Tuesday, 9 January 2018

TRADITIONAL MARRIAGES ACROSS UGANDA


Uganda is remarkably described as a melting pot of cultures. It comes with diversity of tribes that make up about 56 in total and 9 indigenous communities that are widely spread throughout the country. Each tribe or community in Uganda offers distinct cultural and traditional practices that are worth exploring while on cultural safari in Africa. With this diversity, Uganda’s cultural safaris stretch beyond traditional dances and music performances to different marriage customs. Each tribal group in Uganda comes with different marriage customs and they are distinctively rare. The different types of marriages that are recognized in Uganda include the customary marriage which is conducted based on the rites of an African community and one of the parties to the marriage must be a member of that community; the Muslim marriages-these are done based on the rites and observances of the muslem faith, between persons professing the muslem religion; church marriage which is mainly licensed place of worship and it is based on the rites of marriages observed by a specific religious denomination; Hindu marriage is conducted between the Hindus while the civil marriage is done in the offices of the registrars of marriages.

In Ankole
Traditionally, in Ankole community the usual pattern depends on both the parents of the boy and the girl to plan the marriage, at times with no knowledge of the girls concerned. This was usually done by the boy’s parents and up on payment of bride prize, the plans would be made to pick the bride. A girl is not allowed to get married when her elder sisters have not yet married. In case the marriage offer is effected this is usually regarded like the girl’s parents were manipulating things like a give away ceremony or rather conceal and send the elder sister. If the bridegroom gets to know about it, traditionally he was never allowed to raise questions but rather proceed and effect payment of the bride wealth and then proceed to marry the young sister in case he is able. It was however, the father’s responsibility to effect all the payment of bride prize and also meet other charges of planning the son’s marriage. In the course of wedding ceremony, the girl would be accompanied by others including the aunties. To other traditions, the husband would first try out the aunt of the girl to be married prior having it with the daughter. Others put it that the aunt was meant to affirm the potential of the bridegroom by simply watching or listening to the sexual intercourse between the bridegroom and her niece. The aunties were responsible for offering advice on how the girl was to start her home given that Ankole girls were meant to be virgins till they get married off. Note that some of these traditions false and never in practice.

In Acholi
There is no bargaining in Acholi. Parents select spouses for their children unlike today where children can stand and choose their own spouses. The boy plus his uncle and few men from his family will visit the girl’s home where the groom remains silent and his uncles will be bargaining. Once the cost is met a date is set when the boy will effect payment. In the ancient days, it involved paying cows, goats and gomesi for mother, aunt and a suit, a stool and walking stick for the father. Other things include some amount of money but currently most of them carry salt, sugar, soap, cooking oil and paraffin. The more educated the girl the higher the cost and on the set date, the bride wealth is taken to the girl’s place.

The Bagwere
A mugwere boy first identifies his bride and introduction is done before parents. Gifts will be offered and these are called Okutona. The boy then takes the girl’s parents to his parents to share on the price and this involves feasting and the actual giving of the bride wealth won’t be done. The wealth is taken later on and this means more feasting. The boy’s mother will be escorted by others to pick the girl from her home. At this point the couple still only consummates the marriage after ceremony where the couple will have a bath under the tree with herb laced water.

In Buganda
Traditionally, Buganda traditional marriage ceremony is basically an affair. After the boy has got a muganda girl, he writes a letter to the elders in the family. In case he is given a go a head, the introduction ceremony ‘kwanjula’ would follow. While at the kwanjula, 3 pots of beer would be carried along. Other items include a basket of meat, chicken for brother in law, gomesi, chicken and many more.

Japadola
Once the father realizes that his son his son is interested in specific girl, he takes a calf or a goat to the girl’s place. The amount is largely dependent on the level of the girl’s education. There are other gifts that are carried along.

Bakonzo
These mainly need goats. The girl informs her mother on her husband to be, who then will tell her husband about the issue. The boy’s father plus one or two other friends will then pay a visit to the girl’s home for formal introduction which is traditionally termed as Erisunga. Usually the Bakonzo want goats depending on how many they will tell you, hoe and two suits for parents, sugar, paraffin and many others.

Mufumbira girl
The Bafumbira are a bit unique in that once the boy gets a girl, he informs his parents and later they pay a visit to her parent’s family with ‘muramba’ local brew. They sing as they go to get the girl.

Bakiga
Marriage amongst the Bakiga comes with weeping. It all starts at puberty when boys and girls are to be prepared for marriage. The Bakiga have a belief that people shouldn’t stay long without being married but also they shouldn’t be married off at younger age. Once the boy gets a girl of his interest the process locally known as Okuriima starts. The process entirely involves spying on the girl and her family background. Once the girl agrees the boy’s takes a step to marry, pay the agreed bride wealth and this include the cows or goats. The next ceremony will be organized when the girl will be given to the boy officially. This involves a girl fighting and weeping not to be taken by the boy. And when she is defeated her head will be shaved and she will be carried to her husband’s place by the brother while weeping and the boy’s family members will be jubilating. The groom then taps her on the head with a twig implying he is her new master.

For the Langi, when the girl and boy agree to get married, the girl goes with the boy to their home. She will be given an envelope with money for the mother and in case she takes it that will mean she approved her choice and marriage negotiation will follow. This is simply the role of the mother and she is not supposed to be told what the wealth to be paid. Food is served in case the two parties accept but of course there will be no food in case the negotiations do not meet. The other gifts include the goats, saucepans, spear and cows for the mother. The saucepan is mainly for preparing food for the son in law whenever he pays a visit to the girl’s home. Upon finishing the receiving and offering part of the bride price, the couple will exchange copper or ivory bangles that will act like rings implying that they are now married.

The Nubians
The Nubians who lived in Uganda during colonial times originally stayed in Sudan in the Nubba Mountains. Many of these are the Muslims and their traditions are linked with Islamic teachings. The boy and his family pay a visit to girl’s home mainly to share the policies of the marriage and bride price. The key items include money, clothes, cooking oil, cigarettes, sugar and many more.

In conclusion, different tribes in Uganda have their own distinct traditional and cultural marriage practices that are worth exploring in depth while on cultural safari. For visitors who are interested in wildlife safaris, you can also incorporate cultural experiences with any kind of adventure or wildlife tour in Uganda.


Thursday, 21 December 2017

KASOGA COMMUNITY EXPERIENCE


Is Queen Elizabeth National Park your dream safari destination in Uganda? Do you love community adventures while on African safari? Well, Kasoga Community Experience is one way for you to get in touch with the locals while on wildlife safaris in Uganda’s second largest protected area. Kasoga Community Experience is a community initiative on Lake George Ramsar site in Hamukungu Fishing village, southwest of Kasenyi on the edge of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Visiting Kasoga community gives you a chance to explore the way the community lives and works and at the end of day, rewards with ultimate cultural experiences. This remarkable development is mainly intended to boost visitor knowledge and experiences and also help visitors extend their stays in the destination. Lots of cultural and marine practices are offered around this community and visitors are rewarded with remarkable experiences while interacting with the local residents.

Below are some of thrilling activities that you should engage in Kasoga Community Experience;

Canoeing
This is one of the remarkable water sport activities that reward visitors on Kasoga community experience with life changing adventures that they deserve in life. It takes you through the history of Irangara and Rubona islands, while also catching a glimpse of several hippos as well as the best breeding zones of fish which are near the community. Canoe experience in this area takes you through Irangara Island on the Northern bank from the landing site on the southern bank. While on canoe experience, you will have a chance to view the Rwenzori Mountain ranges. Usually, we capitalize on the park entrance fees paid for game viewing to reach to Irangara Island for a walk, to see fishermen who are camping on a bad catch day doing outdoor cooking. Towards the landing site, visitors get opportunity to peddle towards the landing site prior landing. You will also catch a glimpse of distinct birds at the edge of the Lake, fishermen capturing their baits.

 Community walk
The walk involves visiting the landing site and you will be in position to get information inline with marine practices while on community walk, fish preservation stoves, traditional canoe making demonstrations, net sawing, see women making craft as well as opportunity to see hippos as you also catch a glimpse of the spectacular views of the stunning community or walk via the historical swamps in the community and the vacation palace of the previous King of Tooro. There are some birdlife to sight that make up the 26 distinct species of birds.

Bush camping
Interacting with wildlife while in the wilderness is incredibly the most thrilling adventure anyone on safari to Queen Elizabeth National Park shouldn’t miss in life. Imagine yourself being in the wilderness while exploring its surround areas and attractions!

Community bird watching
Queen Elizabeth National Park offers refuge to about 620 different bird species most of which can be sighted around Irangara Island on canoe and community. The notable birds to sight around this area include hammerkop, pied kingfisher, malachite kingfisher, olive bellied sun bird, plovers, whale head and many more.

In conclusion, Kasoga Community Experience offers the best cultural and community interaction between visitors and local residents. Besides the above activities, you can engage in Canoe sinking, fishing tours and many more. If you are planning to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park for game drives or boat cruise, make sure that you include Kasoga community experience and you will be thrilled with lifetime experience. Your visit to this community is of great importance as it is one way of giving back to the local residents!


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

THE FIRST EVER ACHOLI CULTURAL FESTIVAL IN UGANDA


Are you a cultural enthusiast? Have you heard about the Acholi cultural festival? For the first time in Uganda, residents of Acholi Sub region have organized what has been described as the "grand Acholi cultural festival" due to take place in Gulu district. The event is intended to exhibit the endowed culture and traditions of the Acholi people. The Acholi cultural leader Rwot David Onen Acana II endorsed on this tremendous event as a way to memorize and celebrate the beauty of Acholi culture. The theme of the event is “Kwero deyo pa Acholi” meaning Celebrating the beauty of the Acholi!
ACHOLI CULTURAL DANCES
Several events are to be conducted between 14th Thursday and 16th Saturday at the Kaunda Grounds and Park Centre in Gulu town. The festival is likely to attract thousands of people from all corners to attend this remarkable event that is commencing tomorrow. This event also intends to promote progress and development in the region. Among other things to be exhibited include the traditional dances, food, artifacts, drama, local dishes and drinks. Cooking lessons will be conducted for children below 11 years as well as cooking competitions and Acholi food restaurant. There will also be Acholi legacy award gala, dance, music, dress and several awards. All these fascinating activities are aimed at selling the culture of Acholi people to outside world. The Acholi belong to Nilotic Luo speaking ethnic group mainly thriving from central area of Northern Uganda, an area largely considered as Acholi land. The region covers the towns of Agago, Gulu, Amuru, Kitgum, Lamwo and Pader. About 1.17 million people live in the region with more 45000 of them living in south Sudan. They speak Luo. The Acholi people are famous to have migrated from Bahr el Ghazal in the south of Sudan about 1000 CE to the current Northern Uganda.
In conclusion, wildlife safaris in Uganda are worth better off when combined with cultural encounters. Let us come and appreciate nature and promote Acholi culture to the outside world! There is a lot more to explore in the Acholi compared to what you may know.


ENTANDA CULTURAL EXPERIENCE


While most tourists come mainly for wildlife viewing in Africa’s national parks, Uganda offers yet another exciting experience for visitor on safari to Africa. Combining game drives with cultural safaris in Uganda rewards travelers with lifetime experiences. Uganda consists of more than 650 designated cultural sites and monuments and 2 (two) UNESCO World Heritage Sites, eight more sites are yet to be approved. For amazing cultural safaris in Uganda, consider visiting Entanda Traditional Hunting and Cultural Experiences and you won’t regret in life. Entanda is located 60 kilometers away from Kampala city. While at a distance, you can hear the sounds of the African drums and the more you get closer, they become louder. The traditional music with local residents offers the most remarkable experiences for visitors on Uganda safaris. A safari to this cultural site rewards visitors with fruits like watermelon, guavas, passion fruit, paw paws, yellow banana, jack fruit, sour sop fruits and many more. There are traditional games for visitors to enjoy for instance bow and arrow shooting competition, learn how to play the Sekitulege a local musical instrument which about 6 centuries old.
FRUITS TO BE ENJOYED
TRADITIONAL MUSIC AND DANCE
You will also have opportunity to climb the hills, or visit wetlands, forests and homesteads while looking for animals to hunt. Residents in the area will take an initiative to show you everything right from how to carry hunting spears, machetes and horns. They will identify the animals that they will find but the hunting doesn’t mean shoot to kill. The technique is applied to allow more wildlife to recover after many years of hunting.

Whereas male visitors set off for hunting, the females stay back home with local women who will take them to the gardens to harvest food. They prepare the local dishes together with tourists using traditional techniques and cook it as they wait for the husbands to come back from the field. As food boils on the fire, tourists are guided by the Ssenga also referred as auntie to the bush to explore on the marriage and home management affairs. She takes visitors through traditional practices of how to look after the husband, how to use certain local herbs to treat the sick people and how to manage a home in a typical Kiganda tradition. Bed matters are also deeply discussed around the same area.

When the men come back from hunting, tired and hungry, food will be served hot and steaming and everyone sits on the floor and uses bare hands to eat. After lunch Kojja also referred as uncle talks about marriage matters as well as bed issues with men. After you are done with lunch, tourists can choose to explore more local herbs or wine processing and testing or join the herdsmen for an afternoon grazing of animals and milking cows. In case you need to go and play football, you can still make a team and do it as the last activity with the local residents. Ladies and gentlemen are all free to team up together. In case the tourists win the match, they are offered goats to roast while they party with the local residents.
FOOTBALL TIME
In conclusion, it is only in Uganda where you can unique cultural experiences that thrill into visitors’ mind. Come and explore the Entanda cultural practices and be amazed with lifetime experiences!


Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Exploring the magical secrets in the Ssezibwa waterfalls


Situated about 35 kilometers East of Kampala, Mukono District, the Ssezibwa falls feature among the most exceptional cultural spots in Uganda. When you think about cultural safaris in Uganda, look not further than the Ssezibwa falls! The Ssezibwa isn’t only for the remarkable waterfalls but also credited for its extraordinary and spiritual values which makes it one of the amazing and well kept cultural spots of Buganda’s King. A visit to this splendid cultural site rewards visitors on Uganda cultural safaris with incredible “Black River” which stumbles over the rocks into the pool below.
THE MAGICAL SSEZIBWA FALLS
Think about unique cultural spots in Uganda and think not beyond the Ssezibwa falls. The site is frequently visited by the natives for blessings in areas of wealth, love, children, business and fortunes. It is also credited for its healing power. The ceremonial blessings are always conducted by the traditional healer who is within the site and they are performed for both domestic and international visitors. The native have it that there are two Rivers-Sezibwa and Bwanda that were born by a women on her way to Kavuma Bukunja at a time when she encountered labor pains. Nakkungu Tebatuusa whose husband was called Nsubuga Sebwato gave birth to twin babies in form of water. The Ssezibwa flowed west crossing several obstacles and thus the name Ssezibwa while the Bwanda flowed to Nyenga in Eastern Uganda to the mother’s homeland. At Sezibwa, there is a big tree which was planted by Ssekabaka Mwanga II as away showing respect to the Ssezibwa falls. Also King Ronald Frederick Muwenda Mutebi II planted a tree during the dedication of the current site in 2002.

The 2 (two) historical trees that are regarded as sacred gifts from the Kabakas and while you are on safari in Uganda; do not miss to visit this remarkable site. Visitors on Uganda cultural safari to the Ssezibwa falls have a chance to enjoy picnic tours as well as paying a visit to distinct local shrines where the local Buganda frequently visit to give spiritual sacrifices with hopes of getting blessings. This area is stunning and it comes with spectacular scenic views.
THE SHRINE IN SSEZIBWA FALLS
The Ssezibwa waterfalls are found on Ssezibwa River which also comes with stunning wetlands between Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga west of Buikwe district. Around Buikwe the River flows Northwards via Mukono into Lake Kyoga in Kayunga district.  

The Ssezibwa falls are of great value not just for its waterfalls but for its exceptional cultural experiences and traditional beliefs attached to it. The word Sizibibwa Kkubo denotes that no obstacle can bar me from moving on and from Ssezibwa the 2 Rivers flow across the tranquil island which divides them into two streams reminding locals of the legend as to how the Rivers started.

In conclusion, the Ssezibwa is an important cultural spot and it is frequently visited by not only natives but also foreigners. The site also comes with amazing bird sightings that thrive around the area. Safaris to Ssezibwa falls can be incorporated with any trips within Uganda whether you are traveling for adventures like bungee jumping or white water rafting in Jinja or Mabira forest as well as wildlife tours in the national parks.


Friday, 24 November 2017

EXPERIENCING THE MILEGE WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL


When you think about African cultural safaris, look not further than Uganda. While on your safari in Uganda, expect more than just mouth watering foods and local dishes! The Milege world music festival or simply Milege festival is one of remarkable events of a kind not to be missed while on Uganda cultural safari. This tremendous music festival is conducted every year in November. The festival is entirely a celebration of games, cultural and traditional dances, world music, stories, poems and many more. There is also art repainting and after exhibited and sold during this remarkable event of a lifetime. The world music festival brings together several music stars from across Africa and even Asia, America and Europe. This amazing festival began in 2010 and it cut across Uganda and from 2014, it was relocated to the Botanical Gardens in Entebbe.
THE MILEGE FESTIVAL
No need to wait anymore or wonder about where to spend this weekend, this year the festival will kick off on 24th to 26th November 2017 at the Entebbe Botanical Gardens. The Milege World Music Festival is a joint development of the Mayor of Entebbe and Milege Inc. The main aim of the festival is to exhibit the rare arts from various countries of the world as a high quality entertainment event and prime tourist attraction.
ENTEBBE BOTANICAL GARDENS
The event is a three day celebration of extra-ordinary arts, featuring exceptional array of bands, dance groups, DJ’s and musicians and to forget poetry, storytelling, visual arts, fashion, crafts, food and drinks all in the spectacularly scenic Entebbe Botanical Gardens. Additionally, there are also several sightseeing activities for children and adults together with the possibility of camping on the grounds of the Entebbe Botanical Gardens that will all make up your lifetime experience. The Entebbe Botanical Gardens site was laid out in 1898 by the first Curator. It is situated on the shores of Lake Victoria just in the centre of Entebbe town and it comes with the feeling of a faraway forest expedition, variety of trees of hundred years, herbal gardens, a cliff, shoreline and a tropical rain forest zone in where the film Tarzan was shot in the 1940’s. The place is incomparably one of the most exceptional areas that create a balance between nature and convenience at the same place. The festival basically offers you a chance to realize your dreams with lots of entertainment or chilling moments of lifetime. Early in the morning, you will first catch up with the fishermen or sun rise by the Lakeside or simply catch a glimpse of monkeys and many more.
DANCES AT MILEGE FESTIVAL
Tickets are always found online and at the nearest selling points in Kampala and Entebbe Revelers who buy online can exchange a printed copy of their ticket fro a wrist band at the gate. When it comes to accommodation, there is no need to be worried. Entebbe has a wide range of accommodations that suit within visitors’ pocket right from luxury to budget. There is a five star Protea Hotel Entebbe about 2 (two) minutes from the Entebbe International Airport to comfortable African cottages at Uganda Wildlife Education Center, homely Lodges, back packers and amazingly pocket friendly accommodation. For visitors who love camping, Entebbe Botanical Gardens also offer the best and camp site just at the edge of the tropical rain forest zone.

For visitors at the Entebbe International Airport, you can get airport taxi or down the uber application and get a discounted or absolutely free ride to the festival place using the code MILEGE on www.uber.com/app. Discounts go up to shs.15000. There is also public means the whole day until evening to and fro Kampala via Kampala to Entebbe highway or at the old taxi park in Kampala and the Entebbe taxi park at shs.3000. For movement in Entebbe, you can use safe Boda (Motorcycle). Using this means is equally safe as you are given helmet and the riders are careful while riding. They are easily spotted out with their orange helmets and reflector jackets bearing the name of the rider and company contact info.


In conclusion, Entebbe is one of the most stunning towns in Uganda. It comes with Entebbe International Airport where most of the flights take place. Its spectacular view alone is such remarkable experience not to be missed. For this weekend, don’t miss lifetime experiences at the Milege World Music Festival in Entebbe Botanical Gardens! 

Thursday, 16 November 2017

DISCOVERING THE MAGICAL ROCK SHELTERS AND CAVES OF THE EARLY MAN


Are you an archaeologist or anthropologist? Are you planning your safari in Uganda? African safaris are never complete without cultural safaris! Think about the most thrilling cultural experiences or exceptional historical, archaeological, memorial sites and count Uganda a must to visit destination. Uganda offers more than wildlife adventures! A trip to this stunning destination allows you to explore its cultural and archaeological sites that reward the endeavors with lifetime experiences. If you checked about Uganda, the first thing for you to see would the mountain gorillas or the big game and yet also it’s a hotspot for cultural safaris in Africa. Looking at the Southwestern region, there is more for you to explore and you will certainly be thrilled by its abundance beyond just wildlife as seen below;

The Nsongezi caves and rock shelters
If you have ever heard about the story of the Stone Age, then this is the best spot for you to visit. The shelters are situated along the banks of River Kagera and Kikagati trading center. Nsongezi caves and rock shelters are the best archaeological sites, only famous in the entire Uganda for the late Stone Age Microlith and dimple based pottery. The site came to existence way back in 9th century. These shelters feature several excavations of stratified pottery shards of about 1000 AD. Along these rock shelters, you will also find the Kansyore Island next to River Kagera. The Island was occupied by the rulers of Nkore, Ntare of the time and Rwanga as refuge. To date it is used as a holiday resort. Visitors can access the Nsongezi rock shelters and the Kansyore through the Kampala-Kabale route past oruchinga refugees settlement. If you are in Mbarara, they are accessible about 64 kilometers. Alternatively, you can take the Mbarara-Kitagati route and between 24 and 26 kilometers from Mbarara you will also find the Buchunku Stanley memorial and the Bweyorere capital sites. This is where the famous explorer H.M. Stanley made blood brotherhood with Buchunku on 23rd July 1889. Buchunku represented the King of Nkore, Ntare ‘V’ while Bweyorere which is located nearly three quarter kilometers, off Mbarara-Kikagati route was a capital site for two rulers of the Nkore, Kasasira and Karara kingdom. Do not miss to see the low mounds all over the site that might have been the shelter sites and cow dung heaps. There is also pottery widely spread in the site which is Uganda’s only thriving archaeological site.

Do not miss to explore other historical sites and monuments around Mbarara especially the Nkokonjeru tombs at Kakika about 3 and half kilometers west of Mbarara town. The tomb site is where the 2 Kings of Ankole, Kahaya II and Sir Godfrey Gasyonga II are found.

As you head to Kamukuzi, you will find the Ankole capital and the relics of the old palace. The drums house still exists and you will have a chance to visit the stunning monument in the memory of the Late Nuwa Mbaguta the Prime Minister (Enganzi) of Ankole. Within Mbarara town, there is the peace memorial site the parade square just in front of the old police headquarters and the Ntare Stanley memorial site around Mbarara central government prison.

Head to Ibanda trading center about 60 kilometers North of Mbarara and explore the Galt memorial site, a heap of stones arranged in a cone marking the site at which gait one of the colonial assistant commissioner was killed by Rutaraka. This event caused arrests and banishment of Bahinda princes; Igumira and Rwakakaiga.

Visit the Kitagata hot springs just near Kitagata hospital about 40 kilometers form Mbarara-Ishaka route. The place is naturally stunning with papyrus swamp along it and it is a healing site for most locals as most of them flock into the site early in the morning and late in the evening for bathing. As you head to Kabale town besides its stunning and misty hills and terraced gardens, you will also catch a glimpse of 2 natural sites.

Visit Kisiizi falls on River, Rushoma, Kyabamba and Lake Bunyonyi. Traditionally these sites were used as a dumping ground for Bakiga premarital pregnant girls. Girls whose legs and arms were weak would be rolled over the waterfalls of about 15 meters high or thrown into the deep Crater Lake. The practice has however stopped as the church of Uganda was set up the Kisiizi hospital in 1958. Currently, these two sites are magnificent tourist attractions. The waterfalls also inhabit several birdlife and a trip to the area also rewards with spectacular views.
THE KISIIZI FALLS
In conclusion, there are a lot more waiting for you to explore while on safari to Southwestern Uganda. Cultural safaris in Southwestern Uganda can be combined with mountain gorilla trekking adventures in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga National Park. There are also other cultural sites for you explore especially the Garama caves, the Kigezi memorial site and many more. Enjoy your cultural safari in Uganda!