The Madi Tribe
The Madi, also called Ma’di, are a tribe in North-western Uganda, on the western and eastern banks of Albert Nile, on Uganda’s border with South Sudan.
The Madi belong to the Nilotic ethnic group. They are part of the larger Madi community in Uganda and South Sudan which is believed to have migrated from Nigeria to South Sudan between 1400-1700 A.D. In the early 19th century, a Madi group led by Ma’di Agai, separated from their South Sudan counterparts and migrated to North-western Uganda settling west of Albert Nile in present-day Moyo district. This group became the Ugandan Madi, and it was called “Ma’di Agai”, after their leader. The group was also called “Ma’di Okollo”, because their dialect was different from that of their South Sudan counterparts. Some of the Ugandan Madi settled East of Albert Nile in president-day Adjumani district. The Madi belong to Madi region and are led by a Lopirigo (Paramount Chief). The current Lopirigo is: Lopirigo Stephen Drani Izakare
The Madi are both agricultural and fishing people. They farm maize, millet, sorghum, cassava, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, simsim, vegetables, and also fish from Albert Nile. Their staple food is Cassava, Millet and Sorghum. Cassava flour is used to make cassava bread called “Enyasa”. Enyasa is eaten with fish. Same for millet or sorghum bread.
The Madi dress code is Kitenge. The Madi have a number of dances among which is “Mure” dance, a celebration dance, danced to the tune of wooden trumpets, animal horns, dancing bells, and drums. The Madi language is called “Ma’di”.
The Madi are the guardians and custodians of Uganda’s Nimule, the point where River Nile exits Uganda before making a sharp turn west in South Sudan. They are also the guardians of River Nile’s last scenery before it exits Uganda.
The Madi are the guardians and custodians of Otze Forest Reserve, a 188km² forest located on an escarpment overlooking the Albert Nile as it flows northward to the Uganda-South Sudan border. The forest is home to a number of wildlife including 168 bird species and 261 tree species. The Madi are also the guardians of Dufile Wildlife Sanctuary located in Moyo (Madi Region).
The Madi are the guardians and custodians of Dufile Fort, a military fort established by British colonialist, Charles George Gordon, in 1874, and occupied by British colonial envoy, Emin Pasha, in 1879. The fort was built to stop slave trade activities between Northern Uganda and South Sudan. The fort is currently used as a port for passenger ferries heading to Nimule on Uganda-South Sudan border. Dufile Fort is located in Moyo (Madi region). The Madi are the guardians and custodians of Mount Metu, whose ranges extend to the border of Uganda and South Sudan, giving great views of the horizon.
There are 292,983 Madi (2014 census) in Uganda. The Madi are mainly found in Moyo, and Adjumani districts.
The Bagungu are a tribe in North-western Uganda on the north-eastern shores of Lake Albert.
The Bagungu are a mixture of Bantu and Nilotic ethnic groups. They originated from an intermarriage between Bantu from central, and southern Uganda, and the Paluo (Chope) nilotes from Northern Uganda. The Bagungu belong to Bugungu region under Bunyoro Kingdom led by an Omukama (King). The current Omukama is: Omukama Agutamba Solomon Gafabusa Iguru I. The Bagungu are both fishing and agricultural people. They fish from Lake Albert, and also farm millet, cassava, maize, sorghum, sweet potatoes, and vegetables. Their staple food is Cassava which they call “Mbumbwe”. Cassava can either be boiled and eaten fresh, or boiled and mashed forming a mash called “Mugunu”, or it can be ground into cassava flour from which cassava bread, called “Ndwa”, is made. Cassava is eaten with “Nsu” (fish). It can also be eaten with meat. A drink called “Bungu”, is made from cassava.
The Bagungu dress code is: kanzu (men), and gomosi (women). Men and women dress in a similar way as Banyoro, Baganda, Basoga, Bagwere, Jopadhola, and other southern Bantu tribes. Women also wear Kitenge (clothing from DR Congo). The Bagungu have a number of dances which include: Kalihwa dance, Muzeenyo dance, Kikwele dance, and Gwada dance. Kalihwa dance is a courtship dance performed in a similar way as “Orunyege” dance of Banyoro, Batooro, and Banyabindi; where men put on “Kinyege” (leg rattles) while women tie “Kimaaya” (sashes) around their waists and dance in pairs of man and woman. Muzeenyo dance is a predominantly waist dance for both men and women. Dancers perform this dance by wriggling their waists. Kikwele dance is a celebration dance to celebrate the heroics of great hunters. Dance movements in Kikwele symbolize hunting adventures including tricks of how the hunters go about their exploits. Sometimes the dance also involves imitation of different animal moves like “kugoda”, meaning to bend like horns of a buffalo. Gwada dance is a patting dance in form of greeting. It Involves dancers jumping and turning behind each other.
The Bagungu language is called “Lugungu”.
The Bagungu, and Banyoro, are the guardians and custodians of Lake Albert, a large fresh water lake in western Uganda. Lake Albert is the the source of Albert Nile: River Nile’s second stream after Victoria Nile. It is home to Uganda’s crude oil deposits – with the majority of the oil wells found in the region of the Bagungu (Bugungu region). 6.5 billion barrels of crude oil have been discovered in Lake Albert – making Lake Albert the largest onshore oil field in sub-saharan Africa. Lake Albert offers beautiful views of water loving birds and wildlife. Birds including the Shoebill stork, Great egret, kingfishers, and others, can can be spotted on a boat ride on the lake.
The Bagungu, and Banyoro, are the guardians and custodians of Murchison Falls: The World’s Most Powerful Falls. Murchison Falls, also called Kabalega Falls, after a strong 19th Century king of Bunyoro, Omukama Chwa II Kabalega, are the most popular falls in Uganda and are the basis for Murchison Falls National Park. Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest, oldest, most visited, and most popular national park. It was gazetted in 1926 and it measures 3,893 km².
There are 83,986 Bagungu (2014 census) in Uganda. The Bagungu are mainly found in Buliisa, Hoima, and Masindi districts.
The Banyala Tribe
The Banyala, also called Banyara, are a tribe in central Uganda on the south-western shores of Lake Kyoga and the western shores of Lake Victoria’s Victoria Nile. The Banyala belong to the Bantu ethnic group. They originated from an intermarriage between Baganda from central Uganda, and Banyoro from North-western Uganda. The Banyala belong to Bugerere region, also called Bunyala region, and are led by a Ssabanyala (leader). The current Ssabanyala is: Ssabanyala Baker Kimeze.
The Banyala are both agricultural and fishing people. They farm millet, bananas, cassava, maize, simsim, groundnuts, sweet potatoes, and vegetables, and also fish from Lake Kyoga and Victoria Nile. Their staple food is Sweet potatoes, Millet, and Bananas. These are eaten with fish. Millet bread called “Kalo” is made from millet flour.
The Banyala dress code is: kanzu (men), and gomesi (women). Men and women dress in a similar way as Baganda, Baruli, Basoga, Bagwere, and Jopadhola.
The Banyala language is called “Lunyala”. The Banyala, together with the Baganda, are the guardians and custodians of the Wild rapids of River Nile located in Kalagala (Buganda/Bunyala region). These rapids and the nearby Kalagala Falls are known for amazing white-white rafting, kayaking, and fishing experiences. Their sounds and roars are a signature attraction to adventurers.
The Banyala, together with the Baganda, are the guardians and custodians of Kalagala Island, a pristine Island surrounded by River Nile’s roaring waters, rocks, and riverine forest. This Island is home to Wildwaters Lodge, one of the best luxury lodges in Uganda with amazing views of River Nile. The Island is also home to a number of birds, the most famous being: herons, turacos, weavers, cuckoos, eagles, hawks, and kingfishers.
The Banyala, together with the Baganda, are the guardians and custodians of the south-western shores of Lake Kyoga, a 1,720 km² fresh water lake that separates northern Uganda and southern Uganda. Lake Kyoga is shallow and swampy, and good for canoeing and birding. It’s swamps and systems are home to fish species only found in Uganda.
The Banyala, together with the Baganda, are the guardians and custodians of Baizo Forest Reserve, Kiwula Forest Reserve, Wamale Forest Reserve, Kiwenda Forest Reserve, Kalagala Forest, Namawanyi Forest, and a number of swamps along River Nile and Lake Kyoga.
There are 47,699 Banyala (2014 census) in Uganda. The Banyala are mainly found in Kayunga dist
The Babukusu belong to the Bantu ethnic group. They are part of the larger Babukusu people living in Uganda and Kenya. According to one legend, the Babukusu (both in Uganda and Kenya) together with the Bagisu in Uganda, originated from Egypt under the leadership of Masaba, the forefather of both the Bagisu and Babukusu. From Egypt they travelled through Ethiopia and briefly settled north of Lake Turkana in Kenya. From Lake Turkana, they continued south-west to Bukusu hill in present-day Manafwa district in eastern Uganda. It is said that while at Bukusu hill, between the 17th and 18th century, the Babukusu and Bagisu separated. Some of the Babukusu moved north to the South western slopes of Mountain Elgon and settled in present-day Bududa district in Uganda while others from Bukusu hill, moved east to the eastern slopes on Mount Elgon in present-day Bungoma in Kenya.
The Bagisu, on the other hand, stayed at Bukusu hill while some of them moved to other northern regions on the western slopes of Mountain Elgon in Uganda. It’s said that it is at Bukusu hill that the Babukusu got their name “Bukusu”. The name was coined from their trading enterprises with the other Luhya people on the north-eastern shores of Lake Victoria in both Uganda and Kenya. Another Bukusu legend says that from Lake Turkana, the Babukusu and Bagisu migrated south within Kenya and settled at Cherangani Hills in the western highlands of Kenya at a place called Sirikwa, which was formerly called Embayi. From Sirikwa, the Bagisu and present-day Ugandan Babukusu moved west to Uganda.
However, while one legend says that Masaba is the father of both the Bagisu and Babukusu, and that the he (Masaba) was the biological father of Mubukusu, the immediate father of the Babukusu, another legend says that Mubukusu was a brother to Masaba. The second legend continues that; both Masaba and Mubukusu were sons of Mwambu (their father) and Sera (their mother). Mwambu was a son of Mundu who is considered to be the original ancestor of the Bagisu and Babukusu. The Bagisu are also called “Bamasaba” – meaning “those of”/descendants of Masaba. In these legends, the Nilo-hamitic Babukusu and Bagisu got in contact with Bantu people who assimilated them into the Bantu ethnic group. The Babukusu of Uganda and Kenya were separated after the creation of the Uganda-Kenya border by the British colonialists in the early 20th century. Majority of the Babukusu are on the Kenya side where they make up the biggest percentage of the Luhya people in Kenya (Bantu people in Kenya).
The Ugandan Babukusu belong to Bukusuland, part of Bugisu region which is led by a Umukhukha (leader). The current Umukhukha is: Umukhukha Sir Bob Mushikori. The Babukusu are agricultural people but were previously pastoralists and forest gathers. They farm millet, sorghum, cassava, maize, sweet potatoes, and vegetables. Their staple food is Millet, Sorghum, Cassava and Maize. From maize, they make a local drink known as “Kwete/Busaa” and from millet or sorghum they make a drink called “Malwa”, for ceremonies. Before adopting agriculture, their staple food was meat, milk, other cow products, and wild fruits.
The Babukusu dress code is traditionally, animal skin. Animal skin called Biliko (plural) or Siliko (singular) was originally worn.
The Babukusu language is called “Lubukusu”.
The Babukusu, just like their brothers the Bagisu, circumcise their youthful boys aged 16 years and above, in a ceremony called “Embalu”. Embalu initiates boys into adulthood and it takes place every even year.
The Babukusu have a number dances among which include: Kamabeka dance, and Embalu/Imbalu dance. Kamabeka dance is a shoulder dance performed during celebrations like marriage, good harvest, family get-togethers and parties. It involves shaking the shoulders and chest on the tunes of Litungu or Siilili local xylophones, Luwengele/Luengele (wooden shakers), body percussion, harp, and drums. The Embalu/Imbalu dance, on the other hand, is performed during the circumcision period. It involves a number of dances performed by both the circumcision candidates and the crowds. Some of the Embalu/Imbalu dances happen before the circumcision, others during, and others after the circumcision. Embalu/Imbalu dance is a vigorous dance that involves candidates and crowds running through villages while drumming, whistling, singing, and playing the Chinyimba bells.
The Embalu/Imbalu dance, which the Babukusu in Uganda perform together with the Bagisu, is a very exciting and popular dance known for it’s signature drum called “Kadodi”, whose distinctive beats caused other tribes to refer to the Embalu/Imbalu dance as “Kadodi” dance.
The Babukusu, together with the Bagisu, are the guardians and custodians of Uganda’s first and only Bull fighting sport. This sport, which begun in 1956, takes place in Bududa (Bugisu/Bukusuland). It involves bulls aged 4-7 years fighting each other while the owners and fans cheer them. The bulls are brought from different villages and trained before fights which take place every last Saturday of every fort night. This Bull fighting experience is among Uganda’s unique tourism and entertainment experiences.
The Babukusu, together with the Bagisu are the guardians and custodians of the south-western slopes of Mount Elgon, also called Mount Masaba. The south-western slopes, just like all the other slopes of Mount Elgon are very fertile for cultivation and produce high quality Arabica coffee known for its aroma.
Mount Elgon for its part, is a massive extinct volcanic mountain that extends to Western Kenya. It was once Africa’s highest mountain before erosion reduced its height to become the 4th highest mountain in East Africa and the 8th highest in Africa. The mountain measures 4,321 m above sea level and it has the World’s largest intact caldera measuring 40km². Mount Elgon is home to Mount Elgon National Park, Uganda’s 4th largest national park measuring 1,279 km².
There are 37,117 Babukusu (2014 census) in Uganda. The Babukusu are mainly found in Bududa district.
The Bakenyi Tribe
The Bakenyi are a tribe in eastern Uganda, on shores of Lake Kyoga. The Bakenyi belong to the Bantu ethnic group. They originated from the Baganda who occupy central Uganda and Lake Victoria. In 1780, a Buganda king called Kabaka (King) Kyabaggu Kabinuli passed on and was succeeded by his son, Prince Jjunju Sendegeya who became the new Kabaka of the Baganda (Buganda Kingdom). After Kabaka Jjunju’s ascension to kingship, his brother, Prince Semakookiro Wasajja, rebelled against him causing a succession war between the two brothers. This war ended up with the death of Kabaka Jjunju, making Prince Semakookiro Wasajja, the Kabaka. It is said that after the death of Kabaka Jjunju, a group of Baganda, as a way of escaping what was to happen next, sought refuge in eastern Uganda, western Uganda, and others moved to Kenya, and Tanzania. Those that sought refuge in eastern Uganda became the Bakenyi; from the Luganda word “Bagenyi”, which means – visitors, while those that moved to western Uganda became the Batagwenda, and the Banyaruguru. At the time of their movement to eastern Uganda, the Bakenyi had been inhabitants of Buvuma Islands which are located north of Lake Victoria. From the Islands, they moved north to the northern shores of Lake Victoria where they settled among eastern Uganda tribes which include the Basamia, Basoga, and Iteso. The Bakenyi’s existence among eastern Uganda tribes caused them to adopt a slightly different dialect from Luganda, their former language, and also adopted those tribes’ languages. They continued further north settling on the shores of Lake Kyoga. They are governed in a clan system.
The Bakenyi are fishing people. They obtain agricultural food by trading it with fish. This food includes millet, sorghum, simsim, sweet potatoes, cassava, maize, and vegetables, farmed by the tribes where they live.
The Bakenyi language is called “Lukenyi”.
The Bakenyi, together with the Banyala, Basoga, Iteso, Langi, and Kumam, are the guardians and custodians of the shores of Lake Kyoga, a large fresh water lake in central Uganda whose lake, river and swamp systems are home to fish only found in Uganda. This fish is called Haplochromis latifasciatus.
Lake Kyoga’s shores, swamps and lake systems are also home to a number of birds including the Fox’s weaver which is only found in Uganda, the Shoebill stork, and other water loving birds, making these areas great spots for birding, fishing and canoeing.
There are 99,913 Bakenyi (2014 census) in Uganda. The Bakenyi are mainly found in Kayunga, Buyende, Pallisa, and Serere districts.