"the pearl of Africa"
On today's edition of #56DaysofAfrica, we will be highlighting Uganda.
Uganda takes its name from the Buganda kingdom, in the early centuries the "pearl of Africa" was divided amongst the Bunyoro, Buganda, Busoga, Ankole and Toro kingdoms. By the 19th century, Buganda had become the largest and most powerful kingdom in the region. The local chiefs of conquered areas ruled as personal appointees of the kabaka, who had a sizable army at his disposal.
Foreign influences, including the Islamic and Christian religions, began to reach Buganda in the 19th century. In the 1860s British explorers came to Uganda in search of the source of the Nile. The United Kingdom placed Uganda under the charter of the British East Africa Company in 1888 and ruled as a protectorate from 1894. Uganda was never fully colonised, as non-Africans were not allowed to acquire freeholds.
In the 1960s, the kingdom of Buganda intermittently pressed for independence from Uganda, which raised the question of the protectorate’s future status. Uganda gained independence from the United Kingdom on 9 October 1962 as a parliamentary democratic monarchy with traditional kingdoms Ankole, Buganda, Bunyoro and Toro receiving federal status and a degree of autonomy. The first post-independence government was formed with Dr Milton Obote as Executive Prime Minster and the Buganda Kabaka (King) Edward Mutesa II as President.
In 1966, following a power struggle between the Obote-lead government and King Mutessa, the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) dominated Parliament changed the constitution and removed the ceremonial president and vice president. In 1967, a new constitution proclaimed Uganda a republic and abolished the traditional kingdoms, Obote was then declared Executive President, without any elections.
For the Culture
Uganda's capital city is Kampala, it was where the Buganda Kingdom was seated. It was returned as the capital of Uganda from Entebbe after independence. The name Kampala was derived from the phrase kasozi k’ mpala, which translates to “hill of impala” since the area once had a large impala population.
Ugandans have various ethnic groups namely Baganda, Banyakole, Basoga, Bakiga, Iteso, Langi, Acholi, Bagisu, Lugbara, Bunyoro. Out of the various ethnic groups exists many different languages spoken, namely Luganda (most common), English, Bantu, Swahili, Nilotic and Lumasaba.
Most of Ugandan meals has starch as a base, with sauces of beans or meat to add flavour to it. The staple diet is a banana variety that is indigenous called matoke. It is typically mashed and paired with vegetable sauces, ground peanuts, or meat such as beef and goat.
A Ugandan classic Luwombo, combines meat, typically beef, chicken, or goat, with a rich peanut-based sauce that is occasionally enriched with mushrooms, dry fish, or smoked meat. The elements are wrapped in banana leaves, and the parcels are then steamed for hours.
Common side dishes include Chapati, Malewa, Binyebwa, Sim Sim stew and many others. Malewa is made from boiled bamboo shoots. The joints of the bamboo shoots are cut off, leaving the middle part. This part is cut into smaller pieces and seasoned with salt and groundnut sauce to make it tasty. Malewa is eaten with most starchy staples like matooke, cassava, potatoes, or posho.
Posho is one of Uganda’s most popular foods. Posho is made from cornmeal and grits. Another variant, ‘kwon’, is made from millet. Posho is eaten as a thick porridge for breakfast. On other occasions, it is used as a main dish for sauces and soups. In Eastern Uganda, cassava flour is added to make the meal softer and tastier. Posho is called ‘ugali’ in Kenya.
With a tapestry of landscapes, excellent wildlife watching and welcoming locals, Uganda packs a lot into one small country. It's home to Africa's tallest mountain range (the Rwenzoris), the source of the Nile, the world's longest river and the continent's largest lake. Rafting the Nile offers a world-class adrenaline adventure, but the country's most iconic experience is tracking mountain gorillas in their misty habitat. And if you view the Big Five, you'll see that nature – diverse and resplendent – looms large here.
Jinja, a town at Lake Victoria about 50 miles from Kampala, is the fabled source of the Nile, which flows all the way to Egypt, Sudan and the Mediterranean. The vicinity of Jinja, a scenic place of forested islands, waterfalls and abundant birdlife, is renowned for white-water rafting and kayaking. Also on Lake Victoria is the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust. The island is a sanctuary dedicated to the care of orphaned chimpanzees, that have been rescued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. The island is also a habitat for more than 120 bird species, otters, monitor lizards and thousands of fruit bats, which you can see as they leave their roosts en masse every evening. Uganda’s national parks protect its greatest natural treasures, most notably the endangered mountain gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Mountains of the Moon in Rwenzori National Park, the highest mountain range in Africa. Both of these national parks are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Uganda is also the home of the Kasubi Tombs which was built as sacred burial grounds on a hilltop outside Kampala in the 1880s by the kabakas (royal family) of the Buganda tribe. They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an important cultural and religious landmark for the Buganda people. The site comprises royal tombs, an agricultural area and gravesites, as well as some other buildings, all constructed from natural materials including grasses, barkcloth, reeds and wood. The Muzibu-Azaala-Mpanga, the main tomb building and centerpiece of the site, resembles an overturned woven basket, with an interior divided into four royal graves by bark cloth partitions.
With its tapestry of landscapes and historical richness, the pearl of Africa is indeed a sight to see and to learn from. We cannot wait to continue to share more information about Uganda with you all.
"We Are The Ones We've Been Waiting For"