Cultural experience en route your gorilla tracking safari
Uganda boosts of over 500 mountain gorillas that stay in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park as their home. When one comes to Uganda, its not about gorillas but also people. If it not people, then gorillas and other animals would not exist in the actual sense. Uganda a country small as Great Britain has a population of thirty million and above and are divided into over 55 ethnic groups. When you visit this great country Uganda, you may not truly appreciate how all these 55 ethnic groups behave but in this article we will take you through the different ethnic groups that you are likely to meet of you drive from Kampala to Bwindi Impenetrable national Park or Mgahinga National Park for your gorilla tracking safari.
In the central, you will find the Baganda who strongly believe in their Kabaka (King), the Banyankole and the Hima who love their Cows, the Bakiga who are in love with sorghurm and irish potatoes and ofcourse the Batwa and Bafumbira.
The Baganda in Central Uganda.
The baganda are said to be at the centre of Uganda’s civilization and they are popularly known for their respect and royalty extended to their king culturally known as Kabaka of Buganda. One person said that you can never rule the Baganda without their Kabaka and indeed when Obote abolished al kingdoms in 1966, the current President reinstated them in order to have harmony with the Baganda. Baganda are very friendly people, they like eating Matooke and ground nuts and Oluwombo (chicken cooked in banana leaves is popular). They like dancing Bakisiba and Maganda where ladies shake their waist as if it has no bones and if you are interested in seeing this, make sure you visit Uganda at any given weekend to attend one of their introduction ceremonies. They are originally cultivators with their staple food being matooke. Due to urbanisation, the Baganda do lack enough land for Banana plantations and have resorted to trading in order to earn a living. The Baganda have maintained a cultural trail in Buganda where you can visit several sites to learn about their culture as well as history and their kings. You may visit Kasubi tombs, Lubiri, Mengo and their coronation site in Buddo.
The Banyankole of Mbarara, Kiruhura and nearby districts
Once you have crossed the Equator and passed Lyantonde, you will start encountering a difference in the way people behave. You will start to see more animals than plantations. This is an indication that you have entered the land of honey and milk as it is popularly referred to. Ankole has a mixture of cattle keepers and cultivators. The bahima who used to move from one place to another are now living a more settled kind of life and grazing both Friesian and the famous Ankole Long horned cattle. They like milk products and concentrate on making cow gee and other milk products. To them, the cow means everything and they honour it more that people. If you need more information about their culture, you can make a date to stop over at Igongo Cultural center where their history is wholly documented. There is another section of the Bairu who are typical cultivators, they survive on tilling the land and their staple food is millet but they have now started growing other foods such as bananas, cassava and so much more. When kingdoms were reign stated by the current government, the Ankole kingdom was resisted since it was believed to have caused more problems in the past than creating harmony. Because of this, many cultural sites in Ankole are dilapidated and there is nothing to see. While the Baganda look the same, there is a clear distinction between the Bahima and the Bairu of Ankole. The Bahima are characterised by long faces and nose compared to the bairu who have flat noses and short faces.
The Bakiga, bafumbira and Batwa of Kigezi and Kisoro
These occupies most parts of southwested Uganda in districts of Kabala, Kisoro and Kanungu. The Bakiga are tough and strong people because of the conditions they live in. Unlike the Baganda, the Bakiga had a decentralised system of governance and they did not have one strong king but chiefs. They are known for their strong cultural dances and most of their culture can be explained if one visits the House of Edirisa located in Kabale towm. They like growing sorghum and irish potatoes and of recent, they have also started growing apples. The bafumbira of Kisoro on the other hand are more like the Banyarwanda than Ugandan’s because the rufumbira language is more Rwandan that Uganda. They live at the Boarder of Rwanda, Congo and are mainly cultivators. The Batwa are a minority group that used to occupy forested areas in south western Uganda and while the Batwa were left homeless after gazzatting most forests as national parks and forest reserves, their culture is now alive and can be enjoyed if you take on the Batwa experience in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or the Garama Cave trail in Mgahinga National Park.
Your Journey to the gorillas can be much rewarding if combined with cultural experiences. There is more to see than the gorillas.