Thursday, 18 April 2019

BULEMBA IHANDIRO CULTURAL TRAIL



Bulemba Ihandiro cultural trail is remarkably one of the best trails for visitors on Uganda cultural safari should count a must to explore. The Bulemba Ihandiro cultural trail gets you the best cultural encounter within the Rwenzori area. Visitors on cultural safari in Uganda can embark on walk through Bulemba Ihandiro cultural trail which may last about 6 to 7 hours through the famous traditional holy valley. Besides, it takes you through several sites which are of great importance to Bakonzo people the main dwellers around the foothills of Mount Rwenzori.

While at Bakonzo community, visitors on cultural safari will be led by an experienced local guide who then takes you up to a popular traditional healer ‘Muhima’ and you also get know more about the powers of the works of this traditional healer especially in healing the locals suffering certain diseases. Besides, embarking on a Bulemba Ihandiro cultural trail while on Uganda cultural safari gets you a chance to understand the secrets of the spiritual significance of the popular traditional Bakonzo stool.

Bulemba Ihandiro cultural trail also takes you through the village’s blacksmith who makes the best use of metals to make varied traditional tools including knives, saucepans, machetes and others. Besides, you have a chance to explore how to weave basket and fire making skills. The Bulemba Ihandiro cultural trail takes you to River Kamusonge whose water is believed to have a taste, sweet and quick in quenching the thirst.

A cultural walk along Bulemba Ihandiro cultural trail takes you through a grass thatched hut constructed in the traditional Konzo style or design to relish the breathtaking views of Mount Rwenzori and prior getting to the last lengthy walk to cultural museum with local materials which were used during the ancient Rwenzururu struggle, traditional dresses and many other historical items of people who live around the foothills of Mount Rwenzori. In addition to Bulemba Ihandiro cultural trail, a visit to Bakonzo region gets you more cultural encounters around Mount Rwenzori National Park especially around Ruboni community camp, Rwenzori Turaco View Campsite and several sites. 
 
Besides cultural exploration along Bulemba Ihandiro trail, you also have opportunity to explore the hidden treasures within the Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Uganda’s one most exceptional UNESCO World Heritage Site. This park was gazetted in 1991 and became a UNESCO site around 1994. It spans up to 1000 square kilometers and features many scenic Lakes, waterfalls and glaciers. Mount Rwenzori National Park is a home to many species of mammals including hyraxes, forest elephants, primates such as L’Hoest monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys as well as varied bird species for instance the Rwenzori Batis, Archer’s chat, Rwenzori Turaco a mention but a few.

Friday, 12 April 2019

THE BATORO AND THEIR UNIQUE CULTURES



Every traditional kingdom in Uganda holds unique culture or history and so is the Toro kingdom. For a few who have been to this particular part of Uganda, they can testify that Toro kingdom is truly endowed with beauty. Many know it for its beautiful and humble women but cultural wise, it is equally worth exploring while you are on Uganda cultural safari. Toro Kingdom is one of Uganda’s traditional kingdoms and it is set in the western part of the country. It formed part of the expansive Kitara at the time of Bito dynasty dating 16th century. It is believed that Prince Olimi Kaboyo Kasunsunkwanzi-the son of King of Bunyoro Kingdom added the southern province of his father’s kingdom and declared himself king of Toro. He was warmly welcomed by the Batooro. The new kingdom thrived the early years of its infancy.

Toro monarchy was however abolished in 1967 by the government of Uganda at the time. It was reinstated in 1993 and currently, it led by King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba. Omukama is a name given to rulers of Toro. Originally, the ancient kings were mainly those of the Batembuzi dynasty. The word Batembuzi denotes pioneers. Toro kingdom was established around 1830 during the reign of Omukama Kaboyo Olimi the first-the eldest son of Omukama Nyamutukura Kyebambe the 3rd of Bunyoro who rebelled and founded his own independent kingdom.

The people of Toro
The people of Toro are called Batooro and Mutooro for one person. They speak Rutooro and they are endowed culturally with distinct customs. Children are taught to respect and value their elders. The Batooro mainly live around Kabarole and Kasese district. These areas have been infiltrated by migrants from other parts of Uganda especially the Bakiga. However, the Batooro society was stratified into Bahuma and Bairu. The relationship between the 2 was more of a caste than class differentiation. The Bahuma were mainly pastoralists whereas the Bairu were agriculturalists. Socially and economically, there was a symbolic relationship between the 2 in that the Bairu could get meat, hides, milk and other products from the Bahuma and the Bahuma on the other hand could get beer and other farm products.

Each Mutooro child born becomes a member of Batooro tribe and besides the family names, pet names are given. The criteria for naming children in Batooro is a bit rare in that the Kitooro names given to children must hold meaning. In other words, the names should have something to denote especially with the prevailing conditions surrounding the birth of the child being named. The names may reflect important event that was occurring at the time of child’s birth. The standard names for twins and children following thereafter, also do exist. The names are selected by the family elders who sits around a good meal, sipping some local brew and informally choose a name for a new born baby.

This normally occurs when the baby is like 4 days for males and 3 days for females. The tradition of giving children religious names in addition to traditional name began when Christianity and Islam was introduced in the late 19th century.

Friday, 5 April 2019

MUTOTO CULTURAL SITE, UGANDA’S HIDDEN TREASURE



What distinguishes Uganda from the rest of other African safari destinations besides its huge concentration of wildlife is its unique culture. Over 60 tribes are all confined within this remarkable landlocked country with more than 30 different languages thus making it a true cultural melting pot. Its diverse cultures and heritage is what rates it among a few most sought after destination by visitors on cultural safari in Africa. Remarkably, each of the tribes comes with rare lifestyles, variety of traditional food, dances, music performances, arts and many others.

When you think of Uganda cultural safari, a few sites always feature on visitor’s list but for any need to discover what other part of Uganda holds for the world when it comes to unique African cultural experiences then a visit to Mutoto circumcision cultural site is worth it. The fact that each part of Uganda holds something unique, equally one may wonder what brings the Bamasaba and Bukusu from western Kenya together. For starters, no need to wonder anymore because what is exceptional in this particular region is nothing but ‘Imbalu.’ To get the best of this unique cultural practice, a visit to eastern Uganda to Mutoto never leaves you in regrets.

The local folklore have it that this cultural site is that one site where the first Imbalu which is also popular as circumcision ceremony was adopted officially. It is of no doubt that several Imbalu ceremonies have for long been conducted around this area. Ideally, it is a birthplace of this significant tradition. It is where the Imbalu practice was revived after a bit lull. History has it that there was break in observing circumcision rituals after circumcision of Masaba the patriarch of the Bamasaba people. However, the Imbalu was then reinstated courtesy of a man from Mutoto known as ‘Fuuya.’ It is from his strong support to revive this cultural ritual that fueled it up. Today, thousands of people gather at this site to witness and take part in the Imbalu festival which is accompanied by lots of dancing, drinking, singing, food fare, circumcising boys as way to initiate them into adulthood. This ritual spreads as far as Kenya and Kapchorwa. Mutoto grounds also serve as an area where Imbalu festivities usually kick start in each even year. Uganda cultural safari in this area gets you a great opportunity as a cultural enthusiast to discover more about the unique cultures the Mbale people hold for the world.

Last year (2018), the Imbalu festival equally attracted many participants especially in areas of Manafwa, Bududa, Mbale, Sironko, Bulambuli, Namisindwa as well as Bukusu and Luhya in western Kenya. All these groups do live at the base of Mount Elgon. This cultural event isn’t only limited to locals but also to tourists across the world and it is such an incredible cultural experience that rewards travel endeavors with lots of memories. While on Uganda cultural safari, take part in this activity and have adequate time interacting with natives as they undergo through this cultural practice. This cultural practice comes with so many myths-one has it that removing the fore skin originally began as a punishment given to a person who snatched someone’s wife. However, after healing, he became more attractive to women than the one who has not been circumcised. On other hand, it is also believed that it began with the Gishu ancestor who wanted to marry a Kalenjin girl from the Barwa clan in Kenya who was asked to make a covenant of circumcision with the clan including his ancestors. Because of the love he had for the girl, he accepted to be circumcised.

Most importantly, during this ritual blowing a horn is one way to make the young boys get inspired and announce their intentions to be circumcised and surgeons get possessed by the Imbalu spirit and begin trembling involuntarily. Those who show intentions are advised by elders about the challenges connected to knife in that they don’t show any fear. Any signs of fear in Gishu land means the person will be under mind/under looked or considered as being not man.

Location of Mutoto
This cultural site is set near Mbale town just within Bungokho south. While here, you will find a small unroofed house that marks the spot where the first Imbalu candidates underwent circumcision.

In summary, embarking on African safari in Uganda alone is a remarkable experience of its own and sharing cultural experience with the Gishu Imbalu circumcision is incredibly a distinct experience of a lifetime.