Buganda: Wikis


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Buganda is shaded red on this map, Kayunga hatched
Capital Kampala
Official language(s) English, Luganda
Currency Ugandan shilling (UGX)
Internet TLD .ug
 person  Muganda
 people  Baganda
 language  Luganda
 country  Buganda

Buganda is the kingdom of the Baganda people, the largest of the traditional kingdoms in present-day Uganda. The 5.5 million Baganda (singular Muganda; often referred to simply by the root word and adjective, Ganda) make up the largest Ugandan ethnic group, representing approximately 16.9% of Uganda's population.[1] The name Uganda, the Swahili term for Buganda, was adopted by British officials in 1894 when they established the Uganda Protectorate, centered in Buganda.



Buganda's boundaries are marked by Lake Victoria to the south, the River Nile to the east, Lake Kyoga to the north and River Kafu to the northwest.[2] To the west, Buganda is bordered by the districts of Isingiro, Kiruhura, Kyenjojo, Kibale, Hoima and Masindi.

The following are the officially recognized counties (amassaza) of Buganda:

  1. Ggomba
  2. Butambala
  3. Kyaddondo
  4. Busiro
  5. Buddu
  6. Bulemeezi
  7. Ssingo
  8. Kyaggwe
  9. Bugerere
  10. Buweekula
  11. Mawogola
  12. Kabula
  13. Mawokota
  14. Kooki
  15. Ssese
  16. Buvuma
  17. Busujju
  18. Buluuli

Secession of Kayunga

In September 2009, some elements alleging to be spokespeople for the Baanyala tribe, declared that Bugerere had seceded from the Kingdom of Buganda. His Majesty, the Kabaka of Buganda, was illegally prohibited by the Yoweri Museveni administration to travel to Bugerere, a decision which unfortunately led to riots and the killing of 30 innocent people – most of whom were Baganda.[3]


The Ganda language (Luganda) is widely spoken in Uganda, and is the most popular second language in Uganda along with English.[4] It is also taught in some primary and secondary schools in Uganda and at Makerere University, Uganda's oldest university and it has an exhaustive dictionary. The Luganda language was also used as a means of instruction in schools outside the region of Buganda prior to Uganda's Independence in 1962.

In literature and common discourse, Buganda is often referred to as Central Uganda. [5] It may be argued that this nomenclature does not refer to Buganda's geographical location, but to its political prominence, and to the fact that Kampala, the nation's capital, is located in Buganda

Geography and environment

Ganda villages, sometimes as large as forty to fifty homes, were generally located on hillsides, leaving hilltops and swampy lowlands uninhabited, to be used for crops or pastures. Early Ganda villages surrounded the home of a chief or headman, which provided a common meeting ground for members of the village. The chief collected tribute from his subjects, provided tribute to the Kabaka, who was the ruler of the kingdom, distributed resources among his subjects, maintained order, and reinforced social solidarity through his decision-making skills. During the late 19th century, Ganda villages became more dispersed as the role of the chiefs diminished in response to political turmoil, population migration, and occasional popular revolts.

History of modern Buganda


Social structure

Ganda social organization emphasized descent through males. Four or five generations of descendants of one man, related through male forebears, constituted a patrilineage. A group of related lineages constituted a clan. Clan leaders could summon a council of lineage heads, and council decisions affected all lineages within the clan. Many of these decisions regulated marriage, which had always been between two different lineages, forming important social and political alliances for the men of both lineages. Lineage and clan leaders also helped maintain efficient land use practices, and they inspired pride in the group through ceremonies and remembrances of ancestors.

Most lineages maintained links to a home territory (butaka) within a larger clan territory, but lineage members did not necessarily live on butaka land. Men from one lineage often formed the core of a village; their wives, children, and in-laws joined the village. People were free to leave if they became disillusioned with the local leader to take up residence with other relatives or in-laws, and they often did so.


A blind Buganda harpist c. 1911

The family in Buganda is often described as a microcosm of the kingdom. The father is revered and obeyed as head of the family. His decisions are generally unquestioned. A man's social status is determined by those with whom he establishes patron/client relationships, and one of the best means of securing this relationship is through one's children. Baganda children, some as young as three years old, are sent to live in the homes of their social superiors, both to cement ties of loyalty among parents and to provide avenues for social mobility for their children. Even in the 1980s, Baganda children were considered psychologically better prepared for adulthood if they had spent several years living away from their parents at a young age.

Baganda recognize at a very young age that their superiors, too, live in a world of rules. Social rules require a man to share his wealth by offering hospitality, and this rule applies more stringently to those of higher status. Superiors are also expected to behave with impassivity, dignity, self-discipline, and self-confidence, and adopting these mannerisms sometimes enhances a man's opportunities for success.

Authoritarian control is an important theme of Ganda culture. In precolonial times, obedience to the king was a matter of life and death. However, a second major theme of Ganda culture is the emphasis on individual achievement. An individual's future is not entirely determined by status at birth. Instead, individuals carve out their fortunes by hard work as well as by choosing friends, allies, and patrons carefully.

Ganda culture tolerates social diversity more easily than many other African societies. Even before the arrival of Europeans, many Ganda villages included residents from outside Buganda. Some had arrived in the region as slaves, but by the early 20th century, many non-Baganda migrant workers stayed in Buganda to farm. Marriage with non-Baganda was fairly common, and many Baganda marriages ended in divorce. After independence, Ugandan officials estimated that one-third to one-half of all adults marry more than once during their lives.

Clans of Buganda

As of 2009, there are at least fifty two (52) recognised clans within the Kingdom of Buganda, with at least another four making a claim to clan status. Within this group of clans are four distinct sub-groups which reflect historical waves of immigration to Buganda.[6]


The oldest clans trace their lineage to the Tonda Kings, who are supposed to have ruled in the region from about 400 AD until about 1300 AD. These six clans are referred to as the Nansangwa, or the indigenous:[7]

  1. Lugave (Pangolin)
  2. Mamba (Lungfish)
  3. Ngeye (Black and white furred monkey)
  4. Njaza (Reedbuck)
  5. Ennyange (White Egret)
  6. Fumbe (Civet cat)

Kintu migration

The Abalasangeye dynasty came to power through the conquests of Kabaka Kintu Kato, which are estimated to have occurred sometime between 1200 and 1400 AD. Kintu is said to have come from the north, from among the Banyoro in the Empire of Kitara.

Thirteen clans are purported to have come with Kintu:

  1. Ekkobe (Liana fruit)
  2. Mbwa (Dog)
  3. Mpeewo (Oribi antelope)
  4. Mpologoma (Lion)
  5. Namuŋoona (Black crow)
  6. Ngo (Leopard)
  7. Ŋonge (Otter)
  8. Njovu (Elephant)
  9. Nkejje (Sprat)
  10. Nkima (Brown black Colobus monkey)
  11. Ntalaganya (Blue duiker)
  12. Nvubu (Hippopotamus)
  13. Nvuma (Pearl)

Kimera migration

Around 1370 AD another wave of immigration assisted by Kabaka Kimera, also from the Empire of Kitara. With him came another eleven clans, some of whom are said to have been clans that had been exiled under the last king of the Tonda dynasty, Bemba Musota.

These eleven clans are:

  1. Bugeme
  2. Butiko (Mushrooms)
  3. Kasimba (Genet)
  4. Kayozi (Jerboa)
  5. Kibe (Fox)
  6. Mbogo (Buffalo)
  7. Musu/Omusu (Edible rat)
  8. Ngabi (Bushbuck)
  9. Nkerebwe (Jungle Shrew)
  10. Nsuma ([[Peters' elephantnose fish|Elephant-snout fish)
  11. Nseenene (Edible grasshopper)

Other clans

Since Kabaka Kimera twenty further clans have either immigrated to Buganda, or been created internally (largely by kings). These clans are:

  1. Abalangira (Descendants of male Royalty from Buganda)
  2. Babiito (Descendants of male Royalty from Bunyoro/Toro/Ankole)
  3. Basambo
  4. Baboobi (Millipede)
  5. Kasanke (Finch with black wings and white chest)
  6. Kikuba (A pad used to brush aside morning dew when walking through tall grass)
  7. Kinyomo (Type of ant)
  8. Kiwere (Purple dye plant)
  9. Lukato (Stiletto or [[1]])
  10. Mbuzi (Goat)
  11. Mpindi (Cowpea)
  12. Mutima (Heart)
  13. Nakinsige (Brown grass finch)
  14. Ndiga (Sheep)
  15. Ndiisa (small basket used for coffee berries)
  16. Ŋŋaali (Crested Crane)
  17. Njobe (Marsh antelope)
  18. Nkebuka (Looking back after bush defecation)
  19. Nkula (Rhinoceros)
  20. Nsunu (Kob)
  21. Nte (Ox or Cow)
  22. Nswaaswa (Monitor lizard)


The traditional Ganda economy relied on crop cultivation. In contrast with many other East African economic systems, cattle played only a minor role. Many Baganda hired laborers from outside Buganda to herd the Baganda's cattle, for those who owned livestock. Bananas were the most important staple food, providing the economic base for the region's dense population growth. This crop does not require shifting cultivation or bush fallowing to maintain soil fertility, and as a result, Ganda villages were quite permanent. Women did most of the agricultural work, while men often engaged in commerce and politics (and in precolonial times, warfare). Before the introduction of woven cloth, traditional clothing was manufactured from the bark of trees.[8]

See also



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