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Ajon: Local Brew that Unites Iteso People

Ajon Local Brew of Iteso

If you ask the Itesots of Uganda to host any social function, you can be sure that ajon or malwa will be on the menu. Indeed, whereas many other indigenous Ugandans are steadily upgrading to factory brewed beers and spirits, the Itesots (sometimes called Ateso) continue to sip their ajon with pride.

Itesots do not only love the taste of their locally brewed alcoholic drink, more of them have now mastered the art of brewing ajon compared to the past.

Consequently, even after centuries since the Itesots first brewed it, ajon is still considered a special drink in the districts of Soroti, Kumi, Kaberamaido and Katakwi which make up the Teso region and is spreading to other places like Kampala, Uganda’s capital. A peasant in Teso and a university professor from the Teso region both revere ajon equally.

It is said that around 1000 AD, while migrating southwards, the Nilotics (who include the Acholi, Langi, Ateso, Alur, Kumam and others) reached present day Karamoja. The older members of the group could not proceed and their youthful colleagues abandoned them and most of their herds of cattle, goats and sheep. Those who stayed came to be called the Karimojong from the word akarimojong (the tired ones).

The younger, energetic group (which came to be called the Itesot) took to cultivation in addition to animal rearing. Moses Emuron, a geography schoolteacher in Jinja, says that crops like groundnuts and millet quickly became staple food for the Itesot and with time, this group found another use for the millet. They made ajon.

Ajon still remains a premier drink among the Nilotics and one of the few surviving traditional alcoholic drinks in Uganda that have stood the test of time. Others are tonto in Buganda, Bunyoro, Tooro and some parts of Ankole and omuramba in Kigezi (among the Bakiga). Although tonto and omuramba are still brewed, they are served mostly at cultural functions where they are a pre-requisite.

On the other hand, ajon has resisted the radical modernization that is sweeping through the new Uganda. According to some Itesots, ajon is an affirmation of the sanctity of tradition in the face of modern day ‘civilization’ trends, as the drink is enjoyed by both the old and the young with pride. It is common to find a Ugandan district chairperson sharing a round of ajon with a group of locals.

Brewing ajon

If you thought that Africans were not civilized or had no scientific knowledge what so ever before they were visited by Europeans and Arabs, think again. Africans have used millet to make alcoholic drinks through complex processes for ages. For millet ajon, the process begins by mixing millet flour with water to make it smooth and solid. It is then buried underground for about a week to allow it to ferment.

After seven days of fermentation, the sour mass is recovered and roasted at very high temperatures until it turns black. This is followed by sun drying, which normally takes about two days. It is then put in a drum filled with water so that the bad stuff floats and is filtered off. At this stage, yeast is added for two consecutive days. This turns the sour mixture sweet, as though sugar has been added to it. After another couple of days, it is ready to serve.

Ajon made from maize flour goes through more or less the same process, the only difference being that fermentation is done in a bucket for about three days and then the flour is fried until it turns black, after which it is cooled and stored in a drum for two days. To serve ajon, the black powder is poured into a pot and hot water is added to it at intervals while the patrons drink with long straws from the same pot.

Anthony Eumait, a musician Teso says that whereas many other Ugandan communities’ parents sat by fireplaces to tell inspirational stories to their children in the past, families in Teso convened to sip ajon. Eumait adds that since hot water was added to the ajon pot regularly, there was no need for a family, clan or tribe to gather around a fireplace.

They instead gathered around one big pot of ajon, and would share it using a single drinking straw to show unity and closeness. “This was where tales and fables were told to motivate youngsters.”
Godfrey Mwanika, an Itesot living in Kampala, says that unlike some Bantu communities where people use individual calabashes to drink tonto, the Ateso and other Nilotic communities share a single pot of ajon no matter how small.

Susan Akurut, who has been brewing ajon in Jinja for over a decade, says that the drink has virtually remained unchanged over time, except for a few alterations (like the use of maize flour which is popular amongst the Bagishu and the use of numerous straws rather than a single one to control orally propagated diseases).

She also points out that ajon brewing has undergone some changes, especially among the Itesots who have migrated to the central region of Uganda where they form drinking associations. “Itesots with common interests come together and pay membership and subscription fees to facilitate their drinking groups. Different activities are undertaken, including the organization of group parties, renovating and giving a face-lift to their pub, among others.”

Akurut has another secret for you; “Ajon is no longer a preserve of communities originally from the northern and eastern regions of Uganda but a national drink, judging by the popularity it has gained in all regions of the country. Go to Mbarara (chiefly inhabited Banyankore), Rukungiri (mainly Bakiga and Bahororo), Masaka (mainly Baganda), Kampala (Uganda’s capital) and Jinja (mainly Basoga) and you will agree with me,” she boasts.

Indeed, Mama Muhumuza, a Munyankore, owns a malwa (ajon) pub in Kibuli, a Kampala suburb. Mama Muhumuza says she did not join the malwa business only for financial reasons but because she also loves the drink itself. “I have been drinking ajon since I was ten. A good childhood friend of mine, Betty Akello introduced me to drinking ajon,” she says.

Moses Emuron attributes this precedent to the presence of many people from the Teso region in Uganda’s security agencies, especially Uganda Police, who are deployed in other parts of Uganda and their love for ajon, regardless of where they live. “Anywhere you can find a police barracks, you will find several malwa pubs established nearby,” he explains.

Critics of ajon, however, shun it on health grounds. They cite half-boiled water as an ingredient. They also mention the possibility of disease transmission through sharing drinking straws and the bad shelter and sewage systems synonymous with most ajon pubs in Uganda.

It is not uncommon to meet drunkards urinating any where near their pub. Like most Ugandan bars of these times, virtually all ajon bars/pubs play very loud music, especially the Congolese Lingala genre, for patrons who turn to dancing when they become tipsy.

Top 10 Delicious Foods in Uganda

Uganda Chicken Luwombo

Uganda is East Africa’s food basket. This East African country grows a lot of food – from matooke in Central region to cereals in northern Uganda and Irish potatoes in South Western Uganda, Uganda has the richest diversity when it comes to food!

  1. Luwombo

Luwombo is a traditional Ugandan stew dish that is made from beef, mushrooms, chicken or fish steamed in banana leaves. It is both a royal and a fairly common dish cooked especially during the holidays. Luwombo is said to have been created in 1887 by the personal chef of Kabaka Mwanga, who ruled the kingdom of Buganda at the end of the 19th century. The dish consists of beef or chicken with vegetables wrapped in banana leaves and steamed to perfection with just the right amount of salt and spices. It is considered special for many reasons including the way it is presented; wrapped in leaves like a gift.

  1. Akaro or Millet

Historically, kalo is a delicacy among the ethnic agrarian tribes in the western part of Uganda including the Bakiga, Banyankole, Batooro and Banyoro as well as some tribes from eastern Uganda including the Bagwere.

In a family setting, the kalo is served differently especially in Ankole. There is a special basket (endiiro) used by the head of the family and other baskets for the rest of the family members. It is good to leave the kalo covered up for 10-15 minutes before serving so that it tastes tender. Some people will even pass it over their head before chewing it but they have to ensure they don’t allow it to get cold.

After mixing and squeezing the kalo into a dome, a basket matching the size of this dome is prepared. Raw flour is sprinkled onto the walls of the basket before the entire blob of kalo is hurled into the basket. The raw flour is meant to prevent the Kalo from sticking onto the basket’s walls.

It is cooked similar to posho but has a higher protein content and heavier taste.  It is dark brown in color and is called millet “bread” when mingled although the texture is sticking rather than bread like.  It is especially delicious served with peanut sauce containing smoked fish.  Millet flour can also be boiled in water for a nutritious porridge best served with milk and sugar.

Millet is a tiny bead shaped grain that must be husked then winnowed and finally stone ground after harvest; but first it is meticulously weeded. The Bagisu tribe has a saying if a task is particularly difficult – it is said to be “like weeding millet.”  Since the grain is dried on the ground after reaping, good millet should be sand free when cooked. Kalo is becoming ever more popular every day, not only for its beneficial nutrients but also due to the new craze in traditional foods. Other Ugandans are returning to eating traditional dishes under the guise of healthy feeding.

  1. Posho

Winning the gold medal for all time most favorite food of the majority of Ugandans is posho. It is similar to polenta in Italian cuisine.  It is not sweet or savory but instead takes on the flavor of whatever soup it is served with. Posho is made up of white corn flour mixed with boiling water until it becomes solid.  It is not easy to cook as it must be “mingled” thoroughly and becomes stiff while mixing.

This heavy food is prized for its “fill you up” ability and it doesn’t have to be peeled, washed, sorted or soaked like some other things.  Maize is relatively easy to grow and there are grinding mills in every village so people in Uganda prefer to grow their own corn and then have it into flour as needed.  The flour can also be obtained in large quantities already milled. No wonder it is used by all boarding schools as their main staple food.

  1. Chapatii

In almost every place where people are, there is a guy selling chapatti.  A dinner plate sized chapati usually sells for 500 Ugandan shillings. Chapattis are made from wheat flour, water, salt and sometimes a little baking powder. They are rolled out like a pastry crust but are more hardy and elastic in texture.  After frying in a cast iron skillet with a generous portion of oil they are thick and flaky.  They are sold wrapped in a bit of news paper or polythen bag so the person eating doesn’t have to wash their hands first. They can be eaten alone, with eggs or with bean and meat soup.  They are better hot but even cold are acceptable fare. Some families prepare chapattis for themselves. If you are on a road trip in Uganda chapattis are a must.

  1. Rice

Any special occasion demands rice.  It is grown in mostly in the eastern part of Uganda. People of Uganda prefer white rice simply boiled in salted water or fried with oil and onions then boiled in beef for a pilau type dish. Rice is difficult to grow and is harvested by hand; it is therefore too expensive to eat every day.  It is also very time consuming to sort. It is a delight to eat but rather labor intensive. A few kilos of rice make the perfect gift for any Ugandan host!

  1. Matooke

There are a variety of bananas in Uganda, some are used to make juice while others are for food.  Matooke is the type that is picked green and must be cooked.  It is usually steamed in its own leaves and must be eaten hot as it hardens quickly when cooled. At times, it is prepared in different ways mixed up with some soup like Gnuts.

It is very expensive and is only grown in certain areas of the country.  It takes a special skill to peel the bananas and this tends to be an indicator of a woman’s skills in general.  It is mashed after steaming and served hot. Like rice, Matooke is a must for every special occasion.

  1. cassava

The king of starchyness; cassava definitely needs to be prepared properly. It can become bitter if not cooked immediately after harvesting.  It has limited nutritional value but can be dried and pounded into flour to make porridge more filling.

A root that takes one to two years to grow, cassava is easy to harvest and grows well even in drought.  Cassava is considered a poor man’s food.  It is usually boiled in huge chunks and served with soup or can be sliced thinly and deep fried in oil for an added extravagance.  When diced and boiled with beans it is called “Katogo” and is very nice for lunch and some people rely on it for a hardy breakfast!

  1. Sweet Potatoes

These come in various colors on the outside but are usually white and yellow inside.  They are more hardy that the American yellow variety and do not fall apart or turn soggy when cooked.

They are grown in mounds of soil and are eaten shortly after harvest.  For the most part, they are peeled and boiled whole in water.  They are also good served with peanut sauce.  Their sweet taste contrasts the saltiness of pinto bean soup for an excellent combination.

  1. Irish Potatoes

This is what we just call potatoes.  They are very expensive and do not keep long in this climate.  They usually are russet type and are served simply boiled or fried in tomatoes after boiling.  Mashed potatoes would be very expensive due to the butter and milk required plus they are considered baby food.  French fries (or chips as they are called here) are served in larger restaurants but cannot be found in small towns.  They are not considered food but rather they fall under the snack category.

  1.  Katogo

A traditional and heavy breakfast dish that can be eaten during the day, katogo consists of fried plantains with soup and beef, beans, G-nuts spiced with vegetables. This meal is popular with Ugandans and often served as early as nine in the morning. Pumpkin is a vegetable although it is not usually prepared as soup.  It is usually cut into large pieces unpeeled and steamed.  It is served as a side dish.  Some are not true pumpkins but are a type of summer squash.  The seeds are soaked in salt water and roasted for a special treat.

Climbing Mount Elgon in Eastern Uganda

Mount Elgon of Uganda

Many travelers find Mountain Elgon an exciting alternative to the many more strenuous climbs in East Africa. It is one of the mountains easier to access throughout the year with no congestion of tourists and has many of the same attractions, with a milder climate and lower elevation.

Climbing the peaks requires no special equipment or technical experience for anyone interested in performing the activity. If you are looking to a mount Elgon Hike, this resource is important and worthy reading so that you can plan a perfect hiking trip in Uganda.

Best Hikes in Mount Elgon

The Sasa trail is the shortest route but hardest to reach the peaks, traversing the community land and allowing you to explore Bamasaba farming settlements and culture. The round trip takes four days and starts at Budadiri town at an elevation of 1,250m. The toughest climb of over 1,600m is completed on the first day, before crossing the park’s largest area of bamboo forest and passing Jackson’s Pool on the way to Wagagai Peak.

There is the Sipi trail and the climb starts at 2,050m at the Kapkwai Forest Exploration Centre. It is the longest trail to the peaks, passing through the northwestern mountainside through Tutum Cave to enter the caldera and reach Wagagai Peak. The trail begins gently, but becomes tougher on the third day from Kajeri Camp.

The Piswa trail is 49km round trip; it is long and the most gentle trail. Starting at the village of Kapkwata on the north side of the mountain, it traverses the soft wood plantation to the Podocarpus forest. It’s notable for its rich wildlife and spectacular views of the Karamoja plains in Uganda and the Nandi and Kapeguria hills in Kenya. The Piswa trail also passes the hot springs on the way to the caldera and the peaks.

When is the Best Time to Hike Mount Elgon

What to Pack for a Climbing Adventure

Best Tour Operators to Plan Your Hike

Best 10 Places to Have a Wedding in Uganda

Wedding in Uganda

We know that many of you are recently engaged or planning to have that romantic proposal! This means that plans for your wedding are underway and you will be looking for a perfect locale to have to say I Do.

There are many exotic, remote, and breathtaking locales in Uganda where you can get hitched.

So below we have shortlisted a list of some of the coolest, romantic and faraway places to have your weddings in Uganda.

1. Aoka Safari Lodge

If you’ve dreamed of a perfect wedding ceremony in Uganda, but the regular locales aren’t exactly what you picture for the backdrop, you have got to check out Apoka Safari Lodge.  A remote place – far away – blessed with a Magical  landscape, planes dotted with wildlife, a swimming pool carved out of a rock and filled with golden green grasses punctuated with craggy, rocky outcrops. We can’t go over the charm plus uniqueness of the place and know your guests will be truly captivated by the romance of the setting.

Truly a magical spot!

2. The Haven Jinja

It should come as no surprise that the Haven made our list of the coolest venues. The location is absolutely beautiful and unique with the view of the stunning first waterfall of the River Nile, it’s a place that we dream about on the daily! The accommodations are unique and very comfortable, perfect for photo-ops. Whether you’re tying the knot or thinking of traveling to Uganda for destination celebration, One thing’s for sure: this place won’t disappoint!

3. Rwakobo Rock

We can’t imagine a more unique and amazing location to tie the knot than a real rock! Rwakobo rock is conveniently located in Lake Mburo National park, With breathtaking views over the Savannah. We love how the fact that you can have Zebra’s as your guests- can you imagine that!!
Surely a one of a kind experience for both of you!

4. Birdnest at Lake Bunyonyi

Nope, you’re eyes are not deceiving you! What a beauty! This list wouldn’t be complete without Birdnest being mentioned. It is conveniently nestled on a peninsula on the showers of the scenic crater Lake Bunyonyi in Kigezi, a town famously referred to by Winston Churchhill as the Switzerland of Africa. It’s both beautiful and serene and would make a perfect backdrop for couples who want an unforgettable wedding

5. Wild Water Lodge

And the most breathtaking ceremony location? How about getting married at Wild Water Lodge overlooking one of the biggest rapids on the Mighty River Nile?!!!!. Wild Water Lodge is seriously an amazing as the photos.

6. Nyore Hillside Resort

With a stunning panoromic view, Nyore Hillside Retreat provides a scenic backdrop for saying I Do. Since it’s claim to fame is the beautiful surroundings, huts on a hillside overlooking a cattle valley, any style of wedding will feel right at home at this amazing place. We’ve visited several times and can attest to the great, nice atmosphere, The place has lovely self-contained huts and the meals offered at Nyore Hillside retreat will rejuvenate any couple or guests!

7. Bahai Temple Kampala

There is nothing prettier than a parkland wedding + that’s why Bahai Temple in Kampala made our list. Talk about the interesting piece of Architecture.
Your guests will be blown away upon arrival! We can’t can’t get enough of this stunning place.

8. Ishasha Wilderness Camp

If your venue vision points to a wilderness camp, Ishaha wilderness camp should definitely be on your list. The place is positioned by a river and offers a great experience to indulge in wildlife.

9. Sipi River Lodge

Sipi River Lodge would make an amazing backdrop for your big day! Located in Kapchorwa, the Lodge sits on the foothills of the Mt. Elgon and their gardens are ideal for a beautiful wedding. The falls which you view from the garden make a magical backdrop, We’re personally obsessed with this location!

10. Kyaninga Lodge

With the majestic Rwenzori mountain’s and magical crater lakes as a backdrop, Kyaninga Lodge is a fantastic place to tie the knot. The food is excellent and eco-friendly lodges sit on an unbelievable location at the top of the hills.

The Bahai Temple in Uganda Out Of Eight in The World

The Bahai Temple

Bahai temple is the dawning place of the praise of God. From miles away, a green pasture and majestic pillars can be seen on the hill, an iconic against the western horizon of Kampala. It is the mother Temple of the Bahai faith in Africa, out of only seven in the World. And just like the faith it represents, the Bahai temple is no ordinary house of worship.

There are eight Bahia Temples in the world with Mother Temple of Africa located in Uganda. During the rule of President Idi Amin the Bahai Faith was banned and the Bahai Hand of the Cause Enoch Olinga and his family were murdered.

Bahai temple sitting on 52 acres of land, the temple is a unique architectural master piece. It was designed by Charles Mason Remey, who was a prominent and controversial American Bahai and its foundation stone was laid in January 1958. A few meters from the Temple is the dormitory of the mausoleums which are themselves marvels of design.

Thousands of tourists from all corners of the world visit the Bahai temple every year to gaze and admire the beauty of this building with a breath taking view.

Built between 1958 and 1961 on Kikaaya hill, three miles North of Kampala the building is 130ft. its dome is a 44ft in diameter. It is a nine sided structure which represents oneness and unity.

The temple has a sitting capacity of over 600 people. The green dome is decorated with tiny mosaic tiles that were imported from Italy, while the roof tiles were imported from Belgium. The walls were built with the locally sourced pre-cast stones, while reinforcing steel, window frames and fittings were imported from the UK.

The colored glass came from Germany. Inside the temple are woolen carpets imported from Turkey and the interior will leave anyone in awe.

Community activities
The Bahai community of Uganda has sponsored a number of social and economic development programmes in Uganda aimed at promoting the welfare of the local communities.

The picturesque site.
The ambience here in serene. The sprawling gardens sitting on several acres are covered with beautiful flowers and trees. They are clean and well mowed, just a perfect site for a family.
Young people from the neighborhood sometimes come here to revise their books in the quite environment. Some of the trees in the gardens include Musizi, Mvule, Mahogany, Pine and Eucalyptus.

According to George Olinga, the Director of external affairs of the Bahai faith in Uganda, most of the trees were planted by the Bahai faithful in the 1950s. Also in the gardens are the Tombs where the Bahai faithful who die in Kampala are buried. Olinga says the law of the faith states that one should be buried within an hour after death.

One dies in Kampala and transporting the corpse to their ancestral home would take more than an hour, we bury them here, Olinga says. The graves come in all shapes and designs, the most notable being of Enoch Olinga, which is shaped like the map of Africa.
Massive Tourist Attraction.
On the day we visited Bahai Temple. The massive flow of tourists, most of the foreign, left us speechless. For two hours we spent there, over 40 tourists visited the place, many coming as far as India, Slovakia, USA, Sweden and UK. John, one of the Guides at the temple, says they receive over 80 tourists a day. Unfortunately, although the administration employs several Guides and laborers to maintain the place, tourists do not pay any coin to tour the place, hence missing out on some good money.

Not even the locals have been keen to tap into the opportunities as there are no artifacts or souvenirs sold near or around the Place. Olinga said the reason they do not charge any coin is because Bahai house of worship should be free to all people at all times regardless of race, background and religion.
History of The Baha’i Faith in Uganda

The Baha’i Faith was introduced in Uganda in August in 1951 by the arrival of Baha’is from Iran and the United Kingdom, which included Mr Musa and Mrs Samiyye Banani, Mr. Phillip Hainsworth, Mr.Ali and Mrs.Violette Nakhjavani and their daughter, Bahiyyih Nakhjavani. The first Local Spiritual Assembly, which is the local administrative council in the Baha’i Faith was formed by April 1952 and consisted of Mr and Mrs Banani, Mr.Ali and Mrs. Violette Nakhjavani, Mr. Phillip Hainsworth, Mr.Crispian Kajubbi who was the first Ugandan Baha’i, Mr.Fred Bigarwa, Mr.Peter Musoke, and Mr. Enoch Olinga.By October 1952, there was well over 100 Baha’is in Uganda from 15 different tribes and from Protestant, Catholic and other backgrounds.

By May 1954 the number had risen to well over 670 for the whole of Uganda, comprising of more than 20 different tribes. In 1953, pioneers from Uganda went on to spread the Baha’i Faith to other parts of Central Africa including the British Cameroons (Mr. Enoch Olinga), Belgian Congo (Current DRC) (Mr.Sam Mungono), and Congo Brazaville (Mr.Max Kanyerezi).The Intercontinental Conference for Africa held in 1958 This conference also marked the laying of the foundation stone for the Mother Temple of Africa on 26th January 1958 by Ruhiyyih Khanum and Musa Banani.

How Bahai Faith Began

The Baha’i Faith began in Persia. On May 23, 1844 a young man known as the Bab proclaimed Himself to be a Messenger of God. He told of one greater than Himself, a great world Teacher and revealer of the word of God who would come to bring in an age of peace for mankind. After five years of persecution, the Bab was martyred on July 9, 1850, in Tabriz, Persia. He was 31 years old. In 1863, Baha’u’llah declared to be the one foretold by the Bab and all the previous Prophets.

Like every Messenger of God, Baha’u’llah was bitterly opposed and persecuted. Like Abraham, He was exiled, like Moses, He was stoned, like Jesus, He was scourged. After nearly forty years of such suffering and imprisonment, Baha’u’llah passed away in exile on May 29, 1892, at the age of seventy five in the prison city of Akka. It was Akka which Isaiah had foretold would be a place of refuge for God’s creatures. Hosea too spoke of this valley as a ‘door of hope’ for humanity. By kabagambe Gerald

Matooke: Uganda’s National Food

Matooke the Staple Food of Uganda

Matooke is the staple food of Baganda, the most dominant tribe in Uganda. It is also widely eaten in several countries in East Africa; Central Uganda, Rwanda and parts of Northern Tanzania.

Bananas are a staple food crop in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania (Old East Africa) and other great lakes countries.They are also known as the Mutika/Lujugira subgroup.

Matooke is Buganda’s traditional  dish and one of the common foods in Uganda.The green plantains are peeled and cooked in water or steamed in banana leaves. Matooke is Buganda’s traditional dish and one of the most common foods in Uganda.  It also contains anti-oxide that can protect your body from damage.On the other hand,contains Vitamin B6 assists the body converting food into energy.It is good for heart,health and improves brain function. Other minerals in matooke includes; fibre, potassium, phosphorus, Zink, magnesium etc.

Earlier lone, East African Highland bananas were introduced early from Southeast Asia during the fifteenth to sixteenth centuries AD, probably via trade.They are genetically distinct from the other AAA cultivars having evolved from the African great-lakes region for over a millennium.They are found nowhere in the World,and the African great lakes has been called the secondary center of banana diversity,because of these,East African highland bananas are considered to be especially diverse in Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.

However, genetic analysis has revealed that all East African Highland bananas are genetically uniform,having most likely originated from a single ancestral clone(introduced to Africa within the past 2000 years) that underwent population expansion by negative propagation.

East African Highland bananas are so important as food crops,the local name ‘matooke'(or locally known as matooke) is synonymous for the word”food” in Uganda,also a portion of the East African.

Matooke Cultivation

Bananas are planted in holes dug by hands and provided spaces for easy growing.Mix rotten or compost tins with top soil and return into the hole.from there put the sucker in the middle of the hole and cover with the rest of the top fertile soil.With regular rainfall received, in the  given area where you planted the suckers, this will help them develop and grow well.

Therefore, the farmer is expected to look after his/her plantation regularly.

Weeding; spraying of glypphosate[round up] can help the banana plants grow easily      favorably.

A farmer can also use his hoe by digging and removing unwanted weeds from the garden so as to favor the bananas to grow well and faster.On the other hand,removal of male buds or [suckers] which also helps fruit development and increase bunch weight.

Male buds are removed from the banana plant to favor it bringing more yields.

Bunch covering,here the farmer uses dried banana leaves of the plants which is also economical and prevents the plant from direct exposure of the sunlight.

With time,the bunch will get heavily.So due to heavy weight of the bunch,the plant goes out of balance and the bearing plant may loose balance.This may lead to the affection of the quality.Therefore;a farmer should apply strong bamboo sticks and place them against the stem leaning sides so as to apply balance of the banana plant.

Harvesting, the farmer uses a knife or panga and cut in the middle of the stem bringing the bunch on the ground slowly to avoid the bunch from getting damaged thus preventing quality loss.

Food Preparation

Matooke are peeled using a knife,wrapped in the plant’s leaves(banana leaves) and set or placed in a cooking pot at the top of banana stalks under on the bottom filled with water.The Pot is then placed on a cooker or stove or charcoal-stove or wood-fire and then the food prepared (matooke) is steamed for a couple of hours.

Water is then added multiple times as a way of curbing overheating the cooking-pot.The stalks deep in the pot keeps the leaf wrapped fruits above the level of hot water.While uncooked, the matooke is white,and fairly hard;whereas;cooking turns it soft and yellow in color.

The Matooke is then mashed while still wrapped in the leaves and ofted served on a fresh banana leaf. Matooke is typically eaten with source made of vegetables ground peanut,or some type of meat.

In Uganda, matooke are commonly known of a usage popular breakfast locally known as “katogo”. This is commonly a combination of peeled bananas and peanuts or beef and goat meat in a common or regular manner.

Traditionally,the Baganda upon the right time of sharing the meal,they could gather and lay boiled banana leaves that wrapped the matooke. Seat on a ground dining sharing the meal deliciously.

East African Highland bananas are a sub-group that refers to about 200 individual banana cultivars(or clones). They can be sub-divided into five distinct groups of clones known as clone sets;

Mbidde or beer clone set

The mbidde clone set contains 14 cultivars. Mbidde refers to as “beer” and clones belonging to  this clone set are usually used for making ‘banana beer’. There pulp is bitter and astringent with sticky brown excretions.

Nakitembe clone set                                      

Nakabululu clone set

Nakabululu clones are soft textured and savory.They mature quickly,but their fruits are smaller and have lesser overall yield per bunch.

Musakala clone set

Musakala clones are characterized by slender fruits with bottled-necked tips.Other characteristics are the same as the preceding three clone sets.

Nfuuka clone set

Nfuuka clones are characterized by inflated,rounded or almost rectangular fruits with intermediate-shaped tips.The bunch shape is mainly rectangular.Other characteristics are the same as other clone sets.It is the most diverse of the five clone sets, a probable result of its tendency to mutate more frequently. They bear heavy compacted bunches and are thus more often exploited commercially than other clone sets.

Over various importance recorded from matooke includes curing skin disease.This is mostly common in puberty line stage of producing bad ordour (smelling). Water from removed from the cooking pot after steaming matooke(banana stalks and water).It may look at time grey or black in color, so a person here is expected to bathe or smear his/her body with this water. That is a natural special healer in regard with (Ebombo).

Economically;East African Highland bananas are one of the most important staple food crops in the African great lakes region. Particularly for Uganda,Kenya,Tanzania,Rwanda and Burundi.

Uganda is the second largest producer of matooke in the world.It is however,the smallest exporters due to the crops being much  more used internally or domestic consumption.

The East African Highland banana locally known as Mbidde is provides better different varieties as it gives out juice (Omubisi) and the same time its used in making beer.

Gorilla Habituation in Bwindi Forest

Gorillas in the Mist

Gorilla trekking is one of the top tourist activities in Uganda. It’s done in two destinations namely; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla national Park.  The two gorilla destinations are situated in far south western Uganda and can be accessed from Entebbe Airport via Masaka- Mbarara – Kabale (8-9hrs drive) or from Kigali Airport via Katuna border – Kisoro (3-4hrs) to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park or Bwindi impenetrable National Park.

Gorilla trekking is more dominant in Bwindi Impenetrable national Park than Mgahinga Gorilla National Park because BINP hosts many habituated gorilla families than MGNP with one.  The procedure of gorilla trekking is the same in both parks. The trek begins with briefing which is conducted at 6:30am at the park headquarters and thereafter at around 7am, guest walk into the jungles to look for gorillas.

Gorilla trekking requires average levels of fitness to every body above 15 years of age. Elders with no required fitness can be carried on stretchers (African ambulance) at an extra cost.  The guest must hire four or more porters to lift him/ her from the briefing point to the gorillas and back.

Uganda Gorilla trekking cost US$800 (FNR), US$700 (FR) or UGX250,000. However, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) revises tourist activities tariffs every after five years. Gorilla tourism earns Uganda a lot of foreign exchange because it’s a daily activity, all year round.

Gorilla trek is done in Rushaga Sector, Ruhija sector, Buhoma sector and Nkuringo sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. On the other hand, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park also offers exclusive gorilla trekking safaris in the Virunga Region.

Gorilla habituation process takes between 2-3years when gorilla experts visit a certain gorilla family for training aimed at making the gorillas familiar to human beings. Gorilla habituation is done until the gorilla family is fully trained. Thereafter, a gorilla family is officially launched for Gorilla trekking.

Gorilla Habituation process allows the trekkers to see gorillas for 4hrs compared to normal gorilla trekking at 1hr.  Tourists who are willing to pay US$1500 are allowed to go gorilla habituation with experts. During the trek, visitors are guided by the experts/ primatologists or game rangers to participate in gorilla habituation process.

Gorilla habituation process aimed at making gorillas get used to human beings. The end result is the promotion of gorilla tourism.


Malewa: A Bamboo Way to the Mugishu’s heart

Malewa - a Uique Gishu Treat

To the non-Bagisu, the word is malewa. However, the authentic Mugisu begs to differ; the word is in fact malewa or pluralised into Kamalewa. Yes, that is the food that has the Bagisu, a tribe found on the gentle slopes of Eastern Uganda. A tribe with roots is dug into the scenic slopes of Mount Elgon, where from this food sprouts.

Malewa is simply a bamboo shoot! Though it can be eaten fresh too, what mostly hits the market is the dried one. When fresh, it can be stir-fried into a stew and will have a cooked cucumber-like taste. But since the fresh one is almost hard to find, what we see is the dried one.

The unspoken rule for preparing the dried Malewa is to cook in a groundnut source and serve preferably with matooke (green bananas) or sweet potatoes. The cooking process is nothing complex really, as all it requires is water salt, and groundnut paste. But dare we say, this dried bamboo shoot is a delicacy that is imprinted in the Mugisu’s heart.

Dealers in this delicacy must comb the wild slopes of Mount Elgon and bare the steep hills to comb out these shoots. It is becoming harder and harder to do this as the population grows to make it even more precious. Forget that it looks like banana fibers, Malewa is a treasure to behold!


  • Wash and cut into small pieces
  • Boil in water and salt till soft
  • Add groundnut paste and simmer

Discover Mabira Forest

Mabira Tropical Rain Forest

If you are thinking of taking an ecotour to an exotic location, you should take a Uganda safari holiday to the Mabira Forest, a tropical rain forest home to vast flora and fauna. You may wonder what beauty Uganda has to even persuade the late Winston Churchill to name it the pearl of Africa. There are just a number of reasons as to why tourists opt to make safaris to this great nation. Among the reasons is the huge natural collection of trees confined in a place known as Mabira forest.

Mabira forest is a tropical rain forest located in Buikwe district between Jinja and Lugazi covering an area of about 300 square miles (30000 hectares, 74000 acres) and has been protected as a forest reserve (a home of many endangered species). If i talk about eco- tourism in Uganda, then believe me am talking about Mabira forest. It’s just the place to answer all your pending questions about Uganda’s nature. The word mabira or “amabira” meaning a series of many trees. The forest is under a community organization known as mabira forest integrated community organization (MAFICO).

There is an eco-tourism site located half a kilometer from the main highway after Najjembe trading Centre on a murrum road that leads you to the site.


Forest trees

Since it is a forest, what do you expect to first land your eyes on? Of course these are the trees. But when you look at them, they may seem alike but it’s just a collection of various species like the Cordia Millenii, Melilla Exclesa, and the Warbhugia Ugandenesis that are prominent for curing various infections.Some of these trees are medicinal plants and local herbalists frequent the forest to get medicine. There are also vulnerable Prunus Africana which is said to be a good healer of Prostate Cancer and boosting the Human Immune System, the common mahogany and Mivule can’t also miss your eyes. However, there are both hardwood and soft wood tree species and you can just be able to differiciate them with the help of an informed and professional site guide.

Spectacular Birds

If you only thought that a tropical rainforest like mabira can only harbor trees, then you are mistaken because you will be surprised to hear and see the beautiful singing birds on the trees. You won’t miss to have a watch of some of the 315 species of birds like the Nahan’s Francolin, Cassin Hawk Eagle, Forest Wood hoope, Purple throated Cuckoo, Tit Hylia, Red Headed Blue Bill, Black bellied Seed Cracker, Shining Blue Kingfisher, White bellied Kingfisher and Blue headed Crested Monarch .Some of these species can only be seen and viewed in this dark forest and nowhere else. These are all seen while on a nature walk with the company of a well trained guide.

Animal Species

Besides the above, you can also have yourself a look at the popular monkeys that are the most prominent ones to be seen among the 23 small mammal species in the forest. These are seen hunting for their prey, playing and swinging on the tress a way one can describe as appreciating your visit to their home stead.

Griffin Falls

As you are still trailing through the forest viewing the birds, trees, and animals, you may also get a nature call of the griffin falls, a small fall in the middle of the forest resulting into small water streams that peruse through the forest. Other attractions include butterflies cropping up to 218 species and the 97 species of moths.

Activities in the Forest

The forest is a condusive place for forest nature walks covering up to 68kms on well-designed trails. While on these walks, one gets an opportunity to watch the birds, animals and all other wonders with in the forest.

Mountain biking is also another magnificent sport with in the forest where you can ride on a mountain bike and explore the rugged terrain of the forest. However, you are advised to have experience and skills in the sport.

Environmental education and research that is mainly common among students specializing in environmental studies, tourism among other related conservation programs.

Camping and picnics, butterfly identification, primate watching are among the other activities one shouldn’t miss while at the forest.


This is also part of the experience in the forest because there are three bandas that can accommodate at least 10 people at the eco-tourism site near Najjembe trading center. Mabira forest lodge and rainforest lodge is also at your service.

Nsenene: Grasshoppers That are a Ugandan Delicacy

Nsenene Grasshoppers

There are several species of grasshoppers. In Uganda, there are grasshoppers that are locally known as “Nsenene,” in Luganda language that form a great delicacy. This food was first taken by the Baganda, the dominant tribe in the Central Region. Today Nsenene is a great delicacy even to the non Baganda.

They are a delicacy among many people in this East African country and when the season comes of age, this will be the most selling food on the Ugandan market.


They are bush crickets and many Uganda wait for their season especially in the rainy months. Nsenene- Grasshoppers are an excellent source of protein and scientist predict that we will all be eating insects in one form or another in the future!

Every day during the rainy season you will find roadside vendors with plastic tubs selling their harvest. The grasshoppers, when fried, turn from green to golden brown and give off an earthy aroma beloved by enthusiasts.

Grasshopper hunting has become a commercial activity in Uganda. Some rig bright lamps to attract the insects, which then crash into strategically placed sheets and slide into barrels where they are trapped overnight especially in places around Masaka and Nateete.

To prepare them, the wings, legs and antennae are plucked off while the insects are still alive. There is no slaughtering process, just pull the wings and feet using charcoals dust so that your fingers do not become oily, then fry them up and the feast is about to begin.

Cooked grasshoppers have high amounts of protein and fat, as well as significant amounts of dietary fibre.

Some people fry the insects with oil, onions and garlic, creating a distinctive scent that can be smelled meters away. Motorists park their vehicles and wait to be served the delicacy during the season.Even Ugandans abroad do make orders from Ugandans such that  the season does not go without them tasting the delicacy.

Ugandans in the central region love their Nsenene because it is a part of culture and tradition. There are also Ugandans that belong to the Nsenene clan and these plus their children are not supposed to eat the grasshoppers nor are they supposed to marry from a grasshopper clan. Some tribes in the westnile prohibit newly married women from eating grasshoppers for reasons best known to them.

I have tasted the grasshoppers myself but indeed are a delicacy when well prepared. The taste is just more than chicken! I really love the grasshoppers.

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