Located in the heart of the Africa, Uganda has long been a cultural melting pot. As evidenced by the existence of 30-plus different indigenous languages belonging to five distinct linguistic groups, which have diverse cultural type of music, art and handicrafts. The country’s most indigenous inhabitants, living in the hilly southwestern region of the country, are the Batwa and Bambuti Pygmies. They had a hunter-gatherer culture that once occupied much of East Africa to leave behind a rich legacy of rock paintings, such as at the Nyero Rock Shelter near Kumi district.
The different regions of Uganda have got people of different tribes and culture.
This is dominated by the Bantu group mostly the Baganda. The Buganda monarchy (Kingdom) presents one of the best documentations of kingship in Uganda. The head of the region is the King locally known as Kabaka. His Highness Ronald Mutebi II (The current king of Buganda) was crowned the 36th Kabaka of Buganda in 1993 after his father Sir Edward Mutesa II died in exile. The kingdom also constitutes a Parliament (Lukiiko), which is made up of 52 clan heads, the Queen (Nabagereka), the Prime Minister (Katikiiro), the royal sister (Nalinya) and the Queen Mother (Namasole).
Livelihood: Traditionally, a man could marry five wives or more provided he could cater for them. It was easier to become polygamous in Buganda than in other parts of Uganda because the bride wealth obligations we’re not prohibitive unlike formerly when marriage used to be conducted by parents, for instance where the father of the girl could choose for her a husband without availing her any alternatives.
Traditional Dances: Buganda is renowned for her distinct ceremonial occasions organized for observance, commemoration, inauguration, remembrance or fulfillment of cultural rituals and norms. Some of the common (highly recognized) ceremonies in Buganda include; the initiation of twins (okwalula abalongo), the introduction (okwanjula) and last funeral rite (okwabya olumbe).
Dining: Matooke (bananas of the plantain type) is a popular local dish among the Baganda. It’s peeled, tied in banana leaves and put in a cooking pan with enough water to steam the leaves. Later on, the bundle is removed and squeezed to get a smooth soft and golden yellow mash. The Banana leaves are used to keep it hot and steamy.
The eastern region is another diverse area comprised of a number of different tribal groups including; Bagisu, Basamia/Bagwe, Basoga, Bagwere, Iteso, Japadhola, and the Sebei among others. Apart from other groups, the Basoga present a distinctive chiefdom in eastern Uganda with their Chief locally known as Kyabazinga. Marrige and Family Life In this region as well as the rest of the country, dowries are highly valued and are usually in form of cattle, sheep and goats. The amount paid is negotiated among the parents of the new couple to be. The higher the dowry, the more valued is the bride, although this does not necessary guarantee the success of the marriage.
Ceremonies: Tamenhaibunga: This kind of dance is practiced by the Basoga tribe. Tamenhaibunga literally means “good friends drink together but they do not fight each other lest they break the guard (eibuga) that contains the drink.” The guard is symbolically used to express the value and fragility of love and friendship. Other dances in Busoga include Nalufuka, a much faster and youthful version of of Tamenhaibuga; Eirongo, a slower dance performance to celebrate the birth of twins; Amayebe, which builds physical stamina, especially for men; Enswezi, used to communicate to super naturals and Ekigwo for wrestlers.
Dining: Kamaleewa: These are tender bamboo shoots which are a delicacy among the Bagisu. Usually, after harvest, these shoots are first boiled and later on sundried before cooking. Others include; Atapa, Akaro and Sundried fish.
The northern region is also a melting pot of quite a number of tribes including; Acholi, Langi, Alur, Kakwa, and Lugbara among others. This region comprises of the Acholi and Langi in the north, Alur, Lugbara and Madi in west Nile region. Like most of the regions, Langi and Acholi regions predominantly depend on agriculture as their economic activity, with millet and sorghum serving as staple foods.
Marriage and Family life: Traditionally, a young man depends upon his lineage head and elders both for permission to marry and for the material goods required for bride wealth; elders of the bride’s lineage were also much involved in the discussions and negotiations surrounding the marriage.
Ceremonies: Naleyo dance is performed by the Karimajongs where women line up and men strike their breasts using fingers as they dance. The Karimajongs are a pastoral community in the north eastern part of Uganda.
Dining: Akaro: This is made from a combination of sorghum, millet and cassava flour mingled in a proportionate quantity of water. Malakwang: A sour vegetable usually prepared with groundnut paste to form a typical northern food. Malakwang is best served with sweet potatoes. Others include; Smoked fish and Ugali.
The western region is also rich in tribal culture, it consists of; Bakonjo/Bamba, Batooro, Banyoro, Banyankore, Bakiga, Bafumbira and Bachwezi among others.
Kingship: The Batooro and Banyoro have a centralized system of government headed by the Omukama. Initially, Toro was part of Bunyoro, but later broke away. The first King was Kaboyo Kasusunkwazi the actual founder of the kingdom and currently the kingdom is headed by King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba Iguru Rukidi IV.
Livelihood: Marriage and Family Life; Ankole in the west is the most popular tribe in terms of prestige and population. The King owned all the cattle and theoretically owned all women. Hima fathers were anxious to call attention to their daughters because the King gave generous wedding gifts. Slim girls were unfit for royalty so those girls whom the king found to be of interest to marry one of his sons were force-fed on milk.
Traditional dances: Entogoro: Entogoro is danced by Banyoro and Batooro of western Uganda. The dance takes its name from the pod rattles (locally known as ebinyege) that the boys tie on their legs to make different rhythms as they dance. Ekitagururo: This is characterized by energetic stamping and tangling rhythms using the feet and aerial arm movements; it is performed by both Banyankole and Bakiga in the south western region.
Dining Eshabwe: A traditional Banyankole dish comprising of ghee, skimmed from milk. This is usually eaten with Akaro. It’s a meal one would certainly get acquainted with on a visit to the western parts of Uganda. Others include; Akaro and Firinda for the Batooro.
The Climate in Uganda
Uganda is one of the most beautiful countries in Africa. With its dense misty forests, snow-peaked mountains, glassy lakes and sprawling savannas. Mountain gorillas are the allure for many visitors, but there’s an astounding variety of attractions for tourists. To visit these different destinations and attractions, you will need to know the best time to go.
The Uganda tourism industry usually makes the most money during the drier months of the year because of the massive number of tourists that make their destinations to the country. This might be good for a traveler but disadvantageous too. Traveling in December might be the best time for safari in Uganda but this is the busiest months of the year and lodges are usually booked in advance. In fact, if you are searching for the best time to visit gorillas in Uganda then we suggest you either book your safari (plus permits) in not less than 6 months in advance to secure a good slot for December because tourists compete for good accommodation facilities several months in advance besides purchasing permits for the most visited gorilla families.
About the climate, what you should know is Uganda’s rain comes twice in a year; In other words, Uganda has only two rainy seasons. The months of March to May are usually accompanied extremely heavy rainfall, which leaves the weather unpredictable unlike the months of October and November that have little rainfall. To contradict this, i believe Uganda is an all year travel destination because of it’s location on the equator. The temperatures range between 23 – 29 degrees Celsius implicating you can still enjoy your safari during the rainy months. The only obstacle you might face is your safari vehicle getting stuck on the muddy roads of the national parks unless you are travelling in a 4×4 tour vehicle.
The best game viewing months in Uganda are during the dry seasons that are June, July and August as well as December, January and February. Primate walks in the forest are a big part of any safari in Uganda. The habitat of rain forests is, default, very wet and one can’t avoid rain completely. However, after heavy rains, the sky usually opens up to bright sunshine.It’s the good time to track gorillas because these are the drier months. The skies are clear, there is less rain and more sunshine. It’s easier to spot wildlife in the Savannah reserves since vegetation is less and animals gather around water sources.
Despite being a high season months, the parks don’t feel crowded. Gorilla permits need to be booked very far in advance. During these months, wildlife are available in plenty unlike in wet months where they tend to take shelter from the rain which might cause you to see them in less numbers especially for mountain gorillas.
March up to May and September up to November-Wet Season: The vegetation is greener and its low season, resulting in lower rates. Although wildlife in the Savannah reserves is easier to spot in the dry season, you’ll still see plenty, including newborn animals in the wet season. The scenery of the Savannah is much greener during wet months too which might prevent you from getting exceptional views from the respective national parks especially Kidepo valley National Park and Murchison Falls National Park.
However some of the roads get very bad and cars often get stuck. Forest trails can become slippery and challenging. If it pours with rain, changes can’t be made in the expensive gorilla permit. Departures go as scheduled. Uganda is one of Africa’s ideal travel destinations with fantastic natural scenery; captivating fauna and flora. Half of the world´s remaining mountain gorilla population is found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga national park. The climate is good in Uganda all year round – hot and wet, daytime temperatures generally hovering between 22-27 degrees Celsius. It cools down at night; enough for a jersey but woolens are not necessary. The rains come twice a year, in October/November (short rains) and Mid-march to end of May. Rainy season is no reason to postpone your travel however, as generally it rains for an hour or two and the rest of the day is clear and sunny.
The park has 10 national parks that are a home to various wildlife that range from animals, birds, waterfalls, mountains, plants, beautiful scenery, primates among many more. Below are some of the activities done while on your visit to the “pearl of Africa”.