BAGANDA PEOPLE: UGANDA`S ANCIENT PEOPLE THAT BUILT THE ORGANIZED KINGDOM OF BUGANDA AND STILL RETAINS THEIR ANCIENT CULTURE AND TRADITIONS
The Baganda are a Bantu-speaking Buganda people and the largest single ethnic group in Uganda. They occupy the central part of Uganda which was formerly called the Buganda province. Buganda which means 'Bundles' is a subnational kingdom within Uganda. The kingdom of the Ganda people, Buganda is the largest of the traditional kingdoms in present-day Uganda, comprising all of Uganda's Central Region, including the Ugandan capital Kampala.
Baganda people performing their cultural dance
The 5.5 million Baganda (singular Muganda; often referred to simply by the root word and adjective, Ganda) make up the largest Ugandan ethnic group, representing approximately 20% of Uganda's total 28 million population. The people of Buganda are referred to as Baganda (the singular form is Muganda), their language is referred to as Luganda and they refer to their customs as Kiganda customs. Sometimes the generic term Ganda is used for all the above (especially by foreign scholars). Buganda is home to the nation's political and commercial capital, Kampala; as well as the country's main international airport, Entebbe.
'Uganda' (a Kiswahili word for 'Land of the Ganda') was the name used by the Arab and Swahili traders on the East African coast to refer to the Kingdom of Buganda.
Man in Baganda traditional wear
These traders first arrived in Buganda in the mid-nineteenth century in search of slaves, ivory, as well as other merchandise. When the European colonialists eventually extended their hegemony over Buganda and the surrounding territories at the end of the nineteenth century, they used the Kiswahili term Uganda to refer to the new colony. On his visit to the country, the late Winston Churchill was so captivated by its beauty that he called it the "Pearl of Africa." The Baganda can therefore be found in the present districts of Kampala, Mpigi, Mukono, Masaka, Kalangala, Kiboga, Rakai, Sembabule and Mubende.
Rubaga-hill in Kampala back in 1840`s was the capital of the Kingdom of Buganda. The name Kampala derives from an expression used by the Baganda known as "Kasozi Kampala" meaning "The Hill of the Impala" refering to the the Impala(slender antelope, similar to the gazelle) which was always seen on the Mengo hill(one of Kampala city's seven hills) which has acted as the palace headquaters for the Buganda Kingdom since the early 1840s.
Buganda, like her neighbours, had a proud history extending back centuries before the arrival of the Arabs and Europeans. The ruling dynasty of kings was established in the mid-14th century AD. Unfortunately, the lack of a written history prior to the arrival of the Arabs and Europeans makes it difficult to establish important dates with precision. The first acknowledged king in this dynasty was called Kato Kintu. Since Kintu's reign, there have been 36 kings including to the current King, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II.
The Kingdom’s history of over 700 years, has had the Kabaka, as the supreme ruler and the Lukiiko as its Parliament. Buganda Kingdom is the oldest Kingdom in the country. Other kingdoms include Bunyoro, Busoga, and Tooro.
Kabaka/king (Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II) & Queen (Sylvia Nagginda) Of Buganda - Uganda
Custom and traditions are central in the lives of the Baganda. The Kabaka was a unifying factor of all the people of Buganda until 1966 when monarchy was abolished in Uganda. The Kabaka (Mutesa II) went into exile where he later died in 1969.
The photo above was taken at Lubaga Cathedral the day Kabaka Muteesa II returned from exile (17 Oct 1955).
The years of political turmoil and civil strife in Uganda, and particularly in the Buganda (1966 – 1986), led to the collapse of the infrastructure, social services and the decay of morals and values. Buganda, like many other areas that had traditional and cultural institutions, lost her Kingdom status as well as her cherished cultural development, guidance and leadership. Traditional values including hard work were seriously affected. This coupled with the brain drain that ensued, crippled the economy causing hunger, poverty, disease, ignorance, crime, and despair among the majority of the society.
Princess Sheillah of Buganda: From Buganda Kingdom, the largest and most powerful kingdom in Uganda; pop star and one of the most famous women in her country.
The Baganda had no King for over 27 years until 1993 when the current King of Buganda, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II (son of Mutesa II) was restored as a cultural leader without political powers. The lineage of succession has not been broken for over 700 years.
The Kabaka, is held in high esteem and commands great respect and authority among the Baganda (and among all Ugandans). The King uses his authority to mobilize people for development to ensure that the people of Buganda are united and are engaged in hard and productive work to uplift their social and economic well being. The years after the restoration of Kabakaship have had significant impact on the unity and social economic development of Buganda. The long forgotten “Bulungi Bwansi” (self-help spirit) is slowly returning to the people because of the Kabaka’s encouragement.
Buganda's boundaries are marked by Lake Victoria to the south, the River Nile to the east, L
ake Kyoga to the north and River Kafu to the northwest. To the west, Buganda is bordered by the districts of Isingiro, Kiruhura, Kyenjojo, Kibale, Hoima and Masindi.
The following are the officially recognized counties (amassaza) of Buganda:
Ggomba,Butambala,Kyaddondo,Busiro,Buddu,Bulemeezi,Ssingo,Kyaggwe,Bugerere,Buweekula,Mawogola,Kabula,Mawokota,Kooki,Ssese,Buvuma,Busujju and Buluuli
Origins of Baganda people Buganda
There are abundant traditions about the origins of the Baganda. However, most of these traditions contrast very sharply.
A community in pre-colonial Buganda dancing. Buganda was an arena of civil wars fuelled by political ambitions by religious sects and foreigners
The region known today as Buganda was known as Muwaawa before the 12th century, a name literary seem to mean a place that is sparsely populated. It is believed that these people come from Abyssinia through the rift valley and the mountains of Elgon.
These people were organized into groups that had a common ancestry and constituted the most important unit in Buganda's culture - the clan. The leader of each of these clans would be a chief and ruled a section of the territory. There were five original clans referred to as Banansangwa simply meaning the indigenous clans and they are: Ffumbe, Lugave, N?onge, Njaza and Nyonyi. These went on expanding to 52 clans by 1966.
King Mutesa, the Kabaka of Buganda, who ruled from 1856 to 1884. Mutesa maintained Buganda's power during three turbulent decadesAlthough these people spoke the same language and had the same culture, the clans were not so autonomous. There was no organized system of governance in the region but the clans were ruled over by The Bataka. There was no accepted general leader in the region but leadership passed on to whoever proved his might in the battle field. There used to be more than one leader in the same area. There some powerful leaders who are said to have established themselves for some periods of time before Kintu's arrival and they include the following: Sseguku, Buwumpya, Bukokoma, Bukulu, Bandi, Beene, Ggulu, Kyebagaba, Muyizzi, Bukuku, Bukadde-Magezi, Nakirembeka, Tonda, Maganda, Mukama, and Bemba. According to the most widely accepted version of history, Bemba was the acknowledged leader at the time of Kintu's arrival.
KING MUTESA MUKABYA of Uganda retiring between 1861-1862. THE GREAT KABAKA WHO MARRIED 85 WIVES AND FATHERED 96 CHILDREN. Kabaka is the title of kings according to the traditions of the Baganda. Source : Journal of the discovery of the source of the Nile. : pg. 285.
Muwaawa become Buganda during the reign of Ssekabaka Kintu the first when he took over from Bemba. By this time, the head of the Ffumbe clan was called Buganda Ntege Walusimbi who had leadership over other clans. Walusimbi had several children including Makubuya, Kisitu, Wasswa Winyi, and Kato Kintu. When Walusimbi died, his son Makubuya replaced him as ruler. On his death, Makubuya in turn was replaced by his brother Kisitu as ruler. During Kisitu's reign, a renegade prince called Bbemba came from the area of Kiziba in northern Tanzania today and established his camp at Naggalabi, Buddo from there he planned to fight Kisitu and replace him as ruler of Muwaawa. Bemba became so cruel and ruthless. When Bbemba attacked Kisitu, Kisitu became so intimidated and in his fear, he vowed to give his chair Ssemagulu to whoever would succeed in killing off Bemba whereby Ssemagulu was the symbol of authority. On hearing his brother's vow, Kintu gathered some followers from among his brothers and some of the various clans and attacked Bemba. Bemba was defeated in the ensuing battle and he was beheaded by one Nfudu of the Lugave clan. Nfudu quickly took Bbemba's head to Kintu, who in turn took it to Kisitu. On seeing Bbemba's head, Kisitu abdicated his throne in favor of Kintu with the words that "Kingship is earned in battle". Despite his abdication, Kisitu wanted to retain leadership of the Ffumbe clan, so he told Kintu to start his own clan. He also told Kintu that the kingdom should be renamed Buganda in memory of their common ancestor Buganda Ntege Walusimbi. Thus the royal clan came into existence by separated from the Ffumbe clan. Kintu established a new system of governance in alliance with the other clan leaders. Although there is no written literature, the information has passed on from generation to generation in oral form and the above version has been widely accepted as the most viable version.
Kabaka Muteesa talks to his chiefs in the 1950s. Courtesy photos, Uganda a Picture History, Fountain Publishers
However, there are other versions that talk about the origin of Buganda and amongst them is one where people believed that Bbemba and Kintu were related and that Kintu who was younger than Bbemba took over as leader. This did not go down well with Bbemba who was eldest which forced him to fight his cousin Kintu from the throne. Bbemba won the battle and Kintu ran away to the Ssese Islands from where he organized to come back and fight for his throne which was by then called Naggalabi.
Kampala,capital of Uganda
When Bbemba took over power, he became so ruthless that people hated him so much. They even compared him to the dangerous cobra (Bbemba Musota) and wherever he would go to visit, he caused suffering to the people and even killed many of them. People became furious of him and when Kintu came back to fight him, all the people rallied behind him to fight Bbemba and this helped Kintu to win the battle.
This version goes a head to say that Kintu teamed up with all the different clans and his army was led by Mukiibi who was leader of the Lugave clan in the area. They won the battle and Bbemba was chased away. Kintu Kato took over the throne and its from here that some people mistake Kintu Kato as the first Muganda but this is not true. Kintu Kato could not have been the first Muganda when he fought Bbemba to take over power. He was a grandson to the first Kintu who came straight from heaven and he was married to Nambi Nantululu. When Kintu was coming back from Ssese Island, he took around about route via mountain Elgon. This he did because he wanted to take cover from his enemies so that he could attack Bbemba's men with ease. This is the reason why some people mistake Kintu to have come from the east of the country known today as Uganda. Kintu came to Buganda as a conquering hero with a big force that enabled him to establish himself as king. It's also believed that Bemba was a harsh and ruthless ruler. His subjects were already primed to rebel against him and indeed some prominent clan leaders joined Kintu's invading force. Key among these was Mukiibi, head of the Lugave clan, who was assigned command of the invading force. When Bemba was defeated in the battle, Kintu slept in Bemba's house as a sign of his victory. Bbemba had named his house Buganda and was located at Naggalabi Buddo. Thus Kintu took over leadership of Bemba's house Buganda and the name eventually came to mean all the territory that Kintu ruled. To this day, when a new king of Buganda is crowned, the ceremony takes place at Naggalabi, to recall Kintu's victory over Bemba.
Kintu found the region disorganized with only five clans. He reoganised them and merged those people he came with and the people he found in the region. Together they formed thirteen clans, organized themselves and formed the Buganda Kingdom. The five clans Kintu found in the region included among the following Ffumbe clan, Lugave clan, Ngeye clan, Nyonyi Nyange clan and the Njaza clan and they are referred to as "Ebika Binansangwa". Kitnu organized the people and called for a general meeting for all the clan leaders who met at Magonga in Busujju on Nnono hill and formed a united government with Kintu as their leader. This meeting was of great historic significance for it was at this meeting that Buganda's form of governance, and the relationship between the clans and the King was formally agreed upon. The agreement was not written down but it constituted an understanding between the clans that has been followed since then. In essence it set down Buganda's Constitution.
One of Buganda’s greatest army commanders and chief, Semei Kakunguru and his wife Nakalema who was sister to Kabaka Mwanga.
The following are some of the principal attendants who were at the meeting:
|1. Bukulu, from Ssese, who chaired the meeting|
2. Kato Kintu, who became King
3. Mukiibi Ndugwa, of the Lugave clan, whose son Kakulukuku was the first Katikkiro of Buganda
4. Kisolo, of the Ngonge clan, who also became a Katikkiro of Buganda
5. Kyaddondo, of the Nvuma clan who was appointed Ssaabaddu
|6. Kayimbyobutezi, of the Njaza clan|
7. Mwanje, of the Ngo clan
9. Kagobe, of the Ffumbe clan
10.Kayimbyokutega, from Kyaggwe and of the Mpeewo clan
11. Kiwutta Kyasooka, of the Mbogo clan
12. Kyeya Mutesaasira, of the Ngo clan
|13. Nnyininsiko, of the Njovu clan|
14. Bakazirwendo Ssemmandwa, of the Ngeye clan
15. Kakooto Mbaziira, of the Nnyonyi clan, from Bulimo in Kyaggwe county
16. Nsereko Namwama, of the Kkobe clan
17. Nsumba, of the Mbogo clan
|18. Kisenge, of the Nnyonyi clan, from Mirembe in Kyaggwe county|
19. Kyeyune, of the Nnyonyi clan, from Mirembe in Kyaggwe county
20. Mubiru, of the Mmamba clan, from Bumogera
21. Mutasingwa, of the Mbwa clan
A Fetish doctor (Omulubaale) who was keeping the Naggalabi which was the traditional name for throne gave one stick (Akati Kamu) to Kintu and told him to break it into pieces which Kintu did at once. Then the Fetish put together nine sticks to make a bundle (Kaganda) and even prepared more others to make many bundles (Buganda) and told Kintu to break then like he had done with the one stick. Kintu failed to break the bundles with ease as it had been with one stick and therefore the Mulubaale explained to him that it was very easy to break one stick but it was very difficult to break the bundles (Obuganda) and that he should rule his people in BUGANDA and not in single STICKS. Therefore, it's from here that the name Buganda was adopted and Muwaawa dropped. Every one would refer to Kintu's region of rule as "Obuganda Bwa Kintu". When the kingdom was formed and given the name Buganda, the people in the Kingdom also came to be called Baganda for many and Muganda for Singular, their language Luganda and their culture Kiganda. They loved one another, spoke the same language and were never jealousy of each other.
Other theories state that Rukidi's brother Kato was called Kimera rather than Kintu. According to this school of thought, Kintu was merely a mythical figure and Kimera is the one who established the royal dynasty of Buganda. The Baganda strenuously resist this theory, and instead assert that Kimera was a grandson of Kintu. Kimera is counted as the third king in the dynasty, rather than its founder.
King Mutesa II of Buganda
|King||Burial Place/DATE||Father||Mother||Mother's Clan|
|1||Kato Kintu||Nnono, Busujju/ 1200 - 1230||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|2||Ccwa I||Unknown/ 1200 - 1275||Kintu||Nambi Nantuttululu||Ngeye|
|3||Kimera||Bumera, Busiro/ 1275 - 1330||Kalemeera*||Wannyana||Nseenene|
|11||Ssuuna I||Gimbo, Busiro||Nakibinge||Nassuuna||Mmamba|
|13||Kimbugwe||Bugwanya, Busiro||Ssuuna I||Nalugwa||Ndiga|
|15||Mutebi I||Kkongojje, Busiro||Kateregga||Namutebi||Mmamba|
|18||Tebandeke||Bundeke, Busiro||Mutebi I||Nabukalu||Lugave|
|22||Mawanda||Sserinnya, Busiro||Ndawula||Nakidde Luyiga||Ngo|
|23||Mwanga I||Kavumba, Busiro||Ggolooba Musanje*||Nabulya Nalugwa||Ndiga|
|24||Namugala||Muyomba, Busiro||Ggolooba Musanje||Nabulya Nalugwa||Ndiga|
|25||Kyabaggu||Kyebando, Busiro||Ggolooba Musanje||Nabulya Nalugwa||Ndiga|
|29||Ssuuna II||Wamala, Kyaddondo||Kamaanya||Nakkazi Kannyange||Mmamba|
|30||Muteesa I||Nabulagala, Kyaddondo||Ssuuna II||Muganzirwazza||Njovu|
|31||Mwanga II||Nabulagala, Kyaddondo||Muteesa I||Baagalaayaze||Ngonge|
|32||Kiweewa||Masanafu, Kyaddondo||Muteesa I||Kiribakka||Mmamba|
|33||Kalema||Mmende, Busiro||Muteesa I||Ndibuwakanyi||Mmamba|
|34||Ccwa II||Nabulagala, Kyaddondo||Mwanga II||Evelyn Kulabako||Ngabi|
|35||Muteesa II||Nabulagala, Kyaddondo||Ccwa II||Irene Namaganda||Nte|
|36||Mutebi II||***||Muteesa II||Sarah Kisosonkole||Nkima|
Buganda warriors in the 1920s. Riots were ignited by maids and drivers in Buganda in 1945 over exploitation and poor working conditions by colonial employers. PHOTO BY WWW.HIPUGANDA.ORG
The traditional Ganda economy relied on crop cultivation. In contrast with many other East African economic systems, cattle played only a minor role. Many Baganda hired laborers from outside Buganda to herd the Baganda's cattle, for those who owned livestock.
Bananas were the most important staple food, providing the economic base for the region's dense population growth. This crop does not require shifting cultivation or bush fallowing to maintain soil fertility, and as a result, Ganda villages were quite permanent. Women did most of the agricultural work, while men often engaged in commerce and politics (and in precolonial times, warfare). Before the introduction of woven cloth, traditional clothing was manufactured from the bark of trees.
Baganda farm produce
The Baganda use "classificatory" system of kinship terminology which seems common to virtually all the Bantu peoples of Central and Southern Africa. Similar systems of kinship terminology can be found, for example, among the Ndebele of Zimbabwe, the Zulu of South Africa, the Ngoni and Tumbuka of Eastern Zambia.
Styled: H.M. The Queen of Buganda/H.M. The Nnabagereka of Buganda.
Name: Sylvia Nagginda.
Age: Born September 1964.
Trivia: H.M. The Queen was engaged on Valentines' day 1999.
Signature style: Ethnic and western.In this system, all brothers of the father are called "father", all sisters of the mother are called "mother", all their children "brother" and "sister". In male-speaking terms, father's sister's daughters (cross-cousins) are called cousins. But they are terminologically differentiated from parallel cousins and from sisters. A total of 68 linguistic terms of relationships are used by the Baganda.
The Baganda have a very important aspect of the social or family structure; "the consanguinal kin group" or "blood line" which is a line of descent traced through the male members of the family or patri-sib. "By combining the patrilocal rule of residence with consanguinal descent, the Baganda have built a formidable system of clans."
Among the Baganda, the clan has remained the most important kinship entity. The clan is linked by four factors. First, two animal totems from one of which the clan derives its name. Second, an identifying drum beat used at ceremonies. Third, certain distinguishing personal names. Fourth, special observations related to pregnancy, childbirth, naming of the child, and testing the child's legitimacy as clan member.
The existence of patriarchy and the patrilineal system among the Baganda might suggest that individual men have the most dominant social status. But quite to the contrary, the clan seems to have a more supreme influence. For example, when a man dies among the Baganda, his power over the property ends. The clan chooses the heir. "The clan assumes control of inheritance; the wishes of the dead person may or may not be honored. ....The eldest son cannot inherit."
The Baganda practice the levirate custom. The man who is the heir to the widow has the additional family responsibility of adopting the widow's family. He ....."also adopts the deceased person's children, calling them his and making no distinction between them and his own children."
The Ganda Clan (Ekika) System
In the Ganda context, a clan is a socio-family group based on a patriarchal lineage of descent. There are 53 recognised "ekika" (clans) that constitute the system. The group or clan identifies itself in terms of a symbol referred to as a totem (omuziro), generally in form of a particular animal, a bird, a type of fish, a particular insect, a particular plant or mushroom. Each Muganda must necessarily belong to a clan, that is, to one of thosefifty-three. The importance attached to that belonging by the Baganda can be measured through several Ganda proverbs such as: Nnyoko abeeranga omugwiira,,naakuzaala ku kika ! (Foreign may your mother’s origins be, so long as she delivers you into a clan !) or, Oguzzanga ku busenze, n’otoguzza ku kika !(Rather offend your neighbourhood, than your clan !).
History of the Clans
The Clans would appear to pre-date the Kingship system in Buganda. Their existence can be traced to the first known generation of kingship known as the Tonda Kings. This generation is supposed to have lasted from about the years 400 to about 1200 AD. King Bemba Musota was the last monarch of this first generation of kingship in Buganda, a country which was then known as Muwawa. That generation was replaced by the second and current generation, the Abalasangeye, tracing its blood relationship from King Kintu; he was the first monarch of that second generation of kingship. His Majesty Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II is therefore a direct descendant King Kintu. The total sum of the clan system is generally grouped into four major groupings as follows:
a) On the arrival of Kintu (said to have come from the North), there were Six clans already established and recognized in the geo-political and cultural State,Buganda. These are referred to as the Nansangwa or the indigenous. These clans are: i) eFumbe ii) oLugave iii) eMamba iv ) eNgeye v ) eNjaza, vi ) eNnyonyi
b) A group of sixteen clans came with King Kintu. That group is composed of the following clans: i) Abalangira ii) ekkobe iii) eMamba iv) eMbwa v) eMpeewo vii) eMpologoma viii) Namung’oona ix) eNgo x)eNg’nge xi) eNjovu xii) eNkejje xiii)eNkima xiv)eNtalaganya xv)eNvubu xvi)eNvuma
c) Another eleven clans are known to have arrived in Buganda along with King Kimera, traveling from Bunyoro. These are a mixture of clans which went into exile from Buganda during the troubled days of King Bemba Musota during the kingship generation of Tonda, joined by other ally clans in the course of the exile or as they traveled back. They are: i) oBugeme ii) oButiko iii) aKasimba iv) aKayozi v)eKibe vi) eMbogo vii) oMusu viii) eNgabi ix) eNkerebwe x) eNsuma xi)eNseenene
d) Twenty other clans would appear to have arrived individually from the outside of Buganda to integrate the kingdom or, to have evolved from within, as emanations of other clans for various reasons. This internal expansion of clans was partly the work of the kings of the time with the objective of asserting their authority by creating clans loyal to them. This group is composed of: i) aBabiito ii) aBasambo iii)aBaboobi iv) aKasnke v) eKikuba vi) eKinyomo vii) eKiwere viii) oLukato ix)eMbuzi x) oMutima xi) Nakinsige xii) eNdiga xiii) eNdiisa xiv) Ng’aali xv) eNjobe xvi) eNkebuka xvii) eNkula xviii) eNsunu xix) eNte xx) eNswaaswa.
The Structural organization of the Clans
Each clan is structured on six pillars or sub-chieftainships: i) Nnyumba ( home) and its head , possibly a father and his immediate family, then ii) Luggya (compound or homestead) headed by a grand father leading up to other increasingly bigger groupings of families known as iii) Mutuba iv ) Lunyiriri (lineage), v ) Ssiga and vi)Kasolya (roof or top) which is the apex of the clan hierarchy, connecting up to the Kabaka through the Katikkiro. Soocio-cultural governance and arbitration are exercised at each of those levels from the bottom to the top. Unsettled matters can then be pushed up to the Kabaka’s arbitration through his appeals court ( Kisekwa ) composed of the respective top heads of the various clans. The most common cases at
that level tend to relate to estate inheritance or replacement of a clan chief in cases of death or incapacity.
The elements distinguishing the clans from each other
There are four main characteristics which distinguish the clans from each other and which are respected by the members of the clan concerned: i) The totem ( Muziro ) the main clan symbol is generally represented by an animal, a bird, an insect, a particular
plant, etc. Most of the clan symbols therefore are living things, including the Mutima(heart ) clan. One exception to that categorisation should be mentioned. The Lukato(knitting needle) clan. Clan members are not expected to eat their clan symbols or hurt them. It is a taboo! The other exceptions that need to be pointed out are the two clans that do not have a clan symbol. These are the Abalangira (princes and princesses) clan and the Ababiito clan. That exception reminds us of another important feature in the
system. The Abalangira are expected to take on their mother’s clan symbol. Another taboo, common to almost all clans is the intermarriage between members of the same clan or the clan of their mother. ii) Akabbiro is another distinguishing mark among the clans. It can be considered as a supporting totem. Like the totem itself, akabbiro is not to be eaten by members of the clan. It is also in the form of a plant, an animal, a bird or an insect. iii) Each clan has a distinct drum- beat, known as Omubala. This is sounded
or played during certain functions bringing together members of the clan and their inlaws and friends. Such occasions may relate to the installation of an heir. In the olden days of tribal wars, omubala would be played at the moment of a clan member’s departure to or return from war. Such moments represent pride or sadness, or simply pleasure within the clan. iv) Clan Names are yet another feature distinguishing the
The most important are the names (titles) of the clan chiefs at the top of the clan hierarchy. For instance, it is well established that the name Mugema automatically refers to the head of the Nkima (Monkey) clan; Ssaabalangira is perhaps one of the most distinctive clan chief names. It is the Abalangira clan head’s name. Apart from the clan chiefs’ names there are designated names common in the various clans. For example, Sentongo and Namuli are almost invariably of the Nkima clan; Mukiibi, Namakula and Semakula of Lugave; Bosa and Nabbosa of the Ndiga clan; Sewannyana and Wannyana of Nseenene clan, etc. However, clan names can cross over to another clan through a practice known as okubbula. This is when a parent decides to name his or her child after a loved relative or friend of another clan.
Then there are some names that are very important but do not belong to any particularclan. The most common names in this category are those relating to twins. Naalongo is the name given to the mother of twins; Saalongo, the father of twins. These two names given to parents of twins can be used both as names and as titles. The names, Nakatoand Kato given respectively to the younger girl or boy of the twins; Babirye and Wasswa for the elder girl or boy respectively; Kigongo, given to the child that precedes the twins;
Kizza, the one that immediately follows the twins. Another set of names that do not belong to any particular clan are those invoking the way or the period during which the child is born. Musisi (earthquake) is given to a child born during that period; Kiwanuka, a name invoking the action of sudden falling or dropping to the ground was traditionally given to a child being born unexpectedly, say during travel. There are also names such as Mukasa or Kibuuka which invoke traditional gods in the Ganda mythology. Finally, there are names which are self-given or given by society to an individual to depict his or her character or personality, for example, Naggagga for a richly person or, Naamwatulira (outspoken) etc. Such names are generally referred to as “amapaatiike.”
The Functions and Usefulness of the Clans and the System.
The clan system plays an important role in the social life of the Baganda. i) The protection of the Ganda culture is in many ways incumbent on the clans. Here, one may start with the various symbolisms attached to the totem, to the birth of the twins, the naming of the children, inheritance, etc. The general passing on of culture and tradition to the succeeding generations is a fundamental responsibility of the clans. The fear of
shaming or letting down, not only the immediate family but, the whole clan is a very important motivation encouraging the individual Baganda to respect their culture. ii)The sustenance of the kingship is made possible by the clan system. Traditionally, each clan had several roles to play in that respect. This was the case with every function surrounding the kingship right from his enthronement, housing, transportation, feeding, clothing, the palace maintenance, etc. Naturally, some of those responsibilities continue to be played by the clans but in more or less a symbolic manner.
Beautiful baganda woman. Courtesy:Mrs.KC
ii) The social security provided by the clan particularly in times of bereavement and, that heart warming sense of belonging to a large family are inestimable services. iii) The general discipline underlying many of the dos and don’ts, the things we must do and those we must not do are embedded in the clan system. The key examples are the taboos surrounding the totem; but also the homage to be paid to the clan elders. For
instance, final funeral rites must be performed within the clan circle, in accordance with the clan code and not simply within the immediate family. The awareness created by belonging to the clan system, lays useful basic foundations for the individual members for the acceptance of social discipline in the larger community.
Although the Ganda (Baganda) have long regarded marriage as a central aspect of life, their marriage ceremonies have traditionally been relatively simple (save for those of the Kabaka ).The traditional term for marriage was jangu enfumbire (come cook for me). This symbolized the prevailing authority patterns in the typical household. In centuries past, the parents initiated marriage for their children by choosing spouses for them without so much as obtaining consent from the children. Over time, however, boys started choosing their own mates with the approval of parents, with due diligence to avoid courting relatives and people with undesirable family and social traits.
Baganda women at Okwanjula marriage ceremony.
Marrying the Kiganda way is locally known as ‘Okwanjula’. This is when a man is introduced to his wife -to- be’s family. After this, introductions and payment of "omutwalo" (dowry) were made and then a marriage ceremony was conducted to hand over the girl. In this whole process, the girl’s role amounted to no more than giving her consent. All these steps to marriage usually involved large social gatherings with eating, drinking, and dance. Before the formal introductions,the whole process starts with what is called okukyaala. This is when the lady shows and introduces her husband-to-be to her parternal aunt, locally known as Senga.
Best men`s dress
This is an in-door event and it does not call for outsiders such as neighbours and many relatives, since it is a small function where the aunt’s family and her neice(wife-to-be) host the husband-to-be, normally accompanied by very few (3 or 4) of his relatives or friends. The purpose of this visit is for the lady to show her husband-to-be to her aunt, who (the aunt)in turn will introduce the man to her brother (the lady’s father) on the introduction day Kwanjula.
The girl would be dressed by an aunt and the boy invited to see whether he liked her. If so, introductions, dowry, and the handover ceremony followed. According to Buganda culture, the dress code for the function is traditional wear, kanzus for men and gomesi’s for the women. The two sides have a spokesperson each, who keep on talking on their behalf for biggest part of the function.At the man’s side, they mostly prepare for presents or gifts to bring to the lady’s side, while at the lady’s side it is basically preparation for eats, drinks and entertainment. At the kwanjula, three pots of beer had to be carried. One was the ekiguula, that would break the ice; the enjogenza, that facilitated the talks and the third pot was left for the family’s enjoyment. Other gifts included a basket of meat, chicken for the brother-in-law (muko), gomesi for the ssenga and the girl’s mother, kanzu for the father and mutwalo, money that was the actual bride price.
Baganda women performing traditional dance at a marriage ceremony
No animals were allowed at the kwanjula. A goat was only accepted if the girl was pregnant or she had
given birth, before the ceremony. Even then, it was usually hidden behind the house immediately it was
A typical traditional Ganda marriage ( Kwanjula ) ceremony lasts three to four hours and consists of the following steps:
• Abatambuze Bali Ku Mulyango: The bride’s father’s spokesman welcomes the groom and his party. Until so welcomed, the groom and his party are considered strangers or passersby.
• Abagenyi Bayingidde: After being welcomed, the groom and his party enter as guests.
• Abagenyi Batudde—Abaana Balamusa: If the bride has siblings, they are allowed to greet the groom and his party.
• Abagenyi Banyonyola Ekibaleese: The groom’s spokesman explains the visitors’ reason for coming ( Ensonga ).
• Ekyaleese Abagenyi Kimanyibwa: Because the groom’s party does not come until “invited” by one of the bride’s aunts, the aunt who gave the invitation “admits doing so after being exposed” ( Ssenga Ow ’ ensonga). This “outing” is usually done in a lighthearted manner, as everybody at the gathering is privy
to the reason for the meeting but feigns ignorance until the groom’s spokesman declares their reason for coming and the aunt is “outed.”
• Abagenyi Baleeta Enjogeza: The groom and his party serve the “conversation starter,” usually a drink. The acceptance of the drink by the bride’s father’s party is a positive sign that they are willing to entertain subsequent negotiations.
• Okw ’ ogera Ebikwaata Ku Mulenzi: The groom’s spokesman relates the groom’s heritage and status, that is, his family background, ancestry, work ethic, and achievements. The groom’s spokesman does his best to cast the groom in a good light, as dubious ancestry or reputation on the part of the groom is enough reason for the girl’s family or clan to reject the proposed union.
• Olukiiko Lulamusa: The groom’s party accepts greetings from the girl’s uncles, aunts, and neighbors. To show respect, the women in the groom’s party stoop or kneel as they are greeted.
• Okw ’ ogera Ebikwaata Ku Muwala: The bride’s father’s spokesman relates the bride’s heritage and status, that is, her family background, ancestry, and achievements. As with the groom’s spokesman, the bride’s father’s spokesman does his best to highlight the bride’s good reputation, work ethic, ancestry, and achievements, as shortcomings in any of these areas can cause the groom’s party to reject the bride.
• Okusiima Ebirabo: If satisﬁ ed with the bride’s reputation (and they usually are, because by the time this ceremony takes place, the necessary background investigations would have been conducted to the satisfaction of the groom and his family), the groom’s spokesman seeks permission show the groom’s
appreciation for the excellent job that the bride’s parents, family, and clan have done in raising her. He then proceeds to give gifts to the bride’s father, mother, brother ( muko ), paternal aunt ( Ssenga ), other aunts, grandparents, and others.
• Okuyingira Mu Nju—Okulya Entaba Luganda: The groom and his spokesman and two to three others enter the bride’s family house for a brief meeting with the bride’s uncles and aunts, and the groom is formally accepted as a son of the family. At this time, roasted coffee beans and drinks are shared to seal the kinship or brotherhood ( Oluganda ).
• Okulya Ekijjulo: Once the kinship is sealed, the conversation changes from formal to familial. The main feast is announced, and the groom eats with another group (excluding parents) inside the house.
• Obusiimo, Empeta Ne Cake: Then optional events such as picture taking,
presentation of additional presents, exchange of engagement rings, and the cutting of a cake take place.
• Okusibuula: The groom and his party leave for home and come for the bride at the Kasuze Katya Ceremony
Baganda family. courtesy:Mrs.KC
In the late and early 19th century, a detailed study conducted among the Baganda found that, "Polygyny, the type of marriage in which the husband has plural wives, is not only the preferred but the dominant form of marriage for the Baganda."Commoners had two or three, chiefs had dozens, and the Kings had hundreds of wives. What was the structure of the polygynous family?
Although among the Baganda, the nuclear family of the mother, father, and their children constitutes the smallest unit of the Baganda kinship system, the traditional family consists of "...... several nuclear units held in association by a common father." Because the Baganda people are patrilineal, the household family also includes other relatives of the father such as younger unmarried or widowed sisters, aged parents, and children of the father's clan sent to be brought up by him. Included in this same bigger household will be servants, female slaves, and their children. The father remains the head of the nuclear family units.
Baganda women. Courtesy:Mrs.KC
Having so many people in this household should not be confused with other types of large families like, ".....'the joint' family, with its several married brothers and their families living together or the 'extended' family, consisting of a group of married off spring living in one household under a patriarch or matriarch." The Baganda are also patrilocal. Therefore, the new families tend to generally live near or with the husband's parents.
Baganda men carrying gauge for a marriage ceremony
The Baganda believed in superhuman spirits in the form of mizimu, misambwa and Balubaale. The Balubaale were believed to have been men whose exceptional attributes in life were carried over into death. The mizimu were believed to be ghosts of dead people for it was believed that only the body would die and rot but the soul would still exist as omuzimu (singular of mizimu). Such ghosts were believed to operate at the family level to haunt whoever the dead person had grudge with. If the mizimu entered natural objects, they were believed to become misambwa. At another level, the mizimu could become tribal figures and also be known as Balubaale.
Traditional healer. courtesy:peterhoesing
The supreme being among the Baganda was the creator, Katonda, believed to have had neither children nor parents.The name, meaning creator of all things and Lord of Creation indicates that he was recognized to be superior to all, and was referred to as "the father of the gods.' He was said to have created the heavens and the earth with all that they contain. Katonda was however, not believed to be very different from the other Balubaale. In fact he was believed to be one of the seventy-three Balubaale in Buganda. There were three temples for Katonda in Buganda and all of them were situated in Kyaggwe under the care of priests from the Njovu clan.However, little was known of this supreme god and he was not expected to intervene routinely in human affairs.
Baganda woman in traditional wear and "basuti" wrapper
At the second level is Lubaale of whom there are more than two dozen. Lubaales were of major significance to the nation and the day to day life of the people. The word Lubaale was translated as "god" by early writers in English on Buganda but the histories of the Lubaales, which were well known to the Baganda, all tell of them having been humans who, having shown exceptional powers when alive, were venerated after death and whose spirits were expected to intercede favorably in national affairs when asked. They are thus more like the Saints of Christian belief than "gods".In this document, they will be referred to as Guardians. Ggulu, god of the sky and the father of Kiwanuka, god of lightning. Then there was Kawumpuli, god of plague, Ndaula, god of smallpox, Musisi, god of earthquakes, and Wamala, god of Lake Wamala; Musoke was the god of the rainbow and Kitaka was the god of the earth.
The Guardians were the focus of the organized religious activity of the nation, being recognized and venerated by all. Even more important, they were the one institution which the King, otherwise almost an absolute ruler, could not ignore or disrespect. Before all major national events, such as coronations and wars, the oracles at the major temples were consulted and offerings were made. For a King to ignore the pronouncements of the oracle or to desecrate a temple was a sure invitation to disaster. Each shrine (ekiggwa) was headed by a priest or priestess, the Mandwa, who, when the Guardian Spirit was upon him or her, also functioned as the oracle. Generally the office of Mandwa for a perticular temple was assigned to one clan, which would supply the priests and priestesses. Each Guardian had at least one temple, in which was kept a set of sacred drums and other ceremonial objects. The building and upkeep of the temples were governed by very elaborate and exacting rituals.
The most popular Guardian was Mukasa, Guardian of the Lake. He had temples in his honor all over the country but the chief temple was on Bubembe island in Lake Victoria. To this temple the King would send an annual offering of cows and a request for prosperity and good harvests. Next to his temple was one to his wife, Nalwanga, to whom women would pray for fertility. The other nationally renowned Guardian was Kibuuka of Mbaale. His legend tells that he was a general of such great prowess that it was said of him that he could fly like a bird over the battlefield. Killed in action in the time of Kabaka Nakibinge, his remains were enshrined at Mbaale ( now known as Mpigi) and he became the Guardian of War. His temple was desecrated by the British and the contents, including his jawbone, were put on display in a museum in Cambridge. The Primary School at Mpigi is named Kibuuka Memorial in his honor, and was built at the site of his shrine. A listing of the more well known Guardians is given in the following table.
|Wanga||.||Unknown||Fixed Sun and Moon in sky|
|Muwanga||The Most Powerful||Kiwanga, Kyaggwe||Son of Wanga|
|Musisi||Earthquakes||Bukasa Island, Ssese||.|
|Wannema||Phyical Handicaps||Bukasa Island, Ssese||Son of Musisi|
|Wamala||.||Busundo, Ssingo||Son of Musisi|
|Mukasa||Good Health, Fertility, Wealth||Bubembe Island, Ssese||Son of Wannema|
|Kibuuka||War||Mbaale (Mpigi), Mawokota||Son of Wannema|
|Nende||War||Bukeerere, Kyaggwe||Son of Mukasa|
|Mirimu||.||Ndejje, Bulemeezi||Son of Mukasa|
|Musoke||.||.||Son of Mukasa|
|Kitinda||Wealth, Long Life||Kkoome Island||Son of Musisi|
|Ggulu||.||None||Had no priests|
|Walumbe||Sickness, Death||Ttanda, Ssingo||Son of Ggulu|
|Kiwanuka||Fertility, Thunder||Mmengo, Kyaddondo||Son of Ggulu|
|Nagaddya||Marriage, Harvest||Nkumba, Busiro||Kibuuka's Mother|
|Nalwoga||.||Nsazi Island||Nagaddya's Sister|
|Nabamba||.||Kirugu, Kyaggwe||Came from Busoga|
|Lubanga||.||Bubiro, Kyaggwe||Came from Buruli|
|Ddungu||Game Hunting||Mabira Forest||Came from Bunyoro|
|Namalere||Good Health||Ssugu, Bukunja||.|
|Nagawonye||Rain, Crops||Mubanda, Bulemeezi||.|
|Kawaali||Smallpox||Kakooge, Busiro||Son of King Ssuuna I|
|Kawagga||.||Buwagga, Kyaddondo||Son of King Kateregga|
|Kawumpuli||Plague||Buyego, Kyaddondo||Son of King Kayemba|
|Nabuzaana||Obstetrics||.||Her priestesses were Banyoro|
Shrine where offerings are made at Ssezibwa falls, spiritual Buganda site used for traditional healing and royal retreat. near Kampala, Uganda
Every village recognised the presence of numerous local spirits, usually associated with a particular part of the local scenery, perhaps a forest, a stream or a python. These, as a rule, were unfriendly spirits, and the only duty one owed them was to avoid displeasing them. This might require a small offering of food to be left at a particular spot from time to time but generally simply meant keeping out f their way by obeying certain taboos. Wood and stream spirits, known as Misambwa, were known to bathe at certain times, no one would venture to the well at those hours. Similarly some tracts were off limits to gatherers of firewood. Lurid tales of the fate that befell transgressors are still told to this day.
The Bakabonas/traditional healers. Courtesy:peterhoesing
The ancient Baganda were thus like the followers of major modern religions in honoring their gods and praying for their help. They differed, however in the relationship they saw between the gods and the rules governing ordinary behavior and morals. To the philosophical question "Is murder wrong because God forbade it or did God forbid murder because it is wrong?" the Muganda would emphatically answer "the latter". The nation had an elaborate and carefully observed code of conduct governing personal and family relationships, cleanliness, the crafts, warfare and government, a code which was observed not because the gods ordained it but because it was the right thing to do. To this day the Muganda considers the statement "eyo ssi mpisa yaffe (that is not our custom)" a major censure.
A communal rather than divine basis for good behavior was useful in preserving the moral foundation of Buganda society, especially in the 19th century when the prestige and influence of the Guardians waned as that of the Kabaka grew. Thus by the end the reign of Mutesa I in 1884 the formal influence of the Guardians in national matters was gone, within another generation Christianity and Islam would have totally supplanted them. Traditional mores were more resilient, and only began to change significantly after 1945, especially in areas of family relationship. In the last generation the new order represented by imported religions and political systems has been found to be wanting, not only in the poor cohesiveness and function of the state but even in the personal conduct of religious and political leaders. Thus the traditional ways are once again treated with respect, even to the extent that the traditional terms for such things as a shrine (ekiggwa) or a prayer (okusamira) are now being used to describe Christian churches and services. Previously they were terms of abuse used to describe "pagans". What the final equilibrium will be between tradition and the now dominant Christianity and Islam only time will tell.
Traditional rituals performance
There were temples dedicated to the different Balubaale throughout Buganda. Each temple was served by a medium and a priest who had powers over the temple and acted as a liaison between the Balubaale and the people. In particular clans, priesthood was hereditary, but a priest of the same god could be found in different clans. The priests occupied a place of religious importance within society and they usually availed themselves for consultation.
The kings had special shrines of worship. The royal sister known as Nnaalinya took charge of the king's temple. There is a tradition among the Baganda that the Balubaale cult was introduced by Kabaka Nakibinge to strengthen his authority and that he combined both political and religious functions for that matter.
The rural Muganda (Baganda individual) woman typically wears a busuuti. This is a floor-length, brightly colored cloth dress with a square neckline and short, puffed sleeves. The garment is fastened with a sash placed just below the waist over the hips, and by two buttons on the left side of the neckline.
Baganda women wearing basuuti
Traditionally, the busuuti was strapless and made from bark-cloth. The busuuti is worn on all festive and ceremonial occasions. The indigenous dress of the Baganda man is a kanzu, a long, white cotton robe. On special occasions, it is worn over trousers with a Western-style suit jacket over it. Younger people wear Western-style clothing. Slacks, jeans, skirts, suits, and ties are also worn.
Baganda men dress
The staple food of the Baganda is matooke, a plantain (a tropical fruit in the banana family). It is steamed or boiled and commonly served with groundnut (peanut) sauce or meat soups. Sources of protein include eggs, fish, beans, groundnuts, beef, chicken, and goats, as well as termites and grasshoppers in season.
Common vegetables are cabbage, beans, mushrooms, carrots, cassava, sweet potatoes, onions, and various types of greens. Fruits include sweet bananas, pineapples, passion fruit, and papaya. Drinks include indigenous fermented beverages made from bananas (mwenge), pineapples (munanansi), and maize (musoli). Although Baganda have cutlery, most prefer to eat with their hands, especially when at home.
Music and Dance
Baganda kids doing traditional dance
Travelers that have had a safari or a tour to Uganda have been mesmerized by music of the people of Buganda region. The Baganda boast of a variety of dances originating from individual clans based on different themes such as; economic and social activities, politics, education, love and their history depending on the audience for whom the performance is made.
The baganda, like other tribes use music to praise and worship God or gods as well as people of authority, to celebrate their life cycle-rituals and rites, celebrate labor or work achievements such as a good harvest,to educate the population,to earn a leaving( as employment) ,as a form of recreation,as well as a cultural means of disseminating cultural values from generation to generation.
Baganda have three predominant dances; Bakisimba, Muwogola and Nankasa all inspired by their daily life.All kiganda dances involve a flawless `circular’ movement of the waist and a tip toeing movement of the feet plus hands spread out from the shoulder joint but bent forward or up words at the elbow joint depending on the type of dance. The dance moves or patterns are dictated by the lyrics or song meaning but mostly by the tempo of the song.
Baganda traditional Dancers
If one took a Uganda safari,they would definitely love the traditional Baganda dance`s costumes that are universally used for all their dances.The female dancers put on tops that cove their shoulders,cover the midriff with a white or cream silk material that accentuates the body undulations, a wide floor-length kikoyi that allows free leg movements to all directions,a raffia skirt around the back plus a sash around the waist line that gives a clear finish to the raffia skirt.
At the backside, a dance animal skin is added on top of the raffia skirt and sash and ankle bells are worn too.Modern dancers today add decorative bracelets and head bands to this costume.
Male dancers wear the kikoyi too that covers only to the mid calf to allow their rather vigorous dance moves and the public acceptability to have much of their bodies bare.
The Baganda have a variety of dance instruments but majorly drums of different sizes; the Empunyi (rhythm drums for the central beat), Namunjoloba (a small drum beaten by two small sticks to produce the rhytmic sound that controls all dance motifs or flows), the Embuutu (a large drum for the various dance rhytms), Engalabi (a long cylindrical drum that adds colour and texture to accompaniment), Amadinda (a xylophone to give the music melodies), Endigidi (a tube fiddle for melody), Entongoli (bow lyre for melody), Engombe (a cow horn that adds excitement at the climax), Endere (flute), Ensaasi (shakers made out of a guoards) plus singers- soloist and choristers.The xylophone determine the tempo or pace of the music or song and the drums follow suit.
The baganda have `Amagunju ‘a royal dance whose origin and essence has attachment to;
i. A ritual dance formulated to entertain the newly enthroned King (Kabaka) and prevent him from crying as he presided over the Lukiiko (parliament)
ii. The dance having been created by the uncle to the king -Gunju from the Obutiko (Mushroom) clan hence the name of the dance.
iii. The dance having been danced by only by the people of the Mushroom clan.
iv. The fact that Uncle Gunju designed a royal seat that placed the kabaka above every body else –Namulondo which has been in existence for over 200 years up to date. It is a symbol of authority of the Kabaka (King) as he is the only to sit in it.
Dancers use the same instruments and costumes, as male dancers take energetic high side by side kicks staggering as if they are drunk, all to entertain the king.Songs to this dance all relate to the Mushroom clan.The male dancers dominate the Amagunju dance as they make their side by side- kicks said to have also been used t pave way for the Kabaka as he moved to the parliament.The female dancers are how ever graceful and gentle making sedate and low body movements,the lower body movements are same as those of the Bakisimba dance but they change their dance motifs according the songs of the dance.
In the `nalintema’ song for example, dancers imitate swinging a sickle to clear the garden for planting well as in another song, they bend over double to pick mushrooms.Now days, this dance takes place at the royal courts, danced by all people unlike before when it was danced by only those of the Mushroom clan at different celebrations.This dance is still danced for the Kabaka when he leaves his palace and a Uganda tour to the Kabaka`s (King`s) palace will provide a great opportunity for one to see these performances live.
Passages of rite
A Muganda (Baganda individual) passes through the stages of omwana (child), omuvubuka (youth), and omusajja or omukazi (man, woman). At death one becomes an omuzima (spirit) and a candidate for reincarnation.
Baganda youths dancing
At birth the umbilical cord is retained for later use in a ceremony called Kwalula Abaana. During this ceremony the child gathers with other members of the father's clan to receive their clan names.
Boys and girls are expected to conform in their behavior to what the Baganda refer to as mpisa (manners). This includes being obedient to adults, greeting visitors properly, and sitting correctly (for girls). Sex education for females is more systematic than it is for males. The father's sister (Ssenga) is the most significant moral authority for girls. Grandmothers instruct girls soon after their menstruation, during a period of seclusion, about sexual matters and future domestic responsibilities. Marriage and the birth of children are prerequisites for adult status.
Baganda man carrying a man on his hand
The Baganda have Kiganda (customary) norms of labia enlongation (okusika enfuli), stylized articulation and gesticulation of sex (okusikina) and hygiene in sex (eby`ekikumbi).
Parents have customary mandates for ritual sex to celebrate other significant rites of passages for their children.
Okumala ekizadde (to complete a birth): after a child is born, custom demand that the parents have penetrative sexual intercorse to ensure that the child lives well. There is varying duration between delivery and ritual sex, it could be "four days", "one week" when the woman has healed or after the bad blood stop dripping.
Emikolo gy`abalongo (the ceremonies of twins). In Kiganda customarily practice twin ceremonies provides a licence to use relatively obscene language with deep sexual images and metaphors. Cultural songs for celebrating twin ceremonies are noted for their explicit employment of sexual innuendos. In a society in which open public talk about sex and sexuality was a taboo, particularly across generations (kizekka 1976,kinsman et al 2000, Muyinda 2004), the boldness of these songs is indeed noteworthy celebration of sexuality:
Twakedde kumakya kuzina balongo-Be chwi
Akanta kanuma kanjwi-jwiya- Be chwi
Nnalongo baamuyisayo akeeyo- Be chwi
We wake up this morning to dance/fuck twins-Be chwi
My little thing/sex organ is hurting me,its arching-Be chwi
The twin mother ha some little broom/penis swept through her-Be chwi
(Excerpt from Baganda twin song)
Performance of ritual sex in twin ceremonies involves more than the twin parents. At birth of the twins, one of the necessary rituals is for one of the parents families to provide siblings for the parents. These (often the younger siblings) are called Ssanlongo omukulu (twin father) and Nnalongo omukulu (twin mother). they are responsible for acting on behalf of the twins and are symbolically responsible for their well-being, 'lest they kill the whole clan.' Their role is to ensure twins rituals and observances do occur.
in the ritual sex act specifically called okuzina abalongo (dancing for the twins) cultural dancing and jubilation occurs, Nnalongo lies on her back with her legs spread and the young of banana fruit (empumumpu) is planted on top of her genitalia. Then Ssanlongo omukulu kneels between her legs knocks this baby-banana fruit off her either with his penis, or another part of his body. Thereafter, drums beats the loudest, leading to another ritual which involves specific food ingredient cooked without salt and more violation of taboo: stepping into the food. Four nights after the twin ceremony, the twin parents must perform ritual sex called Okumala emikolo gyabalongo (completing the ceremonies of the twins).
Okumala amabeere (To complete Breast Milk). during the process of weaning the cjild from breast milk to food supplements, and eventually termination of breastfeeding, the biological parents must have penetrative sexual intercourse. It is believed that the penetrative sex serve as a buffer to protect the child from harm and failure to do so turn the breast milk sour and choke the children to death.
Okumala amabega (to complete the menarche of a daughter) : this happens in Okumenya amabega (To break the buttocks) which is one of the several euphemism for "to start menstruation. As a part of rites surrounding menarche, biological parents must have ritual sex before the last day of their daughters menstrual flow, in order to ensure her healthy menstruation, fertility and reproduction and the well being of her children.
Beautiful Baganda sisters.Courtesy:Mrs.KC
Okumala obufumbo (To complete marriage). Parents are mandated to have ritual sex when their children marry. The bride is collected from her father`s household. Prior to leaving for her husband`s locale, she must undergo customary symbolic rites of farewell with different members of her clan. Customarily, on the day the groom`s family or entourage pays the dowry and collect their bride, the two sets of parents must perform ritual sex before the newly married couple consummate their marriage. The father can jump over the mother`s legs if they were unable to have actual penetrative sexual intercourse.
Following marriage it was expected of a man to build house for his wife and progeny. Customary Kiganda practice prescribed ritual sex called okumala enju (to complete the house) prior to occupying the new house., particularly if it was a new property, in order to ensure benign cooperation of ancestral shades of that lineage (empewo z`abajajja or the wind of our grannies). Thus, on completion of the house a man invites his kinsmen and friends for ancestral worship and jubilation. Later, during the night he would engage in penetrative sex with his wife (or the spouse who owned that space in cases of polygyny). This in effect symbolically stamped ownership by the ancestry over the household, property and land, allowing the ancestral spirit access to oversee and protect members` prosperity.
Sex to appease the spirit of death
This ritual sex is called okwabya olumbe (bursting the death). Its a label for a series of rituals encompassed within last funeral rites. Sexual intercourse is mandated in three peculiar instances: okumala kafiisa (completing to be robbed by death), okumala olumbe (completing the death) and eby`abakuza (things of guardians/widow inheritors).
Okumala kafiisa is a cultural requirement of sexual intercourse between two biological parents after the death of their child. This custom is essential particularly where the dead child had not yet produced an offspring. After the burial ceremony and ensuing period of mourning, the parents are supposed to have sexual intercourse to mark or celebrate the end of their public mourning for their child. Prior to the sexual act, the parents bathe with a herbal concoction of purificative and preventive medicines obtained from traditional healers to spiritually insure their children, clan members and kins against another visit from death. this ritual culminates in sexual intercourse.
After having fulfilled their spiritual, moral, cultural and kin obligations, the couple are free to proceed their normal life.
During the last funeral rites ceremony (Okwabya olumbe) the ritual ceremony okumala olumbe is mandated for the families of the immediate family members. The most visible version of this ritual is the cultural prescription for widows. In the past the widow was required to have sexual intercourse with the male agnate of her deceased husband. This act is often authenticated in traditional Kiganda culture.
There is now a symbolic cultural practices that widows undergo. A widow is instructed to sit on the floor in the doorway of their main house with legs stretched outwards. Then a male agnate of the late spouse jump once, twice or thrice over her extended legs to symbolise the sexual act.
When a wife lost a family- including parents, grand parents, siblings and nieces or nephews- after returning from the last funeral rites, she is expected to sleep apart from the husband (precisely on the floor). When the husband is ready to start conjugal relations with her, the husband would buy her mourning wife a new cloth called "geomesi." He will then present it her and invite her to bed in order to kumala olumbe- also variously called okumu-nazaako olumbe- (to wash off her death)or okumunazaako amaziga (to wash off tears from her).
Baganda women mourners
The Tradition Of 'Visiting The Bush' (Labia Elongation)
Among many others is the Baganda commonly refer to as visiting the bush. Visiting the bush is elongating the of the womens sex organs.Labia minora are two structures situated at the of the vagina.
The aunties prescribe herbs to be used to their nieces in the process to keep the labia minora long whenever they are stretched. They also teach them what to stretch and how to go about the whole of pulling as it is called.
Since all ladies are traditionally expected to grow up and get married, and thus serve their husbands sexual desires, this culture of pulling or visiting the bush is highly practiced even today with many intending their daughters to be bedroom superstars when the time comes. Some parents have even resorted to introducing their girl children to this practice at a tender age, for some as early as 7 years.
Ssenga Nassanga who gives advice on sexual matters in Buganda says that the girl child should be introduced to the tradition at the age of 13 years.
Unless your daughter acts older and more understanding, below this age, a child below thirteen years of age could go around disclosing what you told her to her peers with no shame, she advises.
Ssenga Nassanga says that the practice of pulling is very important and every young girl should undergo it to ensure a happy sex life in her adulthood.
She says that completing the task proved that the girl is courageous, determined and has respect for culture and her future husband.
The first few times you try it out it is painful and thus discouraging. Therefore if a woman goes the whole way they are brave and should be appreciated for it, she says.
I marvel at a man who does not show gratitude to a wife that went through this ordeal to the very end, remarks the 66-year-old Ssenga.
Why visiting the bush is important
Traditionally, this culture is considered sexually important in a number of ways. The elongated labia minora act as a door to the vagina. It is from the vagina that a woman gets all they want in life. You are therefore supposed to keep it as sacred as you would look after your home. You never leave you home open all the time, elaborates Ssenga Nassanga.
In acting as a door, the elongated labia helps keep the womans sex organs warm, which is the traditional requirement that the vagina should be warm and not cold at any one time.
According to Ssenga Nassanga, women who visit the bush also protect themselves from sexual harassers. Rape becomes impossible if a woman did visit the bush. A man cannot fit their sex organ into a woman unless she is willing to let him. Remember there is a door that she alone opens to let in anyone or anything, she elaborates.
Most importantly, the traditionalists believe that there is no way a couple can enjoy sex if the woman did not visit the bush. It is believed to enhance foreplay and orgasm.
Like many other traditions, this too is slowly dying out. Very few girls today pay heed to this practice and most young men do not even know their women are supposed to have done it as per tradition.
The whites do not do these things and they carry on normally. I do not believe all this crap of the long labia minora being essential for sexual pleasure anyway, says a finalist student at Makerere University, Kampala. Another male student from the university also says he does not mind whether a girl has done it or not.
I can not walk out on a girl just because I realize she did not go to the bush. This is the twentieth century for Gods sake, he exclaims.
While many young men and women agree with the two students, there are many others still standing by their traditional and cultural norms. Omulangira Ndawula says that he does not understand how a woman who did not visit the bush expects to keep her husband sexually satisfied and contented.
During a recent sex education gathering at Cooper Theatre in Kampala, there were elderly ladies in the audience who wanted to know how to maintain their labia minoralong even after and repeated sexual intercourse, which, they believed, made them shorter.
Retouch is not just meant only for hair ladies, responded Ssenga Nassanga, who was one of the facilitators. You have to take off time once in a while to revisit the bush even in your adulthood, she advised. Retouch in womens language means revisiting the hair saloon to beautify themselves.
Ssenga Hamida who is hosted on CBS FM every Monday at 9am to address family issues quelled all talk that the tradition was only a necessity in Buganda saying that it was for all cultures in Uganda as far as she is concerned.(http://www.ugpulse.com/heritage/the-tradition-of-visiting-the-bush/293/ug.aspx)
|Buganda (Drums) Bummu|
|On the 21 of November 2011, Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II prior to opening the 19th Session of the Buganda Lukiiko inaugurated a new set of six drums which he named Buganda Bummu.|
The drums were established as a symbol unity among the Baganda a campaign the Kabaka has fronted since his coronation as King of Buganda at Buddo Naggalabi in 1993.
The drums will be managed by Nkusu as the chief drummer clan and will be assisted Bummu by Mbogo and Kinyomo clans on this duty.
Buganda Bummu joins a long list of drums established by past Kings of Buganda for various reasons. Below is a detailed list of drums established by past Kings of Buganda with a brief introduction.
Drums played a great part in the life of the Baganda in the past and are still used considerably today. However, some of the important drums are no longer beaten and the majority of the present generation is ignorant of their names and history. Drums although ranking as musical instruments, they are put to a multitude of uses.
In the past, there were literally several hundred different drum beats for the drums and each rhythm was known by the people who conveyed its definite meaning to them. For example, One rhythm could mean that a certain chief was passing by, another could mean that a certain dance was taking place, another would mean a call to war or a fire alarm and so forth. In the case of an urgent call or claim, it was the duty of the first person who heard it to repeat the message and thus in a few minutes a claim or call was carried hundred miles away.
As a general rule, drums in Buganda belonged to the Kabaka and when he presents a chief with any office, he confers upon him a drum. A person so promoted is said to have eaten a drum (alidde Engoma) or if a son takes his father’s place, it means he has eaten his father’s drum (alidde engoma ya kitaawe)
Children of the Kabaka born while he is actually in possession of power or on the throne are known as “Abaaba b’Engoma” literally meaning the children of the drum as they are considered in the direct line of succession. It is therefore evident that the word Ngoma or drum indicates power or authority and is comparable to the English word “scepter”. This born out by the Kiganda proverb “abantu magoma gavugira aliwo” (the drum beats for the office, not for the person who holds it)
Kiganda drums are of two types and named according to their size, use and the most important ones are also given names- a kind of personification. The other group is known as Ngalabi made of varying sizes which are long and slender.
In the past, the ceremonial of the court was intricate with the use of a large number of drums belonging to the Kabaka. Each group of drums was named and men were specifically appointed to take up residence at the Lubiri for the purpose of beating the drums.
At the moment, there are far fewer drums in use because most of them were lost during Muteesa I’s reign due to the many civil wars, battles and fires and were never replaced. It is also true that, modern life is more exacting than the past in its demands upon the pockets of all classes of the nation and so the Kabaka is unable to maintain an army of drums-beaters and the drummers themselves prefer more profitable occupations. Hence, a large number of drums have fallen into disuse either from reasons of economy or from a lack of drummers with knowledge of special beats attached to their use and in most cases even the whereabouts of such drums are unknown.
The drums set part for the sole use of the Kabaka contained fetches, some of which have been examined and proven to be phallic origin. It was thought that when beaten and heard by the Kabaka, his vigor was increased. Such drums were considered sacrosanct and were used at specified times of the day or night for the benefit of the Kabaka.
No woman was allowed to touch a drum when she was menstruating, lest it would kill her and at the same time she would defile the drum.
Among the royal drums, the most important are known as Mujaguzo. It is believed to have been established during the reign of Kabaka Mutebi I. It started with a single drum of the Ngalabi that is believed to have been handed down from the time of Ssekabaka Kimera.
This drum is called Timba and is highly venerated. It name was chosen from the design of a serpent which stands out in relief round the body of the drum. It is kept by Sekalala as its hereditary keeper.
It is this drum that the Kabaka beats on enthronement as King of Buganda.
SSekabaka Mutebi I made another drum called Kawulugumo and other small ones which together with Timba form Mujaguzo. The number was increased by each successive Kabaka up to Muteesa I’s reign. Mujaguzo is at the moment made of about fifty drums with the main section consisting of the following;
1 Timba- one Ngalabi
2 Kawulugumo- one large drum
3 Namanonyi- One large drum
4 Nkonyi- Four medium sized drums
5 Njawuzi- Five medium sized drums
6 Njuyi- Twenty five small to medium sized drums.
It is beautifully decorated with cowry shells and is beaten by Lukungo Kawula of Lugave clan and members of this clan beat the other drums associated with Kawulugumo. Kawula is the chief drummer of the royal drums.
It ranks next to Kawulugumo and is also decorated with cowry shells. The accompanying drums are called Ndubi (comprising of drums from Njawuzi and Nkonyi both mentioned above). They are beaten by members of the Butiko clan while Namanonyi is beaten by Kimomera, the assistant chief drummer.
There were several occasions on which Mujaguzo was sounded apart from the coronation day. It was sounded when the Kabaka went to confer with the spirit Mukasa god of the lake.
It was also taken and beaten at the place where the Kabaka intended to visit. Mujaguzo was also sounded on special days when Kabaka’s relatives who lived in Busiro would pay homage in the palace.
Whenever Mujaguzo was sounded, the Baganda would realize that something of importance was happening.
The noise of the whole sequence at close quarters is deafening but at a distance the qualities of each drum may be distinguished and to the native ear at any rate, it conveys music of delicate charm.
Drums that make up Mujaguzo are made from Muvule (Chlorophora Excelsa) but other drums are made from any suitable kind of timber according to the size of the drum required especially light wood which is not readily attacked by insects is preferred.
There were many other drums and groups of drums, some of which are still in use.
Drums announce the death of the king and also the end of the period of mourning. In the evening, the Mugema sent the royal drums (Nanzigo) to the Kabaka and they were beaten to let the people know that the mourning had ended.
Drums also warned people to cease mourning such that no sign of it would be found anywhere under the penalty of death.
Two small drums called Kangujunguju joined together make Kanaba. It was the only drum sounded whenever death of a prince or son of a prince occurred.
There was also another drum Busemba which was sounded to announce sandiness. It is the drum for death.
After a king had been enthroned, his suit collected and carried out all the drums which surrounded them but only Busemba was left there inadvertently. The unfortunate person who first drew attention to this apparent oversight, was immediately seized and put to death, and his arm-bones prepared as drum sticks for this drum. That is where the Kiganda proverbs is Ajukiza Busemba ya’gikuba (He who draws attention to Busemba shall after wards serve to beat it) was developed. This custom is said to have its origin in the following story.
Ssekabaka Tembo killed Kimera in the forest and the ghost haunted him and wished to be avenged on him. To appease the ghost, Tembo made a drum and directed that the drum sticks used for beating it should be the bones of human being. The bones were provided and the ghost of Kimera was quieted. It is quite possible that this drum was used at executions and preceded the throngs of unfortunate condemned ones as they were hurried to their agony.
However, during Ssekabaka Mwanga’s reign, he refused to follow the custom of slaying an innocent to procure the famous drum sticks hence the saying “Busemba yazikira ku Mwanga” (Busemba was ceased with Mwanga). Busemba is in the hereditary charge of Nadunga of the Lugave clan but the whereabouts of the drum, if it still exists is not known.
Another collection of drums is known as Endoda which was established by Ssekabaka Muteesa I who wanted additional drums in Mujaguzo with a high pitch like Ndubirizi and consists of four drums, one large, two smaller, and one ngalabi. The drum is managed and drummed by Kigonya of the Nsenene clan. It was used at Sessions of the Lukiiko especially after the Kabaka declares an heir to one of his officials. It is accompanies by joyful applause of the audience before the Kabaka.
Entamivu or Nkagwe it is another well known drum which was captured originally by Kabaka Kyabagu from inhabitants of Kyaggwe. The Kabaka himself used to beat it when he appointed a chief of a war-like expedition. This drum never leaves the palace. It was normally used concurrently with Enjongo, a slender drum and two others called Bwayita, to accompany the Amadinda (native xylophone).
Enyenya is a royal drum reputed to be of greater antiquity than Mujaguzo but it was phased out on the establishment of Mujaguzo. Its beat went as follows ‘Kungulu ntono munda butekula’.
There was another interesting collection of drums known as Kawugulu which consisted of two drums joined together and two other smaller drums called Nsuku zafe or Kangujunguju.
It was established during the reign of Ssekabaka Mulondo who became King while still a child. His uncles of Butiko clan wished to amuse him and so they made these drums which were all beaten together as the members of the clan danced round and round wearing bells on their legs and girdles of plantain leaves or long haired skins. Members of this clan thereby became hereditary court entertainers and the dancers are called Banagunju from Gunju the head of the clan.
There is the Entenga drum which consists of twelve small drums each tuned to a particular note in the scale. They are placed in a line together with three other drums one large, one smaller and the third is called Enjongo. The small drums are first beaten to announce the tune and then the other three join in with an accompaniment resulting into great entertainment. They are considered to be very important drums and are kept in the Lubiri. Many different songs can be played on them to entertain the Kabaka. It is stated that Kabaka Kyabagu took Entenga from Kajujugwe of Bukerere and its drummer was Nagamala, son of Kyasimbi of the Lugave clan.
Buganda Mirembe is another important drum beaten by Batambulira of the Ffumbe clan. It was established during Ssekabaka Kagulu’s reign the son of Ssekabaka Ndawula. When his people abandoned him due to his cruelty, he made this drum and gave it the name Buganda Mirembe which means peace to indicate that he had mended his ways and would no longer persecute his subjects.
Katengejo which is beaten by Kamya and Kajoba. It is thought to have been established by sekabak Jjunju. It was captured from Jjunju by his brother Semakokiro in the battle at Bajjo which accounts for its beat, Olukomera olw’e Bajjo ‘The fence at Bajo”.
Kirimalabasaja nyago (Many must die from spears) this drum was established by Ssekabaka Ssuuna who wanted it beaten in the army when the soldiers were going to the battle field and when the Abakondere (trumpeters) played the song, Gulemye-mpangala Abamanya mwesindike”.
Nakawanguza (the Conqueror) when the Kabaka was successful in his attacks on the surrounding tribes, he ordered that this drum be made. It is beaten by Kiribata of the Ntalaganya clan.
Tadde when the Kabaka went visiting or hunting and intended to stay away for the night, the Katikkiro went in advance with many people. When the party returned, the Kabaka received many congratulations, because the visit or the hunting was considered to be a kind of an expedition and the people said “Ebemba tekyala etabala butabazi (Ebemba does not visit, he fights). The beating of this drum was part of the ceremonies and the drummer is Kamya of the Ndiga clan.
Kalalankoma it is believed that the Kabaka is like wasp (Kalalankoma) whereby when you go near him, you must be wary or he will find you guilty of some offence and you be stung. The drum is beaten by Kyasi of Lugave clan.
Baganda people performing traditional acrobatics
Njagala-kwetika all the Kabaka’s servants had to carry things on their heads from among who the Kabaka chose his chiefs. The drum is beaten by Kyemwa.
Bwesige when the Kabaka saw that he was like a lake from which his subjects got all good things, he made this drum. Bwesige buli e nyanja (Trustworthiness is in the lake), the drummer is Beyuna.
Kulebera seeing that it was the Kabaka alone who promoted people he made this drum to announce that fact. It is beaten by Kyanjo and its full name is Lulebera-si-kugwa.
Va-mu-lugundo (Give way) when the wives of the Kabaka were walking, no one was allowed to be on the road in front of them. So the drummer went ahead warning people to clear the way for the King’s wives. The drummer is Gunagwera.
Kyejo when the Kabaka executed mischief-makers, this drum was beaten as a warning to others. Kyejo-kita (mischief Kills). It is managed by Ndiga clan.
Basengeja this is rather an amusing allusion. When the Kabaka saw that beer makers were treated with too much respect by the crowds at the time of filtering, he came up with this drum to divert that attention to himself. The drummer is Omutemi-wente.
Bantadde the Kabaka chose the majority of his chiefs from attendants in the Lubiri and established this drum to proclaim that he who was but a servant is now at liberty as a chief. The drummer is Batawuka.
Nyanja its meaning is the same as that of Bwesige, already described.
Bwe-mbata this drum used to beat to proclaim the fact that the Kabaka sometimes killed and sometimes acquitted people accused of wrong doing. It sounds Bwe-mbata-bwe-mbabulirira. It is beaten by Lukade.
Gwe Ngo gwe Musota the Kabaka saw that he was like a leopard and a snake which made him untouchable and he proclaimed this by beating on this drum. Gwe Ngo gwe Musota, Ekirimala abasajja yago. (You are a leopard and a snake. That which ends all men is the spear).
Kikolw’omuganzi this drum was established by the Kabaka to honor certain favorites of his people who were not chiefs.
Mulyabyaki it is the drum which was given by the Kabaka to the chief of an expedition. It sounded Gwa gwa gwa and used on important occasions. Another similar drum carried on expeditions but now abolished, was called Najemba.
Wango tabuka the Kabaka is like a leopard and when you passby him, you say you have been in danger of being killed. In appreciation of this popular conception, this drum was established. It is beaten by Wasonko of Ngonge Clan.
Kuku kanga Balimi this drum was made by Ssekabaka Ssuuna which was beaten to warn women who did not cultivate their plantain gardens that they risk their hands to be cut off. The drum was beaten especially early in the morning to warn the women to get to work lest they lose their hands.
Kya-gwe-kireta whenever the Kabaka stayed at a place, people gathered from all directions and that is why this drum was established Kya-gwe-kireta Singo kireyta (Kya gwe comes, Singo, all come) it is now obsolete and wa beaten by Lugayavu.
Sindika tagenda is another drum now obsolete which was use to proclaim that the Kabaka is like a rock and no one could push him against his will. Its drummer was Magwa.
Makumbi is also another obsolete drum similar to Kuku kanga Balimi warning people to cultivate their banana gardens or risk having their hands cut off.
Batankulu had an interesting past but is nolonger in use. It was a war drum belonging officially to Kibuuka Omumbaale, who is said to have taken it from Ssekaala of Bugoma in Ssese. Kibuuka used it in the wars of Ssekabaka Nakibinge the son of Layima, against the Banyoro. When the Baganda heard the drum, they would rush furiously upon the enemy. It sounded tuliluloja and was beaten by Majuluba. After the wars, it remained at Mbale in Mawokota in the temple of the Lubale (Spirit). Later the Kabaka established a corresponding drum to be beaten early morning to awaken his attendants and at that time no one was allowed to speak in the Lubiri before the drum had sounded.
Bawemukira this is also an obsolete drum which was established to proclaim the acquittal of a person who had been slandered. The drummer was Mbuga.
Mbade mulowooza was the drum which was established during the period when there was peace and harmony in the land. It was established in appreciation for the good things do by people and their respect for him. It was beaten by Kyenyi.
Netunze another obsolete drum which was beaten by Mugambwa of the Ffumbe clan. It was established by the Kabaka in honor of the loyal manner in which his servants risked their lives to serve him.
Gali nya drum was established by Ssekabaka Ssemakokiro to record that his mother was of the Ffumbe clan. Its beat was Amafumbe galinya e Bakka. It is no longer in use.
Yewa-awala this drum was established and beaten whenever people who had been sent out to carry out human sacrifice but didn’t to it were caught.
Mavumisizi is the drum which conquered Buddu to be annexed to Buganda. It belonged to Luziga of the Ndiga clan who was sent out by Ssekabaka Junju son of Kyabagu to conquered Buddu and Kiziba.
The Kasubi tombs, traditionally known as Muzibu-Azaala-Mpanga, a religious place in the Buganda kingdom is situated on a hill within Kampala-Uganda. The tombs are a burial place for the four previous Kings of Buganda known traditionally as Kabakas, and are situated five kilometers away from Kampala city center on Kasubi hill.
The Kasubi tombs are one of the burial grounds/royal tombs of the Kabakas of Buganda, and the site is an example of traditional Ganda Architecture, culture and living traditions. The palace was built by Kabaka Mutesa I in 1882 and according to culture, each king was supposed to be buried at a separate site when he died and a royal shrine to house his jawbone which was believed to contain his spirit was to be established at another site. Mutesa I was the 35th King of Buganda (1856-1884) and the first king to be buried in his former palace (the Tombs) at Kasubi without removing his jawbone. Mwanga II who succeeded his father Mutesa in 1884 was the second king to be buried at the Tombs after his remains were brought back from exile (Seychelles islands) in 1910. His son Daudi Chwa II succeeded him at the age of one year in 1896 and ruled until his death in 1939. He too was buried in the Tombs. Daudi Chwa II was succeeded by his son Edward Mutesa II and the then governor of the Uganda protectorate. He died in 1966 in exile (London) and his remains were brought back and buried in the Tombs in 1971.
The Kasubi Tombs is an important Burial site for the Kabakas of Buganda because old traditions were broken at the site when the Kabakas were buried together. Each prince and princess who is a descendant of the four Kabakas is also buried at Kasubi behind the main shrine. The site is important as a cemetery of the royalty of the Buganda kingdom.
The tombs comprise the Bujjabukula (Gatehouse) a beautifully built gate, which is the entrance of the site. It's constructed with wooden columns and a wall made of wooden woven reeds. The gate leads to a small courtyard with a circular house-House of Royal drums (Ndoga-obukaba) where the drums are kept. In the main courtyard, there are several houses built for the widows of the kabakas and other ritual purposes. At Kasubi and all other royal tombs, there is an area behind a back-cloth curtain known as kibira (forest) where the real Tombs of the kabakas are and where certain royal ceremonies are performed like the new moon ceremony and the consultations of the mediums. In front of the curtain, there are raised platforms corresponding to the position of each kabakas tomb behind the curtain. Entrance to the "Secret forest" is only limited to the widows of the Kabakas, the royal family, the Buganda Prime-minister (katikkiro) and the Nalinya (kabakas official sister).
The King-Kabaka on Shoulders
The Kasubi Tombs are adorned with royal regalia like spears, drums,medals, photographs and shields of the kabakas buried there. The structure is supported by wooden poles wrapped in backcloth and the floor covered with grass and palm leaves mats. Backcloth traditionally popular for clothing is a fabric made from the soft back of a fig tree (Ficus natalensis) and has a strong ritual importance to the people of Uganda. Thatching of the roof is carried out by members of the Ngeye clan (colobus monkey clan) ant the decorators of the poles are from the Leopard clan, who are the only people allowed to do this work. Pregnant women and widows are not allowed to enter the building while its being thatched since this is believed to cause leakage. Similarly, the thatchers are not supposed to have sexual intercourse during the thatching period. The great roof is supported by 52 rings, which represent the 52 clans in the Ganda culture.
The Baganda cultures can also be experienced at sites like Katereke prison where the king imprisoned his brothers in a trench. Naggalabi coronation site, Buddo where the kabakas of Buganda have been crowned for the past 700 years. Wamala Tomb the secret burial place of Kabaka Suuna II (1836-1856) who had 148 wives and 218 Children. Namasole Kanyange Tombs where the mother to Kabaka Suuna II was buried. Ssezibwa Falls is a spiritual place for the kings and Baagalayaze Nnamasole Tombs where the mother of Kabaka Mwanga II was buried.
The early history of Buganda has been passed down the generations as oral history. Unfortunately, as with many cases of oral history, the stories have taken on several different versions depending on the source. There are different versions of history detailing how the kingdom of Buganda was established, and these are given below.
The Coming of Kintu
Prior to the establishment of Kintu's dynasty, the people who lived in the area that came to be known as Buganda had not been united into a single political entity. The people were organized into groups that had a common ancestry and constituted the most important unit in Buganda's culture - the clan. Despite a common language and culture, the clans were loosely autonomous. The clan leaders (Abataka) ruled over their respective clans. There was no caste system and all clans were equal. This did not preclude the fact that from time to time, the leader of one clan might be militarily stronger than the others. In such a case, the leader could establish hegemony over the other clans for a time.
There was no generally accepted overall leader however. The leadership would pass to whoever proved his might in battle. There were times when there was no common leader at all if none of the clan leaders could overwhelm the others. Some powerful leaders who are said to have established themselves for periods of time prior to Kintu's arrival include: Sseguku, Buwumpya, Bukokoma, Bukulu, Bandi, Beene, Ggulu, Kyebagaba, Muyizzi, Bukuku, Bukadde-Magezi, Nakirembeka, Tonda, Maganda, Mukama, and Bemba. According to the most widely accepted version of history, Bemba was the acknowledged leader at the time of Kintu's arrival.
Kintu came into Buganda as a conquering hero. It is seems that at that time, Buganda was very sparsely populated. There are said to have been a total of five clans in Buganda at that time, now called the original clans (bannansangwawo). These were the Ffumbe, Lugave, Ngeye, Nnyonyi Nnyange and Njaza clans. When Kintu invaded Buganda, he is reputed to have brought 13 clans with him. So it appears that the sheer force of numbers played a key role in Kintu being able to establish himself as king. Another factor may have been that Bemba was a harsh and ruthless ruler. His subjects were already primed to rebel against him and indeed some prominent clan leaders joined Kintu's invading force. Key among these was Mukiibi, head of the Lugave clan, who was assigned command of the invading force. Follow this link for the complete list of the clans of Buganda.
As an interesting aside, Buganda was the name of the house in which Bemba used to live. This house was located at Naggalabi, Buddo. When Bemba was defeated in battle, Kintu slept in Bemba's house as a sign of his victory. Thus Kintu became the 'ruler' of Bemba's house. This name eventually came to mean all the territory that Kintu ruled. To this day, when a new king of Buganda is crowned, the ceremony takes place at Naggalabi, to recall Kintu's victory over Bemba.
Site of the coronation of kings at Naggalabi, Buddo.After the battle to oust Bemba, there was a general conclave of the clans and clan elders which was held at Magonga in Busujju county, on a hill called Nnono. This meeting was of great historic significance for it was at this meeting that Buganda's form of governance, and the relationship between the clans and the King was formally agreed upon. Although it was unwritten, this constituted an understanding between the clans that has been followed since then. In essence it set down Buganda's Constitution. These were the principal attendants at the meeting:
- Bukulu, from Ssese, who chaired the meeting
- Kato Kintu, who became King
- Mukiibi Ndugwa, of the Lugave clan, whose son Kakulukuku was the first Katikkiro of Buganda
- Kisolo, of the Ngonge clan, who also became a Katikkiro of Buganda
- Kyaddondo, of the Nvuma clan who was appointed Ssaabaddu
- Mwanje, of the Ngo clan
- Kagobe, of the Ffumbe clan
- Kayimbyokutega, from Kyaggwe and of the Mpeewo clan
- Kiwutta Kyasooka, of the Mbogo clan
- Nnyininsiko, of the Njovu clan
- Bakazirwendo Ssemmandwa, of the Ngeye clan
- Kakooto Mbaziira, of the Nnyonyi clan, from Bulimo in Kyaggwe county
- Nsereko Namwama, of the Kkobe clan
- Kyeya Mutesaasira, of the Ngo clan
- Nsumba, of the Mbogo clan
- Kisenge, of the Nnyonyi clan, from Mirembe in Kyaggwe county
- Kyeyune, of the Nnyonyi clan, from Mirembe in Kyaggwe county
- Mubiru, of the Mmamba clan, from Bumogera
- Mutasingwa, of the Mbwa clan
- Kayimbyobutezi, of the Njaza clan
In addition to military conquest, Kintu cleverly allied himself with the leaders of the original clans. For example, his principle wife, Nnambi Nantuttululu was the daughter of Bakazirwendo, the leader of the Ngeye clan. His Prime Minister (Katikkiro) Kakulukuku, was the son of Mukiibi, head of the Lugave clan and erstwhile military commander. Kintu was the first king in Buganda to share his authority with the other clan leaders. This may also have played a key role in getting him accepted as the king of Buganda. In organizing the kingdom, Kintu conceded to the clan leaders authority over their respective clans in matters of culture. Kintu then became arbiter between the clans in case of disputes, thus cementing his role as Ssaabataka, head of all the clans. The complete list of kings starting with Kintu is shown here.
The following is the complete list of officers in Kintu's adminstration appointed at Nnono:
|Kalumamba||Nseenene||Tuner of Royal Drums|
|Kafuuma||Nnyonyi||Roaster of Royal Coffee|
Version 1:Prior to Kintu's time, Buganda used to be called "Muwaawa". The head of the Ffumbe clan, who was called Buganda Ntege Walusimbi, had leadership over other clans. Walusimbi had several children including Makubuya, Kisitu, Wasswa Winyi, and Kato Kintu. When Walusimbi died, his son Makubuya replaced him as ruler. On his death, Makubuya in turn was replaced by his brother Kisitu as ruler. During Kisitu's reign, a renegade prince called Bemba came from the area of Kiziba (now in nothern Tanzania) and established camp at Naggalabi, Buddo. From there he sought to fight Kisitu and replace him as ruler of Muwaawa. Bemba had a reputation of being cruel and ruthless. Apparently Kisitu was easily intimidated and in his fear, he vowed to give his chairSsemagulu to whoever would succeed in killing off Bemba. (This Ssemagulu was the symbol of authority.).
Beautiful Baganda women. Courtesy:Mrs.KC
On hearing his brother's vow, Kintu gathered some followers from among his brothers and some of the various clans and attacked Bemba. Bemba was defeated in the ensuing battle and he was beheaded by one Nfudu of the Lugave clan. Nfudu quickly took Bemba's head to Kintu, who in turn took it to Kisitu. On seeing Bemba's head, Kisitu abdicated his throne in favor of Kintu with the words that "Kingship is earned in battle". Despite his abdication, Kisitu wanted to retain leadership of the Ffumbe clan, so he told Kintu to start his own clan. He also told Kintu that the kingdom should be renamed Buganda in memory of their common ancestor Buganda Ntege Walusimbi. Thus was the royal clan separated from the Ffumbe clan. Kintu established a new system of governance in alliance with the other clan leaders as we saw earlier.
Sheila Nvanungi,Buganda musician
Version 2:Other stories suggest that Kintu was not indegenous to Buganda. Some assert that he came from the east, near Mt. Elgon. Kato Kintu came with his elder brother Rukidi Isingoma Mpuga. Rukidi conquered the lands of Bunyoro where he established himself as king. According to this version, the area that formed the core of Buganda was in fact a remote outpost of the kingdom of Bunyoro. Rukidi sent his brother Kato to govern this outpost but on reaching the area, the younger brother essentially broke away from Bunyoro and established his own kingdom that came to be known as Buganda. Another version gives essentially the same story but instead suggests that Rukidi and Kato came from the nothern area around Madi. They landed at a port called Podi, which was in the country of Bunyoro. From there Kintu reached Kibiro with many of his followers. They were: Bukulu and his wife Wada; Kyaggwe and his wife Ndimuwala; Kyaddondo and his wife Nansangwawo; Bulemezi and his wife Kweba; Mazinga and his wife Mbuubi.
Some suggest that Rukidi's brother Kato was called Kimera rather than Kintu. According to this school of thought, Kintu was merely a mythical figure and Kimera is the one who established the royal dynasty of Buganda. The Baganda strenuosly resist this theory, and instead assert that Kimera was a grandson of Kintu. Kimera is counted as the third king in the dynasty, rather than its founder. More will be said about Kimera later.
Version 3:Another version of Kintu's story suggests that he was born in Ssese on Bukasa island. According to this version, Kintu's father was Kagona, and his mother was Namukana. Bemba was ruler on the Buganda mainland but he was very unpopular. He alienated the clan leaders in his efforts to establish his authority over them. Mukiibi, head of the Lugave clan, was one such leader who rebelled against Bemba. Bemba was not amused by Mukiibi's rebellion and he attacked him. Mukiibi fled to Ssese to save his life. There, he allied himself with Kintu and they raised an army that attacked Bemba and deposed him from the throne.
It is notable that the kings of Buganda never established direct rule over the islands of Ssese like they did with other areas under their dominion, although it was well accepted that the islands formed part of the territory of Buganda. Indeed Ssese was only made a county and given a county chief under the 1900 agreement. The Ssese islands were referred to as the islands of the gods. All the original clans, as well as those that came with Kintu have important shrines in Ssese. For this reason, some have suggested that wherever Kintu came from, he must have come through Ssese to get to Buganda. Ssese was thus the springboard from which Buganda was created, and consequently was never subjected to direct rule in recognition of this pivotal role.
Version 4:In his book "Ssekabaka Kintu ne Bassekabaka ba Buganda Abaamusooka" (in Luganda, published by Crane Publishers Ltd.); Chelirenso E. S. Keebungero presents a cogent case for the argument that Kintu was indigenous to Buganda rather than an invading all conquering hero. The book reports extensive research among clan elders asserting that Kintu was in fact born in Buganda. Kintu is said to have been the son of King Buganda (after whom the kingdom took its name). That King Buganda did indeed exist is fairly well established and his shrine is known to be at Lunnyo, near Entebbe in Busiro. According to this version, King Buganda was deposed by his brother Bemba. As stated elsewhere Bemba was a ruthless and unpopular ruler. So the clan elders concocted a secret plot to take the late king's young sons out of the country. They were sent to the Masaaba mountains to the east (now Mt. Elgon) and there looked after by royal attendants until they had matured enough to lead an army into battle. When the time was judged to be right, the elders sent messengers to Masaaba who returned with Kintu the prince. They then joined Kintu in the successful battle to oust Bemba. According to this version, the chronology of the kings that preceded Kintu is as follows:
|Bukadde Bukokoma||Muntu||Naggalabi, Busiro|
|Ssenkuule||Bukadde Bukokoma||Naggalabi, Busiro|
|Beene||Bukadde Bukokoma||Mitwebiri, Busiro|
|Mukama||Bukadde Bukokoma||Katoolingo, Busiro|
|Buganda||Mukama||Lunnyo (Entebbe), Busiro|
The ease with which Kintu was accepted by all the clan elders, and the elaborate power sharing arrangement that was established after his accession to the throne would appear to support the contention that indeed he was a returning native born prince rather than an unknown foreign born invader. Clearly, there is still a lot of work to be done in unearthing the early history of Buganda.
The legend of Kintu is told by the Baganda as the story of the creation. According to this legend, which we will detail in a moment, Kintu was the first person on earth. Unfortunately, many writers of the history of Buganda have confused the two people called Kintu; i.e. Kintu the first king of Buganda, and Kintu the alleged first man on earth. This confusion has led some to conclude that there was never a king called Kintu, and that Kintu is merely a legend. What Baganda scholars assert however, is that Kintu was indeed a legend relating the creation of man. Creation stories abound in all cultures and that there should be a creation story among the Baganda is not surprising. Thus the Baganda regarded the Kintu in this legend as the father of all people. It appears that when Kato established himself as king, he gave himself the name Kintu, a name that he knew the Baganda associated with the father of all people. Thus Kintu was in effect trying to establish his legitimacy as ruler of the Baganda by associating himself with the legendary first person in Buganda. It is for this reason that he also named his principal wife Nambi. With that in mind, let us now detail the legend of Kintu the first person on earth.
Kintu the LegendLong long ago, Kintu was the only person on the earth. He lived alone with his cow, which he tended lovingly. Ggulu the creator of all things lived up in heaven with his many children and other property. From time to time, Ggulu's children would come down to earth to play. On one such occasion, Ggulu's daughter Nambi and some of her brothers encountered Kintu who was with his cow in Buganda. Nambi was very fascinated with Kintu and she felt pity for him because he was living alone. She resolved to marry him and stay with him despite the opposition from her brothers. But because of her brothers' pleading, she decided to return to heaven with Kintu and ask for her father's permission for the union.
Ggulu was not pleased that his daughter wanted to get married to a human being and live with him on the earth. But Nambi pleaded with her father until she persuaded him to bless the union. After Ggulu decided to allow the marriage to proceed, he advised Kintu and Nambi to leave heaven secretly. He advised them to pack lightly and that on no condition were they to return to heaven even if they forgot anything. This admonition was so that Walumbe, one of Nambi's brothers should not find out about the marriage until they had left, otherwise he would insist on going with them and bring them misery ( walumbe means that which causes sickness and death). Kintu was very pleased to have been given a wife and together they followed Ggulu's instructions. Among the few things that Nambi packed, was her chicken. They set out for earth early the next morning.
But while they were descending, Nambi remembered that she had forgotten to bring the millet that her chicken would feed on. "I have left my chickens' millet on the porch, let me return and fetch it," she begged Kintu. But Kintu refused and said, "Don't go back. If you do, you will meet Walumbe and he will surely insist on coming with you." Nambi, however, did not listen to her husband, and leaving him on the way she returned to fetch the millet. When she reached the house, she took the millet from the porch, but on her way back, she suddenly met Walumbe who asked: "My sister, where are you going so early in the morning? Nambi did not know what to say. Filled with curiosity, Walumbe insisted on going with her. Therefore Kintu and Nambi were forced to go to earth together with Walumbe.
It did not take long for Kintu and Nambi to get children. One day, Walumbe went to Kintu's home and asked his brother-in-law to give him a child to help him with the chores in his (Walumbe's) house. But remembering Ggulu's warning, Kintu would not hear of it. Walumbe became very angry with Kintu for refusing him the simple favor he had asked. That very night, he went and killed Kintu's son. Naturally, this caused a deep rift between them. Kintu went back to heaven to report Walumbe's actions to Ggulu. Ggulu rebuked Kintu, reminding him of the original warning he had disregarded. Kintu blamed Nambi for returning to get the millet. Ggulu then sent another of his sons, Kayikuuzi, to go back to earth with Kintu and try to persuade Walumbe to return to heaven or if necessary return him by force.
On reaching earth, Kayikuuzi tried to persuade Walumbe to go back to heaven but Walumbe would not hear of it. "I like it here on earth and I am not coming back with you" he said. Kayikuuzi decided to capture Walumbe by force, and a great fight broke out between them. But as Walumbe was about to be overpowered, he escaped and disappeared into the ground. Kayikuuzi went after him, digging huge holes in the ground to try and find his brother. When Kayikuuzi got to where he was hiding, Walumbe run back out to the earth. Further struggle between the brothers ensued but once again Walumbe escaped into the ground. The famous caves that are found today at Ttanda in Ssingo are said to be the ones that were dug by Kayikuuzi in the fight with his brother Walumbe. (Kayikuuzi means he who digs holes).
The struggle went on for several days and by now, Kayikuuzi was close to exhaustion. So he went and talked to Kintu and Nambi as follows: "I am going back into the ground one more time to get Walumbe. You and your children must stay indoors. You must strictly enjoin your children not to make a sound if they see Walumbe. I know he is also getting tired so when he comes out of the ground, I will come upon him secretly and grab him." Kintu and Nambi went into their house, but some of the kids did not go in. Kayikuuzi once again went underground to find Walumbe. After a struggle, Walumbe came back out to the surface with Kayikuuzi in pursuit. Kintu's children who were outside at the time saw Walumbe coming and sreamed in terror. On hearing the screams, Walumbe went underground once again. Kayikuuzi was furious with Kintu and Nambi for not having followed his instructions. He told them that if they did not care to do the simple thing he had asked of them, he was also giving up the fight. Kintu in his embarrassment had nothing more to say. So he told Kayikuuzi "You return to heaven. If Walumbe wants to kill my children, let him do so, I will keep having more. The more he kills, the more I will get and he will never be able to kill off all my children". Ttanda, where the fight between Walumbe and Kayikuuzi allegedly took place is figuratively referred to as the place of death (i.e. Walumbe's place).
So that is the legend of creation, and how sickness and death started. Nonetheless, Kintu's descendants will always remain as Kintu said in his last words to Kayikuuzi. Hence the Kiganda saying "Abaana ba Kintu tebalifa kuggwaawo". Which means that Kintu's children (i.e. the Baganda), will never be wiped off the face of the earth.
Kato Kintu the first king used this saying to his advantage, by taking on the name of the reputed father of all people in Buganda. However Kintu the legend and Kato Kintu the first king are distinct and should not be confused with one another. Kintu the legend was reputedly the first person on earth and therefore could not have been a king since he had no people to rule over!
Baganda women traditional wear
Most historians agree that there is a close relationship between the royal families of Buganda and Bunyoro. What is debatable however is the nature of the relationship, and when the two became separate. Various versions of this story have already been given above. Here, we will address the issue of who Kimera was according to the oral tradition of the Baganda.
When Kintu died, his officials did not want to make this public knowledge in the fear that this might cause instability in the kingdom. So Kintu was buried secretely at Nnono, and the officials put out the word that the king had disappeared. After some time, the officials chose Ccwa, one of Kintu's sons to become king in his father's place. Ccwa had only one son called Kalemeera. Kalemeera was only a young boy by the time his father ascended the throne. As he became older, Kalemeera began to understand the significance of the story that his grandfather Kintu had disappeared. He became apprehensive that Ccwa his father might also disappear in the same way. Thus Kalemeera began following his father around everywhere he went, fearful of letting him out of his sight. Eventually, Ccwa became exasperated with his son's behaviour and he concocted a plan that would force Kalemeera to leave his father's side.
Baganda woman attending the coronation wears a traditional wrapper called 'basuti', and proudly displays across her chest a bark cloth banner announcing her homeland. Because Baganda kingship is matrilineal, any powerful woman identifies with the throne because she may give birth to a king.
The scheme that was concocted involved Walusimbi the Katikkiro (Prime Minister), falsely accusing Kalemeera of having had an illicit affair with his wife. When the case was brought before Ccwa, the king ruled against his son, and he fined him heavily. Kalemeera was forced to go to Bunyoro to seek the help of king Winyi in paying off the fine. (According to this version of history, Winyi was the son of Rukidi Mpuga Isingoma, founder of the Bunyoro dynasty. But since Rukidi was Kintu's brother and Kintu was the father of Ccwa, it follows that Winyi was Kalemeera's uncle and he was in a position to help him out at this hour of need). Bunyoro at that time was the only source of iron implements in the whole region and Kalemeera's plan was to import some of these into Buganda and use the profits to help pay off the fine.
The story continues that while in Bunyoro, Kalemeera had an affair with Wannyana, one of Winyi's wives. When it became evident that Wannyana had become pregnant as a result, Kalemeera decided to return to Buganda quickly to escape Winyi's wrath. Unfortunately for him, Kalemeera took ill on the way home and he died. His attendants took his skull and buried it at Sserinnya in Busiro. Since then, a memorial house for Kalemeera has been maintained at Sserinnya.
In the meantime, Wannyana came to term and gave birth to a baby boy who later came to be called Kimera. Kimera grew up in Bunyoro, under the care of Katumba, of the Nkima clan, who was a close friend and advisor of Wannyana. (Katumba had tricked Winyi into having the baby thrown away rather than have him killed as would otherwise have happened. He then secretly rescued the boy.) Back in Buganda, Ccwa continued to rule as king. At his death, Ccwa had no male heir to succeed him since his son Kalemeera had already died. So Walusimbi, of the Ffumbe clan was given stewardship of the throne. Walusimbi proved unpopular however, and he was soon replaced by Ssebwaana, of the Lugave clan. Since neither of these was of the royal lineage, they are considered to have been only stewards rather than kings. The throne was in need of a royal occupant so the clan leaders decided to send for Kimera in Bunyoro, whom they had been informed was a son of Kalemeera. When Kimera left Bunyoro to come to Buganda, he knew he was going to become king and he brought many people and a lot of property with him. Wannyana his mother, and her friend Katumba were among the many people who came with Kimera. A total of 28 clans are said to have come into Buganda at Kimera's time. Katumba was given the nickname Mugema (meaning he who prevented trouble) because he prevented Kimera's death as a boy. Katumba was head of the Nkima clan, and 'Mugema' became his official title. Because of his role in rearing Kimera to maturity, and guiding him to the throne of Buganda, Mugema is regarded as one of the most important clan leaders.
1937: His Highness Daud Cina Buganda, Karaka of Buganda, who received the Honorary K B E in the Coronation Honours List. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The royal lineage from Kimera's time to the present king is unbroken despite the interruption of 1966-1993. Because he filled the great void that occurred after the reign of Ccwa I, Kimera is held in great awe by the Baganda, second only to that with which Kintu, the dynasty's founder is regarded. Indeed, a prince ascending the throne is always told that he is succeeding Kimera his ancestor. This had special resonance for Mutebi II the present king, because he also came to the throne after a period when the royal reign had been interrupted. This led the clan leaders to go beyond the ritual reminders, and actually name him Kimera at the coronation.
Basuuti dress of Baganda people
The Nnabagereka Sylvia Nagginda, Queen of Buganda
Beautiful baganda woman
Buganda basuuti dress. courtesy:Mrs.KC