Monday, 2 December 2013

The Bakiga (Kiga) people of Uganda - Cultura Safaris in Uganda

Also known as the "people of the mountain",Bakiga people live in the districts of Kabale and part of Rukungiri in the South-west of Uganda.These agro-pastoralists people belong to Rukiga-Bantu ethnic group and they are sometimes called the Kiga or Chiga while the singular form is Omukiga.They are the fourth largest ethnic group in Uganda covering about 8% of the total population.

Students enjoying the Ekizino dance
History about this proud ethnic group is way back between 1600 and 1700,when the Bakiga arrived in Uganda and Rwanda.Initially,a large number of Bakiga were living in Rwanda and very few were in Uganda but after the colonialism time,Many of them moved to Uganda and settled in the highlands in the southwest of Uganda.
Today the Bakiga are surrounded by Bafumbira in the west,Banyankolre in the East,Bahorooro in the north and Banyarwanda in the South.With their way of living,today they might have increased in the number and percentage but this is not possible because of their neutralisation in other ethnic groups of Uganda including;Buganda,Bunyoro,Toro,Northern Tanzania and Eastern Rwanda.

 Another history about the Bakiga people is that they migrated from Bunyoro during the old days when Bunyoro was invaded by the Luo.After the invasion,some Banyoro people (current Banyoro) are said to have moved from Tanzania to Uganda and settled in the southwest.

Today,the Bakiga are one of the most educated people in Uganda and this has led to a slight change in their way of living to some of them.The western culture is seen in some of their current activities though this is not the case with the "die-hards" of the tribe.The western mentality is evidenced during local meetings in that instead of speaking Lukiga,members resort to speaking English.
The reign of the academic history of Bakiga started when the tribe produced the first African Flight director for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Currently,Uganda's prime minister (Hon.Amama Mbabazi),Shaka-Ssali- a popular radio and TV prenent,Dr.Kizza Besigye-Ugandan opposition Politician,Dr.Ruhakana Rugunda-Uganda's Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Emmanuel Mutebile Tumusiime-governor of Bank Of Uganda,are some of the sounding Bakiga in Uganda.

Facts about Lukiga
Lukigs is Bakiga's language and it is one of the most spoken languages in Uganda.The language is part of the Bantu languages and there are some words that are shared with other ethnic groups.Some of the key nouns in Rukiga are;
.ru-meaning a language,for example Rukiga
.ba-meaning people,e.g Bakiga
.mu-meaning one person,e.g Mukiga
.ki-meaning traditions or customs,e.g Kikiga

How Bakiga are organized
Bakiga people are organized into clans each with several lineages that have one leader known as Omukuru w'omuryango.
Just like most Bantu groups,Bakiga are not supposed to marry for their clans and this according to the elders it's an abomination.
When a Mukiga man dies,his sons share his wealth and on rear occasions,daughters would be given some portion of the wealth.But with the current move by the government of promoting equality between both men and women,some of the Kikiga cultural beliefs have been modified,in that today daughter can have an equal share of their father's wealth.

Kikiga Marriage ceremony
Bakiga people are known for respecting marriage and in the past,a girl was supposed to be a virgin in order to get a blessed marriage.A girl who got pregnant before marriage was taken as an outcast and she would be thrown in the forest for the wild animals to feast on or dumped on Lake Bunyonyi's highland.
Marriage is organised by the groom's parents and he is supposed to pay a bride price before taking the bride.Some of the traditional things accepted as pride price include;cows,hoes and goats,plus money.
Though on a reducing trend,polygamous families still dominate Bakiga land and this has led to an increase in their number.

Bakiga music and dance
The Bakiga are most known for Ekizino dance mainly done by Bakiga from Kigezi. Kigezi is a beautiful place with highland and cool weather and this resulted to a nickname of "Africa's Switzerland".
This dance is dance on specific Kikiga songs and it is sometimes done to simply warm up since Kigezi s a highly-cold place.This vigorous dance is done by stamping the ground while jumping and it needs one to have strength and stamina.While jumping,the arms are spread wide following the tune that is played.

A traditional Kikiga homestead has a main house or hut,a kraal,kitchen, granaries and sanitation facilities.All these are enclosed in a fence with a main gate.The secret behind the fencing of the home is to protect the members against wild animals that always roam about the whole Kikiga land.

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