Baganda Culture

Buganda is a Bantu kingdom, with the largest of the traditional kingdoms in present-day Uganda, comprising all of Uganda’s central region. It is located along the northern and western shores of Lake Victoria with a population of about 14 million people in the kingdom of Buganda. The kingdom is bounded by the kingdom of Bunyoro and the Nile River. The kingdom is led by the kabaka(king) with the largest tribe in Uganda, especially Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, is occupied by the Baganda people.

The Baganda speak a Bantu language called Luganda, which belongs to the Niger-Congo family of languages. The Luganda language is rich in metaphors, folktales, and proverbs. Some of the common proverbs include: to kill an animal, you don’t need to wait to see its tail before you strike; my man is always surrounded by spears (the tongue, surrounded by teeth).

The Buganda culture consists mainly of Catholics and Protestants, whereby about 15% are Muslims, but in the 19th century, the Baganda people mostly practiced indigenous religion known as the Balubaale cult, which consisted of gods who solved different problems, like the god of fertility, the god of rain, the god of warfare, and the god of the lake.

Buganda also believed in spiritual forces which they thought caused illness and different misfortunes to those who wore amulets to chase the evil powers. The most important spirits were the ancestors (Muzimu), who visited the living in dreams and visions to warn them of any danger that was about to occur or any good things that were about to happen in their lives.

In the Buganda culture, the husband and father were considered to be supreme, whereby the children and women knelt to the husband as a sign of respect for his authority as the head of the home, and he was served food first.

The Muganda women wear a Gomesi/abusuuti, which is very long, brightly colored, with a square neck and a large mass of clothing falling on one side around the waist to hold the dress. Traditionally, the busuuti was strapless and made from bark cloth, and these are worn mostly during festivals and ceremonial occasions. The Buganda man wears a kanzu (long white cotton robe), which is accompanied by trousers with a suit jacket.

In the 19th century, Buganda education was a community business whereby members of the family would combine resources to send a promising child to school, who would in turn help the relatives after school.

The Buganda people were known for their wrestling, which was participated in by the males, and events were accompanied by singing, drinking, and drumming. Other outdoor games that boys participate in include floor and finger pool(duulu), dodgeball(kwepena), and a kicking game where boys stand aside and attempt to knock over the other boys.

The people are known for the crafts that were made from bark materials, mostly baskets and musical instruments, whereby the materials were soaked in water and later beaten with a wooden mallet, which makes the yields soft to start decorating with paint. The big pieces were used to partition houses, and the remaining smaller pieces were decorated with black dye and worn by women as royalty cloth and bark-cloth dress became the national dress. Today, these are replaced by the cotton cloth Busuuti.

Attractions in the Buganda region include Kabaka’s Lake, the largest man-made lake dug during Kabaka Mwanga’s regime in 1885 and attracting tourists with beautiful birds on its shores.

Bulange building (the parliament), where the issues concerning the Buganda kingdom are discussed and where the ministers of the kingdom sit.

Kabaka’s palace and Kasubi tombs, which are the burial site of the royal family and the most valued place because they have all the traditions and heritage of the Buganda kingdom.