Uganda not only does it boast its wildlife and nature; it has cultural diversity of about 65 tribal groups which makes the cultural tour an exciting one. This is usually unveiled when one decides to indulge into an all – inclusive cultural experience in Uganda. Mix and mingle into various traditions of different tribes, thanks to the kingdoms that were revived such as Buganda, Bunyoro, Tooro and others that have inculcated a spirit of unity into their people and taught them the need to preserve their culture.
There are about 17 tribes in Uganda belonging to the Bantu and nilotics groups of people. The Nilotics include those from the north including kakwa, Madi, Lugbara, Langi, Acholi, Alur and others; whereas the Bantu who are the majority include Baganda from the central region, Banyankole, Batooro, Bakiga, Bakonjo, Banyoro, Basongola & others from the western region, and Bagwere, Banyole, Bagishu, Basamia, Basoga from the east.
Therefore, a trip to Uganda will bring closer to you many cultural contrasts, for example a journey to western Uganda will introduce you to the stunning Igongo cultural center where the past meets the future and here you get to know the cultural history of south western Uganda as well as the present day.
You can meet the cattle keepers – Bahima, Banyankole, these tall men with their beautiful and curvy ladies are proud of their long horned cattle. These have quite a laid back type of life where they dedicate the lives to rearing these beautiful cattle throughout their life. From cattle they can get products such as milk, ghee for their families and hides which they use to make traditional seats and dressing up their grazing sticks. But that is not all about them, they have interesting cultural songs and poems that were traditionally said while grazing to make life in the wild quite interesting.
Besides the Bahima, there is the IK culture which is an endangered community belonging to the Nilo- Hamite ethnic group of Africa living in the north eastern Morungole mountains near the Kenyan border. The Ik stay in twenty small villages and their main activity is cultivation, hunting and fruit gathering. Including a trip to hiking up the IK villages can be an amazing experience after seeing their way of life. What is unique about these people, is that they pay about 5-10 bee hives for dowry and sends kids out of the house as early as age 3 to look for food. Such and more stories you wouldn’t want to miss during a cultural tour in Uganda.
The Bamasaba (BAGISHU) harbor the gentle slopes of mountain Elgon in the districts of Mbale, Bududa, Sironko and Budadiri. Those have a cultural practice known locally as the ‘imbalu OR male circumcision which is an initiation from boys to man hood, to them an uncircumcised man is still a boy. Cultural dances and offering to gods are done before the celebrant faces the live knife without shaking, fear or even crying.
The notable Ndere cultural center also show cases Uganda’s finest culture with performances from the resident Ndere troupe, Uganda will be brought back to life right in your seat. The music, dance and drama brings close to you the true Ugandan cultures and this gives you an insight into Uganda’s traditions in one place.
Although there are some other communities that showcase Ugandan culture i.e. Mubako cultural performers, Manyatta people in Karamoja, Batwa trail experience for Batwa pygmies, the choice is always in your hands to choose the best destination.
Other cultural sites not miss out include the Uganda museum where a diverse collection of Uganda’s cultural heritage is exhibited, Namugongo martyrs shrine – where about 30 Protestants and Catholics were burnt to death for failing to denounce their faith on orders of Kabaka Mwanga.
Kasubi tombs; a UNESCO world heritage site received many cultural visitors, before it was burnt down in 2010. This site is a legendary burial ground for four Kabakas of Buganda and other members of the royal family. It is an active cultural place in the Buganda kingdom; the Kabaka is the unquestioned symbol of spiritual, political and social state of the Buganda nation. It’s a very valuable place to the visitors who are interested in culture of the locals.
The Gaddafi national mosque built on old Kampala hill, which is one of the city’s seven hills. It can be viewed from all corners of Kampala and one cannot leave without a glimpse of it. It has a colorful structure with its magnificent features of art that was built and designed basing on a mixture of cultures of Arabs. Large portion of the Muslim community in Uganda remain attached to it.
The Bulange (Buganda’s Parliament) also shouldn’t be missed on a cultural tour in Uganda; it houses the lukiiko of the kingdom of Buganda. Guided tours are offered of the grand palace with historical artifacts, gardens and the torture chambers.
This doesn’t represent the whole of what Uganda has got to offer but is a true representation of an exciting experience that awaits you on your cultural tour in Uganda.