When many think of Northern Uganda’s culinary claim to fame, they think malakwang, an exquisite traditional Luo dish
whose tongue bewitching taste has given many a reason to believe in love at the first taste as opposed to love at first sight. Unknown them,
especially those who haven’t been to the Luo land-for a taste bud quest is that malakwang is just one of the many Luo dishes adored for hitting the tongue at the spot where one wants it to. HERE’S to all the understated but exceptional Luo dishes.
Malakwang is the outcome of simmering okra, a sour finger-like vegetal with moderate heat and later pasting in it peanut butter plus minimal salt. The outcome is not only a feast for the eye but further a justification for one to drool.
Malakwang goes beyond turning on you’re a petite, it gives the tongue a tickling sensation. The source tastes better when served with millet bread or sweet potatoes. It is a fantastic lunch food that will keep you going till the next breakfast and you’ll probably resume with another serving.
Due to its pleasant and easy taste on the palate, it is said to be the reason many tourists believe in love at the first taste as opposed to love at first sight. To say the least, the food is mwwaaaahhh, or as the French say, Oh lá lá!
Unlike most the other dishes, alagu doesn’t have that seductive name, and neither does it have that striking aroma that instantly captures a diner’s attention. However, your life won’t be the same the moment it reaches your tongue. See, the peanut pasted-cheesy vegetable source- engulfs the tongue in a sensual dance that will leave many fighting over the last drop without the slightest consideration of letting go. A spoonful of the soup is all
you need to make your worries a distant memory because there is something supernatural in the way it flutters the tongue causing it to coil in excitement.
Dominic Opio a professional Luo chef recommends that if one wants to wash it down, he pick a glass of pineapple juice or milk and take a careful sip. However, he is quick to doubt that anyone would want to rush alagu down their throat-let alone swallow it because its taste in the mouth is nothing short of incredible.
“Its taste will make its eater squeak like an excited toddler,”Opio says
Agira is mashed peas or beans simmered till it is perfectly smooth to be swallowed without chewing. Depending on your preference, you can either settle for the fried or pasted type. Whichever option pleases you, you might want to add just a little bit of Shea butter oil for a heady aroma. Yes you’ll get fat, but you will have a great time doing so because the oil is proven to be free of cholesterol.
Pot okono-the fresh leaves of a pumpkin
Pot okono. Say it out loud as one word, and try not to smile. POTOKONO….now that’s how its pronounced in Lango, the land where it is one of the favourites. Any way potokonoo is definitive, rough but oddly clean-tasting at the same time and the sauce is no doubt “lovable”.
According to Angella Susan ,Langi, 62, pot okono is highly thought of as a love charm that Luo wives use to find their ways into the hearts of their husbands.
“The Langi men love it to bits because besides having a strong green aroma that sends a prickle of sensual awareness skittering across their tough skins, it awakens the taste buds with its greasy taste.’’ she says
“Above, it boosts their manpower and makes them feel like the lord of the land instead of landlord-simply powerful.” Angella adds
There you have it folks, if all the above doesn’t meet your expectations, then I am afraid you might have to go on hunger strike or try out the otigo, a food which is adored for its delightful and attractive green colour. Aside from that, it is so fresh and you’ll think its flirting with youRead More
In the animal Kingdom, the giraffe stands out of the crowd across many fronts. To say it is beautiful is an understatement.
From head to toe, it is gorgeous, with yellow and orange mosaic style patterns.
It maintains a very humble personality despite being the tallest land animal, with a leg whose height exceeds that of many men (6ft long). Despite having an unmatched ability to strike dead any creature with a single blow, it is a peaceful animal that treats other herbivores with empathy. Considering all these qualities, it is no wonder that it comes across as the hallmark for Moroto District. Why? Like it, this semi-arid District whose name loosely translates as the rocky place is unique in many ways. Here are some of must-visit attractions and experiences in this first rising tourism destination, Writes Solomon Oleny.
Visit Edurkoit trees
As per to Karimojong region traditions, a home is only considered complete if it has a Faidebia Albida, a leafy-weather-resistant tree. One of the biggest wow factors about this species is that it can live for over 200 years without losing shape. Regardless of how old it gets, it eternally young. Locally known as Edurkoit, its roots sink deep in the ground anchoring it firmly, whilst tapping water.
Compared to trees in forests found in Southern and Western Uganda, its stem is less thick yet firmer. This helps it resist being broken by the strong cross winds that sweep through this part of the country on a daily. In contrast, its branches and leaves are very light and flexible enough to be easily swayed by the wind and rain.
Beyond its beauty, it has a historical and social significance in the lives of the dominant tribes living in Moroto. Such include Tepeth, Karamajong, and Matheniko.
Longora John, a 71-year-old local Chief in the District explains that under its cool shades, elders from these tribes converge to find lasting solutions to whatsoever is troubling their communities. It could be settling disputes among its people, celebrating the lives of heroes who have contributed to the growth of their clans……
“Simply put, the tree has a very special place in the hearts of the Karimjong people, and that is why they are never cut it for firewood regardless of how desperate the situation at hand is,” says Longora
In agreement with John, Hellen Pulkol the Deputy Residential District Commissioner notes that; this is why the Edurkoit tree in the midst of Moroto Town was never cut to give way for the construction of the town’s main street.
The best way to see how different these trees are from each other is by taking a guided tour around traditional homesteads. Each has the tree at the heart of the ManyattaRead More
The Acholi people are a Luo-Nilotic tribe in northern Uganda. They occupy the current Acholi sub-region according to the geographic division of Uganda.
The sub-region comprises the districts of Agago, Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum, Lamwo, Nwoya, and Pader. Although other Acholis are found in Magwe County in South Sudan, they are often excluded from the political meaning of the term “Acholi land”. In fact, the Acholi from South Sudan refers to themselves as ‘Acoli’ not ‘Acholi’. The Acholi speak a western Nilotic language, classified as Luoor Lwo.
The Acholi were originally inhabitants of the Bahr-el-Ghazal Region in South Sudan before they migrated and settled in northern and eastern Uganda and others in western Kenya. Legends also assert that the Acholi are a product of intermarriages between the Luo and the Madi of West Nile.
Although researchers say the word ‘Acholi’ is a term that became adopted for convenience over the years, there are many theories that show how the famous name came into existence.One of the theories states that prior to colonialism, the Acholi referred to themselves as ‘An-loco-li’, which means “I am a human being”, or “black”.
An-loco-li did not have any ethnic definition of geographical boundaries initially. Another theory says during the second half of the 19th Century, Arabic-speaking traders from the north referred to Acholi people as ‘school, a term which was later transformed into ‘Acholi’.
Forming the chiefdom
In the late 17th Century, a new socio-political order developed among the Luo who had settled in northern Uganda, mainly characterized by the formation of chiefdoms headed by chiefs known as Rwodi or Rwoti in Luo. By the mid-19th Century, about 60 small chiefdoms existed in eastern Acholi land all ruled by Rwodis or chiefs.
Although many chiefs were ruling smaller clans within the Acholi sub-region, it was not until the British colonial era when Rwot Awich of the Payira clan became the Acholi Paramount Chief in the 1900s.Payira clan is one of the biggest clans in the Acholi sub-region.
It is the clan from which the paramount chief is chosen from the patrilineal family line. The Rwot/chief was a central figure and he had executive, judicial and legislative powers. In addition, he was the link between the living and the dead. It was his duty to offer sacrifices to ancestors on behalf of his subjects. The chiefdom currently has 57 sub-clans which are all headed by Rwodis.
Choosing the chiefs
Traditionally, chiefs were chosen from one clan, and each chiefdom had several villages made up of different patrilineal clans.Since 1900, more than 20 Paramount Chiefs have ruled the Acholi Chiefdom most notably RwotAwich (deceased), Rwot Ali Aliker (deceased), Rwot Yona Odida(deceased) and Rwot Justine Acana I (deceased),
among others. The current Acholi Paramount Chief is Rwot David Onen Acana II who ascended the throne after the death of his father Rwot AcanaI in2005. He is the 25thparamount chief and currently, he over sees 54 smaller chiefdoms locally known as ‘ker’. Members of the royal lineage ‘kaka pa rwot’ are known as the ‘people of the court’ or ‘jokal’ or lobito or the‘people of power’.
The Acholi are unique in certain practices, foods and rituals. Notable among them is bat and rat eating. This is done most especially among the Lamogi people in Amuru District. Strange as it may seem, the Lamogi have enjoyed the delicacies since time immemorial.
They trap the bats from caves at the famous Guru-Guru hills using thorny tree branches.Once trapped, the bats are cooked in various forms to suit one’s taste. Some are skewed and roasted and cooked in a mixture of groundnut paste and served with Kwon Kal (millet bread) or boiled cassava. Other people trap the bats for sale. A bat in a market in Lamogiis sold at Shs1,000. As for the rats, they are hunted in the bushes near homestead sand are also prepared in various ways.
Matooput is one of the important rituals in the chiefdom. It is performed in case somebody has been murdered. The ceremony involves two clans (the deceased’s and the murderers) bringing together the perpetrator and the victim in a quest for restoring social harmony. Matooput begins by separating the affected clans, mediation to establish the ‘truth’, and payment of compensation according to by-laws.The final ritual, ‘drinking the bitter root’ is a day-long ceremony involving symbolic acts all designed to reunite the warring clans.
The Acholi attach so much significance to the marriage institution (nyom) that failure to marry is considered a curse (or an abnormality). Childlessness is counted as one of the most serious misfortunes to befall a couple, with women typically taking all the blame. In such cases, the marriage could be dissolved or the husband allowed to take another wife, because to Acholi, children are the ultimate goal of any marriage. In fact, according to legends, an Acholi couple could not set up a home until their first child was born.
The Acholi have several dances including the royal and courtship dances. Bwola dance was only considered a royal dance and would only be performed before the royal family or the chiefs. Laraka-raka dance is for courtship and it is the youth who used to take part in it mostly as a way to identify potential suitors. Other traditional dances include Otole, Dingi Dingi, and Ajere. The Acholi also used to tell African folktales to the children and some of the stories are still being told to date children, they included stories of Apwoyo (hare) and Obibi (the ogre).
The Acholi uniqueness is also significant in some animals they hold dear. Elephants (Lyecor Lyeci in plural) are the most respected and symbolic animals. They are considered wise, brave, and energetic animals. Acholi considers themselves tall, brave, and energetic people. In fact, the Gulu District local government has adopted the elephants as its symbols on all administrative logos as well as a section of other institutions in the sub-region.
Acholi chiefdom is also gifted by nature. It has a number of natural and historic sites that have become great tourist destinations. Notable among them are the Lamogi hills, the hills where the Lamogi clan people staged a partial resistance to the British Colonial rule in 1911. They are found in Amora Village, Lamogi Sub-county in Amuru District.
Another tourist site Acholi chiefdom can boast about is Fort Patiko in Gulu District. Located about 32 kilometers north of Gulu Town, the fort is enclosed by a 16 feet wide and 15 feet deep trench dug by slaves on the orders of the Arabs to avoid the escape of the abductees to be traded as slaves.
However, when Sir Samuel Baker was commissioned in 1863 by the Queen of England to fight slavery in Uganda, they camped at Fort Patiko and abolished slave trade in the region.The place still possesses the house built with stones by Sir Samuel Baker sitting on top of the Patiko hillsRead More
Over the years, change has impacted enormous economic developments. Uganda has joined the league of the fastest growing economies of the world, but this change has robbed us of the pleasantries synonymous with living in the Africa of yesteryears. The Africa where people used to wake up to the sight of inquisitive wildlife at their doorsteps, the Africa where beautiful traditional cultures flourished is not anymore.
Today, most corners of the country have binned positive African values and cultures for western junk. One such gem is the authentic African infrastructure which has been replaced by structures built using mostly ‘eco-enemy’ materials. That withstanding, there are communities that have defied all odds and preserved such infrastructure. If you are looking for something to this effect, one such place to visit is Kabong, one of the Districts neighboring Kidepo Valley National Park from the East.
For almost every kilometer turn in the sparsely populated district which is home to the Karimojong, Kabong is dotted with exquisite manyattas (a dwelling heritage carried down from their forefathers) that makes you feel like you are back to long lost Africa.
Circled by double walls of thorns that are head high and about a meter thick, these traditional huts also known as ‘ere’ are home to the Karimojong, a welcoming warrior nomadic tribe. A manyatta is incredibly beautiful. It bears the semblance of a village albeit smaller and may house a family and its extended members.
Within a manyatta are thick mud homes that stay cool in the year-round heat. Not a scrap of metal or concrete is used in constructing a manyatta, which is an anomaly in a world that’s now characterized by wall-to-wall concrete. At the heart of the manyatta is a large kraal where the cattle are kept.
They are fashioned every 5-10 years as the Karimojong make large migrations across the scrublands and plains. Warriors and men move more often with their herds casually looking for greener pastures and water. However, sometimes a family may move because of an outbreak of disaster. In the neighborhoods of the manyatta, one can also find kitchen gardens.
Source credit: Karimoja, the land of Nomadic warriors by David Pluth and James Bowyer.Read More
Ankole is a region rich in cultural heritage. Unique dishes, language, folklore, you can name them, it’s all there. Originally known as ‘Kaaro-karungi’ loosely translated as ‘beautiful village.’ the area is inhabited by the Banyankole – a Bantu group.
They inhabit the present districts of Mbarara, Kiruhura, Isingiro, Ibanda, Bushenyi, Sheema, Rubirizi, Buhweju, Mitooma, and Ntungamo in western Uganda.
Today, Ankole’s cultural heritage is fast fading. What remains is in tales and a few traditional ceremonies. But not all is lost. Igongo Cultural Museum, the biggest in Western Uganda, is preserving the Nkole culture through various artifacts.
Located 15 minutes away from Mbarara Town at Biharwe Trading Centre, the museum has become a leading tourist destination. With many legendary artifacts safely tucked away in transparent glass rooms, one is ushered into the rich Ankole heritage.
The name Igongo is itself of historical importance. It is derived from Igongo hill found in Rwenjeru village in Mbarara District. It is said that during the reign of King Ntare – which was between 1587 to 1615 – floods in the Ankole Kingdom claimed thousands of people and livestock. King Ntare was compelled to seek divine intervention.
The diviner ordered that a white spotless cow (ente njeru) be slaughtered and the rituals were performed at Igongo hill. Miraculously, it is said, the water was reduced and collected to form present-day Lake Mburo. Pleased, the king named one of those.
A sculpture showing a traditional Ankole bride wearing beads
his sons Kasasira (the forgiver). Kasasira also later ruled Ankole from 1615 – 1643. Since then, Igongo hill became an important aspect of Ankole culture. It’s no wonder the museum is named after it. The museum has different sections of historical importance including Social stratification Here one learns that Ankole society was/is stratified into Bahima (pastoralists) and the Bairu (agriculturalists).
A caste-like system of the Bahima over the Bairu existed. There was a general belief that a hoe is what made a mwiru (singular Bairu) what he is. Similarly, the Bahima were identified with cattle. This kind of belief was not very accurate because merely acquiring cows would not transform one from a Mwiru into a Muhima. Nor would the loss of cows transform a Muhima into a Mwiru – this is very common currently as some Bahima has taken on digging and Bairu own cattle. Because of the different ways of life, even their homes looked different.
Marriage There is a lot to learn about marriage in Ankole – from the function to the belief that marriage is a sacred affair. The bride was expected to be a virgin until the night she is deflowered by her husband. If the parents of the girl were aware that their daughter was not a virgin, they would formally communicate to the husband by giving the girl – among the other gifts – a perforated coin or another hollow object, in most times a cloth. A bride was also meant to dress differently from the everyday way of dressing and jewelry.
There was and still is a function called okuhingira (giveaway) which is the day a woman/bride is officially handed over to the boy’s family. Among the gifts a bride would take would be Omugamba. The Omugamba would contain various calabashes that a bride would use in her new home. It is still the case today. War Often, the kingdom of Ankole was at war with the neighboring states. Sometimes there would be raiding expeditions to the Buhweju Kingdom and Karagwe in Tanzania. The Banyankole weapons comprised of spears, arrows, and shields. The Royal Regalia The royal regalia of Ankole consisted of a spear and drums.
The main instrument of power was the royal drum called Bagyendanwa. This drum was believed to have been made by Wamala, the last Muchwezi ruler. It was only beaten at the installation of a new King and had its special hut. It was considered taboo to shut the hut. A fire was always kept burning for Bagyendanwa and this fire could only be extinguished in the event of the death of the King.
The drum had its own cows and some other attendant drums namely; kabembura, Nyakashija, eigura, kooma, and Njeru ya Buremba. Communication You will learn that the Banyankole had several forms f communication for different functions. If one brewed local beer, they would inform others by hanging a coil made from banana leaves at the road to their homestead. Whoever saw it would know there is beer in that home. To call for a meeting, the messenger would blow a trumpet locally known as enzamba or a drum.
Handwork was an important aspect of Ankole. It was through handwork such as carpentry, iron smelting, pottery, weaving, as well as making leather products that people got the different items for use in day-to-day life. For instance, the milk pots (ebyanzi), emikarabanda (wooden sandals) were carved out of wood. Spears, knives, needles for weaving were all from iron smelting. Baskets, stretchers for carrying brides, and sick people were woven.
Outside the Museum is the cultural village. This exhibits the ways of life of the two different Ankole castes – the Bairu and Bahiima. You are ushered into how they lived, stored food, and the general arrangement of the interior of their house. A Muhima house, for instance, has a designated corner called Orugege. Here milk pots, calabashes to churn yogurt and ghee as well as entsimbo – the special calabash for storing ghee, would be kept under strict hygienic conditions. In a mwiru house, there had to be obugamba – a rack made from tree stems where food and firewood would be kept. It was usually above the cooking stones.
Not only does Ankole have a rich culture, but the region also has unique dishes one will not find anywhere else. One of the most important food is Eshabwe. This is made from cow ghee which is mixed with rock salt and water. It is often served with karo (millet bread) and matooke (bananas).
Another important Ankole food is Karo (millet bread). This is got from mingling millet flour. It is served in special baskets known as endiiro. This was formerly the staple food of the Banyankole until matooke infiltrated the region.
Enkuru is a special sauce got from cow skins (oruhu). After drying the skin, you peel the inside and the meat-looking pieces you get are dried and later boiled and mixed with ghee and hot water. It can also be served with eshabwe.Read More
Visiting Kampala in 2017 is like visiting any other big modern city, with lots of nationalities gathered together celebrating with international flair.
But amidst this bustling hive of multi-ethnicity and metropolitans, one can feel like the African flavor is lost.
This feeling is most evident when flipping through the average beauty magazine laden with expensive foreign lotions, photoshopped models, and pin-straight hair, not to mention western silhouettes. Has Kampala lost its own flavor in pursuit of the modern city?
Maybe we are scared of looking outdated or backward. Most young people will tell you that to them looking African means wearing a traditional dress, a sometimes awkward look for modern Kampala almost strictly reserved for weddings and the like. To the modern Kampala yuppie, nothing is more terrifying than looking “local”. The connotations of which may include being backward, untraveled or ignorant.
It’s time we reached into our hearts and embraced the beauty and uniqueness of African culture. Can it be that we take for granted what we have or is it that we are distracted by western standards of beauty? Slowly but surely the definition of local is changing. Uganda has started producing higher-quality products; implementing better design and holding producers to a higher standard of quality. The definition of local will also change when we realize that local can mean genuine, or traditional; it means paying homage to where we come from and how it impacts where we are going.
Any lack or dissatisfaction we feel should inspire us to redefine what “looking Ugandan” means. We are not stuck in the past, every day we get an opportunity to change how the world sees us, and more importantly how we see ourselves. It means buying locally made products when possible, it means supporting Ugandan businesses, and it means being #proudly Ugandans.
All over Kampala, you can get wax print fashion almost anywhere you are. In the basement of iguanas bar, across the street from the quality hill, or definition at acacia mall will have a wide variety of Afrocentric items. This includes shoes, hats, pillows, clothes and so much more. Try the fun graphic t-shirts from the definition, their funny slogans and quips perfectly sum up life in Uganda. Our favorite is the one proclaiming ‘I like R&B (rice and beans)’.
Even smaller tailors will usually have access to wax print fabric or kitenge print and will be able to custom make you a great piece. If you need inspiration check out Pinterest or Instagram to see what people all over the world are doing with African fashion. African beauty is not a single look or trend, it’s fluid. Something anyone can rock. Becoming modern doesn’t mean giving up the tradition, it’s about adapting tradition.
Because of this rapidly increasing market for kitenge fashion, African design, and locally made clothes. Looking Ugandan no longer limits itself to only a gomesi or a kanzu. It can mean a jerry-can backpack, a wax print skirt, or a handmade necklace. As we go through 2017 we will expect to see more examples of African-inspired beauty.
African beauty embodies everything about our culture. It usually supports the environment, or a social cause; its bright colors personify the African spirit; and because Uganda’s Afrocentric movement is still so new that there is no limit to what we can do.Read More
Every August, many Bagisu or Bamasaba boys are figuratively initiated into manhood. Bagisu inhabits the western and southern halves of Mt Elgon in eastern Uganda. The boys, mostly aged between 12 and 16, undergo a traditional circumcision ritual called imbalu. This process is done without any anesthetics. Imbalu literary means a big knife.
In Bugisu, the main ceremony in the region is always held at Mutoto, one Kilometer out of Mbale Town. Mutoto not only brings together Bamasaba from Uganda but also from Kenya. According to local folklore, Mutoto is the place where the first imbalu ceremony officially took place. All the subsequent imbalu opening ceremonies have taken place there ever since. In fact, those who have witnessed the ceremonies equate Mutoto to Namugongo or Mecca where thousands of pilgrims throng annually.
It is not clear when exactly imbalu started. But folklore has it that the Bamasaba took it up “for the safety of the boys” especially so after a Mumasaba boy bruised his foreskin during intercourse with a girl.
“So to protect other boys, the Bamasaba adopted circumcision,” says Bob Mushikori, a minister in the Inzuyi Bamasaba (the House of Bamasaba). “It is now part of our culture. It is something that identifies us.”
Another tradition states that imbalu originated from the demand by the Kalenjin when Masaba, the Bagisu hero ancestor, wanted to marry a Kalenjin girl and so was forced to circumcise.
Yet another legend says the first person to be circumcised was being punished for seducing other people’s wives. Legend states it was decided to partially castrate him by way of circumcision. When he recovered he resumed his former practices and rumour went around that he had become excellent at sex. In order to compete favourably, other men decided to circumcise also.
Now, any Mumasaba boy aged 12 and above can undergo circumcision wherever he wants as long as it is before they make 18 years.
The community largely frowns upon males who even after they clock 18 deliberately avoid being circumcised.
Such males are derisively referred to as basinde, to imply that they are cowards. Even those who opt to be circumcised in health facilities – under anesthesia – are referred to as cowards. Thus many boys in the rural areas prefer to do it the traditional way.
Mushikori says in the beginning the Bamasaba used to circumcise the boys during odd years. However, in 1907, the region was hit by famine because of a prolonged dry season. As is the case today and then, feasting is part and parcel of the circumcision. Therefore a good harvest is an important aspect of Imbalu season.
However, due to the poor crop yield then, the community did not have enough food to feed the tens, or in some cases, the hundreds, of people who are part of the entourage that accompanies the boys for circumcision therefore imbalu did not take place that year.
In1908, against a backdrop of good crops yield, the community had enough food for all. So they (Bamasaba) resumed circumcising. From then on, the large traditional circumcision ceremonies are done mostly during even years.
The circumcision ceremony is preceded by the ‘candidates’ moving around the villages as they dance to kadodi, a rhythmic dream-beat unique to Bugisu meant for the ceremony. The boys wear only shorts with a bare chest. The boys are subjected to hard conditions as one of the ways they can prove that they are men.
To mitigate the cold in the largely hilly and chilly Bugisu while bare chest in the wee hours of the morning as they jog around, dancing. And to mitigate the heat – should their processions be in the afternoon when the sun is intense – they mostly run around bare. The boys usually have flywhisks that they wave as they dance whereas the other people in the processions wave twigs.
In some cases the dancing begins at dawn and goes on until dusk though it is interspersed with breaks during which the boys visit some of their relatives. The relatives prepare meals for the soon-to-be men to re-energise them before they continue with their processions.
Once they are done with eating, some relatives’ offer the boys live chicken or in some cases goats ‘for their bravery’.
The dances last between one and four weeks, depending on each family’s preference. In some cases, one week to the circumcision date, some families fete the boys to a local drink made of fermented millet, malwa, mixed with hot water. The initiation into drinking implies now that the boys are due for the rite of passage; they can as well do what is considered a preserve of adults.
On circumcision day itself, elders smear the boys to be circumcised with ash. “It makes them look like warriors. It is to psychologically prepare them for the surgeon’s knife,” says Mushikori. Some unconfirmed accounts however, say it is meant to reduce chances of a hemorrhage.
However, all the boys who are due for circumcision are encouraged not to have sex especially weeks before and after circumcision. It is believed that if they have sex prior circumcision, their foreskins harden, which then makes the circumcision more painful. The boys, now ashen, leave their homes for a central circumcision venue.
Once they have undergone the cut, assistants sprinkle a powdered herb called ingu on the freshly circumcised penises to quicken the healing. In many cases, the wounds reportedly dry in three weeks. After the circumcision, the ‘graduates into manhood’ are feed on obushera – millet porridge. They are also feed on pumpkins and the chicken they got because they are protein foods.
There have been health concerns raised about using one knife on all boys like it used to be in the past. Inzu yi Bamasaba insists that the traditional circumcision surgeons use a knife strictly on one person. Even then, the knives must be sterilised with hot water before the surgeons can shave off the boys’ foreskins.
Mr Mushikori says Inzi yi Bamasaba also want the traditional surgeons to be licensed by the Local Government Health Departments. That way, they would operate according to a strict health code of conduct. Those who flout the rules would lose their licenses, which would deny them a source of income. Besidesl, adhering to health standards would clear the anxiety on the minds of many boys lined up for this rite of passage.Read More
A memorial site – Bishop James Hannington Memorial Site – has been constructed at Kyando in Mayuge District. October 29,
annually is a pilgrim day when Christians in Busoga Diocese make pilgrimage to Kyando village to commemorate the day when Bishop Hannington was murdered while preaching the gospel of salvation.
Located in Eastern Uganda some 20kms from Mayuge District main town and 30km from Jinja Town, Bishop James Hannington Memorial Site, is the spot of the first and largest Christian martyrdom in Uganda. This is because it is the place where one of the first missionaries to have visited Uganda from Britain was killed, in cold blood.
Your ride will be a bumpy one due to the nature of the road – bumpy and dusty. Along the way, you can be intercepted by trucks loading sugarcane parked in the middle of the road but all this is worth it when you get to the memorial site.
The story is told in bits and pieces by the locals some of whom visited the site after it took shape in 2012. Though fast-growing into a big tourism site, there are no tour guides and all one can depend on are the passers-by and locals who have acquired the story from elders.
But this is no problem at all as the site has signposts most of which explain the significance of the spots on which they are erected.
Most of the locals recall the story behind the Bishop’s death with empathy. “He was killed with so much brutality yet he was innocent, poor man,” Musa, a boda boda rider in Mayuge Town recounts
Just like the biblical Herod and Jesus’ birth story, Bishop Hannington’s death, it is said, was prompted by longtime suspicion and prophesies that KabakaMwanga’s rule would be overthrown by people coming from the east.
So, when the Bishop together with his group of 48 helpers, entered Busoga in current Mayuge, a territory that was under Chief Lube, one of KabakaMwanga’s collaborators, a message was sent to Mwanga who out of panic immediately ordered for the elimination of the invading strangers.KabakaMwanga’s fear was that Christianity was growing fast among his subjects and this, to him, became an increasingly great threat to his rule.
Today, a stone to mark and commemorate the point at which bishop Hannington was murdered still stands. It is sheltered in an iron-sheet hut-shaped shelter which is located downhill, at the end of the road that leads to the rocky Kyando hill where the bishop did most of his activities in the rocks before his death.
The memorial site
At this place, you will be able to relive the life that Bishop Hannington and his men lived many years ago through the various marked spots and rocks that are said to have been very significant to the bishop.
The centerpiece, which is an enclosed stone – found downhill – marks the spot or shrine where the bishop was tortured and killed, the site is composed of other spots that mark the different activities the bishop was involved in. On the rocks on Kyando hill is a cave that is believed to have been the bishop’s bedroom. The path that leads to that cave has been marked with a tree fence making it easy for tourists to find it.
Across from the bedroom is a painted rock which is believed to have been the spot where the bishop used to preach from. Another important cave is under a rock that stands opposite the ‘pulpit’ and that is the library. It is believed that is where the bishop during his time-off pastoral work, did some reading.
“Away from here is another cave where the bishop waited eight days in custody before he was killed by spearing him in both sides,” Musa narrates.
Just close to the shrine, is a well now modified into a spring, from which Bishop Hannington used to drink. It has been reconstructed to preserve it for generations to come. As a visitor to the site, you will probably be intrigued to drink from the same well that Bishop Hannington drunk from more than 130 years ago
For those driven by the love to discover the beauty of nature, the rocky Kyandohill is the place for you. The magnificent view that you get of Busoga’s green belt while at the hill is proof that your visit despite the hurdles was not in vain. It is not only a leisure place but also one where people get spiritual renewal thanks to Bishop Hannington memorial site.
And judging from the way Christianity has taken root in Busoga, Uganda over the years, the bishop indeed purchased its road to Uganda with his blood.
The rock under which Bishop Hannington spent his free time reading thus named his library
Bishop Hannington’s well now modified into a springRead More
Like most corners of Uganda, the time factor and modernization have over the years impacted a lot of change in Packwach, a cosmopolitan peninsular zone
in West Nile mainly dominated by the Jo nam tribe and Alur tribes.
From its once solitary hills and valley that are now jammed like an Internally Displaced Peoples camp-to the once deep accents of its locals that now costs more than luck to differentiate from speaking in spiritual tongues-almost everything defines change-just as much as change defines almost everything.
However, like a legacy, the originality and uniquely beautiful architecture of its grass thatched huts have weathered it all and stood the test of time. Even in the most affluent neighbourhoods, only one out of every 10 homes doesn’t have a grass thatched structure. Writes Solomon Oleny
A hut! In case that name is not familiar, do you remember those festive season trips along muddy if not impassable narrow roads that led to the birthplace of your grandparents, a rural setting that was dominated by buildings that had a vernacular architecture built of readily available materials such as wood, stone, grass, palm leaves, branches, or mud?
Yes, it is those buildings constructed using techniques passed down through generations that are called huts. However unlike the many you might have seen, a look at the grass upon the heads of many huts in Pakwach will one thinking they are about to be blown off by violent cross winds that sweep through the zone especially in dry seasons.
However quite on the reverse, Simea Ocaki 42, resident of Pakwach says unless not fitted and fastened well, they can last up to twenty years before they start to leak thereby necessitating reroofing.
Also, they are multi weather-resistant and safer thus an explanation as to why unlike most regions around Uganda where huts are quickly being replaced with permanent ion roofed structures, in Packwach they are still a favourite-to the extent that even the wealthiest prefer them to mansions.
Unlike modern houses which are a one-stop structure as they have respective rooms such as sitting room, kitchen, bedroom under one roof, each grass thatched roof houses one or two rooms they are easier to construct
. This explains why most homes have more than two each with an independent purpose such as kitchen, store, bedroom among others. Though traditionally styled, they are comfortably furnished and decorated with animal dung,
chalk and soils of different colours.
Surprisingly, huts are not a favourite among locals alone, even tourists adore sleeping in them to bits. During her community tourism visit to Pakwach in January, Joan Abbo a tourist from Kenya who had planned her stay in them for 2 nights ended up staying 4.
Abbo says though she was initially very hesitant to put up in them because they are highly flammable, she is glad she took the chance otherwise she would have missed out on their air-conditioned feel in a region where temperature soar as high as 40o due to the unforgiving shining of the lava hot sun. In her opinion, this is so because their designs favour airflow configurations as they are built from non-conducting materials, which allow heat dissipation. Best of all, they are eco-friendly.
However, she advises folks who plan on doing the same to go knowing they are also a habitat for insects and spiders and creepy crawlers-as they are built with thatch. They also house crickets which are extremely noisy at night so sleep may not be as sound as it should be.
Where are the huts most concentrated?
Due to their pastoral background and undying love for fish, West Nilers have settled and built huts along the banks of the Nile River where they welcome visitors according to how fat their wallet is. If one is a rich guest, a goat will be slaughtered and prepared for him as a welcome meal.
If he is moderately rich, his welcome meal will be chicken. However, in the event that he is a broke chap, he will be served fish. But hey, in the event that you are hosted to fish, do not take it personally. All the host means is that you are a favourite ordinary visitor; hence you deserve a favourite ordinary dish like fish.
See, unlike most settings around the country whose day to day dish is posho and beans, fish and millet bread is the basic meal in Packwach-like most west Nile Districts. From Monday to Sunday, most families here bewitch their pallets with different species of fish from the salty waters of the Albert Nile. Among many, such include helicopter fish, elephant fish, alakre fish, otete and the famous manpower booster anja fish among others. Most feared among these is the electric fish because it electrifies one at the slightest touch.
Away from the fish, plenty of lands would be left in the compounds before the huts-for an entertainment arena. It is here that the various West Nile dances music, dance and drama performances are performed to spice up/harmonize whichever ceremonies are being celebrated weddings to vigils.
Among many, such included the adungu dance, a dance in which young boys enthusiastically elbow left and right to the ear-piercing tunes of the adungu-or rather local harp which is spiced up with pitch high drumming. On the other hand, the young girls fire up the performance by wiggling their waists like they are possessed by spirits.
Then there is the agwara dance, a dance that got its name from the agwaras, the local trumpets made of horns as blown by men and danced to by womenRead More
Picture this; you are a young girl expecting your first child conceived out of wedlock. You are woken up in the middle of the night,
tied up and carried by the strongest men in the village.
You have no idea where you are being taken and to add to your confusion you get on a boat, disembark on an island,given just a pole for your own defence and left to your means. Oh and lest we forget, you have no phone because this was way back before technological advancement.One would hope that a smitten boyfriend would follow and rescue his girl but the circumstances were different.At that time, the no nonsense Bakiga would also shove pregnant girls off a cliff. Therefore, if your sweetheart disappeared in the night, you would have no idea whether she had been drowned or abandoned on this small island, tied to a tree and left to die of hunger.
The punishment was meant to show the gravity of engaging in premarital sex.However, some girls would be saved by men who had no cows to pay the bride price who would literally go fishing for women on the island.In the first half of the 20th century, the practice got abandoned but it is still possible to find women who were picked up from Punishment Island today living with the men who rescued them.According to Steven Tiwangye, 50, a tour guide at Lake Bunyonyi, the men who would rescue the girls and marry them would also be banished from their homes. “If a man married a girl from Akampene, he would never return to his parents’ home. It was a taboo to marry a ‘fallen’ girl,” Tiwangye explains. In his documentary, ‘The Bakiga – How We Throw Away Our African Culture,’ Festo Karwemera, an elder in Kigezi and an activist for the promotion of the Bakiga culture talks about the Akampene tradition with remorse. Much as the practice was barbaric and inhuman, it served its purpose and it was a good day when the Bakiga decided to abandon it.
Born in 1925, Karwemera lived through the time the tradition was being practiced and says that the Bakiga were not necessarily murderous but had a strong sense of morality and tradition. Being but had a strong sense of morality and tradition. Being no nonsense people, naturally the elders expected everyone to heed the customs and traditions and whoever failed to do so, was expected to pay for it. Akempene Island is one of the 29 islands dotting Lake Bunyonyi the scenic crater Lake located in the highlands of South Western Uganda, in Bufuka village. Due to the vagaries of nature, the island keeps getting reclaimed by the lake and most of its land is already submerged by the water making it one of the tiniest islands on the lake. There are motor boats and local canoes that take tourists from the main land to the island.
Today, the terror of the past has been buried and forgotten and the island turned into a peaceful and tranquil place for the discerning tourist in search of rest acommunion with nature. You can have a family picnic or enjoy a swim in bilharzia free clear water. An overnight experience in this beautiful setting is nothing but memorable. Just like the rest of the area, the island boasts of a rich birdlife for the bird lover. Enjoy the rich every day life and culture of the Batwa, and the Bakiga who make the largest numbers in the area. A walk on the island is no ordinary walk because of the birds mixed with the sound of waves and the cool fresh breeze a no nonsense people, naturally the elders expected everyone to heed the customs and traditions and whoever failed to do so, was expected to pay for it.
Akempene Island is one of the 29 islands dotting Lake Bunyonyi the scenic crater Lake located in the highlands of South Western Uganda, in Bufuka village. Due to the vagaries of nature, the island keeps getting reclaimed by the lake and most of its land is already submerged by the water making it one of the tiniest islands on the lake. There are motor boats and local canoes that take tourists from the main land to the island. Today, the terror of the past has been buried and forgotten and the island turned into a peaceful and tranquil place for the discerning tourist in search of rest and communion with nature. You can have a family picnic or enjoy a swim in bilharzia free clear water. An overnight experience in this beautiful setting is nothing but memorable. Just like the rest of the area, the island boasts of a rich birdlife for the bird lover. Enjoy the rich everyday life and culture of the Batwa, and the Bakiga who make the largest numbers in the areaRead More