Many Uganda safari lovers have always been fascinated by the unique and diverse cultures that they encounter while on their Uganda wildlife safari or Uganda gorilla safari and this can be attributed to highly diverse society they encounter while on their safari Uganda since Uganda is home to over 60 unique and enticing tribes that are believed to have originated from numerous corners of the African continent.
Let’s try to sample a few cultural tribes and their origins
The Baganda; While on a Uganda safari / Uganda tour, you won’t fail to meet a person who claims to belong to the Baganda tribe. This isn’t entirely wrong because the Baganda tribe is the largest ethnic tribe in Uganda contributing over 16.9% of Uganda’s total population which stands at about 37 million as per the 2014 population census results. The Baganda people belong to the broader Bantu ethnic group which is composed of so many other tribes in Uganda such as the Banyankole, the Bakiga, Basoga, Bagisu, Batooro and many others which are believed by various history scholars to have originated from West Africa or the Congo basin. You are likely to meet many of the Bantu tribes just as those mentioned earlier by making a 1 day Kampala city tour or Kampala tour to meet the Baganda, 1 day Jinja source of the Nile tour to encounter the Basoga, 2 day Uganda chimpanzee safari to Kibale to meet the Batooro, 4 days Uganda wildlife safari to Queen Elizabeth & Lake Mburo or the 2 days Uganda safari to Lake Mburo to meet the Banyankole and 3 days Uganda gorilla trekking safari to Bwindi to meet the Bakiga
These belong to a bigger ethnic group called the Nilotics or River lake Nilotics. In Uganda the River lake Nilotics are composed of the Alur Acholi and the Japadhola and they can be collectively reffered to us the Luo tribes or speakers. These people are closely related to the Dinka and Nuer tribes of Southern Sudan and many schools of thoughts point out that the Luo of Uganda must have originated in the areas of Southern Sudan that are currently being occupied by the Dinka and Nuer. These people can be encountered during a 3 days Uganda wildlife safari to Murchison falls, 1 day Sipi falls tour
The other Karamajongs
The other group we can also look at is the Karamajongs, these belong to the Nilo Hamites group. The Nilo Hamites are also called the Plain Nilotes, this ethnic group comprises of the Karamajongs, Itesots, the Langi people, Kumam and the Kakwa. These people are predominantly cattle herders and basing on their oral history that is usually passed down to new generations through poems and songs, many scholars believe that these people could have migrated to Uganda from Mt. Otukei, also called Mt.Awil. They claim that they came from mountains which had abundant rain. This Land could be Kaffa and this presupposed indeed that the Langi originated form Abyssinia. If you would like to encounter the some of the Nilo Hamites tribes while on your Uganda safari tour, then you need to undertake a 3 days Uganda safari to Kidepo Valley National Park which is in the epic center of the Karamajong people, you can also think of undertaking an 8 day Uganda safari to Kidepo valley national park and Murchison falls which passes via Soroti for an epic encounter with Itesots then the Karamajongs enroute to Kidepo Valley National Park. The Nilo Hamites of Uganda are closely related to the Dodoth, Lotuko, Topsa, and Turkana some of which you can encounter when you make a Kenya safari to some of the Kenya wildlife safari destinations such as Masai Mara National Reserve, Nairobi National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park, Tsavo East National Park, Aberdares National Park and Amboseli National Park
Africans & marriage the two inseparable twins
Marriage is one of the most fascinating things that really make Africans stand out from the rest of the people around the world. In Africa, our great grands knew that our future strongly hinged on the next generation to be born. So in a bid to ensure that our future was certain, our parents did everything they could possibly do to have you married to the best spouse. For over centuries our lives right from birth are carefully modelled for marriage life because its such a point of mockery and scorn to you as a person and your family as well if you reach a marrying age but without having undertaken the proper required skills to make a marriage work. In a 7 part series I am going to take you on Uganda cultural safari journey looking at various ways of marriage in the different tribes of Uganda. Let’s kick start this series about marriage by looking at marriage among the Banyankole people.
A brief history of the Ankole people
The Banyankole are people who belong to the Ankole tribe which falls under the Bantu ethnic group. The Banyankole are further subdivided into the Bahima- these are cattle keepers and the Bairu –these are agriculturalists. Long ago, both the Bahima and the Bairu belonged to a kingdom of Ankole whose king was referred to as the Omugabe but in 1966 when the then president of Uganda Milton Obote abolished all cultural institutions in Uganda, the Ankole kingdom also suffered the same fate and until now it hasn’t been restored even though most of the other traditional institutions have been restored. As of the last census in Uganda of 2014, the Banyankole people are the 2nd largest group of people with an estimated population of 3.216 million people of which 2.6 million lived in the Ankole kingdom region. The Banyankole people are found in the western districts of Mbarara, Ntungamo, Ibanda, Kiruhura and Insingiro about 250km away from the capital city.
The road to marriage
Marriage was and is still up to now seen as an important institution among these people and when a child is born the parents will begin a mammoth tusk of having this child prepared for marriage right for a kinder age because it is a point of pride to the parents if their kids get married and have a successful marriage story. All children had to be appropriately brought up in preparation for this important stage of life. The boys had to be well groomed by their fathers and uncles on issues like how to build and rule a family, herding cattle, defending the homestead and providing for the family. For the girls they had to be groomed by their mothers but mostly their aunties who had to pass on all the techniques that a woman was supposed to have in order to manage their marital homes. The aunt was to ensure that the girl maintained her virginity until marriage and was aware of how to satisfy her husband’s to be sexual desires.
Marriage among the Banyankole isn’t a 1 or 2 part event but rather long process which involves quite a number of rituals and ceremonies before a man and a woman are really pronounced husband and wife. Although there was no courtship between a girl and a boy among the Banyankole, it was the father’s role to look for a bride for his son. When the father found a suitable partner for his son, he used a go through a person called Katerarume, Katerarume is a person who is well known by both the family of groom and bride to be. It was the Katerarume by the groom’s family to advance their wishes to the family of the potential bride to be and when the girl’s family accepted the proposal, the bridal price had to be agreed on by both families.
The art of bargaining for bride price
After the Katerarume successfully convincing the bride’s family of their interesting in having her hand in marriage, a day is set where few of the close relatives of the groom’s family visit the bride’s family and have a candid discussion about the bride price that was to be paid for the girl. Since these people are cattle keepers and are famous for their long horned cattle, bride price is usually determined in terms of heads of cattle. Usually, bride price ranges anywhere between 5-15 cows depending on the level of wealth of both the bride and groom’s families. After a really heated haggling, the families settle on an amicable number of cattle to be paid by the groom’s family.
Fetching the bride price.
Long ago, the bride’s family organized a group of elders and visited the groom’s family. This, therefore, required the groom’s family to organize a feast for the entourage of in laws that are visiting. After exchanging all pleasantries and having a meal. The in laws had to go the groom’s heard of cattle and pick out some of the best cattle from the groom’s kraal to be exchanged for bride as agreed during the processing of determining the bride price. The groom’s family had to transfer the cattle that were specifically picked out by the bride’s family and in case you decided to take to the cows which they didn’t pick that would cause the girl’s family to reject the cow’s brought by the groom’s family and sometimes call of the entire wedding since this was viewed as a sign of disrespect to them.
“Kuhingira” or the “give away ceremony” is the wedding ceremony among the Banyankole, this ceremony is organized at the grounds of the bride’s home and the entire community is invited to attend the girl’s send off and a great feast is organized to send off the bride. During the Kuhingira ceremony, the girl is veiled and she never shows are face to the public. The newly wedded couple (culturally wedded) is given a lot of gifts by various relatives of the bride’s as a way of ensuring that their daughter gets comfortable in her new marital home. In modern times, after the Kuhingira, the day after is a church wedding called “okugeitwa” and it is organized by the groom’s family. The wedding sees the bride who is still having her veiled and groom go to church to be officially wedded in the eyes of God as well. From the church, another feast is organized by the groom’s family at his home and this feast is expected to be bigger and better than the Kuhingira feast that was organized by the bride’s family because the groom has to show off his potential as an able provider to the bride. Long ago, on the night after the wedding the bride met his husband for the first time to consummate their love and usually the aunt to the bride would be in an adjacent room listening to prove that the both have what it takes to satisfy each other’s sexual desires or would check the beddings which they slept on to check for blood stains as a symbol to prove that her niece was still a virgin before marriage. However, this is no longer done in modern times as people have evolved away from that tradition. The next day, the bride returned to her parents house where she was now an unveiled for the whole world to see her face. After a few days the bride was escorted to her new marital home by a group of relatives called “enshangarizi”. The bride stayed in doors for a few days and at the end of these days a ritual by the agricultural Banyankole called “okukoza omuliro” which means “help her make a fire in the kitchen” was conducted then she officially became part of the family however the pastoral Banyankole carried out another ritual called “okutasya ekihara” which officially welcomed the bride to the her new family. Both these rituals symbolize that the bride has become part of the family and can now start full filling all her duties as a wife henceforth.
The end of the marriage ceremony only marks the beginning of a new chapter of life of adulthood among the newly wedded couple and now the future of the clan or family is bestowed onto them as they are required to produce children and prepare their kids for marriage just as their parents did so as to ensure the continuity of the family and the tribe at large hence meaning marriage cycle continues. Have you had a wonderful time exploring marriage among the Bayankole people? Then wait for our next series about marriage among the largest ethnic community in Uganda, the Baganda
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