Uganda has 65 Indigenous Communities speaking over 41 listed languages. The official languages are English and Kiswahili (Swahili).
Religion is an important aspect of the people of Uganda, with almost 66% of the population being Christians and 12% Muslims.The Bahai Faith has been in Uganda since 1951. Its total membership is not certain, but the figure has been variously reported to range between 20,000 to 100,000. The numbers of atheists and those who belong to traditional African religions are not known. Anecdotal reports suggest that many Ugandans who identify themselves as Christians have a Plan B, using traditional seers and spirit mediums asback-up.
St. Paul’s Namirembe Cathedral, Namirembe Hill, Kampala. Anglican Church of Uganda
St. Mary’s Cathedral, Rubaga, Rubaga Hill, Kampala. Roman Catholic Church
Gadaffi National Mosque, Old Kampala Hill, Kampala. (Islam)
Bahai Temple, Kikaya Hill, Kampala. Bahai Faith
Ugandans are known to be very warm, friendly and peaceful people who use shaking of hands or hugging as a normal form of greeting. It is rude not to greet a person before engaging them in any form of conversation. The initiator of the greeting is culturally determined by their age though this varies across different nationalities.
Ugandans are reserved and conservative in nature. Public display of affection, such as kissing, is culturally despised. Use of marijuana, heroin, cocaine and other so-called “recreational drugs” is illegal. Homosexuality is both illegal and a taboo that can lead to physical violence against homosexual individuals. Holding hands by people of the same sex is a common practice, with no sexual connotations. However, it is best avoided as it may raise eyebrows in certain quarters.
Photography is acceptable, except in areas with military installations and other government facilities. However, it is always advisable to inquire first from the local authorities or the people around you before you take pictures. Commercial photographers require a permit from the Ministry of Information prior to taking photographs.
Music & Drama
Ugandans are well known for their vibrant cultures. Dancing is an in integral part of any important ceremony or special occasion. Each nationality has its own unique dance.
For example, in the eastern region, the Basoga dance known as Tamenhaibunga expresses the importance of love and friendship. Its name literally means ‘good friends drink together and don’t fight in case they break the gourd’.
The Bakiga of southwestern Uganda have an energetic dance called Okusooma or Ekizino with lots of jumping up and down, accompanied by Okuteera engaro (rhythmic clapping), Engoma (drums) and Okweshongora (singing).
Various instruments, including enanga (harp), Omukuri (flute) and Endingiri (Violin) may also be played as accompaniment to Ekizino. Rwakarungu is a dance that involves stomping with one foot, with the other leg firmly planted on the floor. It is usually danced by men who have had the fill of an alcoholic beverage, the agility required in the normal ekizino having ben severely compromised by the effects of alcohol.
The Banyankore have Ekitaaguriro, a dance that shares a lot with the dance of the Bakiga, but with less energetic jumping.
The Kizino and Kitaguriro are often preceded by a poetic, rapid-fire recitation called Okwevuga. The Omwevugi (poet) recites his genealogy, his exploits in battle, his wealth of cattle and other things that entitle him to greatness. American rap music had great precedents in Africa.
Please see Kigezi Culture for details and video examples at http://mulerasfireplace.com/kigezi/culture/
The dances of the Baganda of the central region, such as Nankasa and Bakisimba, involve gyrating movements of the lower body and feet to the rhythm of a drumbeat, accompanied by singing and intermittent clapping. The dancers accent their lower body shapes with colourful string short skirts on top of their clothes.
The Acholi of northern Uganda have multiple dances for different occasions. Examples:
The Bwola Dance dance is a celebratory royal dance to rhythmic drumming that is performed during auspicious occasions such as the election of a new chief or receiving an honoured guest. It is a peacetime dance, full of happiness, with the dancers thrusting their bodies up and down with majestic and gentle power. The feathered head gear adds great beauty and gentle power to the proceedings. (The first performance in the video below gives a snippet of Bwola, followed by a dances from elsewhere.)
The Otole dance is a war dance where the warriors, armed with shields and spears, dance in a menacing manner, showing valour and psyching themselves for the battle ahead.
The Dingi Dingi dance is performed by young, usually unmarried women. Accompanied by flutes and drums, the young show of their beauty and the agility of their fluid body movements.
Larakaraka is a youth dance that is accompanied by drums and the Awal (calabashes) that are hit hard with unbreakable sticks or bicycle spokes. Teams of male and female youth from different villages gather in a musical conference of varied rhythms. This is what Okot p’Bitek calls “the get stuck-dance” in Song of Ocol. Girls and boys get stuck, figuratively speaking, with many marital prospects thus initiated.
The Batoro and Banyoro of western Uganda dance Orunyege, a courtship dance where the males attempt to impress the females. Once the girl is impressed by the young man’s prowess on the floor, she joins him in a dance that heralds the beginning of a relationship.
These and many other examples of Uganda’s music and dance are on display at the Ndere Cultural Centre in Kisasi, Kampala. An evening spent at the Ndere Cultural Centre is easily one of the best experiences visitors and residents of Kampala can enjoy. They do not only entertain, but they also educate you.
For more information about the Ndere Troupe, visit the www.ndere.com
Many Ugandans enjoy alcoholic beverages with lager beer as the most common type among the urban residents. Traditional alcoholic beverages like Tonto among the Baganda, Omuramba and Rwarwa among the Bakiga, and Ajono among the Ateso are still enjoyed, especially in the rural areas and the economically low-end areas of towns and cities.
Whereas Uganda is a major coffee grower and exporter, chai (tea) the most favored hot drink.