Differences that make up our cultures.


I hear a lot of talk about putting differences aside when it comes to Pan Africanism. Yet, when it comes to bridging the gap of humanity outside of the African identity, oftentimes we run back to the old knowledge of what makes us different from "others". Rather than being schizophrenic about this inconsistency, I've decided that I'm okay with it. It's wonderful to learn about what makes you similar with those you want to be similar with, but it's just as dope and important to recognize our differences. My point is that, if we are secure in our similarities, than we need not fear that discussing and recognizing (even honoring) our differences will break down solidarity. We only gain opposition when we are not secure in our similarities with an "other", and our differences are too urgent, or dangerous, to accept.

I recognize that my being able to identify directly with a specific cultural tribe in Africa in part enables me to see things this way much easier. But nevertheless, I think it is an important lessons even for those of us more detached from direct knowledge of our ancestry. So when I came across this piece on the net while doing some surface research on my maternal tribe from Uganda (The Batoro), I had to share. It's lesson that I think we cannot afford to overlook when envisioning realistic unity. I'm an advocate for diplomatic unity that preserves the sovereignty of our local cultures in the diaspora and on the continent. More and more, I'm against a vision of Pan Africanism built on singular unity because I see it as unrealistic and unsustainable.

(Nomad Africa) Uganda, Differences That Make Up Our Cultures In the second and last part of this article, Agnes Asiimwe writes that though the 24 million Ugandans live in communities having striking similarities, they also have unique lifestyles

The Bakonjo
They have lived in the mountains for generations and their culture is adapted to the steep slopes of the mountain. The Bakonjo, estimated at 300,000 cultivate, keep goats and sheep and more recently, cows.

Cassava constitutes a big part of their meal. They eat cassava bread, obundu, and fish; they use cassava stems for firewood, and crash and boil cassava leaves for sauce or soup. They also eat bananas.

Traditionally, boys have to be circumcised before society accepts them as men.

Today, there are murram roads going up the mountains and vehicles can go up to some point. While some of the Bakonjo, mainly because of wars, have come down to the lower lands where they have farms, others are businessmen in Kasese town.

The Batwa
They are ancient forest dwellers. They are short-the taller among them are no more than five feet. Until recently, they survived by hunting small game and gathering various plants and fruits that the forest naturally supplies.

They live in small temporary huts constructed with leaves and branches, which would be abandoned after a few months when they relocated to another part of the forest in search of food.

They have an incomparable knowledge of plants and animals, medicinal herbs and crafts. Until recently most of them only placed pieces of clothes or animal skin around their groin area.

With the gazetting of forests like Bwindi, Mgahinga and Echuya, the Batwa got displaced and are idling in the towns of Kisoro and Bundibugyo. The forests were converted into animal sanctuaries, especially for gorilla preservation.

"They are wondering on the streets of Kisoro with nowhere to stay or cultivate crops and with no food to eat. Some of them are eating from garbage bins," the secretary for production and natural resources in Kisoro district, Mr Expedito Byensi, said in June.

Today, they make crafts and arrows, and pottery which they sell to tourists. They survive on doing odd jobs. The Batwa population is rapidly decreasing and according to Minority Rights Group International, they are seriously facing extinction.

The Banyankole
They are well known for their love for long-horned cows, which was a sign of significance and prestige. However, besides cows, there were carpenters who fashioned stools, walking sticks,and troughs for fermenting beer and walking sticks. Ironsmiths manufactured spears, knives, and hammers. Almost everyone specialised in pottery and could make smoking pipes, milk and water pots, and sandals. The women weaved baskets and mats.

Legends and tales teach proper moral behaviour to the young among this group. Storytelling as well as poetry reciting are common means of entertainment and many are excellent in this verbal art form. Riddles and proverbs are part of their conversion.

On dressing, originally, they wore animal skins, which the men tied on their shoulders and the women wrapped around their bodies.

Today the women wear busuuti and ekitambi, and the men, a white tunic and a coat on special occasions.

For food, they love millet, eshabwe (butter sauce), milk, and matooke.

For recreation, they love communal alcohol drinking, which, these days can be at any nightspot including in town. In the past, beer brewing was done in many homes. They have two main dances, ekitaguriro and enjogyera. Ekitaguriro, the most popular, imitates the movement of the long horned cattle.

The Bakiga
"They are very hardworking people who were hunters, cultivators and blacksmiths," said Mr Rubaramira Ruranga. He added, "they are honest and it was unthinkable for a Mukiga to waylay anyone." They would face their foe and fight, or settle the dispute. They never harboured hatred.

Sorghum is a staple food- they drink its porridge and use it to make alcohol.

Irish potatoes, peas, pumpkins and millet are all part of Kiga foods. They really love drinking obushera (porridge) and omuramba (alcohol).

"They have always been polygamists," said Rubaramira, "although before, men worked hard to sustain their four wives or so, as it was prestigious to have many women. Today they have become drunkards and are less hardworking."

For entertainment, the Bakiga still love their captivating ekizino, the traditional dance. The energetic dance calls for stamina. It involves jumping and stamping the ground with force, to the beat of drums, while swaying the arms.

The Banyoro/Batoro
Every Mutooro and Munyoro has a pet name, known as the empaako.

There are 11 empaako names. They are: Abwooli, Adyeeri, Araali, Akiiki, Atwooki, Abbooki, Apuuli, Abbala, Acaali, Ateenyi and Amooti and the one reserved for the king, Okali.

Visit a Mutoro and James Birungi, a minister in the Toro kingdom said you will be served a special dish of kalo with obutuzi, omukalo and amagita (butter-sauce mixed with mushroom and smoked beef). Tonto, (the banana beer) is the special drink for the alcohol takers, and is exchanged in a number of marriage rituals.

In a Toro home you will find a spear, a drum, animals skins and a enkeeto (stool) for the head of the family. They have a variety of dances including amakondere, enseegu, entiimbo, engaija, amahuurru, engwaara, orunyenge and amakondere. On special occasions, the women wear esuuka, and the men, ekaanju (tunic) with a coat. (source)