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The Bakonzo sometimes called Banandi is a group of the Bantu speaking people living in the districts of Kasese, Bundibgyo, Bunyangabu and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Bakonzo mainly have two types of dances which are ceremonial.
This is the dance which I would call breaking of the chest and the back, it is for both men and women, it is majorly performed in functions that attract happiness say during marriage functions, music competitions among others.
It involves dancing together of a man and a woman, its best attractive when performed by people who know how to break the back properly while standing on one and a half feet.
It has a specific drum beat (the medium or the biggest of all the drums) and then other more two which makes it attractive or possibly one may work in absence of others.
This is the dance performed mainly during the closing out of a burial ceremony (erisesya ekiriro), it may take up to one week while dancing, every day people go early to the home of the deceased to perfume this ritual.
This dancing has other many categories including, omukobo, eluma, amasinduka, amahande among others
Omukobo involves dancing while turning to the next neighbor as you keep rotating in a circle form as well as singing. There’s also beating of three drums, xylophone and other instruments.
Eluma evolves all the omukobo instruments with flute leading them all to compose different songs.
Mukumu dance is neither for women nor for uncircumcised men
Mukumu dance is not performed in every one’s burial but for men who went for circumcision in Bwamba, Bundibughyo district (elhusumba) and not performed for women.
This type of dance has a leader called “Kabira”, is the person who is in-charge of everything involved in the dancing process say if you are to dance with a neighbor then you start with him among other things.
In early years of 1930’s and later, men would arrange and go to Bwamba (lhusumba) in Bundibugyo district for circumcision, this was one of the things to prepare for descent burial rituals and respect in public.
They would walk in the mountains of Kasese district, through upsides of Nyakigumba, Katebwa and then to Bwamba for the Circumcision function and return later after recovering.
The function would be organized for those returnees’ recognition of being rightful men to stabilize in public.
During those times and up now, men who are not circumcised are not considered in public like normal ones, they can’t even be recognized to speak in public.
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.