa’s ancestor in Uganda was Yeki who is thought to have migrated from Karobe Hill in the South of Sudan and settled on Mount Liru in Koboko west Nile. Yeki is known to have produced 7 sons and one of these sons was fond of biting his brothers and as a result he was nick named Kakwa ji which means biter. The descendants of his son adopted a plural form and became the Kakwa.

The other tradition notes that the Kakwa were initially from Kui and are known to have been fierce fighters who at times caused heavy losses on their enemies. As a result of this, the Kui then nick named themselves Kakwa since their fierce attacks were like a bite of a tooth. This is majorly accepted by the Kakwa in Koboko.

Basically, the Kakwa clans spread in the Koboko area which is part of Maracha and Aringa trace their origin to Loloyi though hardly can anyone tell what and where exactly Laloyi is. The Kakwa are connected to the Bari of Southern Sudan by language and as a result they are connected with the Mundari, Kuku, Pojuru, Karamojong and the Nyangwar. The another tradition in Koboko notes that the Kakwa ancestors came in from the direction of Ethiopia and though the tradition does not show which point that the Kakwa split from the Bari, the general conjecture is that they split in the east of the River Nile. And since they are plain Nilotic just like the Iteso and the Karimojong, the Kakwa might have split from the Bari at Kapoeta.


Regarding the political and social set up, the Kakwa had segmentary political institutions which had no centralized mode of governance. Every clan was politically independent and enjoyed maximum loyalty. The clan chief was the highest political officer and below him, there were clan elders called Temejik. These were mostly Sub clan heads and had close association with the chief like relatives. The Chief among the Kakwa was both a political figure and a maker of rain. The chief would simultaneously assume tittles as the chief of the rain and the chief of the land.

kakwa people 2

However, there were Kakwa clans that were not gifted by rain makers for example the Ludara Kakwa. These people assert that their ancestor was not from the rain making family. In such clans, the duties of the chief of the land and the chief of the rain were split and as a result the chief of the rain was entrusted in to the hands of another potential person who was not a chief. However, it would be rare to encounter a chief that did not make rain.

The Society of the Kakwa Matrilineal and the chief’s position was hereditary. However among the clans that had no rain making chiefs, the position of the chief was not hereditary. The clans that had no rain makers would borrow them from other clans but the borrowed rain maker wielded no political influence. He would just be paid by his service.

Regarding the societal arrangement, the Kakwa had no distinct class system but had lower and upper people. The people in lower category included; cattle herders, house servants and young children. These were looked after by the upper people and if the upper person looked after them very well, they would stay even after marriage. If the upper person failed to take good care of them, they would leave his home and look for another master.


Regarding the chieftaincy ship, the chief to be had to pass through a range of rituals; usually, the chief had a secret bead which would be passed to him from the ancestors and the chief would at times drop the bead in the food and call his sons to come and eat. The son who would discover the bead and give it to his father would be the successor. From that day on wards, the son would carry his father’s stool and chiefly stick wherever he went. The son would also be required to be keen in observing what his father used to do in preparation for his forth coming responsibilities. The elders of the clan had the powers to refuse the nominee from becoming the chief if it was known that he was an irresponsible person. Though this way was very common, other ways through which the chief would be got existed.

In situations where the chief had no son, the closet relatives would succeed him and if he died and left the potential successor when still young, a regent would be appointed to rule on his behalf until the child attains the leadership age. In the process of chief installation, the members of the clan would gather at the house of the chief named Kadina mata. The food and beer would be brought and customarily the elders would sit alone and invoke the blessings of the ancestors to enable the new Chief led his followers in prosperity and peace. Dancing and Rejoicing would then follow. The Chief was responsible for the protection of hunting grounds of the clan, advise the members to prevent heir cattle from grazing on the crops of other clans, shifting people to other areas in case of danger, negotiate for peace in case of aggression and defeat from the external forces. The chief would advised by the council of elders and if he had the rain making powers, he would not require the elders advise as he would considered to be far above other ordinary men no matter how old they would be. The Chief possessed no standing army but every chieftainship had a military leader named Jokwe. The Jokwe and the Chief would first consult elders and a ritual ceremony would be conducted to seek the ancestral intervention for ascertaining the military strength of an enemy. The ritual involved drawing a circle on the ground and the chicken would be tied at the center of it. The circle’s circumference was labeled in an alternate way with signs of either defeat or victory. The chicken in the center of the circle would then be slaughtered and if it died near the defeat, the chief would advise the whole clan to avoid going to war and would go ahead to negotiate for peace with the head of the rival clan. If the chicken died near the victory side, the clan would opt for war no matter how weak it was as it was believed that ancestral spirits would support them and claim victory. In some clans of the Kakwa, women would go to the battle field with their men. It was believed that killing a woman during the battle was against the ancestral interests. Thus, enemy fighters would avoid killing the women thus giving the other side an advantage. The women would cheer up their husbands during the fighting and could help to hide the causalities and the dead until the battle was over.


Regarding the Judicial system, the Kakwa settled disputes by use of clan elders and the most serious cases would be referred to the chief. The Kakwa allowed the women and children to attend. However, they were required to sit down and keep quiet unless they were consulted as witnesses. Some of the serious cases included adultery and the murder. If the man was found committing adultery, he would be put to death right away and no person would protest it. The thieves would also be killed. The murder of a person from a different clan brought an inter clan war and the murdered person would not be buried until the revenge has been made. However, if the person murdered a fellow clan’s man, he would not be killed. Howe would be required to pay compensation of a cow or 2. If the woman was thought to have poisoned the husband and then she denied it, she would be taken down the stream to prove her innocence. The clansmen of the woman and the husband’s relatives would also move down to the stream. The accused would be fed on jja or Kuru which are wild plant seeds and also required to consume plenty of water. If the woman was innocent, she was expected to vomit all the water but if she truly poisoned her husband, nothing would come out and her stomach would begin to swell. At this point, the relatives of the husband would kill her while her clans men looked on. If she vomited the water, her relatives would come out in her defense and compensation would be sought. Failure to do that would result into war between the two clans. The bull or a cow would be paid by relatives of the husband to help the woman regain her reputation ad would bring the order back again. If the couple was caught having extra marital sex, the man would be held captive until ransom is paid normally a cow or four goats. The man would at time be forced to marry the girl. However, such cases could not lead to war between the clans.

Regarding the economy, the Kakwa practiced subsistence agriculture and kept goats, cattle, and sheep. They also cultivated crops including sorghum and burusu bean Species. The men carried out most of the work including grazing, cultivation and building houses. Women usually carried out weeding and would also clean the harvests and store them in the granaries. The kakwa Women engaged in basket weaving, pottery and salt mining. The Kakwa extracted salt from a plant named morubo and bukuli. These plant types would be burnt and then ashes would be in a container with holes at the bottom. Then water would be poured on the ashes and the slat liquid would filter through the holes and would collect in another container at the bottom. The Nyangalia clan of the Kakwa people has specialty in making spears, iron smelting, hoes, knives and a range of iron implements. The Kakwa weighed their wealth on how many granaries of food one ad the livestock numbers in the Kraal.

Kumam Culture


The Kumam people are part of the Atekerin family along with the Iteso, Langi and the Karimojong. This group is often referred to as Nilo-Hamites and they live in the west of Teso and the south of Lango. In the Teso region, the Kumam are known to be living in the areas of Soroti, Kaberamaido and Serere. Though the Kumam speak the Luo dialect, their language is not Luo. It has a percentage of the Luo and the Ateso.

Regarding their origin, the Kumam are noted to have originated from the north east of Africa in the present day Ethiopia approximately 1600 AD. It is also alleged that the Kuma were originally the Iteso whop learnt Luo as a result of their close association with the Luo in the Mountains of Wila and Otukei. The Kumam share related customs and practices along with Iteso and the Langi including births and hunting. The Karimojong use the same phrase while referring to the Kumam, Langi and Iteso

Regarding the political arrangement, the Kumam had a loose political structure which had clan leaders referred to as Wegi Atekerin. The other remarkable of significance were dance group leaders named the Wegi ikodeta Cel and the Sonya jomes named wegi cel. These were at times the clan who descend from one man. The clan leaders were meant to maintain law and order along who general administration. They also adjudicated in the issues of political and social significance.

Regarding the social setting, the Kumam had element of the Iteso and the Langi communities though they were closer to the Iteso than the Langi because the langi were more subjected to the influence of the Luo.

Regarding Marriage, the parents could prepare marriages for their children. The young girls would be affiliated to the boys of whom they would be officially handed over to after maturing. As the changes started to come in, the boy would look for the preferred girl and sneak with her at night to his home. After a week, the relatives of the girl would embark on looking for her and at times they had prior knowledge of their daughter’s whereabouts. After discovering where she was, a fine would be extracted from the boy and the bride price arrangements would be considered and the marriage officially formalized. If the parents failed to trace the girl’s where about, she would come home at a certain time and tell them where she was and then the relatives would go the boy’s family negotiate the bride wealth and take them on the same day. The bride wealth among the Kumam was a little high with a revenge of twelve (12) to fifteen (15) cars. However, this number depended on how hard working the girl was.

soroti town
Soroti Town and Kumam youths at a function

Regarding pregnancy, the Kumam woman was not supposed to consume any animal intestines and after giving birth, a feast would be organized. If the new born was a boy, he would be given a spear and a girl would be given a calabash. The ritual was meant to protect the child against bad omens. The name given to the child depended on the prevailing circumstances at the time of birth or the parent’s experiences. The placenta and the umbilical cord would be buried under a big pot which was used for keeping water inside the house. This was meant to protect them from wizards and ill-wishers that might harm the health of the newly born and the mother. The twins were regarded as special and their respective rituals would be performed following their birth. The green vegetables would be prepared and the in laws from the side of the mother would be invited. The feat would then be organized with lots of dancing and eating. This ritual function was meant to initiate the twins in to the community.

Regarding death, the Kumam never believed in natural death and as such each death was attached to witch craft. Following one’s death, a lot of weeping and wailing would be expected and the burial would wait until the relatives have fully gathered and the mourning would go in for a week for the men and women. The Kumam believed the spirit of the deceased could not die and had the power to inflict harm on the living people. Thus, a shrine would be constructed for these ancestral spirits where they would be fed during their visit to the family. Before heading for a hunt or a long journey, one would pass by an ancestral shrine and pray for good fortune.

Regarding the economy, the Kumam show that they were pastoralists and reared cattle, sheep, goat and chicken. However with time, they have adopted cultivation practices and grow millet, sorghum and potatoes not forgetting beans and peas.   The land among the Kumam was owned communally and any member of the clan was free to use it. The women and children never owned land.

Langi Culture

The Langi people are known to belonging to the Lango family which consists of the Kumam, Iteso, Labwor, Karamajong and the Jle. The Langi are known to have originated from the Mount Otukei which is also referred to as Mount Awil and denote that they came from mountains that hard plenty of of rain. This land could be Kaffa and this traces the Langi to the Abyssinia – the present day Ethiopia. The original home land is north of Lake Turkana where they lived along with the Karimojong and the Jle. This shows that the Langi are also related with the Dodoth, Lotuko, Topsa and Turkana of Kenya. Along with the Kumam, Iteso and the Karimojong combine to form the Atekerin family in Uganda.

Regarding religion, the Langi believe in a supreme being called Jok who was considered to be a super being. The Jok- Lango was a specialist in diseases while Jok – Man controlled all demon possessions. Others included Jok – Atida and Jok – Orongo. The Langi people were not so much bothered by life after death and they believed that when someone died, the spirit did not die but went to the world of the dead. Nothing was known about the world of the dead but the souls which did unsatisfied with the relatives would ally with the evil Joggii to acquire more power after which they haunt those that they had grudges with. Every Langi family had an ancestral shrine be offered to appease the relevant Joggi. In case the family member was possessed by an evil spirit, a sheep would be killed to please the spirit and ceremony would be conducted to drive out the spirit out of the person. If the evil spirit refuses to get out, it was called Cen and the witch doctor would be contacted to come and drive it out. He would capture it into a calabash or a pot and unless it repented of the past malice, the object in which it was contained would be buried in a swamp and that would mark he end of it.

Durung the time of sowing, the Langi would invoke the blessings and powers of Jok in a ceremony called Rubo Koti meaning a mixture of seeds. The sacrifice of a sheep or chicken would be made. The throat could be striped and the blood would be allowed to drip into the seeds. The langi believed that without blood, the seeds would not germinate.

lira and lango

The Langi had a family Shrine called Abila and would be located in front of the home and was identified by specific plants. The shrine has a considerable degree of sacredness surrounding it. It was a considered a resting place for the ancestors ad it was also a place where the spears would be blessed after and before the hunt. The animal skulls killed during the hunt would be placed at the Abila unlike for the very elderly. The women were prohibited for changing anything placed in the Abila.

Regarding the community setting, the Langi lived in villages and the village would contain more than 100 huts which would be built in a line. The line of granaries was lined in front of the huts belonging to the particular families. The community cattle Kraal was also beyond them at a distance. If a person wanted to build on a new site, he would the chicken and beer to the new site and leave them thee for the count of two days. Upon his return and find that something had eaten the chicken and drunk the beer, he would definitely abandon the place as it was considered an ill omen. The Langi also feared building near swans or stony places for fear of evil spirits.

Regarding dressing, the Langi were not used to dressing clothes but had a lot of personal adornments. When they were still living in Karamoja, men would be completely naked. The langi would put on a skin. When they came into contact with the Acholi during their migrations and settlement, they altered their dress code and also dropped their Ateker language and spoke Luo. The Jo-Aber clan men were the first to put on goat skins. Regarding the personal adornments, the Langi girls would be tattooed both on the back and front while men were tattooed only in the back. The two lower teeth would be removed while the ears would be pierced to ten holes to accommodate gilo beads. The metallic ornaments were also worn on the nose and the upper lip. The piercing was sat times extend to tongue to accommodate the two beaded ornament. They wore a range of ornaments on their legs and arms and had a large quantity of bracelets which were both below and the above the knees and around their wrists and ankles. Their necks were also encased with lots of bracelets which would make it even stiff. The Langi women would be rubbed by sim sim on their heads and their hair would be twisted. Oil and Ghee was a common smearing element for both women and men..

Regarding the political set up, Lango was a segmentary society whose leadership revolved on the clan basis. The Chief (Rwot) controlled the entire clan and he would be helped by the council of elders. The council was responsible for general can administration and the maintenance of law and order with in the clans. He council would organize the payment of fines of fornication and adultery debts along with bride wealth. The council was also responsible for the distribution of th deceased’s property.

lira and lango

Regarding military, the Acholi had no standing military and all able bodied person were considered warriors and before the declaration of the war, a foreteller would be consulted to predict the outcomes of the war. If luck was proved, the old men would sit and place their hands on the warriors before setting off. The Olwendo leases would be put in the path that worriers would use to the fight ground as it was believed that it would add on the luck. The person who looted the war booty would retain it after the war the Langi would hold a ceremony where the ranks would be awarded. The worrier who killed an important person would be given Anuk and thus privileges would increase by adding tattoo marks in his left shoulder and the neck. The highest rank (Moi) was called Abwangor and during this function, a goat would be slaughtered and blood stripped on the warriors and then it would be stripped and the meat would be distributed accordingly.

Regarding the Judicial system, the Langi were rather harsh and the offender would be dealt with on spot by whoever got hold of them. For example, there was no answer if the man speared a fellow man after finding him sleeping with is wife. There was no case of man slaughter since the murderer would be killed if caught. Even the notorious thief would be killed by his own people. Usually after the intervention of the elders, the compensation for murder would be like goats, cows or a young girl. If the person who was killed was a man and the girl surrendered gave birth to a boy, she would be set free to return to his people. If the lady had proved good, she would be married to a young man and arrangements for bride wealth would take place. The murder victim used to be men since it was considered cowardly to kill a woman. In case if the woman killing the husband, she would be returned to her parents family and bride wealth would be refunded. Other cases in the Lango community included fornication and premarital pregnancies. In case of the boy impregnating a girl and the refuse to marry her and then the girl dies in Labor, the case would tantamount to murder. If she gave birth successfully, the child would remain on the side of the girl’s parents and would be redeemed when the boy married the girl.

Regarding the economy, the Langi were initially pastoralists who ate meat and would drink milk with a mixture of blood. They had a non-monetary economy and would barter goats, cattle, grains with the Acholi, the Labwor, Kuman and with the Arabs later. As they continued down to the Lake Kyoga shores, they discarded their pastoral economic setting. They grew crops including millet, (Okama), amola (hyptis species), atunuru ngor (pigeon peas), adura (eratocheca sesamoides), alao (crotalaria species), otigo (corchorous species) and okwer (a species of cucumber).

Ankole Culture

The Banyankore belong to the Bantu group and they inhabit the greater part of the south western region of Uganda comprising of districts of Kiruhura, Mbarara, Isingiro, Ntungamo, greater Bushenyi and the inhabitants of Rukungiri called the Banyarujumbura share the same traditions.

The name Ankole arouse from the Nkore Kingdom which was expanded by the British Colonialists to incorporate other smaller Kingdoms of Mporororo, Igara, Buhweju and Sheema.

The legends have it that the Banyankole originate from the common ancestor called Ruhanga who descended from heaven with the three sons namely Kakama, Kahima and Kairu. One day, their father out them to test in order to ascertain the heir and gave them three milk pots full of milk each for one person to put them on their laps thrugh out the night and that they would hand them over to him the next morning. During the night, Kairu fell asleep and all the milk flowed out of the milk pot leaving it empty, Kahima felt hungry and seeped on his milk while Kakama kept his milk and the milk pot intact till morning. In return their father Ruhanga declared Kakama would become a King and the heir to the throne, Kahima would look after his cattle while Kairu would become a cultivator. This legend explains the social setting in Ankole where there is Abakama – the rulers from the Bahinda lineage, the Bahima who are primarily pastoralists and the Bairu who are primary cultivators.

The Banyankole in general are in two categories namely the Bairu and the Bahima. These two groups carried out different roles as the former were cultivators while the later were pastoralists. However, the societal changes have taken place and both practice mixed farming though their traditional roles remain primary. Traditionally the two groups lived in harmony with barter exchanges where the Bahima acquired food stuffs and local brew from the Bairu acquired cattle products form the Bahima.

Banyankole Dance

Regarding the marriages, traditionally among the Banyankole, the couple would even reach the wedding day without knowing each other. The boy and the girl’s parents would organize the marriage for their children. The initiative was taken by the groom’s family and would send the envoy to learn more about the girl’s family. This was followed by the members of the groom’s family approaching the bride’s family to ask to be born in the family by offering them a wife that is when they have liked the bride’s family, relatives, clan and the customs. The bride’s family would also accept to give them their child or decline the request depending on the stature of the groom’s family that is the family history, relatives, clan and the traditions. From there, the bride wealth would be agreed upon and the cows are the commonly used. The number would be determined a range of factors including the wealth of the groom’s family, the groom himself that is if he has a defect on him they would definitely over charge him or if he was a Mwiru marrying from a Muhima he would pay some extra cows for buying his origin and this practice is locally called “Okugura obwiiru”. Determining the amount of the bride wealth was and still among the challenging thins in the Banyankole marriage process. In fact the numbers would be too much for the groom’s family and they would end up leaving the bride to any other potential suitor. After agreeing on the amount bride wealth, they will also agree on the date of choosing them locally known as Okujugisa. The members from the bride’s family including the bride’s brother would go to the groom’s home and then taken to the cattle herd to freely select the agreed bride cows. This was and still a challenging moment as the both sides do not want to lose. The bride’s family want to take the best while the groom’s family want to remain with their best and as a result it is a real war.


The two groups would even fail to reach agreement and marriage arrangements end there. However, the common practice was for the groom’s family to hide their most loved cows from the bride’s members but if they are unfortunate enough that the members from the bride’s family come across the hidden cows, the members from the bridal family would leave the rest and take those ones. After selection the preferred cows, the day is set when the groom’s family will bring them and they would be brought on the date agreed upon. This is locally called Okureta enjugano. The fire smoke would be lit in broad day to welcome the cows into the bride’s family amidst gathering of people including relatives, friends and neighbors. The groom’s family must carry with them a traditional singer / rapper (Omwevugyi) who would rap on their behalf pleading to the bride’s family to accept their bride wealth. After this event, the day for the giveaway would be set and the bride would be eventually given away to the groom to start up a family. During this process right from the start when the groom picks interest in the bride, the bride is kept inside the house, given plenty of milk and great care to ensure that she gains considerable size and looks most beautiful. This process is locally called “Okwarika”. This would even continue in the groom’s family for an extended period until she is taken back to her family to remove the veil and start performing some tasks at her newly joined family. The process of making her gain size before she gets married was done by her family to show the other side that their daughter is not hungry and has not been lacking milk and if the groom’s family take her they work hard to maintain her size or even surpass and when she is brought back to her family to remove the veil locally known as Okutasya ekihara, it would be an indirect evaluation of the mentioned. Another thing about the marriages of the Banyankole is that the girl could not be given out for marriage where elder sisters are still unmarried. The parents of the girl would conceal and giveaway the elder sister at the end and even of the groom eventually notices it after the wedding he was n not supposed to raise eye brows. The only option would be going back and marry the younger sister if he had the capacity to handle it.

Kyom on the hunt - Nina has the flower with which she will mark Tim

At the wedding ceremony, the girl who would actually be wild to go to the groom’s family, would be accompanied by her paternal Auntie who had a mission of ascertaining whether the two children were functioning properly in terms of sex and introducing the daughter to new family. Though shallow traditionists assert that the auntie would have sex with the groom to prove his manhood, it cannot be substantiated as at times the auntie would be an elderly person even of a similar age as that of the groom’s mum. It is put that the auntie would listen or watch the couple as they play sex to prove & advice accordingly. The auntie would also help the daughter on how to begin the home as the girl was supposed to a virgin. If the girl’s was found not virgin, a perforated coin or any other hollow object would be sent to the girl’s parents to extend the dissatisfaction from the groom’s family.

More about the Kinyankole marriage was an interesting practice called Okutera Oruhoko. This was a practice done by a male to marry a girl who had refused to marry him. The practice would prompt the hast preparation and marriage would then be effected immediately other than the normal long process. Among the Bairu, there were two ways; one was when the boy came running with the cock and throw it in the girl’s home and then run away. The girls family would rush to take the girls to the boy’s family as it was feared that nice it crowed when the girl was still at home, any family member would die instantly. Another means was to smear millet flour on the girl’s face. This would happen when the boy finds the girl grinding millet and then picks the flour from the winnowing tray where flour would be collected as it comes from the grinding stone. The boy would run away instantly and hast arrangements would be made to send the girl to the boy’s family in fear of death on the girls family.

In the Bahima, the practice of Okutera Oruhoko was carried out in three ways; the first one is that the boy would put a tethering rope around the girl’s neck and would thus pronounce in public that he had done it. Another form was to put a plant called Orwihura on the head of the girl and the last one was to sprinkle milk on the girls face while milking by the boy. The practice would only be possible if the boy and the groom hailed from different clans.

The Oruhoko practice was a bad practice and would be practiced by boys who had no alternatives. The boy would be revenged on when it came to the bride wealth. The bride’s family would double the bride price and the extra charges would not be returned the groom’s family even if the bride divorced.

About the births, woman giving birth for the firsts was and still sent to her parents and traditional brave women would give birth by themselves while others that failed, traditional mid wives were summoned especially old woman from the village. If the afterbirth failed to come out, the traditional herbal medicine would be administered to the woman and if it fails the husband was required to climb the housetop with a mortar and raise an alarm and then slide the mortar down form the top of the house.

The child would be named after the birth and normally after the days of confinement. The naming would be done by the father, grandfather, or the child’s mother and it would depend on the parent’s personal experience, the time of the child birth, the day of the week, the birth place or an ancestral name. In all, the father’s name would take precedence. Traditionally, the child belonged to the entire family, village and the clan but more intimately to the clan. The in laws of the woman would have sex with her and would even produce children with her and the children would face no problem in their upbringing. It would be hard if the father woman played sex with an outsider someone not related to the family.

Regarding death, the Banyankole believed that the death was a natural thing. It was always attributed to misfortune, sorcery and the negativity of the neighbors. The phrase Tihariho omufu otarogirwe loosely translated as there is nobody who dies without being be witched notes of their attachment of death to sorcery. The people concerned would consult the witch doctor about what killed their person. The dead body would stay in the house to wait for the respective friends and relatives to gather. The Bairu would burry in the plantation or in the compound while the Bahima would burry in the Kraal. The burial would take place in the afternoon and the bodies would face the east. The women were meant to lie on their left while men lied on their right. Following the burial, the women were accorded 3 days of mourning while men were according 4 days. The relatives, friends and neighbors would remain that the deceased’s home camping and sleeping there. In the neighborhood, no serious work would be carried out and it was feared the hailstorm would hit the area. The person who attempted to do that would be noted as a sorcerer and would be easily suspected to be responsible for the deceased’s death. However, the whole thing of not working in the neighborhood was meant to console the relatives of the deceased. If the dead was a family head, the leading bull (Engundu) would be killed and eaten throughout the mourning days. Other rituals would be practiced if the man was old and had grandchildren. If the deceased had a grudge with someone in the family, he was buried along with some objects to keep the spirit occupied so as to desist it from coming back to haunt the living. Special burials for the people who committed suicide were also arranged. The body would be cut off from the tree by a woman who had reached her menopause locally known as Enchurazaara and that the woman would be heavily fortified by charms as it was believed that anyone who cut the rope used during the suicide would also die. Traditions also show that the corpse of the person who committed suicide was not touched on and that a grave would be dug directly to where the body is hanging and after the rope would be cut and the body falls directly into the grave and buried. The tree would also be uprooted and burnt and the relatives of the deceased would not use any piece from it for fire wood.

The Spinster also had a special burial arrangement. The Spinster was sought to have died unsatisfied as she was not married. Thus in order to prevent this, one of the brothers was supposed to pretend making love with the corpse. This act is locally Okugyeza empango ahamutwe. The body would then be passed through the rear door and then buried. If the man (bachelor) passed on unmarried, he would be buried with a banana stem to occupy the space of the supposed wife. The body was also passed through the rear door.


The Banyankole also has a practice of blood brotherhood locally known as Okukora omukago. The ceremony involved in two people who sat on a mat close to each other and their legs would overlap. They would hold ejubwe grass and a sprout of omurinzi tree (erythina tomontosa) in their right hand. In Bairu, they could hold a sprout of omutoma (fig tree). The head of the event would make a small cut to the right of naval of the two men, the end of omurinzi tree and ejubwe grass would be dipped in the blood at the incision and put into the hands of each person. The master of ceremonies would make a small cut to the right of the naval of each man. The end of omurinzi tree and ejubwe grass were dipped in the blood on the incision and put into the hands of each person. The paties would then swallow at the same time. The blood brother hood could only be made by people from different clans as the people of the same clan were regarded as brothers. The blood brothers would treat each other with great respect and love till death.

Regarding the political setting, the Banyankole had a centralized system of governance it was headed by the King called Omugabe assisted by the Prime Minister called Enganzi and then there were provincial chiefs called Abakuru by’ ebyanga. Below these, there were Sub County and Parish chiefs that assisted in local affairs. The King’s position was hereditary and monarchical in nature and the Bahinda Clan were detained for this position, the lineage if the throne descends from Ruhinda an offspring of Wamala the last King of the Bachwezi and Njunaki. Whenever the King finished his race, the suitable heir would be coroneted and the time of burying him his wives would commit suicide or forced to do so as to be buried together. Some servants in the Royal Court would also commit suicide. The corpse of the King would be called Omuguta to differentiate from that of ordinary Munyankole which is called Omurambo. One would not mention that Omugabe afire but would mention that Omugabe ataahize because the King does not die. Ankole Kingdom suffered the 1966 Obote crisis when he abolished all the traditional Monarchs in Uganda and though other Kingdoms were restored with coming of National Resistance Movement under President Museveni, Ankole has been denied such a chance up to now. The King is there but with no Royal Regarding as the Royal Drum Bagyendanwa is in captivity at the Uganda National Museum.


The Royal Regalia of Ankole consisted of a spear and a drum Bagyendanwa which was made by the last King of the Bachwezi, Wamala and left to is son Ruhinda. It would only be beaten when the new King was being coroneted. The drum had its special hut and it was a taboo to shut its hut, had a burning fire that would only extinguished when the King dies, had its own cows and the attendant drums namely Nyakasheija, Kabembura, Eigura, Kooma and Njeru ya Buremba which was obtained from the Kingdom of Buzimba. omugabe Barigye

The Banyankole in the supreme creator Ruhanga the creator and was said to be above the clouds in heaven and was not noted to be the giver and maker of all things. However there were other cults followed at lower level named Emandwa and these were gods of different clans and families and would be approached when in need.

Regarding the economy the Banyankole kept the long horned cattle which were source of food, prestige and status in society. The Bahima had great attachment to the long horned cows and formed center of their lives. They could graze in morning up to the night time without returning home. The depended on milk, blood and meat for the food. The cow’s urine and dung was used for medicine. The Bairu practiced cultivation and they mostly grew millet and Cassava.

About the entertainment, the Banyankloe have their traditional performances called Ekitaguriro and the Bahima would swing their arms in the air imitating the horn of their cattle while the Bairu would hit the ground with their energetic feet to produce a vibrating sound. The Banyankole could also sing; (okweshongora) and rap (okwevuga).