People & Culture


People

Abafumbira, Abahororo, Abakiga, Abanyarwanda, Abatwa
Many Bahororo and Bahima of Kigyezi share clans and patriclans (lineages, emiryango) with their Banyankore cousins.
Whereas Banyakigyezi and Banyankore communities are no longer organized according to clan, knowledge of one’s clan, totem and taboos is important for (a) one’s identity and (b) avoidance of consanguineous marriage. The taboo against intra-clan marriage is informed by a need to prevent negative genetic consequences for your offspring. Consanguinity (where a couple are biologically related) increases the risk of offspring inheriting bad and sometimes disorder-inducing genes.  When in doubt, ask before falling in love or engaging in sexual relations with someone from ethnic community.

Languages

Ruhororo,
Rukiga,
Runyarwanda or Kinyarwanda

Religion

Christianity 97%
Islam 0.5%
indigenous beliefs 0.5%,
none 2%

Music & Dancing

The most well known dance from Gisoro (Kisoro, Bufumbira) is the Kinyarwanda dance of Intore (the chosen ones), who were the king’s military dancers. Over the last few decades, the word has evolved to refer to the dance itself. The Intoore dancers would perform at the court of Umwami (King), telling the story of their exploits in battle with gracefully choreographed dances accompanied by songs and drums. The male dancers are trained to jump as high as 2.4 meters off the ground.

Intoore

The Kikiga dance (of the Bakiga) is called ekizino or ekisoomo (okusooma). Accompanied by okutongyerera/okweshongora (rhythmic call-and-response singing,) okuteera omu ngaro (hand clapping,) and okuteera engoma (drumming) and/or enanga (zither or harp music,) the dancers jump up and down energetically with arms stretched in front, and mesmerizing footwork that reveal practiced agility. Other instruments, such as Omukuri (flute) and Endingiri (Violin) may also be played as accompaniment to Ekizino.

Rwakarungu is a special version of ekizino, which features side-to-side gyration while lifting and dropping one foot to the rhythm of the accompanist.  It involves stomping with one foot, with the other leg firmly planted on the floor. It is usually danced by men who have had their fill of an alcoholic beverage, the agility required in the normal ekizino having been severely compromised by the effects of alcohol.

The Bahororo 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 or followed by a poetic, rapid-fire recitation called Okwevuga (as Bakesigaki does in the video.) 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.

Ekitaaguriro is the dance of the Bahororo, which they share with their Banyankore cousins. It is a hybrid dance, with a beat and choreography that echo Kikiga and Kinyarwanda (intoore) dances

The Batwa of Kigezi

The Batwa (singular Mutwa) Pygmies are the most ancient inhabitants of interlacustrine Africa, and easily distinguished from other Ugandans by their unusually short stature – an adult male seldom exceeds 1.5m in height – and paler, more bronzed complexion. Semi-nomadic by inclination, small egalitarian communities of Batwa kin traditionally live in impermanent encampments of flimsy leaf huts, set in a forest clearing, which they will up and leave when food becomes scarce locally, upon the death of a community member, or when the whim takes them.

In times past, the Batwa wore only a drape of animal hide or barkcloth and had little desire to accumulate possessions – a few cooking pots, some hunting gear, and that’s about it. The Batwa lifestyle is based around hunting, undertaken as a team effort by the male members of a community. In some areas, the favored modus operandi involves part of the hunting party stringing a long net between a few trees, while the remainder advances noisily to herd small game into the net to be speared. In other areas, poisoned arrows are favored: the hunting party will move silently along the forest floor looking for prey, which is shot from a distance; then they wait until it drops and if necessary deliver the final blow with a spear. Batwa men also gather wild honey, while the women gather edible plants to supplement the meat.

According to a survey undertaken in 1996, fewer than 2000 Batwa reside permanently in Uganda, mostly concentrated in Kigezi. Only 2,000 years ago, however, East and southern Africa were populated almost solely by Batwa and related hunter-gatherers, whose lifestyle differed little from that of our earliest common human ancestors. Since then, agriculturist and pastoralist settlers, through persecution or assimilation, have marginalized the hunter-gatherers of the region to a few small, and today mostly degraded, communities living in habitats unsuitable to agriculture or pasture, such as rainforest interiors and deserts.

The initial incursions into Batwa territory were made when the Bantu-speaking farmers settled in Kigezi, sometime before the 16th century, and set about clearing small tracts of forest for subsistence agriculture and pasture. This process of deforestation was greatly accelerated in the early 20th century: by 1930 the last three substantial tracts of forest remaining in Kigezi were gazetted as the Impenetrable and Echuya forest reserves and Gorilla Game Sanctuary by the colonial authorities.

In one sense, this move to protect the forests was of direct benefit to the Batwa, since it ensured that what little remained of them would not be lost to agriculture. But the legal status of the Batwa was altered to their detriment – true, they were still permitted to hunt and forage within the reserves, but where formerly these forests had been recognized as Batwa communal land, they were now government property.

Only some three generations later would the Batwa be faced with the full ramifications of having lost all legal entitlement to their ancestral lands. In 1991, the Gorilla Game Sanctuary and Impenetrable Forest Reserve were re-gazetted to become Mgahinga and Bwindi national parks, a move backed by international donors who stipulated that all personal residents within the national parks were to be evicted and that hunting and other forms of forest harvesting should cease. Good news for gorillas, perhaps, but what about those Batwa communities that had dwell within the forest reserves for centuries? Overnight, they were reduced in status to illegal squatters whose traditional subsistence lifestyle had been criminalized.

The 1997 edition of Richard Nzita’s otherwise commendable Peoples and Cultures of Uganda contrives. in the space of two pages, to characterize the pygmoid peoples of Uganda as beggars. crop raiders and pottery thieves – even cannibals! Conservationists and the Western media, meanwhile, persistently stigmatize the Batwa as gorilla hunters and poachers – this despite the strong taboo against killing or eating gorillas that inform every known Batwa community. Almost certainly, any gorilla hunting that might be undertaken by the Balm today will have been Instigated by outsiders. This much Is Incontestable.

The Batwa and their hunter-gatherer ancestors have in all probability inhabited the forests of Kigezi for some half-a-million years. Their traditional lifestyle. which places no rigorous demands on the forest, could be cited as a model of that professed holy grail of modern conservationists: the sustainable use of natural resources. The Batwa were not major participants In the deforestation of Kern. but they have certainly been the main human victims of this loss. And Batwa and gorillas cohabited in the same forests for many millennia prior to their futures both being Imperilled by identical external causes in the 20th century.

As Jerome Lewis writes: They and their way of life are entitled to as much consideration and respect as other ways of life. There was and is nothing to be condemned in forest nomadism … The Batwa … used the environment without destroying or seriously damaging it. it is only through their long term custody of the areas that the later comers have good land to use.

1win Uganda