Wild Heart African safaris

The cultural tapestry of Uganda

..The Kingdom of Uganda is a fairy tale. The scenery is different, the climate is different and most of all, the people are different from anything elsewhere to be seen in the whole range of Africa….what message I bring back….concentrate upon Uganda – The Pearl of Africa.”
Winston Churchill (My African Journey – 1908)

Uganda is located in east Africa and it is bordered by Kenya in the east, Tanzania to the south, democratic republic of Congo to the west, Sudan to the north and Rwanda to the south-west. Uganda’s racial demographics are mainly categorical of three major ethnicities. However each ethnicity has several tribes and peoples under it making Uganda one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world. The major categories are;

  • The nilotics or the Luo
  • The nilo-hamites
  • The Bantu

The bantu are believed to be the first inhabitants of Uganda and they constitute over 50% of the population. They are believed to have migrated from congo regions of central Africa and spread through uganda and they include Baganda, Basoga, Bagwere, Banyoro, Banyankole, Bakiga, Batooro,  Bamasaba, Basamia,  Bakonjo, Bamba, Baruuli, Banyole, Bafumbira,Bagungu,Bakiga,The Bantu settlement and history is largely linked to mystical and mythical empires and dynasties of the Kitara/Chwezi and the Babiito

Exploring the Baganda/Waganda/Ganda

(sounds like the fictional Wakanda nation in Wakanda forever movie)

Buganda are bordered by Lake Victoria to the South, river Kiira/Nile in the east, lake Kyoga to the north, Ankole to the west and River Kafu to the northwest and their capital is Kampala.

“Unlike Wakanda, there were no scientists developing space-age technologies from hidden laboratories. But in many other ways, Buganda mirrored its fictional counterpart. It was a powerful precolonial state and society whose history looked back over 600 years. Long before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Buganda had developed a form of democratic governance, boasting a parliament, courts of appeal and sites of public hearing. In Buganda’s capital, Mmengo, 292 elected and appointed representatives lived near the king, prime minister and ruling family. It was Buganda’s Capitol Hill, busy with lobbyists and competing interest groups” politico

Culture and origins

They are traditionally made up of 52 clans and are the largest people of the Bantu ethnic group in Uganda. They were by far the most organized kingdom headed by Kabaka as their central king.

The Culture of the Baganda

Buganda’s clan system is central to its culture. A clan represents a group of people who can trace their lineage to a common ancestor in some distant past. In the customs of Buganda, lineage is passed down along patrilineal lines. The clan essentially forms a large extended family and all members of a given clan regard each other as brothers and sisters regardless of how far removed from one another in terms of actual blood ties. The Baganda took great care to trace their ancestry through this clan structure. A formal introduction of a muganda includes his own names, the names of his father and paternal grandfather, as well as a description of the family’s lineage within the clan that it belongs to. The clan has a hierarchical structure with the clan leader at the top (owakasolya), followed by successive subdivisions called the ssiga, mutuba, lunyiriri and finally at the bottom the individual family unit (enju). Every Muganda was required to know where he falls within each of these subdivisions and anyone who could not relate his ancestry fully was suspect of not being a true Muganda.

It is a curious fact that the clans are not known by the names of the respective clan founders. Instead, totems were adopted by the clans, and the names of those totems came to be synonymous with the clans themselves. Each clan has a main totem (omuziro) and a secondary totem (akabbiro). The clans are usually known by the main totem and they are listed above by that totem. The royal clan (Abalangira) is a unique exception in that it has no totems whatsoever. For a proper understanding of the culture however, it is important to distinguish between the totem and the clan. The clan is a matter of genealogy and it is through the clan that the baganda trace their ancestry. A totem on the other hand, is just a symbol to represent the clan. Although the two are intimately associated with one another, they are in fact different. In the west, a totem would be similar to a court of arms


One of their legend mentions of the first mythological Muganda as kintu (as the first human on earth) who appears on the plains of Uganda with a cow and fed on its milk and cow dung before being rewarded Banana and Millet by the sky god Ggulu. Before an encounter with Ggulu kintu meets a woman Nambi and her sister who had come from the sky, they then took his cow to Ggulu to prove he is human and seek his permission to admit him into the sky. On proving himself through tests and trials, Ggulu rewards Kintu with his daughter Nambi and many agricultural gifts as dowry the basic materials to support life in Buganda and on leaving they are warned not to come back to the sky. On disregarding Ggulu, Kintu and Nambi went back to collect millet and their hen that nambi had forgoten who on coming back were followed by Nimbi’s brother Walumbe (the cause of trouble death and sicknesess). They first settled in Magongo where they rested and planted the first crops on earth and had three children one of which Walumbe claimed to be his which request was denied by Kintu promising him one in the future, as Kintu had more kids yet denied Walumbe one , Walumbe promised to kill all their children each day for three days. Claiming one already, Kintu went to Ggulu to report and Ggulu responded by sending Kayikuuzi (the digger) his son who met and fought with Walumbe his Brother where walumbe on defeat sliped into a deep hole in present day Tanda in Mityana district. Kayikuzi on failing to retrieve Walumbe, he stayed on earth for two more days and ordered silence allover the earth before sunrise in order to lure Walumbe. Tired and frastrated, kayikuzi returned to heaven having failed to retrieve him. Walumbe who still causes misery among sons of Kintu and the earthquake signifies the chase for walumbe by Kayikuzi. This is reminiscent of the biblical narrative of Adam and Eve bringing suffering and death as a result of disobeying divine instructions

Joab Sonko
Team leader at Wildheart safaris Uganda!
Joab is a wildlife enthusiast, philanthropist and community leader in many respects with an impeccable passion to promote the hidden beauty of the pearl of Africa

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