The pearl of Africa has a very strong cultural heritage well-endowed with different cultural and historical sites. With more than 50 different indigenous languages belonging to two distinct linguistic groups, and an equally diverse cultural mosaic of music, art and handicrafts, Uganda is a one stop center for a rich African cultural experience, ranging from Bantu in the Central, West, South-west, and East, to Nilotic groups of people in the North, North-East and North-West.
Ugandans are remarkably hospitable and hail from a diversity of rich cultures and lifestyles with each tribe having its own distinct cultural values that describe who they are. All these values are based on tribal traditional activities from all spheres of life; including, food and welfare, traditional dances, clothing and organization of societies. Many regions in Uganda have kingdoms, including Buganda, Busoga, Bunyoro and Toro. Other regions still value their heritage of chiefdoms which is traceable and equally treasured.
Nandujja and The Planets performing the Kiganda dance from Central Uganda at one occasion.
The central region is dominated by the Baganda, a tribe belonging to the Bantu group, forming the Buganda Kingdom with over 17% of the total population of the country.
The Buganda monarchy presents one of the best documentations of kingship in Uganda, with its highest leader locally known as the Kabaka.
The current King of Buganda, His Majesty Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II was crowned the 36th Kabaka of Buganda in July 1993 after his father Sir Edward Muteesa II.
Buganda is renowned for the distinct ceremonial occasions organized for observance, commemoration, inauguration, initiation, remembrance or fulfillment of cultural rituals and norms. Some of the common (highly recognized) ceremonies in Buganda include; the initiation of twins (okwalula abalongo), the introduction (okwanjula) and last funeral rite (okwabya olumbe).
The Kiganda dance is a unique dance of the Baganda, with many variations for different occasions. Most common are bakisimba, muwogola and amagunju, all perfomed on totally different drum beats to amuse and honour a particular occasion.
The video below shall give you a glimpse of what you’ll experience in the Kiganda dance.
Nearly every tribe or region has a distinguished food delicacy. The most popular local dish in the central is matooke (bananas of the plantain type) which is best served with peanut sauce, fresh fish, fresh meat and chicken. The best way Baganda cook it, is by piling peeled banana fingers into a bundle of banana leaves tied with banana fibers, which is then cooked and left to steam. When ready and tender, the matooke is squeezed into a soft and golden tasty yellow mash. Another delicacy in the sauce locally known as ‘Luwombo’, comes when cooked in a similar way; by tying up fresh pieces of beef, fish, chicken or even ground nuts in a fresh banana leaf. This style of cooking preserves all the flavor, that’s why in the central region, the food production process revolves around banana plants.
A sample of luwombo, a traditional delicacy in central Uganda.
From spiritual to cultural and historical sites, the central region presents a rich experience for visitors traversing the Pearl of Africa. The heritage of this region can be felt at the different cultural and historical sites, some of which were recognized as world heritage sites by UNESCO. Among these sites include; Kasubi Royal Tombs, Kabaka’s palace in Lubiri Mengo, Bulange Mengo (Buganda Parliament), Wamala Tombs, Naggalabi Coronation site, Kabaka’s Lake in Ndeeba, Katereke prison ditch, Walumbe Tanda Archeology center, Ndere Cultural Centre, the National Museum, the Uganda National Cultural Center (former National Theatre).
Cultural tours in Uganda can be done during any season of the year. There are quite a number of festivities that run throughout the year, and you find such a great time to catch up with the celebrations - to experience the epitome of African culture in the Pearl of Africa.
A list of potential tour operators is available for you to choose from. They'll take you to get the best experience ever in your adventurous life.
Check out cultural tours in Western, Northern and Eastern regions.