Monday, 19 June 2017

EXCITING TRADITIONAL DANCES IN UGANDA


Do you love African traditional dances? Are you interested in cultural safaris in Africa? Despite wildlife attractions, Africa is also known for its dramatic and inspiring cultural experiences which are characterized by poetry, ritual or dances and one of the most indicating types of the African life and soul. Uganda in particular, is a cultural hub where most of the African cultures are demonstrated together with religion, ancestral worship and spiritualism. If you are planning for your wildlife safari to Uganda but you also wish to encounter some of the traditional dances, it shouldn’t worry you in any way. With over 65 different languages being spoken, Uganda is described as a melting pot of cultures. While in your safari to this beautiful country, expect to meet different traditional practices that are represented in each region. Uganda’s traditional dances are true representation of real African experiences that come once in a life time.

UGANDA'S TRADITIONAL DANCE
Below is a list of different cultural dances that can make your stay in Uganda memorable.

The Batwa cultural encounter: Are you interested in gorilla and cultural safaris in Uganda? Well, visit the Batwa cultural trails in the south western Uganda. The Batwa pygmies were the ancient people to live in the jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for several centuries. The Batwa were renowned hunters and gatherers who found had found refuge in the Bwindi’s jungles for over 500000 years. When need to conserve the mountain gorillas and their habitat the Batwa pygmies were forced to leave the forest till today that they are among the marginalized people around the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. For authentic African dances, visit the Batwa during the Batwa trail as you enjoy your gorilla safari. You certainly enjoy the most inspiring and emotional dances and songs that will be demonstrated by the Batwa as they sing and emphasize why they were removed from the forest and wishing if they could be allowed to return to their ancient home.

If you are in Kidepo Valley National Park, still there is no need to worry about cultural experiences. Visit the Karamojong people or Ik people in North Eastern Uganda for unique dances and traditional practices that will make your stay memorable.

Muwogola, Baakisiima and Nankasa (Kiganda) dances: If you are around Kampala and you are interested in cultural experiences; include the Kiganda dance as part of experiences for your encounter. The Kiganda dances are three Baganda traditional folk dances that were initiated from the palace of the king of Buganda just adjacent Lake Victoria where there is a home of Nalubaale-the wife of Lubaale-one of the gods of the Baganda people. Buganda region forms the largest portion of all the tribes that are ingrained within Uganda and it lies within the central just adjacent Lake Victoria. The Kiganda dance is the most dramatic and famous cultural dance in Uganda and rarely can you find a muganda who doesn’t know how to perform this kind of dance. This inspiring dance is normally performed whenever or where the king has a gathering or where he is supposed to talk to his subjects.

Ekitaguriro by the Banyakole people: In western Uganda, you will meet exciting cultural dances that will be demonstrated to you by the Ankole people both men and women will be performing and demonstrating their Ankole dance. In many occasions, the dance is performed to demonstrate the love of Ankole people and their cattle. The cattle in this area have long horns and thus making the dance aerial. The sound of the songs is like that of the cows and interestingly you will also get a sound of milk pouring/flowing from the cow’s udder. The stamping walk of the men during the dance is like that of cows and hands of the women demonstrate the long beautiful horns of the cows and this explains why they dance with their hands up in the air.

Mwanga dance: While you are in the highlands of Eastern Uganda, you will encounter the Bagisu dance. This is a ceremonial initiation dance of the Bagisu people. The Bagisu have a belief that for young boys to become men, they must be circumcised. During the Imbalu cultural circumcision, candidates are moved around dancing for a period of about 21 days till the time an elder will cut off the fore skin of male’s penis. During this event, other community members will be drumming and dancing around and most interestingly, tourists have also attended this dramatic event in life. This experience is seasonal and occurs in every an even year. The Bagisu tribe is known as Bamasaba. For any one in Bamasaba land who doesn’t go through this traditional practice, he will never be regarded as a man in the community. Currently, in the course of the three day ceremony of dancing, visiting friends and family, feasting and receiving gifts, preceded by a couple of months of preparations like bamboo strips being handed down to the candidates by their eldest uncles on the father’s side to represent the responsibility and strength required to face the challenge of manhood, the initiate will be decorated with white ash like powder.

Ekizino dance: This is a cultural dance that is performed by the Bakiga people from Kigezi area in Uganda. At first, the dance was demonstrated whenever the King was going to settle disputes in his kingdom and explains why it is famously called a Court dance.

Akembe dance: This dance is demonstrated by the Iteso people in Eastern Uganda. It is a famous courtship dance that is performed in Teso area. It is one of the softly performed musical dances that are played using melodic instruments.

Adungu dance: This is a famously performed dance by Alur people along the West Nile area. It is performed on melodies from an instrument called Adungu. The dance is demonstrated by the talented young boys and girls and you will enjoy how they will be jumping in a given pattern. Alternatively, you can also enjoy the Gaze dance that is demonstrated by the Lugbara in West Nile area. For visitor to Murchison Falls National Park, as you enjoy your wildlife safari make sure you visit a community around west Nile for such authentic African dances of a life time.

Runyege and Entongoro dance: In case you are interested in chimpanzee tracking around Kibale National Park, make sure you include in your safari the Runyege dance. The dance is demonstrated by the Batooro people in Western Uganda and specifically, by talented youths at a time when they will be searching for their partners.

Irongo, Nalufuka and Tamenaibuga: If you around Jinja Eastern Uganda for your white water rafting, visit the Busoga community and enjoy the Basoga cultural dances as they demonstrate peace and unity. Historically, there used to be two men who were such tight friends that they shared anything in their life. But one day, they went out to take beer which they traditionally serve in a gourd. After having too much of the drink, they started to argue and it led to a fight between them. The gourd which had beer was broken in the fight and the friendship had to end there and then. The men’s community noticed that a quarrel between these men would cause their friendship split and affect the unity of the community and this explains why the dance was initiated to unite the people.

Bwola dance: This is a court dance which is performed by the Acholi people in Northern Uganda. It is a circular dance for both old men and women. The dance demonstrates the fence of surrounds the Kingdom. There are several events and conversations that occur in the course of this dance and this explains the length of the dance performances.

Still in Northern Uganda, there is Larakaraka dance, a ceremonial cultural/traditional dance from Acholi land and it is mostly performed during weddings. It is known that when the young people in a given village were prepared for marriage, they would organize a ceremony where all potential partners would gather. As an indicator of unity, food and alcoholic drinks were served in the course of this ceremony while young men would dance to attract or convince the women available at the ceremony. Those that prove to be the best would get their partners and so competition was at its course. For those who prove to be poor dancers were likely to die as bachelors.


In conclusion, Uganda’s cultural dances are represented by all the tribes and they all demonstrate different traditional practices within their communities. Exploring this abundant cultural experiences is indeed a reality about authentic African cultures.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

CULTURE AS A TOURISM POTENTIAL IN UGANDA


A round the world, few destinations can match Uganda’s long human history, the people and their tradition is one way to best describe it as a “melting pot of culture.” Uganda is the only destination where countless tribes are all harmonized within the same country and yet also promotes tremendous cultural exchange among themselves. In terms of diversity, Uganda is a true melting pot of cultures with the renowned 65 tribal groups that have positioned the country to be one of the best places for cultural safaris in Africa. Despite the intense wildlife, Uganda is a true haven of unexploited culture which is represented in all the regions. Uganda’s cultural diversity is distributed in different landscapes which also posses distinct life styles and traditions ranging from the staunch pastoralists in the Northeast to the Batwa pygmies-the original forest occupants in extreme Southwest. With this diversity, Uganda’s culture offers a great deal to the tourism industry especially for safari visits on cultural experiences. Ugandans either have the same culture or totally different which makes it one of the most outstanding products for one to have total satisfaction about real African culture.

Besides wildlife safaris, a cultural trip to the remote national parks, kingdoms, historical sites among others is one thing that can make your safari in Uganda complete. Cultural tourism in Uganda has showed some growth rate with several visitors who get into the country. Culture has a bigger impact in the tourism industry especially for authentic exploration of ones history in many cultural sites in Uganda.

UGANDA'S CULTURAL DANCE
Below is a list of various cultural encounters that can help your stay in Uganda enjoyable besides the renowned mountain gorillas-chimpanzees-birds and big five game.

The Batwa pygmies:
The Batwa people were the first people to live in Uganda’s dense tropical rain forest-Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. They lived in this forest for almost 500000 years simply because they discovered the hidden treasures in Bwindi's jungles right from shelter to food. Unfortunately, there was need to conserve the biodiversity in this area especially the mountain gorillas and the Batwa had to be forced out of their home some thing that left them marginalized on planet. Although they have taken up tour guiding as one way to improve on their lives, they still wish to return to the jungles to resume their life style. If you are planning for your gorilla safari in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, endeavor to include the Batwa Trail Experience or Batwa encounter in South-western Uganda. The Batwa trail offers tourists a great opportunity to explore their life styles in the forest at a time which is indeed an authentic African experience as they take through the same places where they lived harmoniously with the forest for centuries. Visit the Mgahinga and take up the Batwa trail, Buniga forest walk or experience the Bwindi Forest with the Batwa in Buhoma sector.

Buhoma community village walk:
Culture is centered on traditional dances, people, art and craft of which Buhoma community village walk offers you an opportunity if you are in Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The three hour village walk is worth as it takes you through unique traditional ways like the locally made crafts, dances, food preparation, brewing and traditional healers.

Ruboni Village:
Ruboni is main refuge to the Bakonjo, the renowned keepers of the Rwenzori Mountain of the Moon. Visit the village and experience how the traditional healers in this area do his things, while the village leader/elder takes you through the historical back ground of the Bakonjo people. As well, never miss to pay a visit to local blacksmith as he uses the ancient ways to produce the tools that people need. Have you ever prepared your own food? Pay a visit to this village and select a home and be part of food preparation team, dancing or get drumming lessons and many other things for you to learn. For accommodation, you can spend a night at Ruboni Community Camp or Equator Snow Lodge.

The Karamojong Manyattas:
Visiting the Karamojong people is such an incredible experience as you explore the life style of these ancient and proud warrior pastoralists and their families in Manyatta houses. The Karamojong are fierce and proud semi nomadic pastoralists in the remote North Eastern Uganda. Their behavior is more of resistance and for long; they are believed to have resisted most of modern projects and centered their minds in pastoralism.

The IK tribe:
Still, in North Eastern Uganda comes another incredible group of people for you to interact with. The IK people are popularly known as the “Mountain people.” They decided to isolate themselves from the rest and stayed on Mount Morungole. Visiting the Ik people means you have to hike up to the top point of Mount Morungole-North Eastern, Uganda. If you visit Kidepo Valley National Park, never miss to encounter 11000 Ik people on their mountain. The Ik people are believed to be the remotest tribes in East African region with their traditional practices and the historical background that will make up your experience just like the renowned Batwa pygmies in south western Uganda. They are said to be the first inhabitants in North Eastern region prior their shift to the mountain. Historically, this small tribe first had their representative in the Ugandan Parliament just of recent.

Ssezibwa falls:
This place is recognized for unique cultural legend just near Kampala city. The place is still vital for Bagandas  to whom the ancient ways still hold value. Interestingly, the recent Kabaka Ronald Mutesi has planted a tree in this area. In the previous hundred years, there was a woman called “Nakangu” from the FOX clan who was almost giving birth to twins but gave birth to two rivers and two streams. Currently, other people can be seen with lots of sacrifices of local brew beer, chicken, goats and bark cloth. There is also fertility shrine in a depression in the rocks by the falls. The falls also has restaurant for you to have some lunch and if you are interested in nature and birding walks, you can still choose to do it in this place.

Nakayima witch’s tree:
The tree is just 3 hour drive from Kampala on Fort Portal-Kibale Forest National Park route. It is a renowned place for traditional and cultural practices. Getting into this place offers you great opportunity to explore the traditions and practices that have been conducted under this tree for more than 500 years. You will be told the oral traditions concerning the area, the ancient Nakayima and the way the spirit world the lives of Ugandans still intertwine today. Visiting this place offers the most fantastic legends and tales, scenic beauty especially the beautiful plateau.

The Imbalu male circumcision ceremonies:
Have you ever visited Mbale, Eastern Uganda? The Bagisu people have one of the rare traditional practices famously known as “Imbalu.” This practice always occurs in even years and it is a public circumcision ceremony where boys are turned into men. Whenever the event occurs, thousands of people come from various parts of Uganda and adjacent Kenya and many tourists also attend this event. The event occurs at the beginning of August up to December of even year. This is an important event for the Bagisu people and the tourists have sighted it as a time of cultural exploration while visiting Uganda.

The Abayudaya Jews of Uganda:
The Abayudaya Jews of Uganda are not Jew per say but by choice and they suffered a lot during Idi Amin’s days. Currently, they are small, thriving, religious community that has a clinic and a dental clinic, plants coffee along with Muslims and Jews and they contribute to community at large. For interested visitors, you need to plan it early enough for your experience with the Jews of Uganda. Interestingly, the Chief Rabbi is an MP who was elected by all people and not just the Abayudaya.

Amabere Caves:
This is a place of historical and natural wonder near Fort Portal and Kibale Forest National Park. Tourists can as well plan for full day safari with their packed food and then go for a guided nature walk as they visit three crater lakes. Traditional stories say that the King cut off the breasts of his daughter as a punishment for her ill behavior, while the dropping water seemed milky by the calcium carbonate was termed by locals as “breast milk.” Scientifically, they are actual stalactites made of calcium carbonate when mixed with water drip to form stalactites.

Nyero Rock Paintings:
Nyero rock paintings are situated next to Kumi town in the village called Nyero. Visitors who get into this place get chance to explore the three cave shelters and be able to see the ancient rock paintings in Uganda that describe the Iron Age times. If you are an archaeologist, Nyero Rock paintings are worth visiting; for visitors to Kidepo Valley National Park, they can combine their safari with that of rock paintings shelters caves. The three caves can be reached by visitors who travel to Kidepo, Sipi Falls or Mbale Town.

Ndere Cultural Dance and Music Troupe:
Ndere Troupe is Uganda’s cultural dance group that has kept the diverse culture in the country live through creativity and performances. While in Kampala, you shouldn’t miss this wonderful experience of a life time as they demonstrate Uganda’s cultural dances, traditions and where possible have a traditional dinner at Ndere cultural center. Ndere center is situated around Kampala area.

Sosolya Dance Performers:
The Sosolya Undugu Dance Academy is a cultural center for talented children and youth in Uganda. They mostly teach and perform African Music and Dance for visitors who get into Uganda. This group normally performs every Sunday afternoon at 4 pm and beyond at Hotel International around Muyenga Area of Kampala. The group is composed of young talented people who demonstrate several dances across the Great Lakes Region of Africa. You can choose to dance or drumming classes from this group and it will be organized for you.

The Royal Drum Makers:
The Mpambire cradle of Drum making in Uganda is a known drum makers of Mpambire that demonstrate the old ways of making drums. This group is not known for drum making only but also they are Royal Drum Makers for the Kabaka of Buganda Kingdom. If you are interested in safari to Western Uganda and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or even Queen Elizabeth National Park, you can still pass by Mpambire and make a stop over the Royal Drum Makers of Mpambire. You can as well get one drum from Uganda’s Royal Drum Makers.

UGANDA'S DRUMS
Igongo Cultural Center and Museum:
In South-Western Uganda still, never miss visiting Igongo cultural center a natural and cultural heritage for all the Ankole cultures. Igongo is the best stop over on your en-route to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Lake Mburo National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. You can have lunch and then enjoy the local Ankole culture and their history.

ANKOLE'S CATTLE
Uganda’s Martyrs shrine and Museum at Namugongo:
Every year, 3rd June is a public holiday in Uganda where Christians gather to commemorate the lives of 22 Catholics and 23 Church of Uganda (Anglicans) who were executed for their faith and denounce of Kabaka Mwanga’s orders at a time (3rd 1886). The shrine can be visited at any time of the year. You can as well join thousands of pilgrimage at Kibeho on 27 May and Namugongo on 3rd June as proceed for your gorilla tracking or wildlife safari in Lake Mburo. In 2015, Pope Francis happened to be the third Pope to visit the shrine and museum and you too can come and experience the Faith that Ugandans have in their hearts.

In conclusion, Uganda is a true melting pot of cultures where you can experience lots of legends and tales in various Kingdoms with unique scenic views, ideal climate and welcoming people in African continent.



Wednesday, 31 May 2017

THE WORLD'S CULTURAL EVENT


Do you treasure African culture? Do you wish to encounter authentic cultural experiences? Do you love Uganda’s cultural safaris? Have you ever thought about Ugandan people and their culture? Uganda is soon hosting the world’s cultural event, the first of its kind on 13th August 2017. If you love authentic African cultures, then consider visiting Uganda Museum as a must for “Global Cultural Event.” Uganda Museum is East Africa’s biggest and ancient Museum that was established in 1908 in Kampala and it has Uganda’s displays right from traditional cultures, archeology, history, science to natural history. When you talk about Uganda’s culture and traditions, your mind should dwell much on the music, Arts and Crafts made of wood, papyrus, reeds and local materials. Besides the art and craft materials, Uganda’s culture has also not left out black smith implements, beaded jewellery, wood carvings and batiks. Uganda Museum is a National Museum and it is located 3 (three) kilometers from the city centre, Kira road near Uganda Wildlife Authority.

The “Global Cultural Event” is intended to attract various cultural groups in the world and it aims at showing Uganda’s cultural "pride", “heritage” and “peace" for the people of Uganda and the world by and at large. Have you ever heard about Mary Ingabire Global Events? The Global Cultural Event is organized by Mary Ingabire. This event comes in with several showcases and platform for expressing different African cultures will be used as tools for celebrating our heritage, pride and preservation of peace. The performances in the events are meant to create awareness within Uganda as a nation, Africa as a continent and the world at and by large that Uganda the “Pearl of Africa” is truly a “Hospitality Hub” and “Cradle” of Cultural Diversity. Some of the expected cultural performances include the “Rockies Troupe Uganda” and it will cost 5000 for children, 10,000 for adults, 500,000 for stall, 1,000,000 for VIP and 1,500,000 for tent.

Uganda's dance
Uganda forms a powerful cultural “heritage” with each region being represented by their Kingdoms. They include Buganda, Busoga, Bunyoro and Toro. Incredibly, Ugandans are one of the most welcoming and hospital people and they are richly endowed with diverse cultures and life styles. Every tribe in Uganda is represented by their traditional dance. The Banyakole demonstrate the “Kitagururo” dance, the Bunyoro demonstrate the “Runyege” dance, Acholi perform “Bwora” and Otole dances while the Alur in West Nile perform “Agwal” dance, the Bagisu demonstrate the “Imbalu dance during their circumcision ceremonies. If you have ever heard about the cultural melting pot, then Uganda’s culture is undoubted. Uganda is composed of over 66 distinct indigenous culture and dialects and remarkably the country is a home to Batwa pygmies, the indigenous inhabitants of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in South-West. When it comes to cultural experiences, Uganda is truly a hub for authentic African cultures as each African society is represented.

Historically, the Bantu speaking people comprise of 4 (four) main immigrant groups which includes the Basamia, Bakonjo, Bunyoro, Baganda, Bamasaba, Basoga, Bagwere, Batooro, Banyakole, Bakiga among others. This group is known to have originated from Cameroon highlands and Congo forest and settled in the Southern side of the country after separating from the Nilotic tribes of the North on the Swampy Lake Kyoga. 

The Nilo-hamites on other side include the Iteso, Karamojong and Kuman in the Eastern and North Eastern side of the country. Historically, the Nile Hamites were pastoralists, traditionally keeping large herds of cattle which they kept moving from place to place in search of water and pasture.

The Nilotic group comprises of Lugbara, Madi, Acholi, Langi, Kakwa and Alur and they are known to be originating from Sudan but they later settled in the West Nile and some other parts of Northern Uganda.

The Baganda are concentrated in central Uganda and they are popular for their distinct ceremonial occasions that are prepared to fulfill the cultural rituals and norms, commemoration, remembrance, observance and inauguration. Among the common ceremonies in Buganda include the “okwalula abalongo” which can be translated as initiative of twins, the introduction which is locally known as “okwanjula” and King’s birth day.
The traditional cultural dances are very vital as it is one way of bringing people together, entertaining the king and a symbol of identity to the Baganda culture. There are also many key cultural sites that include a UNESCO world heritage site “Kasubi tombs” a place where bodies of the former kings were laid to rest.

In conclusion, Uganda is a true cultural melting pot. Despite the wildlife endowments that, the Uganda's culture and people remarkably unique and every tribe has its own history and traditions. Come and prove the diverse cultures and ethnic groups from different origins that are ingrained into this small country. Enjoy Uganda’s cultural dances, artifacts, attractions, life styles and breathtaking cultural stories and many other things.


Monday, 22 May 2017

IMBALU CULTURAL CIRCUMCISION, UGANDA


When it comes to cultural experiences, Uganda is best recognized for unique dances, inspiring songs, music, theatre and art; with over forty indigenous languages in the country, Ugandan people are the most warmly welcoming and gently gracious in the world. Are you interested in culture? Are you looking for family destination or a romantic gateway? Then visit the Bagisu people (the Bamasaba) in the Western and Southern slopes of Mount Elgon (Mount Masaba), Uganda!! The Bagisu speak “Lugisu” which as well is understood by the Bukusu.

THE BAGISU PEOPLE
The Bagisu are incredible people to interact with especially for their famous “Imbalu” circumcision which comes after every two (2) years specifically in the month of August. Looking at the brief history of the Bagisu! Remarkably, the Bagisu are unique group as they do not have that migratory tradition that other tribes tend to portray. The Bagisu believed that their ancestors “Mundu” and “Sera” originated from the hole in Mount Elgon commonly called “Masaba.” Previously, the Bagisu were regarded as anti social people who applied mostly the principle of survival for the fittest. Their history is also not as famous as other the Bantu groups do despite the fact that they broke a way from the Bukusu in the 19th century. The Bukusu is a sub-group of the Luhya in Western Kenya. It is hard to affirm that the Bagisu are the ancient occupants in Mount Elgon since the first immigrants to be in the Bagisu land are sought to have occupied the place from the Eastern plains since 16th century. The ancient settlement for two groups is sighted to be in Kenya specifically at Usian Gishu plateau and hence the Bagisu are believed to be mixture of different cultures and origins but due to a common language “Bantu” that is being shared, the predecessors of the Bagisu are also ingrained to the Bantu.

IMBALU CULTURAL CIRCUMCISION
Unlike other Bantu groups, the Bagisu had or have a weak political structure. Every clan had an elder known as the “Umwami we sikoka (Chief of the clan).” The clan leader was chosen based on the wealth and age and it is a responsibility of the “chief” to keep law and order as well as ensuring continuity and unity of the clan but also providing sacrifices to the ancestral spirits. If the chiefs were strong, then their influence was meant to extend to other clans but no chief was supposed to subdue other clans into one entity. However, there are also other notable groups within the Bagisu people and they include the “Sorceress” and “Rainmakers.”

From time memorial, the Bagisu are recognized for their “Male circumcision”, a traditional practice that has been unclear to many people including the Bagisu themselves. It is believed that the practice originated from the Kalenjin demand at the time when the Bagisu heroic ancestor expressed interest in marrying a Kalenjin girl. Whereas other sources state that the first person to be circumcised had got a difficulty in the male organ and a surgical operation was carried out in order to save the man’s life. Others assert that the first person to be circumcised had got it in form of punishment as a result of seducing other men’s wives, however, the practice was a success to the man since it elevated the man’s sexual power by attracting many women to him and in turn influenced other men to follow soot so as to be competitive in the community.

During circumcision, some herb “Ityanyi” is applied to the person in order to increase his interest. The herb is tied around the candidate’s big toe or at the place where he will jump over without his consent. What is important to note is that even if the candidate who takes the herb delays or hinders the circumcision, he can as well circumcise himself since his mind is set to circumcision that nothing else can prevent him from performing the act. After every two years, the Bagisu carryout the “Imbalu” cultural circumcision and it is applicable for only males who approach their puberty period. Males are therefore not hunted or brought forcefully to be circumcised but prior the event, the men to be circumcised are set for a walk and dance through out the village area for 3 (three) days. Candidates are assigned leaders who are sprinted with cassava flour and paint of Malwa yeast paste, and lots of drumming, singing and dancing will be performed by relatives.

The Bagisu believe that uncircumcised person is not a man until he proves his manhood during or after circumcision. Uncircumcised Mugisu is locally called a “Musinde.” The Imbalu cultural practice is fast enough with the circumciser and the assistant moving around and performing the appropriate ritual and the assistant circumciser holds the candidate’s penis foreskin by pulling it as the circumciser cuts it off! Besides the foreskin, the layer on the top of the penis is as well cut off because the Bagisu believe that it will grow again at one time into the sheath if it is left without being cut. The circumciser also cuts off a muscle on the lower part of the candidates penis which marks 3 (three) cuttings in Imbalu circumcision process.

As soon as the circumcision is done, the candidates are wrapped in a piece of cloth and taken to their fathers’ house, moved around the house before entering. The circumcised person is not permitted to eat using his hands fro a period of 3 (three) days, the person will be fed and at this stage still, the person is regarded not dully into manhood. Based on the three days, the circumciser invited to carry out the washing hands ritual and after the ritual, the candidate is eligible to eat on his own and it is in the day that he will be declared a “Man.” After, opportunities come by the circumcised person including marriage and according to the Bagisu custom the circumcised person is supposed to be directed based on the demands and duties that are supposed to be performed by man. Other things that are taught to initiates include the importance of agriculture and how to behave like a man. However, a number of goats that are slaughtered on the vague of the event are main determinants for the healing of the wounds.

Lastly, a ritual known as “Iremba” is carried out and all the new candidates in the area are required to be there. During this performance, authorities and other village members are invited and the candidates (initiates) and it is at the same the function that the initiate is meant to pick a girl of his choice to play sex with and the girl was not to reject. The Bagisu believed that if the girl rejected, she would not get children when she gets married. This traditional practice seems challenging especially for the Christian females. Before, the congregation would stay out side the enclosure and wait to hear from outside as the candidates and the circumciser were enclosed. However, things have changed in that the cultural practice is performed publicly when all people can be looking at the whole circle of circumcision. The candidate’s firmness and endurance in the Bagisu culture demonstrates some ones braveness.

In conclusion, Imbalu cultural practice is one of the extraordinary experiences in East Africa. Imbalu culture is one of the challenging practice where men prove their fitness and endurance are basics for one to be called a “man.” However, the Ministry of Tourism resolved to promote the Imbalu cultural circumcision ceremony as one of the tourist attraction in Uganda. Don’t miss the Imbalu cultural experiences as young and the old men prove their manhood!


Wednesday, 10 May 2017

IGONGO CULTURAL CENTER AND COUNTRY HOTEL


Do you treasure cultural safaris? Are you looking for culturally friendly facilities? Despite of recognizing South Western Uganda for its fascinating gorilla experiences, the region is also famous for its extraordinary cultural experiences at Igongo cultural center and museum. Igongo cultural site and country hotel is where the past meets the present!  Currently, Igongo cultural center and museum (site) is a unique place for one to experience lots of inspiring cultural practices and traditions that the South Western region demonstrates to the world. It is the leading cultural center that promotes the Ankole cultural Heritage in Uganda which is depicted in the motto “Wisdom is rooted in the past.” To day, very many tourists visit Igongo cultural center not just to explore the Western cultures alone but also to have a wonderful night in the decent accommodation facilities within the hotel and outstanding restaurant services that you should not think of missing if you want to have memorable stay in Mbarara. The Igongo cultural center and country hotel is situated a few kilometers in North of Mbarara town on the Masaka-Mbarara route. It is one of the best places for you to discover the truth about South Western and Western cultures, practices, traditions, history and many exhibitions at the museum and then rest comfortably in one of the decent rooms in the hotel.


ANKOLE CATTLE
In case, you are interested in reaching to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park for your gorilla trekking experiences there is probably no reason for you to worry about where to sleep. Igongo cultural center is dully situated to serve visitors traveling to Queen Elizabeth National Park and those who are traveling for mountain gorillas in South Western Uganda. Many visitors make stop over on their way to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park or while they are coming back.

While at Igongo cultural center, one should not miss to stare at the beautiful garden full of flowers and plants that depict the local country side, then continue to the museum, crafts shop and restaurant where you will be served with amazing breakfast or lunch to calm down the stress of long safari. As soon as you get into here, your mind should start thinking about traditional dishes that are served in the South Western and Western Uganda for instance millet bread, matooke together with ghee or take a local drink which is made up of millet and sorghum. I really believe you will enjoy this. All the ingredients in these products are locally grown which gives tourists to have a feeling of freshness and hence the local farmer also benefits in return as a product provider in Igongo cultural center and country hotel. Don’t you think we need to support these local farmers as a way to motivate them? For non vegetarians, be rest assured to taste the local meat of the Ankole cattle, no worries for the fatty meat here because the meat that will be served to you has less fat and less cholesterol compared to most of the beef menus. You stand for not just a healthier source of protein but a tasty meat.

Consider Igongo country Hotel as the best place that you must stay while you are in Mbarara Town. You stand to choose any type of accommodation of your choice because they range from cottages, suites, executive rooms to standard rooms which are all well furnished with perfect bathrooms and comfortable beds for the night.

BED ROOM FOR YOU TO REST FROM
Igongo cultural center never leaves visitors to go just like that when they are feeling hungry because there are 2 restaurants within the hotel that a visitor takes a choice as well. The cultural center is truly a restful and refreshing spot for visitors to partake lunch post a long safari on the road; immediately after your rest there are guides who will be waiting to take you to the museum where you will have interesting lessons on the history of Western people. Probably if you had more time here, your experience also increases especially in Village tour where you can learn about the trees and plants that are of medicinal use.

GET LUNCH AT IGONGO COUNTRY HOTEL
While in your visit to Igongo cultural center and museum, there are also astonishing cultural dances which will leave memory about Ankole dances of Uganda. Or alternatively, you can support the local community by purchasing some of the items that are locally made by people of Ankole land.

In conclusion, Igongo cultural center and museum should not be regarded for its delicious meals or decent rooms for the night alone but  also a place to enrich you with fantastic cultural experiences that the pearl of Africa has for you to enjoy. Have fun with us at Igongo cultural center and country hotel and you won't regret in life.



Wednesday, 3 May 2017

UGANDA MARTYRS DAY


Are you a Christian? Do you believe in Christianity? Is faith tourism one of your treasured leisure activities? It was on 3rd June 1886 that 22 Catholics and 23 Anglicans were killed in Uganda because of their faith, belief and denouncing Kabaka Mwanga’s orders. As well, the Muslim community commemorates about 70 young men who were killed due to their faith in 1878 by Kabaka Mutesa 1 a reason why 3rd June every year is designated as “Martyrs Day” in Ugandan calendar to commemorate their lives. Each year, Uganda sets 3rd June as a public holiday to give millions of Christians within and far to come and pay pilgrimage to Uganda Martyrs Shrine-Namugongo, Kampala. If you are a Christian or religious visitor, we encourage you to join Ugandan community for this event on 3rd June.

Pilgrims at Martyrs Shrine Namugongo
The celebrations start with Novena prayers across Uganda especially in areas where the victims of the Martyrs were born or killed from. The novena prayers start from 25th May to 2nd June. Several pilgrims from East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and across continents flock into Uganda’s Martyrs shrine for this event. Most of the pilgrims who come here include the young and old who walk miles and miles from the home areas to pay pilgrimage to Namugongo some thing that show honor, passion, love, faith and belief for Martyrs who shed blood for the sake of our lord Jesus Christ. Come and we strengthen our Christian beliefs together!

Pilgrims walking for Uganda Martyrs day
Due to this event that comes once each year, the Government, Catholic and Church of Uganda together with the Muslim community are committed to turn the Martyrs shrine as a tourist destination that remembers the lives of the martyrs. This event does not accommodate only the church community but also business community that comes in large numbers to provide foodstuffs and several merchandise to pilgrims a reason why the population in Namugongo drastically shoots up including its neighborhoods. There are also some good accommodation facilities around Namugongo Martyrs ground. Due to this event, security will be tightened by the police and the army to ensure that there is peace for the pilgrims.

The Martyrs who died

In conclusion, Uganda should not be considered for its fascinating wildlife species alone but also its faithful people. For religious tourists to Uganda-East Africa, never miss to pay a visit to both the Museum and Shrine at Namugongo-Kampala. Come and share your Christian life with the people of Uganda.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

THE BATWA AND GORILLA TOURISM




Are you curious in exploring about the Batwa people and mountain gorilla tourism in Uganda? The Batwa are regarded as “pygmies” whose ancestral home was the tropical rain forest in Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda but later got displaced due to need to conserve valuable wildlife species like the critically endangered mountain gorillas. These forest hunters and gatherers were evicted from their treasured forest some thing which made them conservation refugees at the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National park.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest-the ancestral home for the Batwa people
Like any one can tell his or her creation history, these unusual pygmies too have a remarkable creation story that is worthy sharing! If our creator rewarded others with fascinating heights and abundant land, the Batwa pygmies got it all “African tropical rain forest.” But what seemed a demeaning moment for these creatures was the 1990 conservation eviction, which left them perplexed like their Almighty God had finally abandoned them. Today, visiting these unique pygmies is one of the criteria to retain their historical practices and culture a live.
The Batwa people making fire
As well, several people still ask if surely there is a peaceful life between the forest dwellers and mountain gorilla tourism or conservation. Well, we can say there is or there was harmonious survival between two because it happened for a thousand centuries without any kind of environmental effect and why not coexist with nature? However, different misconceptions have been said about the Batwa pygmies; others have called them “conservation killers” but this does not matter because they never did it as said or even tasted the mountain gorillas. But due to interface with the modern life after the eviction, they found that money was used as an inducement a reason they are misunderstood as gorilla killers.

What is interesting about the Batwa and the mountain gorillas?

Despite the blame that has been passed onto the Batwa pygmies, they should be credited as “The keepers of and protectors of rain forest”, that provided an ideal refuge for the world star attraction-the mountain gorillas. This serves as a reason why several of the largest primates are concentrated within Uganda and thousands of visitors are attracted for gorilla trekking or tracking throughout the year. Not until the Bantu people migrated into the area that deforestation and cattle grazing were initiated in the beloved tropical forest that the gorilla refuge an impact was noticed. To day the Uganda boasts as the best tourist destination because of abundant wildlife especially in magnificent national parks like Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park but we as well applaud the work of these amazing pygmies. Even at the time Rwanda was turned into a kingdom, still the Batwa people could pay tribute to the Tutsi king in several occasions and they even included in the king’s court as advisers, warriors and dancers. Their source of money was from the forest encroachers, the caravans and traders who would encroach on their place.

1991 was a year of disgrace to these pygmies when Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park were established to protect several species like birds, plants, and world’s largest primates. This made the Batwa the marginalized species around the two parks. However, with current intense pressure from surrounding communities still, we can say it was in deed an important initiative to gazette the forest because they wouldn’t be available, and hence we applaud mountain gorilla protection and tourism that have kept the primates home.
On other hand, it was unfortunate that these forest dwellers who had a harmonious life with several species, took only what they needed, went with no compensation! Although these are Ugandan nationals, they had no human rights some thing that made them to be refugees around the two national parks. The preconception that went against these pygmies really made them to be neglected including the government.
However, their customs and ancient practices almost disappeared and it has now turned to be history in the ears of the Batwa children since they have not encounter ancient forest lifestyle their ancestors experienced. Never the less, these pygmies have currently got a voice for their views to be heard using several Batwa organizations and currently these organizations have caused a positive impact on them. Hopefully, they may wish to return to the forest and still have a peaceful stay with the Giant Apes but this probably won’t happen in any way!
These pygmies are currently not more than 3000 but the ancient Batwa traditions and coexistence with the jungle, wildlife that includes the critically endangered mountain gorillas is under going revitalization by concerned agencies. These agencies include the American medical missionaries by Dr. Scott and Carol Kellermann; Carol Kellermann for instance bought land and built schools, hospital and clinics, water and sanitation as well as several projects that help in income generation. All these support activities are currently belonging to Batwa Development Program (BDP) and it is supported by the Kellermann Foundation; a US based non profit organization.
Are there exciting things to enjoy in the Batwa community?
Oh! Yes, there are more than mountain gorillas in South-Western Uganda. Meaning visitors get authentic cultural experiences with the Batwa people much as they are restricted from staying in the forest. We appreciate Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) with the help of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Netherlands Embassy in Kampala for initiating the “Batwa Cultural Trail” at Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The Batwa Trail Experience has helped the Batwa Guides to realize their potential while guiding the visitors via the jungle, explaining to them the old ways of hunting and gathering, the different ways that they used to survive while in the forest. Come and enjoy your stay with the Batwa people! Its in deed an incredible experience for visitors here especially encountering the eyes of forest dwellers and exploring the Garama cave where the Batwa king lived and then be welcomed by a thrill of lamenting song from the Batwa women as they mourn why they no longer stay in the forest. This activity is currently serving as a source of survival.
The Batwa Trail Experience-Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
In addition, the International Gorilla Conservation Program started the Buniga Batwa Forest Walk and Village visit program. At extreme southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is where Buniga forest is situated, it is not included in the Bwindi jungle but just a portion of the similar vegetation, wildlife species and apes that are shared between them. To reach Buniga forest, one can go through Nkuringo, Rushanga, Lake Mutanda or Kisoro. While here, visitors who get into this are get filled with informative stories concerning the Batwa pygmies and their ancient practices like bee-hives and handcraft making as well as seeing the original forest dwellers.
Further more, there is also the Batwa Experience at Buhoma-Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where visitors come to explore more on ancient hunting and gathering as well as food preparation and also discovering the value of forest to man. It is delightful sharing a meal with these pygmies; let it be your memorable experience as you include it in your safari! Come and compare the current state of the forest and the past.

In conclusion, equally gorilla tourism and the Batwa pygmies should be credited for the protection of the mountain gorilla, forest, birds and several species that Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park boast of today. Visiting the Batwa is one of the remarkable experiences any one must not miss while at a gorilla safari in any of the two parks in South Western Uganda. With 3 unusual cultural activities to do in the Batwa community, visitors can take part in the Batwa Trail Experience, Buniga forest walk and Batwa Experience at Buhoma area and no regrets are attached because they are areas to up date memories with the first forest dwellers. If you are interested in any cultural activity; please consult Maranatha Tours and Travel and they will be of great value to you!