Commonly known as the Bagisu people,this cultural group of people is not only one of the most known cultural setting in Uganda but also one of those cultures that have stuck to their ancestral beliefs.Many tribes in Uganda today have modernized their customs in a way that they try to mix the western cultures with their beliefs thinking that they ere changing with change,but this is not the same case with the Bagisu.
The Bagisu love to be called the Bamasaba people simply because they are proud of their fertile highlands that surround the region.The word 'Masaba' means a mountain and this explains why these original-Africans are called “BAMASABA”. These people are found in the eastern Uganda about 150km from Kampala city.
One of the cultural activity that is only identical with the Bamasaba people in Uganda is the male circumcision locally known as the “IMBALU”. According to the cultural beliefs of this tribe, unless a man is circumcised,he is not clean,and so this practice is aimed at grooming boys to become men.The practice is done seasonally and when it comes to the “IMBALU” season,all Bagishu boys that are uncircumcised prepare for it and some go back to their mother-land.According to Wadada Simon,one of the elders of Bagisu Tribe,Men are not allowed to marry before they pass through this holy practice simply because they have not expressed their ability to handle a family by carrying out this ritual.All men that belong to this tribe according to the beliefs must pass through this ritual as the only way to show that they are mature enough and can now start a family.
Another reason why this practice is carried out is to clean the Bagisu men.According to the cultural beliefs,a man is unclean unless he undergoes circumcision.This explains why the “KADODI” tune (the tune that is played when the ritual is taking place),is known allover Uganda and some members of parliament always use it during their campaigns.
How is the practice conducted?
Before this holy-dramatic ritual is conducted,the elders must check the candidates for the ritual to see whether they are real Bagisu and identify their clans.Then they have to make sure that the candidates are 18 years and above before continuing with the practice.If all these are met by the candidates,then they proceed to the practice.
The candidates for the ritual are put in the middle of a dancing crowd singing singing the cultural songs.The candidate is provided with a stick which he is supposed to hold tight and look up in the sky.In case the candidate lets the stick fall,he is considered a cowered and no respect is given to him.
In Bugisu,there are specific cultural men that are supposed to carry out the circumcision and these men are well trained.Once the candidate is looking up in the sky,the cultural man appears to carry out the practice appears and in less than 20 seconds,the candidate is circumcised.If the candidate does not scream or make any sound that shows that he is feeling pain,he is considered to be a true-strong man and he is given cows as a start upon his new life.
This cultural practice is still respected and no Mugisu man can escape it.This explains why those that try to run away from the practice are forced to do it.