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Baganda

Baganda

PRONUNCIATION: bah-GAHN-dah

ALTERNATE NAMES: The King's Men

LOCATION: Uganda

POPULATION: About 3 million

LANGUAGE: Luganda

RELIGION: Christianity (Protestantism and Roman Catholicism); Islam

1 INTRODUCTION

The Baganda people of Uganda are sometimes referred to as The King's Men because of the significance of the role of their kingthe Kabaka in their political, social, and cultural institutions. Until 1967, the Baganda were organized into a tightly centralized, bureaucratized kingdom. Between 1967 and 1993, the Ugandan national government abolished all kingdoms. In 1993, the national government reinstated the Kabakaship (kingship) by permitting the coronation of Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II as the thirty-sixth king of the Baganda.

Traditionally, the Kabaka ruled over a hierarchy of chiefs who collected taxes in the form of food and livestock. Portions were distributed through the hierarchy, eventually reaching the Kabaka's palace in the form of tribute (taxes). The Kabaka made direct political appointment of all chiefs so as to maintain control over their loyalty to him. Many rituals surrounded the person of the king. Commoners had to lie face down on the ground in his presence.

Today, the Kabaka has only ritual functions and no political power. He was removed of his power so that tribal differences would not interfere with the formation of a nation state. All Baganda participate in the Ugandan government system. Nevertheless, the kingdom and associated institutions remain strong forces in the cultural practices and values of the Baganda.

2 LOCATION

The Baganda are located along the northern and western shores of Lake Victoria in the east African nation of Uganda. They number about 3 million people. The former Kingdom of Buganda, which today is the area occupied by the Baganda, is bounded on the north by the former Kingdom of Bunyoro and on the east by the Nile River. To the south of Buganda is the present country of Tanzania. The Baganda are the largest tribe in Uganda, and the Kingdom of Buganda was the largest of the former kingdoms. It comprises slightly more than one-fourth of Uganda's total land mass. Kampala, Uganda's largest city and capital, is in Buganda.

3 LANGUAGE

The Baganda speak a Bantu language called Luganda. It is a member of the Niger-Congo family of languages. In the Luganda language, the singular form of Baganda is Muganda. Like many other African languages, Luganda is tonal, meaning that some words are differentiated by pitch. Words that are spelled the same may carry different meanings according to their pitch. Luganda is rich in metaphor and in proverbs and folktales.

Children learn speech skills that prepare them for adult life in a verbally rich culture. A clever child can masterfully engage his or her peers in a game of ludikya or "talking backward." For example, omusajja ("man") becomes jja-sa-mu-o. Another version of this game involves inserting the letter z after each syllable containing a vowel, followed by the vowel in that syllable. In this version, omusajja would become o-zo-mu-zu-sa-zajja-za. Both boys and girls play ludikya, which they claim is frequently done to conceal secrets from adults. In the evening many families play collective riddling games (okukokkya), which involve men and women of all ages. Some examples of common riddles are:

I have a wife who looks where she is coming from and where she is going at the same time (a bundle of firewood, since the two ends are similar).

I have a razor blade which I use to shave hills (fire that is used to burn the grass for planting).

When my friend went to get food for his children, he never came back (water in a river).

My man is always surrounded by spears (the tongue, surrounded by teeth).

4 FOLKLORE

Riddles, myths, legends, and proverbs tell the origin and history of the Baganda, as well as the workings of the everyday world. The most significant legend involves Kintu, the first Kabaka (king). He is believed to have married a woman called Nambi. First Nambi had to return to heaven. Gulu, her father, objected to her marriage because Kintu did not know how to farm but only how to obtain food from cattle. Nambi's relatives tested Kintu in order to determine his suitability as a spouse. In one test Kintu was asked to identify his own cow in a herd, a difficult task since there were many cows like his own. By chance, a bee told Kintu to choose the cow on whose horns he would alight. After several large herds were brought to him, Kintu reported that his cow was not among them. (He was continuing to watch the bee who remained on the tree.) Eventually, Kintu, with the help of the bee, identified his cow, along with several calves that had been born to his cow. The amazed father eagerly gave his daughter's hand in marriage. He prodded them to hurry to leave for Kintu's home before Walumbe (Death) came and wanted to go with them. Gulu warned that they should not come back even if they forgot something, for fear that Death would follow them. They left carrying with them cows, a goat, fowl, sheep, and a plan-tain tree. Unfortunately, over the protests of Kintu, Nambi went back to obtain grain that had been forgotten. Although she tried to run away from Death, she was unsuccessful. After many years of happiness on earth, Walumbe (Death) began to bring illness and death to children and then adults. Up to the present day, Death has lived upon the earth with no one knowing when or whom he will strike.

5 RELIGION

The majority of present-day Baganda are Christian, about evenly divided between Catholic and Protestant. Approximately 15 percent are Muslim (followers of Islam). In the latter half of the nineteenth century, most Baganda were practicing an indigenous (native) religion known as the Balubaale cult. This cult consisted of gods who had temples identified with them. These gods were each concerned with specific problems. For example, there was a god of fertility, a god of warfare, and a god of the lake.

The Baganda also believed in spiritual forces, particularly the action of witches, which were thought to cause illness and other misfortune. People often wore amulets (charms) to ward off their evil powers. The most significant spirits were the Muzimu or ancestors who visited the living in dreams and sometimes warned of impending dangers. The Balubaale cult no longer exists. However, belief in ancestors and the power of witches is still quite common.

Contemporary Baganda are extremely religious, whatever their faith.

6 MAJOR HOLIDAYS

Important religious holidays include Christmas (December 25) for Christians and Ramadan (varying according to the lunar calendar) for Muslims. Funerals are major ceremonial and social events. People travel from all parts of the nation to attend funerals, which last many days.

7 RITES OF PASSAGE

A Muganda (Baganda individual) passes through the stages of omwana (child), omuvubuka (youth), and omusajja or omukazi (man, woman). At death one becomes an omuzima (spirit) and a candidate for reincarnation.

At birth the umbilical cord is retained for later use in a ceremony called Kwalula Abaana. During this ceremony the child gathers with other members of the father's clan to receive their clan names.

Boys and girls are expected to conform in their behavior to what the Baganda refer to as mpisa (manners). This includes being obedient to adults, greeting visitors properly, and sitting correctly (for girls). Sex education for females is more systematic than it is for males. The father's sister (Ssenga) is the most significant moral authority for girls. Grandmothers instruct girls soon after their menstruation, during a period of seclusion, about sexual matters and future domestic responsibilities. Marriage and the birth of children are prerequisites for adult status.

8 RELATIONSHIPS

The Baganda place paramount emphasis on being sociable. Cleverness and assertiveness are valued as ways to achieve upward mobility. Elaborate greeting rituals best symbolize the importance attached to being sociable. Propriety requires that neighbors exchange lengthy greetings when meeting along the road. Greetings vary according to the time of day, age of participants, and length of time since previous encounter. In Kampala, greetings are far less frequent and shorter in duration than in rural areas. Also, women in Kampala are much less likely to kneel while greeting men or other social superiors, a custom still prevalent in rural areas.

Dating and courtship are significant in the lives of most younger Baganda. Men are expected to develop the art of flattery. Women do not flatter, but they are expected to deceive a man into thinking that he is her only suitor. Affection between the sexes is not shown in public.

9 LIVING CONDITIONS

Rural homes are usually made of wattle and daub (woven rods and twigs plastered with clay and mud). Homes generally have thatched or corrugated iron roofs. More affluent farmers live in homes constructed of cement, with tile roofs. Some homes have electricity and running water. However, for many Baganda, water must be fetched from a well or collected when it rains. Cooking is commonly done in a separate cooking house over an open wood fire. Urban homes, by contrast, are typically of concrete with corrugated iron or tile roofs and glass windows. Indoor plumbing, indoor kitchens, electricity, and toilet facilities are common in the city.

All Baganda have daily access to a plentiful food supply, given their year-round growing season. However, Baganda suffer from malaria, and children are frequently afflicted with kwashiorkor, a form of protein-calorie malnutrition.

10 FAMILY LIFE

The traditional term for marriage was jangu enfumbire (come cook for me). This symbolized the prevailing authority patterns in the typical household. The husband and father was supreme. Children and women knelt to the husband in deference to his authority, and he was served his food first. Today, Baganda children frequently describe feelings of fear and respect for their fathers and warm attachment to their mothers.

After marriage a new household is established, usually in the village of the husband. Most marriages are monogamous (having one spouse), although polygamy (more than one spouse) was not uncommon in the past.

11 CLOTHING

The rural Muganda (Baganda individual) woman typically wears a busuuti. This is a floor-length, brightly colored cloth dress with a square neckline and short, puffed sleeves. The garment is fastened with a sash placed just below the waist over the hips, and by two buttons on the left side of the neckline. Traditionally, the busuuti was strapless and made from bark-cloth. The busuuti is worn on all festive and ceremonial occasions. The indigenous dress of the Baganda man is a kanzu, a long, white cotton robe. On special occasions, it is worn over trousers with a Western-style suit jacket over it. Younger people wear Western-style clothing. Slacks, jeans, skirts, suits, and ties are also worn.

12 FOOD

The staple food of the Baganda is matooke, a plantain (a tropical fruit in the banana family). It is steamed or boiled and commonly served with groundnut (peanut) sauce or meat soups. Sources of protein include eggs, fish, beans, groundnuts, beef, chicken, and goats, as well as termites and grasshoppers in season. Common vegetables are cabbage, beans, mushrooms, carrots, cassava, sweet potatoes, onions, and various types of greens. Fruits include sweet bananas, pineapples, passion fruit, and papaya. Drinks include indigenous fermented beverages made from bananas (mwenge), pineapples (munanansi), and maize (musoli). Although Baganda have cutlery, most prefer to eat with their hands, especially when at home.

13 EDUCATION

Missionaries introduced literacy (reading and writing) and formal education to Uganda in the nineteenth century. The Baganda value modern education and will often sacrifice a great deal to obtain schooling for their children. Members of a family will combine resources to support a particularly promising student. Upon the completion of education the family member is expected to help his or her relatives.

14 CULTURAL HERITAGE

Baganda number among the best songwriters, playwrights, poets, novelists, artists, and musicians in Uganda. Performing arts, especially music and dance, have enjoyed a longstanding tradition. The Kabaka's Palace was a special place where royal dancers and drummers regularly performed. Most Baganda households contained at least a small drum for regular use in family singing and dancing. Other musical instruments included stringed instruments such as fiddles and harps, and woodwind instruments such as flutes and fifes.

Dancing is frequently practiced by all Baganda, beginning in early childhood. Today, Uganda dancers and musicians are frequently seen performing abroad.

Basketry is still a widespread art, especially mat-making by women. These mats are colorful and intricately designed. In addition to creating useful household containers, woven and coiled basketry serve as the foundation for stockades, enclosure fences, and houses.

15 EMPLOYMENT

Most Baganda are peasant farmers who live in rural villages. Rich red clay on hillsides, a moderate temperature, and plentiful rainfall combine to provide a good environment for the year-round availability of plantain, the staple crop, as well as the seasonal production of coffee, cotton, and tea as cash crops.

Some Baganda reside in towns and in Kampala, working in a variety of professional and nonprofessional occupations. They may also practice "urban agriculture" by growing crops in small available spaces and by keeping goats, chickens, and, occasionally, cows. Some Baganda in rural areas fish, or work as carpenters, mechanics, or convey produce to market via bicycles, which is more common than the automobile.

16 SPORTS

Football (soccer), rugby, and track and field are popular sports in Uganda. Baganda boys participate in all these sports, while girls participate in track and field. Traditionally, the Baganda were renowned for their skills in wrestling. Males of all ages participated in this sport. Wrestling events were accompanied by beer-drinking, singing, and drumming. It was, however, considered inappropriate to defeat the Kabaka. Other traditional outdoor games for boys include the competitive throwing of sticks and a kicking game in which boys stand side by side and attempt to knock over the other boy.

17 RECREATION

Children play games involving a chief for boys or a mother role for girls. Okwesa is a game of strategy involving a wooden board and stones or beans that are placed in pockets in the board. Verbal games such as riddling are played frequently, especially at night and in the company of grandparents.

18 CRAFTS AND HOBBIES

In addition to basketry and musical instruments, the manufacture of products from bark-cloth was and continues to be significant. The bark from a species of fig tree called mutuba is soaked in water, then beaten with a wooden mallet. This yields a soft material that is decorated with paint and then cut into strips of various sizes. Larger strips traditionally were used for partitions in homes. Smaller pieces were decorated with black dye and worn as clothing by women of royalty. Later, bark-cloth dress became the national dress. Today, one rarely sees bark-cloth dresses. They have been replaced by the cotton cloth Busuuti. Bark-cloth is found today as decorative placemats, coasters, and designs on cards of various sorts.

19 SOCIAL PROBLEMS

The Baganda have had problems integrating their political culture into the nation state of Uganda. The first president of independent Uganda (1962) was Sir Edward Mutesa, who was also King of Buganda. The first prime minister was Milton Obote. Within four years, Obote had abolished the kingdoms, and Mutesa fled Uganda. In 1971, Obote was overthrown by dictator Idi Amin. Under Amin all Ugandans suffered greatly from political and social oppression, death, and the loss of personal property. Currently, the Baganda are recovering from the havoc and dissension of the Obote and Amin years.

Since the mid-1980s, AIDS has resulted in many Baganda deaths. Caring for the children of parents who have died of AIDS is an especially serious problem. The disease has been the subject of a broad public educational effort aimed at prevention.

20 BIBLIOGRAPHY

Fallers, L. A., ed. The King's Men: Leadership and Status in Buganda on the Eve of Independence. New York: Oxford University Press, 1964.

Kavulu, David. The Uganda Martyrs. Kampala, Uganda: Longmans of Uganda, Ltd., 1969.

Kilbride, Philip, and Janet Kilbride. Changing Family Life in East Africa: Women and Children at Risk. University Park: Pennsylvania University Press, 1990.

Lugira, A. M. Ganda Art. Kampala, Uganda: OSASA Publications, 1970.

Roscoe, Rev. John. The Baganda: An Account of Their Native Customs and Beliefs. London, England: Macmillan and Co., 1911.

Southwold, Martin. "The Ganda of Uganda." In Peoples of Africa, edited by James L. Gibbs, Jr. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965.

WEBSITES

Embassy of Uganda, Washington, D.C. [Online] Available http://www.ugandaweb.com/ugaembassy/, 1998.

Government of Uganda. Uganda Home Page. [Online] Available http://www.uganda.co.ug/, 1998.

World Travel Guide. Uganda. [Online] Available http://www.wtgonline.com/country/ug/gen.html, 1998.

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Baganda

Baganda (bägän´də), also called Ganda, the largest ethnic group in Uganda. Bagandas comprise about 17% of the population and have the country's highest standard of living and literacy rate. Their traditional homeland is Buganda, an area of central and southern Uganda. Their first king or kabaka, the powerful Kintu, was crowned c.1380. The earliest European explorers to visit Buganda, John Speke and James Grant, dealt with Mutesa, the powerful Bagandan kabaka of the Victorian era. Ugandan president Milton Obote outlawed the Bagandan and other traditional Ugandan kingships in 1966 and the then-king, Sir Edward Frederick Mutesa II, went into exile in England. In 1993 kingship was restored by President Yoweri Museveni and "King Freddy's" son, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, was installed as kabaka.

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Baganda

Bagandaadder, bladder, khaddar, ladder, madder •Esmeralda, Valda •scaffolder • lambda •Amanda, Aranda, Baganda, Banda, brander, candour (US candor), coriander, dander, expander, gander, germander, goosander, jacaranda, Leander, Luanda, Lysander, meander, memoranda, Menander, Miranda, oleander, panda, pander, philander, propaganda, Rwanda, sander, Skanda, stander, Uganda, understander, Vanda, veranda, withstander, zander •backhander • Laplander • stepladder •inlander • outlander • Netherlander •overlander • gerrymander •pomander •calamander, salamander •bystander •ardour (US ardor), armada, Bader, cadre, carder, cicada, Dalriada, enchilada, Garda, gelada, Granada, Haggadah, Hamada, intifada, lambada, larder, Masada, Nevada, panada, piña colada, pousada, promenader, retarder, Scheherazade, Theravada, Torquemada, tostada •Alexander, commander, demander, Lahnda, slander •Pravda • autostrada

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Baganda

Baganda

PRONUNCIATION: bah-GAHN-dah
ALTERNATE NAMES: The King's Men
LOCATION: Uganda
POPULATION: About 3 million
LANGUAGE: Luganda
RELIGION: Christianity (Protestantism and Roman Catholicism); Islam
RELATED ARTICLES: Vol. 1: Ugandans

INTRODUCTION

The Baganda of Uganda are sometimes referred to as “The King's Men” because of the significance of the role of the Kabaka (King) in their political, social, and cultural institutions. Until 1967, the Baganda were organized into a tightly centralized, bureaucratized kingdom. From 1967 until 1993, there were no kingdoms in Uganda due to their abolishment by the national government. In 1993, the national government reinstated the Kabakaship by permitting the coronation of Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II as the 36th king of the Baganda in a line of succession extending back to ad 1400 to the first king known as Kintu. In the middle of the 19th century, the Kabaka ruled an area extending about 150 miles around the northwestern shores of Lake Victoria in what is now the nation of Uganda. He ruled over a hierarchy of chiefs including village, parish, subcounty, and county levels of stratification. Chiefs collected taxes in the form of food and livestock, and distributed portions on up the hierarchy, which eventually reached the Kabaka's palace in the form of tribute. Chiefs were also responsible for settling disputes and maintaining roads in their respective jurisdictions. The Kabaka made direct political appointment of all chiefs so as to maintain control over their loyalty to him. Kabakas were chosen from the Lion clan, whereas commoners from the other 40 clans were eligible to become chiefs or even rise to the position of Katikkiro (prime minister).

Another category of powerful men known as Batongole were commoners who were given land throughout the kingdom so they could serve as spies and informers for the Kabaka in case a Katikkiro sought to foster a rebellion, which they sometimes did. Commoner families hoped to enhance their fortunes by providing wives to powerful men, especially the Kabaka, who in some cases had hundreds of wives. These wives were then in a position to obtain “favors” for their families. Young boys were sent regularly to live with chiefs, or to the King's palace where they served as pages in the hope of being eventually rewarded by political appointments. The Baganda have many stories and songs that sing the praises of their Kabaka, as well as honoring commoners who have risen to the rank of Katikkiro.

The King's Palace was generally located on a hill, which on the occasion of his death served as his burial ground, with his successor choosing another hill for his palace. The King's Palace contained hundreds of household compounds that were occupied by his many wives, pages, and chiefs, all of whom were expected to reside in the Kabaka's palace for significant periods of time in order to demonstrate their loyalty to him. Chiefs served as military commanders of the army and navy, which provided a powerful defensive force as well as a mechanism for invasion of neighboring kingdoms to steal slaves, ivory, and women.

Many rituals surrounded the person of the king. For example, commoners had to lie face down on the ground in his presence. The Kabaka's only direct social interaction was with the Katikkiro, and he generally ate alone. His hairstyle sometimes resembled that of a rooster to symbolize his virility, and he has been described as walking like a lion to further symbolize his power. The mother of the Kabaka had the title of Namasole (Queen Mother). One sister was selected to be his Nalinnya (Queen Sister). Each of these women had her own palace and chiefs while remaining distinctly inferior to the Kabaka. Nevertheless, the Namasole could often exercise much influence over her son.

Today, the Kabaka has only ritual functions and no political power. He was removed of his power so that tribal differences would not interfere with the formation of a nation state. Baganda are presently divided on their beliefs about the role of the Kabaka in the nation state. All Baganda participate in the Ugandan governmental system, which has 39 districts and a national president. These districts contain separate units that were formerly part of the Kingdom of Buganda. Formal education in schools and a national university have replaced the old system of informal education embodied in the page system as a means of upward mobility. Nevertheless, the kingdom and associated institutions remain a strong force in the cultural practices and values of the Baganda.

LOCATION AND HOMELAND

The Baganda, who number about 3 million people, are located along the northern and western shores of Lake Victoria in the East African nation of Uganda. The former Kingdom of Buganda is bounded on the north by the former Kingdom of Bunyoro, on the east by the Nile River, and on the west by the former kingdoms of Ankole and Toro. To the south of Buganda is the present country of Tanzania. The Baganda are the largest tribe in Uganda, and the Kingdom of Buganda is the largest of the former kingdoms. Kingdoms were abolished as political institutions in the 1960s by the national government of Uganda. The Baganda are located 2° north of the equator to 1° south of the equator, but the temperature is moderate because the altitude varies throughout the region from 900 to 1,500 m (3,000– 5,000 ft) above sea level. The former Kingdom of Buganda, with a total area of about 65,000 sq km (25,096 sq mi) comprises slightly more than one-fourth of Uganda's total land mass. Kampala, the largest city in Buganda and Uganda, has a mean temperature of 21°c (69°F), ranging from a high monthly mean of 28°c (83°F) to a low monthly mean of 17°c (62°F). Rainfall averages 114 to 127 cm (45–50 in) per year, and it comes reliably each year in a heavier rainy season lasting from March–May and a lighter season that lasts from August–December. Most Baganda are peasant cultivators who live in rural villages, where the homes are strung out along hills that are themselves usually about 150 m (500 ft) above valley floors consisting of papyrus swamps or forests. Rich red clay on the hills, a moderate temperature, and plentiful rainfall combine to afford the Baganda a generous environment for the year-round availability of plantain, the staple crop, as well as the seasonal production of coffee, cotton, and tea as cash crops. Some Baganda reside in towns and in Kampala, working in a variety of white-collar and nonprofessional occupations; nevertheless, these Baganda maintain close ties with their agrarian roots in villages, while also frequently practicing “urban agriculture” in town homesteads by growing crops in small available areas and by keeping goats, chickens, and, occasionally, cows.

LANGUAGE

The Baganda speak a Bantu language called Luganda, which is a member of the Niger-Congo family of languages. In these languages, nouns are made up of modifiers known as prefixes, infixes, and suffixes. These modifiers vary depending on noun classes, such that word stems alone have no grammatical meanings. The stem ganda, for example, has no meaning in Luganda, but the term Buganda means the location or kingdom where the Baganda people live. Objects belonging to Baganda people, or to an individual Muganda person, are referred to as kiganda things. Like many other African languages, Luganda is tonal so that some words are differentiated by their pitch. For example, the word for excrement and the word for water (amazzi), while spelled the same, carry different meanings according to their pitch. Luganda is very rich in metaphor and in verbal genres, such as proverbs and folktales.

Children learn speech skills early in childhood that prepare them for adult life in a verbally rich culture. The clever child is one who can masterfully engage his or her peers in a game of ludikya, or “talking backwards.” For example, omusajja (“man”) becomes jja-sa-mu-o. Words in sentences appear in their same order. Another version of this game involves inserting the letter z after each syllable containing a vowel, followed by the vowel in that syllable. In this version, omusajja would become o-zo-mu-zu-sa-za-jja-za. Both boys and girls play ludikya, which they claim is frequently done to conceal secrets from adults. Many homes participate in the evenings in collective riddling games (okukokkya) involving men and women of all ages. A person who successfully solves riddles is awarded villages to rule and becomes a chief. Some examples of common riddles are:

I have a wife who looks where she is coming from and where she is going at the same time (a bundle of firewood, since the two ends are similar).

I have a razor blade which I use to shave hills (fire which is used to burn the grass for planting).

When my friend went to get food for his children, he never came back (water in a river).

My man is always surrounded by spears (the tongue which is surrounded by teeth)

FOLKLORE

The content of riddles, myths, legends, and proverbs all combine to provide for the Baganda an account of their ethnic origin and history, as well as explanations for the workings of the everyday world of people and objects that make up their culture and environment. Speech-making is especially valued and adaptive in a highly stratified society like Buganda where upward mobility was traditionally achieved by an aggressive, verbal manipulation of others through such means as cleverly turned compliments, exaggerated humility, or what the Baganda refer to as kufukibwa, the art of being ruled.

The most significant legend involves Kintu, the first Kabaka, who is believed to have married a woman called Nambi. First Nambi had to return to heaven where Gulu, her father, objected to her marriage because Kintu did not know how to farm but only how to obtain food from cattle. Nambi's relatives, therefore, tested Kintu in order to determine his suitability as a spouse. In one test Kintu was asked to identify his own cow from a herd, a difficult task given that there were many cows like his own. By chance, a bee told Kintu to choose the cow on whose horns he would alight. After several large herds were brought to him, Kintu reported that his cow was not among them, while continuing to watch the bee that remained on the tree. Eventually, Kintu, with the help of the bee, identified his cow, along with several calves that had been born to his cow. The amazed father eagerly gave his daughter's hand in marriage, prodding them to hurry to leave for Kintu's home before Walumbe (Death) would come and want to go with them. Gulu warned that they should not come back even if they forgot something for fear that Death would follow them. They left carrying with them cows, a goat, fowl, sheep, and a plantain tree. Unfortunately, over the protests of Kintu, Nambi went back to obtain grain that had been forgotten. Although she tried to run away without Death, she was unsuccessful. After many years of happiness on earth, Walumbe began to bring illness and death to children and then adults. Up to the present day, Death has lived upon the earth with no one knowing when or whom he will strike.

We see in this legend an account of the origin of the Baganda people, as well as answers to fundamental questions about the origins of such things as crops and livestock. Death is implicated in this account as an unfortunate happenstance resulting from disobedience to king or parents. Obedience is a prime value of Kiganda morality. Kintu's partnership with the bee is one example of a common motif in Kiganda folklore where animals are the subject of numerous folktales that illustrate moral themes. Animal pairs, such as “the Leopard and the Hare,” “the Lion and the Crocodile,” and the “Cat and the Fowl,” are familiar subjects to all Baganda. Proverbs, which are abundant, are prime sources of moral instruction for young people. Some examples of Kiganda proverbs are:

He who has not suffered does not know how to pity.

The stick which is at your neighbor's house will not drive away the leopard.

An only child is like a drop of rain in the dry season. He who likes his mother's cooking has not traveled.

He who passes you in the morning, you will pass him in the evening.

You have many friends as long as you are prosperous. That which is bent at the outset of its growth is almost impossible to straighten at a later age.

RELIGION

The majority of present-day Baganda are Christian, about evenly divided between Catholic and Protestant. Approximately 15% are Muslim. Each of these major denominations is headquartered on a major hill in the Kampala area, reflecting the past practice of each major institution being constructed on a specific hill, a practice originated by the Kabakas. In the latter half of the 19th century, most Baganda were practicing an indigenous religion known as the Balubaale cult. This cult consisted of national gods who had temples identified with them. Each temple had priests who served as oracles on behalf of their respective god. Similar to the Greek pantheon, these gods were each concerned with specific problems. For example, there was a god of fertility, a god of warfare, and a god of the lake. The Supreme God known as Katonda had created everything, and the Baganda paid homage to him upon awakening each morning. Katonda's power was seen in proverbs. The following are some examples:

What God put in store for someone never goes rotten.

Katonda gives his gifts to whomsoever he favors.

God's favors should not be refused.

Katonda was also known by other names, such as Mukama (the Master), Lugaba (the Giver), and Liisoddene (the Great Eye). The Baganda also believed in spiritual forces, particularly the action of witches, which were thought to cause illness and other misfortune. People often wore amulets to ward off their evil powers. The most significant spirits were the Muzimu or ancestors who visited the living in dreams and sometimes warned of impending dangers. These spirits resided in the vicinity of the homestead and could be reincarnated if their names were bestowed on an infant, for which there was a special ceremony.

Christianity and Islam, both monotheistic religions, were not incompatible with the Kiganda belief in a High God. Nevertheless, throughout the second half of the 19th century, bitter rivalries and bloodshed prevailed as Kabakas, chiefs, and Katikkeros became variously aligned with Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Balubaale believers. During this period, a number of Baganda pages were put to death for allegiance to their Christian faith and are recognized today as martyrs and saints by the Roman Catholic tradition. Contemporary Baganda are considered to be extremely religious, whatever their faith, although the Balubaale cult no longer exists. Beliefs in ancestors and the power of witches are still, however, quite common.

MAJOR HOLIDAYS

Religious holidays are very significant in Buganda, especially Christmas for Christians and Ramadan for Muslims. Attendance at funerals is a major ceremonial and social event. People travel from all parts of the nation to attend funerals, which last many days.

RITES OF PASSAGE

In the indigenous life cycle, the Muganda person passes through stages, such as omwana (child), omuvubuka (youth), and omusajja or omukazi (man, woman), until at death one becomes an omuzima (spirit) and, therefore, a candidate for reincarnation. Although there is no Luganda word for fetus, the being inside the mother is nevertheless considered to be living and separate from the mother. Thus, if a pregnant woman dies, her fetus is extracted and buried separately. During pregnancy, the woman remains physically active, often working on her farm or shamba (garden) until the time of delivery. The pregnant woman is typically seen carrying food or water on her head, while often carrying her previous baby on her back. Birth is attended by midwives and female relatives. The umbilical cord is retained for later use in a ceremony called Kwalula Abaana, in which the child is seated on a mat along with other members of the father's clan (being a patrilineal society) who are to receive their clan names. The new infant is a source of considerable joy and is passed around to visitors for their pleasure. Should twins be born, special rituals are performed and the parents receive names indicating that they are the mother and father of twins. Each twin is given a special name in accordance with his or her gender and birth order.

The childhood years, beginning at about the age of seven, are characterized by the expectation that both boys and girls will conform in their behavior to what the Baganda refer to as mpisa (manners). This includes such things as being obedient to adults, greeting visitors properly, and sitting correctly (for girls). Tasks are assigned to boys and girls, although girls have more consistent work expectations than do boys. Girls are charged with the care of their younger siblings, whom they carry on their backs and to whom they sing lullabies, especially when their mothers are working in their shambas (gardens) or marketing. Boys are frequently asked to run errands for family members or to babysit.

Nowadays, children as well as teenagers pursue educational opportunities to enhance their career objectives in the modern nation state. Traditionally, teenage boys and girls were occupied with their political careers or marital prospects, respectively. Sex education for females was and is more systematic than it is for males. The father's sister (Ssenga) is for girls the most significant moral authority, as she represents the patrilineal extended family of which the girl is a member. Grandmothers instruct girls soon after their menstruation, during a period of seclusion, about sexual matters and future domestic responsibilities. The Baganda are quite prudish about public displays of sexuality, and affection between the sexes is reserved for private occasions. Kissing is a recent innovation. Traditionally, tickling of the hand, breast, or stomach area by either sex was considered sensuous. A common complaint of young school girls today is that their elders did not teach them anything about sex so they must now seek advice and sexual instruction from popular pamphlets and the mass media.

Among the Baganda, marriage and the birth of children are generally still prerequisites for adult status. Today, most Baganda men and women no longer live out their lives only in the context of the Buganda Kingdom. Baganda can be found in all of the modern occupations and live throughout the world from where they regularly return or seek to return to their home-land, especially for burial. The old person (mukadde) is happy if he or she has achieved success in the world and if they have grandchildren, who are a particular source of joy for them and their clan.

INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS

The Baganda place paramount emphasis on being sociable, often in a clever and assertive way so as to achieve upward mobility. Verbal skills and manipulative styles are seen in the daily life of work, school, courtship, and marriage. Individualism and being alone are not valued. In fact, a person who spends too much time alone may be thought to be a spy or a witch. Elaborate greeting rituals best symbolize the importance attached to being sociable. One of the first things that a child learns is how to greet others properly in the high-pitched voice that is considered to be respectful. Propriety requires that neighbors exchange lengthy greetings when meeting along the road. Greetings vary according to the time of day, age of participants, and length of time since previous encounters. When city folk return to their villages, formal greetings may take upwards of 15 minutes.

In Kampala, greetings are far less frequent and shorter in duration than in rural areas. Also, women in Kampala are much less likely to kneel while greeting men or other social superiors, a custom still prevalent in rural areas. Sociability is at a premium during social events, especially at burials and funerals when villages can seem deserted because their members are away, staying in temporary shelters constructed to accommodate guests who have amassed for several days of feasting, drumming, and dancing.

Dating and courtship are significant in the lives of most Baganda in their younger years. Both men and women value men who are able to flatter through verbal expertise and their power of persuasion. Common phrases of endearment include: “Your eyes are big and shiny like a light”; “Your teeth are as white as elephant tusks”; “You are as slender as a bee”; “You are my twin”; and a recent addition to a man's repertoire, “You are worth a million dollars.” Women, too, are verbally adroit. Although she should not flatter a man, a woman is expected to deceive him (okulimba) into thinking that he is her only suitor. In physical features, there are numerous preferences that include moderation in height, weight, and skin color. Eyes should not be too large, “like a fish,” nor too small, “like a hole in the cow's skin.” In girls, a small space between upper front teeth (muzigo) and horizontal lines in the neck (ebiseera) are especially desirable. Baganda of all ages are very well dressed and admire those who dress well.

LIVING CONDITIONS

Rural homes located among banana groves or shambas (gardens) are usually made of wattle and daub and have thatched or corrugated iron roofs. More affluent farmers live in homes constructed of cement, with tile roofs. Some homes have electricity and running water, but for many water must be fetched from a well or collected when it rains. There commonly is a separate cooking house where cooking is done on an open wood fire. A latrine is located behind the house in the shamba. Household furniture usually consists of a wooden platform bed with a mattress, a table, and wooden chairs. Woven straw mats are used for sitting by women and children, although some homes have sofas and arm chairs. Urban homes, by contrast, are typically of concrete with corrugated iron or tile roofs and glass windows. Indoor plumbing, indoor kitchens, electricity, and toilet facilities are common in the city. Radios are frequent in both rural and urban homes. Photographs and other pictures are typically on display on the walls to commemorate family members, political figures, or religious personages.

On the whole, Baganda enjoy a fairly high standard of living in Uganda through income obtained from land rentals, agricultural produce sold for cash, and wage labor as clerks, teachers, and craftspeople, often combined with agriculture. Some Baganda in rural areas are fishermen, carpenters, mechanics, or conveyors of produce to market via bicycles, a more common vehicle than the automobile. All Baganda have daily access to a plentiful food supply, given their year-round growing season. On the other hand, Baganda suffer from malaria, given the presence of swampy areas harboring the malarial-infected mosquitoes. A particular form of childhood protein-calorie malnutrition known as kwashiorkor is frequently seen as a result of early weaning and a protein-deficient diet of matooke (plantain staple).

FAMILY LIFE

Traditionally, the term for marriage, jangu enfumbire (“come cook for me”), symbolized the authority patterns that prevailed in the typical household. The husband/father was supreme, and in the domestic sphere emulated the authority of the Kabaka in the wider political system. Children and women knelt to the husband in deference to his authority, and he was served his food first. Baganda children frequently describe feelings of fear and respect for their fathers and warm attachment for their mothers. One should never marry a person from one's own clan lest clan sanction and sickness result. Marriage is, therefore, exogamous in terms of clans, although Baganda tend to marry within their own tribe.

After marriage a new household is established, usually in the village of the husband. Most marriages are monogamous, although polygamy was not uncommon in the past. Co-wives lived in separate, but adjacent, houses while the husband had his own house in front of the women's quarters. Affinal relatives (Bako or in-laws) are afforded great respect, and Baganda avoid physical contact with one's mother- or father-in-law. Brothers- or sisters-in-law are often close and affectionate. Children's surnames are taken from the father and easily identify the clan from which they come. In addition to not marrying within one's own clan, it is taboo to eat the clan totem. Some common totems are: leopard, civet cat, anteater, otter, dog, cow, buffalo, bush buck, sheep, crow, and elephant, as well as yam, bean, and mushroom.

CLOTHING

The rural Muganda woman typically wears a Busuuti, a floor-length, brightly colored cloth dress with a square neckline and short, puffed sleeves. The garment is fastened with a sash placed just below the waist over the hips, and by two buttons on the left side of the neckline. It can be worn throughout pregnancy by simply loosening the sash, since the skirt portion consists of several yards of material. Traditionally, the busuuti was strapless and made from bark-cloth. The busuuti is worn on all festive and ceremonial occasions, even in Kampala where Western-style clothing predominates on a daily basis. The indigenous dress of the Baganda man is a kanzu, a long, white cotton robe. On special occasions, it is worn over trousers with a Western-style suit jacket over it. Younger people wear Western-style clothing. T-shirts with international celebrities on them are particularly popular. Slacks, jeans, skirts, suits, and ties also prevail.

FOOD

The staple food of the Baganda is matooke, a plantain that is steamed or boiled and commonly served with groundnut sauce or meat soups. Sources of protein include eggs, fish, beans, groundnuts, beef, chicken, and goats, as well as termites and grasshoppers in season. Common vegetables are cabbage, beans, mushrooms, carrots, cassava, sweet potatoes, onions, and various types of greens. Fruits include sweet bananas, pineapples, passion fruit, and papaya. Before eating, a bowl of boiled water and soap are passed around for each person to wash his or her hands. Steaming matooke is mashed and placed upon banana leaves in a basket, then covered by more leaves in order to keep the food hot. Portions of matooke are mixed in with the soup or sauce and eaten together. Although Baganda have cutlery, most prefer to eat with their hands, especially when at home. Drinks include indigenous fermented beverages made from bananas (mwenge), pineapples (munan-ansi), and maize (musoli). Bottled beers fermented in national breweries are especially popular in the cities and towns, as are soft drinks. Coffee and tea are common hot drinks, and many homes recognize “tea time” in the afternoon as a special heritage from the British colonial days. Traditionally, women did not eat eggs or chicken, but this custom is very rare at present. Women also traditionally ate separately from men on mats on the floor. Nowadays, the urban family tends to eat at the table together. Baganda women take great pride in their cooking, and for most it is considered inappropriate for a man to enter the cooking area. Knowledge of the over 40 varieties of plantain used in cooking is a special domain in which women excel. They also have a working knowledge of agriculture. Two or three meals of plantains per day are customary. Metal cooking pots and pans, cutlery, dishes, and glassware are now ubiquitous, although in rural areas bottled gourds and ceramic containers are not uncommon.

EDUCATION

Missionaries introduced literacy and formal education into Uganda in the 19th century, going on to establish in subsequent years a large number of schools and hospitals throughout Uganda. Baganda were among the first converts and, therefore, among the first literate population in Uganda. The Baganda value modern educational opportunity and will often sacrifice a great deal to obtain schooling for further advancement. Members of a family will combine resources to support a particularly promising student, who upon the completion of that education is expected to help his or her relatives. Rural areas contain primary schools often made of wattle and daub. Secondary schools vary in quality, and there is tremendous competition to get into the better ones. Kings College Budu, for example, a secondary school where Baganda royalty have studied, also accepts commoners. Accordingly, schooling serves as a leveling mechanism in modern society, much as the old page system did previously. Fostering of children was traditionally an acceptable practice in order to place children in advantageous homes such as those of a chief. Today, the modern boarding school is a favorite mechanism of upward mobility. Currently, both boys and girls attend school in large numbers, making formal education an important means of mobility for women also. The Baganda value literacy highly and have long maintained a vernacular press with a rich tradition of publishing books, pamphlets, songs, stories, and poems in Luganda and English, the national language. Makerere University in Kampala attracted many Baganda in the 20th century who went on to outstanding careers in law, medicine, and other professions.

CULTURAL HERITAGE

Today, Baganda are among the best songwriters, playwrights, poets, novelists, artists, and musicians in Uganda. Performing arts have a long history of development in music and dance. The Kabaka's Palace was a special place where royal dancers and drummers regularly performed. Each clan had its own particular drum beat. Most Baganda households contained at least a small drum for regular use in family singing and dancing. Drums were used to announce special events such as the birth of a child or the death of a person. The most significant drums, however, were the royal drums, called the mujaguzo, which numbered 93. Drums varied in size and each had its own name and specific drum beat. Drums were made from hollowed-out tree trunks and cowhide or zebra skin. Other musical instruments included stringed instruments, such as fiddles and harps, and woodwind instruments, such as flutes and fifes.

Dancing is frequently practiced by all Baganda, beginning in early childhood, and the best dancers and musicians are renowned for their skills. Baganda dancers are remarkable for their ability to move their hips swiftly to the beat of alternating drums playing simultaneously. Today, Uganda dancers and musicians are frequently seen performing abroad. In Kampala, they can be seen entertaining regularly in night clubs, bars, and other public locations.

Basketry is still a widespread art, especially mat-making by women. These mats are colorful and intricately designed. In addition to creating useful household containers, woven basketry and coiled basketry are also widespread arts that serve as the foundation for stockades, enclosure fences, and houses.

WORK

Most Baganda are peasant farmers, but others live in towns and in the city of Kampala and work at various white-collar and nonprofessional jobs.

SPORTS

Football (soccer), rugby, and track and field are common, popular sports in Uganda. Baganda boys participate in all these sports, while girls participate in track and field. Traditionally, the Baganda were renowned for their skills in wrestling, which was considered to be their national game. Males of all ages participated in this sport. Wrestling events were accompanied by beer-drinking, singing, and drumming. It was, however, considered inappropriate to defeat the Kabaka. Other traditional outdoor games by boys include the competitive throwing of sticks and a kicking game in which boys stand side by side and attempt to knock over the other boy.

ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION

Children play games involving a chief for boys or a mother role for girls. Okwesa, played by both boys and girls, is a game of strategy involving a wooden board and stones or beans that are placed in pockets in the board. Verbal games are played frequently, especially at night and in the company of grandparents.

FOLK ART, CRAFTS, AND HOBBIES

In addition to basketry and musical instruments, the manufacture of products from bark-cloth was and continues to be significant. The bark from a species of fig tree called mutuba is soaked in water, then beaten with a wooden mallet. This yields a soft material that is decorated with paint and then cut into strips of various sizes. Larger strips traditionally were used for partitions in homes, while smaller pieces were decorated with black dye and worn as clothing by women of royalty. Later, bark-cloth dress, particularly reddish tan-colored bark-cloth, became the national dress. Today, one rarely sees bark-cloth dresses, which have been replaced by the cotton cloth Busuuti. Bark-cloth is found today as decorative placemats, coasters, and designs on cards of various sorts. It is also rare to find traditional pipes, pots, and other ceramics, which in the past were elaborately decorated functional objects, in use today.

SOCIAL PROBLEMS

The Baganda have had some problems integrating their political culture into the nation state of Uganda. The first president of independent Uganda (1962) was Sir Edward Mutesa, who was also King of Buganda. The first prime minister, with whom he shared power, was Milton Obote, who was from a district outside of Buganda. Within four years, Obote had abolished the kingdoms, and Mutesa fled Uganda and eventually died in exile. In 1971, Obote was overthrown by Dictator Idi Amin, under whose presidency all Ugandans, including the Baganda, suffered greatly from political and social oppression, death, and the loss of personal property. Currently, the Baganda participate in what is widely considered to be a national recovery from the havoc and dissension of the Obote and Amin years.

Since the mid-1980s, AIDS has resulted in many deaths among friends and family members and is a source of great grief for Baganda. Caring for the children of parents who have died of AIDS is an especially serious problem. Nevertheless, this disease has been the subject of a spirited public education effort through mass media and theatrical productions, as part of a broad public educational effort toward prevention. These efforts led to the first substantial declines in HIV prevalence in Uganda. Nevertheless, the epidemic remains serious in, with infection levels highest among women (7.5% compared to 5.0% among men) and urban residents (10% compared to 5.7% among rural residents).

GENDER ISSUES

In terms of gender relations, patriarchy is central to Baganda culture. In pre-colonial times there was a strict division of labor among the Baganda, where women did most of the agricultural work, while men often engaged in commerce, politics, and warfare. In recent times, the Museveni government has taken steps to elevate the plight of women as a major development issue. The Museveni administration has encouraged women to participate in politics and other aspects of public life. In 2008, each of Uganda's districts had a female member of parliament. One-third of all local council seats are reserved for women. As a result, women make up about 24% of the legislature. There are active women's rights groups, including the Uganda Women Lawyers Association (FIDA-U), Action for Development, and the National Association of Women Judges. However, in spite of these advancements, women are often targets of violence and sexual abuse. Women who reveal their HIV-positive status to their spouses are often beaten and sometimes murdered by their husbands.

In terms of human rights, Uganda's past has been checkered with torture and abuse, and according to some human rights organizations, these abuses continue in present-day Uganda. The army has been accused of committing atrocities against the populations in northern Uganda, and security forces are alleged to routinely torture suspects and members of the opposition. Homosexuality is illegal under Victorian-era legislation still in force in Uganda and many other English-speaking countries in Africa. The laws reflect a deep aversion among many Africans to homosexuality. But, the truth remains that gays and lesbians exist in Uganda, although they pay a high price for their sexual orientation, often facing discrimination, and even torture and imprisonment.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Fallers, L. A., ed. The King's Men: Leadership and Status in Buganda on the Eve of Independence. New York: Oxford University Press, 1964.

Howard, P. L., & Nabanoga, G. “Are there Customary Rights to Plants? An Inquiry among the Baganda (Uganda), with Special Attention to Gender.” World Development 35, no 9 (2007): 1542-1563.

IRIN. “Uganda: Humanitarian Country Profile.” http://www.irinnews.org/country.aspx?CountryCode=UG&Region Code=EAF.

Kavulu, David. The Uganda Martyrs. Kampala: Longmans of Uganda, Ltd., 1969.

Kiyimba, A. “Gendering Social Destiny in the Proverbs of the Baganda: Reflections on Boys and Girls Becoming Men and Women.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 17, no 2 (2005): 253-270.

Kilbride, Philip, and Janet Kilbride. Changing Family Life in East Africa: Women and Children at Risk. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania University Press, 1990.

Lugira, A. M. Ganda Art. Kampala: OSASA Publications, 1970.

Roscoe, Rev. John. The Baganda: An Account of Their Native Customs and Beliefs. London: Macmillan and Co., 1911.

Southwold, Martin. “The Ganda of Uganda.” In Peoples of Africa, edited by James L. Gibbs, Jr. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965.

—revised by E. Kalipeni

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