Cultural Practices in Uganda
Cultural Practices in Uganda : Uganda received to be called the “PEARL OF AFRICA” because of her amazing beauty varying from wildlife, waterbodies, climate, landscape and hospitality. With the landscape – we have the second highest mountain in Africa – Mount Rwenzori with snow at the top, Water bodies – Uganda is the source of River Nile, Lake Victoria and other large water bodies and beautiful, wildlife – Uganda is home to the remaining mountain gorilla and hospitable people from different historical backgrounds,
Uganda is formed in 4 regions including the Northern, Eastern, and Western and Central regions with about 56 tribes in Uganda make it a destination of diverse cultural heritage and beliefs. These are seen through the way Ugandans organize their ceremonies, rituals, how they carry out traditional practices and their different ways of singing and dancing with unique traditional equipment.
The people of Uganda were originally from different tribes and Ethnic cultural background including the Nilotic, the Bantu, and the Hamites who migrated in Uganda with different and unique cultures and tradition practices make them extraordinary and different from one another. Uganda has three main linguistic groups; the Bantu who are the dominant group are found in the central, western and southern parts of the country, the Nilotics and the Central Sudanic in the north, north Eastern and the west Nile regions of Uganda. Uganda’s diversity is boosted in the northeast by the presence of the Karamoja people who have a rich cultural background of cattle keeping while the northwest is occupied by people whose language and culture is similar to that of current Sudan.
Tribes under each group speak languages that are closely related but they have different cultures, beliefs and practices. Since there was no national language then Swahili language was introduced as a joint language for all including the literate and illiterates to have a common language however, with the introduction of colonialism, English became a national language in Uganda. This was agreed upon and confirmed. Below are some of the cultural practices of the different tribes in Uganda
Since there was no national language for a long time yet there are many people who do not understand and speak English in both towns and villages, there was a decision to introduce Kiswahili as a national language since more people both illiterate and literate can use the language. This was recently agreed upon and confirmed. Uganda cultural practices are seen in different aspects and below are some of the cultural practices in Uganda
Different tribes have specific foods that they have been well known for as the mostly consumed foods known as staple food. The Bantu are mostly known for consuming more of matooke more than any other foods. Most tribes of the Nilotics mainly eat mingled millet accompanied with different types of sauce. The consumption of different foods by different tribal groups is one of the reasons why there is a variety of foods produced in Uganda. Other agricultural foods produced and consumed in Uganda include cassava, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, maize, rice, yams, vegetables and lots of fruits among others. Uganda also has delicacies that have been for a long time been existing but hadn’t been developed in terms of being served in a more modern and cleaner way, they include rolex and nsenene (grasshoppers). These are some of the delicacies that travelers enjoy on Uganda safaris.
Way of Dressing
Traditionally, the gomesi is a dress that Ugandan women wear for events and ceremonies while the men wear Kanzu (kanzus for plural). All these attires are long up to the toes and are a way of respecting the events especially marriage ceremonies and weddings. Other traditional clothes for the Banyonkole and Batooro are Busuti and mishanana.
Men acquire their women from their parents’ homes after paying bride price which is a way of respect to the lady’s family. Traditionally, paying bride price is a way of indicating that the man rules in the house, in other words, he is above the woman. There are different items asked as bride wealth from different tribes. A few years back, polygamous marriages defined Uganda marriages. The more the wives, the more a man was considered wealthy along with many children from the different women. This has however changed because of introduction of Christianity which largely dominates in the country.
Family and Gender status
Traditionally, decisions were made by the husband/father without any influence from the mother or children. This still happens in most communities of Uganda. However, there are those that have changed due to education and Christianity in a way that all family members have influence on different family issues. Women highly depend on men in a family with provision of food, school fees for children and construction of the house among other responsibilities. Sons are normally the heirs when their fathers have passed on.
Uganda is mainly dominated by Christians. According to the 2014 census, findings indicate that there largest Christian population are Roman Catholic constituting 40% , followed by Protestants constituting 32% and Islam constituting 14%. There is a growing number of Pentecostal which is at 11%. There are also people who still believe in traditional religions as it was before Christianity was spread in the country. Other religions in the country include Seventh Day Adventist, Baptist and Orthodox.
One of the moments where etiquette is highly important is during time for family meals. Women cook and serve meals in a home. After serving, everyone is required to wash their hands and sit together on mats where the sitting posture also matters. It is disrespectful to sit and lean on the left hand, to sit and stretch your legs and to leave the place after eating before others finish eating. Any visitor who comes and finds you eating is supposed to join others and share the meal. It is also disrespect for children to talk while eating, unless they have been asked a question. After eating, everyone is expected to compliment to mother in house or the woman who cooked the food.
Cultural and tradition practises
Each tribe in Uganda has a cultural practice that makes it outstanding from other tribes making Uganda a combined nation for interesting cultures for example the Bagisu people have practice Circumcision for young boys as an initiation to adulthood. It is believed that if a Masaba boy is not circumcised traditionally, he is not considered a man. The process involves celebrations and the boy is expected to be brave enough to go through the process that is to say to be a man of courage.
The Sabin people from Kapchorwa on the other hand traditionally do circumcision on the girls however; this has highly been discouraged by the Uganda government because it is a very dangerous practice for it has led to loss of lives among the girls.