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Tapioca “Bundu” the staple food for the Bakonzo tribe

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Bakonzo is one of the tribes of the ethnic groups of the Bantu people in western Uganda mostly in Kasese district that boarders with DRC on the West and South, Bushenyi district on south west then Kabarole district in the Northern ends.

The “Konzo” ethnic group is the largest majority among the other groups in Kasese district which has got over 14 tribes speaking different languages.

In this case it has dominated the whole of Kasese district to the extent that when you are up country and you talk of Bukonzo, then you will be referring to Kasese district.

They also live in parts of eastern DR Congo, Bundibugyo district, Bunyangabu district, Kabarole and some are spreading to Mubende district.

Other tribes in Kasese district where they live most are, Basongora, Banyabindi, Bakingwe, Batooro, Bagabo, Banyaruguru, Banyarwanda, Banyagwaki and Bakiga among others.

Though all these other tribes in the region are united by the accent of Ntu the Bakonzo Accent is Ndu e.g Omuntu for a Musongora then Omundu for Mukonzo. The Ndus originated from Congo Zaire and Congo Brazzaville where Bakonzo originated.

The staple food for Bakonzo is Obundu (tapioca) mixed with millet (obulho) and is more delicious when served with Sombe as sauce or any other meat sauce or fish.

Amazingly and unique Obundu is made from Cassava flour while sauce Sombe is prepared from Cassava leaves.

How to prepare the Tapioca meal “Obundu”.

Cassava is pealed and dried on sunshine for about a week then pounded to produce cassava flour that is poured into hot water on fire and then mingle it (there u may add in millet or first make porridge where you add in cassava flour) until it is formed solidly or thickened to be broken into small particles (boluses) to be swallowed after putting in sauce served on plates (ebibindi).

Should it be preparing for a small family, then a lady can prepare it but they are usually old women who prepare for the family because of their experience.

If it is for the function, then it’s prepared by men since it needs much energy on keeping rolling the mingling stick until it thickens to get formed.

Though prepared like any other tapioca meal, there is a norm that for a young lady to prepare Obundu must be on instruction and guidance by an old woman.

When the Bundu is about to be ready the saucepan is removed from the fire and put between the legs and step on its top besides where a serious mingling will be for about 10 minutes before it is served.

As earlier said, in parties and occasions the Bundu is prepared by powerful men commonly referred to as abalhume and also takes responsibility of serving.

According to one of the elders in the deep village of Kyampara in Mahango sub county in Kasese district, Mr. Christopher Mudembi Maghuru says in function, if the family where the function is taking places hold twins or have them in their clan, then before preparing the meal for the whole function, they first prepare that small meal to recognize their twins, if not then the Bundu may be prepared but when it comes to serving it will have deformed and thus unmanageable for swallowing. This is one of the ways of maintaining twin cultural norms in Bakonzo culture.

Mudembi added that twins are respected in culture language that even before planting crops for the season you need to first plant for the twins or else you won’t harvest much or even harvest nothing at the end.

Among other ethnics the tapioca bread is served in small decorated Baskets but for the case of the Bundu in Bakonzo is served on big local plate (Endemere) and must be eaten from one place.

Where the Obundu is served even if it’s a family of more than eight, will all press their hands and share on it.

In Bakonzo,  every meal whether other foods are available the Bundu must be served Breakfast, Lunch and super.

If a Mukonzo visits and is not served with Bundu and Sombe or with chicken then he will call it a loss or bad day because this is the recognized step food for the tribe.

Miss not on occasions.

At very occasion let it be cultural, wedding, introduction and anniversaries the bundu must be number one on the menu.

A function where the Obundu is not served say it’s an introduction or give away the Groom‘s men (Bakwe) may end up boycotting or ask for a fine for having been overlooked.

For this matter therefore visit Kasese district (Bakonzo tribe) and enjoy the delicious step food that even respected people feast on.

Bakonzo names and their meanings

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For every Mukonzo, the surname must tell the position in birth counting whether the child is the first, second, or third, up to the last born.

Who they are?

The Bakonzo, sometimes called Bayira or Banande, are a Bantu-speaking group of people in western

Uganda and eastern DR Congo. In Uganda, they are concentrated in Kasese and Bundibugyo districts.

Others live in Bunyangabu and Ntoroko districts. The Bakonzo are the subjects of Rwenzururu Kingdom, whose king is Charles Wesley Mumbere.

The Bakonzo name their children according to their order of birth.

IN SUMMARY

The number matters. According to Grandfather (sokulhu) Stifano Bwambale Murokole, a resident of Kakone village in Mahango subcounty in Kasese District and a veteran Kikonzo culture advisor in the Bahira clan, the names of the Bakonzo were given to boys in seven birth ranks, whereas those for female children are eight.

Culture.
Have you ever considered the origin of your name? Fred Stephen Bwambale of Enganzi news writes that for anyone schooled in the culture of the Bakonzo, it is easy to tell the order in which someone was born just by knowing that person’s name.

 “Birth ranks” in this regard, it is the order in which the children born of the same mother and father follow each other, ranging from the oldest to the youngest.

For every Mukonzo, the surname must tell whether the child is the first, second, or third born, up to the last born.

Some other names are given depending on the situation like war, famine or massacres at the time the bearer was born.

According to sokulhu Murokole, “The Bakonzo women have for a long time been among the most fertile in Africa. By the 1990s, some strong women were producing up to 16 children. Such a woman would have a chance to finish all the male and female names”.

He listed the names given to the boy children, from the first born, as; Baluku, Bwambale, Masereka, Kuule, Thembo, Mbusa and Ndungo.

The female names are Musoki or Masika , Biira, Kabugho, Mbambu, Ithungu, Kyakimwa, Nziabake and Bulhubasa.

“These names are not given without considering who was born before who. You cannot name your first born Masereka. This will be a disorder because Masereka is the third born male child,” Murokole said.

One must be wondering where the name “Mumbere”, which is sometimes mistaken for a king’s title because Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere is not mentioned in the order.

“Mumbere” is another name for “Baluku” (the first born male child). Others say “Kambere” to refer to the same person – Mumbere.

However, the same child can be named “Nzanzu” if both parents were virgins at the time they consummated their marriage. A first born female produced by such parents is named “Kanyere”.

Murokole further explains that “Kasoke” and “Musoki” are names for a first born who is male and female respectively, if the child’s paternal and maternal grandparents are still alive by the time he or she is born.

The first time the parents produce a child of a different sex from the first one, the child is named “Muhindo” if male or female, and “Mbindule” if female.

 Bakonzo names given depending on the situation at birth

“Bethubanji” is another meaningful name given to the first born who is able to see the same light with his or her parents’ grandparents. This means the baby has its grandparents alive at the same time their parents are also living. This child is referred to as “Akatsukulhu,” meaning a person who has two generational grandparents.

Much as death is something that everyone fears to associate with, the Bakonzo have names that tell that someone was born after the other child/children had died. If this person is male, he is named “Kibaya”, “Kyithi”, “Bisogho”, “Kamabu” or “Bisiika/Kyirere”, whereas females in that category are named

“Mutsuba”, “Kyabu” or “Bisiika” and other names like bahwere.

The twins are named according to their order of birth too. The first to come out is named “Nguru”, while the second is “Ndobya”. The child who follows twins is named “Kitsa”, followed by “Kamalha”. These apply to both sexes.

There are also situational names such as “Muthende” for a child born when boys had gone for a circumcision initiation ceremony, “Byerire” for one born during time of great harvest and many other proverbial names like Byanzira when one is born in along the way.

However, despite the unique way of naming children, this culture is facing extinction because of factors such as the modern campaign of family planning in which parents are encouraged to produce a number of children they can easily provide for.

Amos Bakalhania Kule, a resident of Kaberere in Kyondo Sub-county in Kasese District, attributes the fast extinction of some of the names to people drifting away from their culture by opting to copy names whose meaning they have no idea of.

“Our people are running away from their culture and that is why our culture is facing destruction. Why should someone copy a British or American name and make his child known by that imported name instead of popularizing the name Baluku, Bambale or Masika?” he wonders.

Amos said much as family planning is now necessary because of the prevailing economic situations and scarcity of land for production, it is important to preserve the culture by giving the few children the original names.

For Stifano Murokole, the Bakonzo naming culture will only persevere if all [birth ranks] children are produced and bear the names.

“It is not preserving when you produce five and give them the right names. What we need to do is to produce all the children because these names were given by our ancestors for a reason,” Murokole suggested.

Fr. Balinandi Kambale Raphael of Kasese Diocese, also a Lhukonzo literature author, said the Bakonzo women are still fertile to fulfill God’s command to “produce and subdue the world”.

“It is poverty that forces the people to produce few children but it is also ignorance of culture that they are not giving those few their real names. The women are still fertile and if possible, they should produce all [birth ranks] the children to fill these names,” said the priest, who also teaches Lhukonzo language and culture on local radio station Kasese Guide Radio every Tuesday.

He said very soon, he will release a book giving the names of the Bakonzo, with their meanings with the hope the young generation will understand and use them to make the culture consistent.

Rwenzururu kingdom speaks out:

The prime ministerial commission Rt. Hon Guardi Mbayahi, is another man disturbed by the near extinction of some of the names of the Bakonzo.

He said copying other names from the neighboring ethnicities is “poisonous to our culture,” adding that children need to be named according to their birth ranks.

“People are copying names of our brothers the Banyankole and directly translate them to name their children. The Bakonzo have not been having names such as “Lwanzu”, which is from Rukundo,

“Athwanzire” from Natukunda and “Apipawe” from Ahimbisiibwe among the Banyankole. These names are fronted by parents ahead of the birth rank names such as Baluku, Thembo and Mbusa,” he said.

 

The OBR premier also said the kingdom cabinet has already deliberated on this growing concern with a view of officially writing to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to advise on how to preserve the names.

“The cabinet has already discussed this concern. As Bakonzo, we have a unique culture worldwide because we are well named according to our birth ranks. We need Unesco to help preserve this culture that is now threatened,” Rt. Hon Guardi lamented.

There are fears that with the names of the Bakonzo being ignored by parents while naming children that the 14 clans may also be at the brink of not being cherished.

Each clan among the Bakonzo has a totem and “fake enemy”. The “fake enemy” is another clan that is jokingly an enemy of the other.

For instance, the Bathanji clan members will joke that “Balegha bahwere” (the Balegha clan is finished) when they see a new moon. These jokes, elders say, were used to make the young ones understand their clans better. The Bakonzo clans that give the same names are Abakira, Abasu, Abahambu, Abahira,

Abaswagha, Ababinga, Abathanji, Abaseru, Abanyisanza, Abalegha, Abahinda, Abakunda, Abalumba,

Abasongora (not the cattle keepers’ tribe).

The Connotation of the Independence Monument

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For over five decades ever since Uganda got its Independence, the independence monument has imposingly stood height of 6 meters at the heart of the capital between the Sheraton Kampala Hotel, Grand Imperial Hotel and Stan-Chart bank whilst staring down at the Grand Imperial Hotel to the right and Standard Chartered Bank to the left.

It is one of the most distinctive landmark of Uganda, a work of art that shows a woman with wrapping all over her body standing firmly on the ground with her legs slightly parted while hoisting a child in the air. The child looks like a little boy with his hands raised in victory. This signifies a new born country let free from colonialism and bondages.

This was the work of Gregory Maloba, a Luhya sculptor from Kenya who studied and taught art at Makerere University from 1939- 1965. He executed this work using from cement, sand, iron bars and wire mesh in the months towards the day of Uganda’s Independence, October 9, 1962. Gregory Maloba was one of the better-known artists then with a well-documented track record in art at that time. Gregory was assisted by John Kisaka, one of his graduate students, now a retired teacher.

It is said that this monument was deemed incomplete as the initial sketch had two human figures at each side, each playing a trumpet, perhaps as a sign of jubilation. Despite this, the Independence monument turned out to be of much artistic and symbolic significance to Uganda.

In time for the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the Independence Monument was revamped and the wall behind it painted with a few stripes of the Uganda Flag colors.

The Independence monument is a must see if you are travelling to Kampala. With the beautification around the monument, you need to carry your camera for the memorable capture of the sight. This is among Kampala’s top Attractions and best sight when doing city walks

BUGANDA TRADITIONAL WEAR

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Clothing is part of culture because it defines who people are. A Muganda woman typically wears a gomesi. This is a floor-length, brightly colored cloth dress with a square neckline and short, puffed sleeves.

The first Gomesi was made of bark cloth however today they come in materials such as silk, cotton and other fabrics. A gomesi is not a single clothing but rather one that is accompanied with several garments to make it whole like the Kikoy which is an undergarment that is worn to add weight.

The garment is fastened with a sash traditionally known as a kitambala placed around waist over the hips, and two buttons on the left side of the neckline.

The indigenous dress of the Baganda man is a kanzu, a masculine outfit looks similar to a tunic and is mostly composed of a white or cream fabric. It’s made from silk, cotton, poplin, or linen. Linen kanzus are the most expensive.

The Kanzu unlike other specific attires cuts across several tribes and almost all ugandan men wear it during cultural functions. The Kanzu has a make of a dress and the men usually wear trousers beneath it plus a coat over their shoulders to match with it.

Traditionally, the busuuti was strapless and made from bark-cloth. The busuuti is worn on all festive and ceremonial occasions like introduction parties, giveaways, coronation ceremonies .

The Significance of the Gomesi and Kanzu is to promote decency and respect in public. Different tribes around Uganda and world wide have a adopted this traditional wear. The Gomesi and Kanzus are easily customized into different designs and colors as preferred by different individuals.

Put in mind that when wearing these traditional cloth that you have to be gracious. Men ought not to hold the kanzu when walking to avoid it from touching the ground. Never let the under garment be seen. And never alter the traditional design of the gomesi or kanzu because it ceases to be the known traditional wear.

These traditional outfits can be bought from shops in the city centre of Kampala at places like; Mukwano Arcade, Kiyembe shopping centre, Craft village and several shops around Kampala town.

In order to own one, you’ve got to buy a material of your preference, then take it for measurements to a tailor who then sews it into a Gomesi but for a Kanzu, the gentleman has to fit in to find the perfect size and height of it. The Busuutis are quite affordable but the material you want will determine how much you will have to spend.

Matooke A Creative Produce

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Matooke is usually harvested green, carefully peeled and then cooked and often mashed or pounded into a meal. In Uganda and Rwanda (where matooke is a national dish for both countries), matooke is steam-cooked, and the mashed meal. The Baganda a tribe in Uganda pride themselves in making the best matoke dishes.

Matooke can also be taken as a breakfast dish called Katogo that is cooked together with different sauces like beef, beans, offals, goat and whatever choice is preferred. In this method, the matooke are not smashed and also eliminates the need of preparing a separate sauce.

The matooke produce has been creatively advanced these days to variety of products. These include

  1. Gonja crisps. These are sliced and fried ti they become crispy and are eaten as snacks
  2. Instant Porridge. All you need is a cup or bowl and water to stir and you have your porridge ready to eat.
  3. Flour. The ingredient can be added to your recipe to bake or make your favorite bread rolls, buns, fruit rolls among otheres
  4. Gonja. This is when a type of selected ripe bananas are heated directly or fried known to be a road side delicacy and served at restaurants
  5. Pan cakes. The ripe bananas are mixed with flour shaped into a circle to create this sweet simple snack.

With the right preparation, you can not go wrong with the different recipes matooke has to offer. Enjoy!

WHITE WATER RUSH – JINJA, UGANDA

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From a truth or dare game, I was dared to go rafting on the White Nile.

“How hard could it be?” I said to myself then. That weekend my friend and I set off from the suburbs of Kampala city by bus to Jinja.

We got to Jinja by mid-morning. There were different kinds of people. You could tell the nervousness in folks that were going to go rafting the first time. For folks that had done it before, they were thrilled to be at it again. I was a little bit of both; thrilled yet nervous at the same time.

After picking up life jackets, paddles and helmets provided; a crash course on safety precautions were laid out for us. We formed teams and with our captain assigned, we set off to size up with our first rapid. The rapids were of different levels , that’s to say the higher the number the meaner the rapid.

Over time we bounced and shimmed a lot, we spent more time in the air than sitting on inflatable rubber. A level three rapid which was high for us the unprofessional rafters caught us swiftly; trying as hard as we could to adhere to our captain’s instructions, the raft eventually overturned and we were all submerged by roaring white water.

Luckily our life jackets pushed us afloat and the stationed kayaks that paddled fast to our rescue where good at their jobs. We were soon reunited with our raft.

With scenery of beautiful green forest, it felt like being alone in the wilderness. We paddled further across the White Nile to a designated location where we had lunch and talked about our white water rush experience felt few moments ago.

If you are searching for a sense of excitement and adventure, adrenaline push experiences to share, Jinja is certainly a good start.

By Bridget Namaganda

The Beautiful Bahai Temple in Uganda Out Of Eight In The World.

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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

Empaako Ceremony, Origin and meaning.

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Empaako is a naming system practiced by the Batooro, Banyoro, Banyamwenge, Banyakyaka ,Batuku, Batagwenda and Banyabindi from western part of Uganda whereby children are given one of eleven pet-names shared across the communities in addition to their given and family names.

Addressing a person by her or his Empaako name is a positive affirmation of social ties. It can be used as a greeting or a declaration of affection, respect, honour or love. Use of Empaako can defuse tension or anger and sends a strong message about social identity and unity, peace and reconciliation.

Several districts in greater Ruwenzori ie Kyegwegwa, Kyenjojo, Kabarole, Ntoroko, Kamwenge, Kasese among others proudly use these pet-names.

When Empaako is conducted.
This ceremony is done when there is a newly born baby in a family. It is normally conducted after 3days for a baby girl and 4 days baby boy after birth.

It is also conducted when someone crosses from another tribe to Tooro culture and this is done as hospitality or when a mutooro son or daughter marries
from another tribe

Who performs the ceremony?
According to tradition pet names are decided upon by the parents of the child. Originally when a baby was born in Tooro, it was given a Kitooro name.
And this naming of Empaako in Rutooro language is called “kuhaka omuntu” Empaako is given at a naming ceremony performed in the home and presided over by the clan head.

Here the paternal aunts receive the baby and examine its features. Any resemblance to existing relatives forms the basis of the choice of name. The clan head then declares the name to the child.

After naming the child, family members with invited guests share a meal of millet and smoked beef (omukaro)and then tradition songs follow.

After food is being shared family members and friends present their gifts to the baby and a tree is planted in its honor.

The transmission of Empaako through naming rituals has dropped due to inter-marriages and it’s diminishing because of lack of the elders to
teach their children their mother language and cultural norms.

Some of the elders say that there are no longer extended families and family/clan meetings where they used to seat and tell their children
such information regarding the ceremony due to technology, rural urban migration, time, poverty and work.

The Empaako Tradition.
Most attractive to the Batooro tribe is the tradition of pet-names, which are accorded to every Munyoro or Mutooro in addition to their traditional and religious names.

Mr. Tinka steven Amooti the deputy prime minister of Tooro Kingdom in Kyenjojo district when being interviewed by our reporter said that the pet-name, Empaako is one thing that will readily identify a Munyoro or a Mutooro. He explains that Empaako is a special name of endearment used to show love and respect, for salutation and by children to refer to their parents and elders.

“It is okay among the Banyoro and Batooro not to know one’s surname or religious names but everyone is expected to know another person’s pet name because it is what is used more often.

When a Munyoro or Mutooro meets another Munyoro or Mutooro, the first thing is to ask the other person’s Empaako, (Empaako yaawe? and then greet the person using the pet-name,” he says.

There are eleven pet names shared between the Banyoro and Batooro: Abwooli, Adyeeri, Araali, Akiiki, Atwooki, Apuuli, Abaala, Acaali,
Ateenyi, Abooki and Amooti. The 12th pet name is Okaali for the king and is greeted “ZoonaOkaali”.

He says greeting without Empaako was like having food without source, or any tasteless attempt you can think of. Explaining just how important these pet names have come to be for the people who use them.

He says It is difficult for me to deny someone something if they refer to me by my pet name when they are asking. If you want a favor from a
Munyoro or a Mutooro, just try calling them their Empaako before you ask the favor,” he elaborates.

Amooti added that when his mother wanted him to do a tiresome job without complaining, she would call him his Empaako before assigning and he would do beyond the mother’s request. The Empaako is thus a social tool for harmony, encouragement and respect, which can be used to refer to people and relations comfortably.

On the other hand, there are pet-names which are given automatically after birth as one was born a twin. “As the older twin (Isingoma), is automatically called Amooti and the younger twin (name Kato) Abooki. Male twins are named Isingoma and Kato- respectively, and the female twins Nyangoma and Nyakato with the pet names Amooti and Abooki respectively.

Tinkasiimire told us that these names are related to certain things. “Ateenyi is Ekijoka Kya Muzizi-the snake that resides in River Muzizi
that separates present day Tooro and Bunyoro, bordering Kibale and Kyenjojo districts.” Why he was named after a snake, he neither knows nor shows any negative concern, he is just evidently proud of his pet name!

According to different sources, Empaako is a praise name or a name of respect used among the Banyoro, Batooro, Batagwenda, Batuku and Banyabindi of western Uganda. Empaako is a word borrowed from the Luo word “Pako” which means “praise”.

They are 13 known empaako and Out of these, 12 begin with letter A and only one starts with letter O. Some are believed to have Luo origins with and others claimed to be native in Bunyoro and Tooro.

1. Abbala: Is akin to the Luo word “Abalo” meaning “I have spoilt it”. Accordant to our culture, it means someone who loves other people unconditionally. It was formerly reserved for those close to the king.

2. Abbooki: Comes from a Luo word “Aboko” which means “I have narrated to you”. The holder of this praise name is meant to be someone who cherishes the roles of parents, teachers, elders, mentors, counsellors and leaders.

3. Abwooli: Comes from a Luo word “Abwolo”, meaning “I deceive you”. However, in our culture, it has to do with diplomatic relationships. The theory behind this is that “Not all truth needs to be told always, because it might cause unnecessary and often avoidable hurt and pain”.

4. Acaali: From a Luo word “Acalo”, meaning “I resemble you”. In Bunyoro it refers to someone who resembles another in nature and character and who easily relates to other people.

5. Acaanga: It is an uncommon praise name. Not much is known about its Luo root. More research is being done.

6. Adyeeri: Related to a Luo word “Adyero” which means that “I have sacrificed you”. In Bunyoro, however, Adyeeri is someone who is friendly, affectionate with a larger- than-life heart.

7. Akiiki: Is one who upholds national, community and family interests with great love, care, kindness, honesty, etc [Perhaps this explains why this is a very popular mpaako among parents] It has no Luo root; it is the only praise name whose root is in Bunyoro-Kitara.

8. Amooti: From a Luo word “Amoto” meaning that “I greet you”. In Bunyoro-Kitara, however, Amooti refers to someone who genuinely respects other people, thinking and speaking well of them.

9. Apuuli: Means one who has powers, abilities and skills to attract other people, exhibiting qualities often observed and admired among small children.
10. Araali: One who saves other people and is perceived to have the power of thunder, giving the expression “Araali Nkuba”.

11. Ateenyi: Is derived from the Luo word “Atenyo”, meaning “I have left it”. In our culture, Ateenyi is someone who loves and understands a wrongdoer without condoning wrongdoing.

12. Atwooki: One who embraces or punishes –as the case may be-other people either physically or spiritually.

13. Okaali: Comes from a Luo word “Okalo”, meaning “S/he has jumped over you”. In Bunyoro/Tooro kingdoms, however, it implies someone with the highest responsibility as a leader in the kingdom ie Rukir’abasaija Agutamba Omukama. It used for Omukama only and even then by men only when greeting him.

NB. Akiiki, Apuuli, Araali and Atwooki seem to have no definite Luo roots. It is important to note that there is no mpaako exclusively reserved for women, while four-Araali, Apuuli, Acaali and Abbala are exclusively for men. The rest are unisex, save for Okali which is only for kings.
Gratitude to Mr Isaac Kalembe Biromumaiso Akiiki, editor Bunyoro Tourism Journal for the research

By Robinah Birungi.

The People of Uganda

The Ugandan Editor No Comments

Made up of five major ethnic groups, the natives of Uganda speak over 30 languages and dialects. Amidst this diversity, Uganda is a nation of solidarity, equal opportunity and tolerance. Culture and tradition continue to be handed down from generation in preservation of Uganda’s only-one-of-its-kind heritage.

North, South, East, Central and West all intertwine their distinguishing customs, beliefs and traditions into a wealthy tapestry that creates the diverse national identity which defines the Ugandan culture at the moment.

The country’s ethnic evolution can be traced back to the 10th century AD. The Bantu, Uganda’s primary inhabitants, are an ethnic and linguistic group with over 130 million people in Africa. They lay down their ancestry in the central and southern parts of the country and constitute half of the population. Among the Bantu tribes are the Baganda, Banyankole, Bagisu, Bakiga, Batooro, Basamia and Baruli among others.

The north and north eastern parts of Uganda were largely populated by the Nilo-hamites and Nilotes whose genesis can be traced back to Ethiopia. As a semi nomadic people, their migratory habits led them to split and settle in different parts of the country. Ultimately, some adopted languages and customs that resulted in distinctions that can be clearly identified between them today. Nilotic tribes include the Langi, Luo, Iteso, Sebei and Karamajong.

The Sudanic speakers from West-Nile form another group. The Lugbara, Madi, Bari, and Metu are counted as part of this group. They are sometimes referred to as the Madi-Moru group.

Kasubi Tombs – Fallen Kings Lay Tranquil.

The Ugandan Editor No Comments

Kasubi tombs is a cultural, tradiditional and ceremonial burial ground for the kings[kabakas] in the Buganda kingdom. The site is located at Kasubi hill, Kampala, the borders of Kasubi tombs were established in 1882 and it comprises of about sixty four acres of land, five kilometers Northwest of Kampala city center.

Like any other traditional setup, there is a legend that talks about Kintu as the first Kabaka of Buganda kingdom. Apparently, kintu had come with his wife Nambi after he had won her hand in marriage from her father Ggulu, the god of the sky. This first kabaka is said not to have died but disappeared into a forest at Muganga. This explains why in every burial grounds in Buganda have what is called Kibila, a sacred forest where the tombs are housed, concealed from public view by a back cloth curtain.

The borders are marked with bark cloth trees, protecting the site from being encroached on by the fast growing residential developments. One corner contains a royal palace built by kabaka Muteesa [35th kabaka] in 1882, replacing his father’s Ssuna 2, which he had put up in 1820.The new palace became a royal burial ground in 1884 after his death. Four other kings have also been buried at the same sight that is; kabaka Muteesa 1, kabaka Mwanga, Daudi Chwa and Sir Edward Muteesa 2.

At the site, a gate leads to a small courtyard known as Bujja-bukula, then to the ”Ndoga obukaba”, a house where royal drums are kept then to the main circular curt yard[olugya] located n the hilltop surrounded by a reed palace.The main central building called Muzibu Azaala Mpanga is 7.5 metres high. It is located at the edge opposite the entrance. Muzibu Azaala Mpanga was originally constructed from local raw materials like wooden poles, reed wattle,topped by a thick thatched dome with straw laying on 52 rings of palm fronds representing the 52 clans of Buganda. However, the 1938 major renovation by Muteesa2 introduced modern materials of construction. These modern materials thou were concealed behind the traditional structures.

The floor of the Muzibu Azaala Mpanga is covered by palm leaf mats and lemon grass.Other structures on the site are the traditional houses of the kabakas widows and homes of the royal family,guards and administrative officials like the spiritual guardian [Nalinya] and the assistant[Katikiro]. Most of the land on the site is used for agriculture.

One may wonder why most of the kabakas built their palaces on hilltops and the 3 reasons were clear, one; was to control all the roads leading to the palace and two; was to find easy ways to escape in case of invasion. The third reason was to have a sense of security since its easier to watch happenings from a distance so in case of any attacks, the guards woud quickly take action.
One of the practices done at this burial ground which may seem a bit ridiculous is, burying the kabaka at a different site and establishing a royal shrine where his jawbone was housed. The jawbone was believed to contain his spirit.

Kasubi tombs became a UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation) World Heritage Site in December 2001 and one of the most remarkable buildings using purely vegetal materials in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa.

The site caught five in 2010 and unfortunately the cause of the fire in still unknown till today. Efforts to re-construct the structures started in 2014 with assistance from the government of Uganda and funding from the government of Japan. However the Baganda still stick to their vow, to protect this treasured site.

Kasubi tombs acts as a rich tourist attraction to both local and foreign people and more fascinating still to those who are rooted in culture and nature because that’s what the site displays. Besides this, Kasubi tombs carry a historical and spiritual effect among the Buganda people and the Kabakas of Buganda Kingdom.

With all this on board, i think anyone would love to wake-up to this beautiful natural scenery and the only way to make it real is to drop by and check out the royal burial grounds for Buganda Kingdom.

By Kabagambe Gerald.