The Bakiga are one of the numerous tribes you will encounter during your safari in western Uganda and are found within the Kigezi sub-region originally covering areas of Kabale, Kinkizi and Rukungiri district as well as several counties including Rubanda, Ndorwa and Rukiga. Due to the effect of land fragmentation and increase in populations, these people moved to other nearby places of the country such as Masindi, Kabarole, Ibanda, Rubirizi, Kabarole, Mbarara, Rukungiri, Hoima and Kasese as well as far places such as Masaka and Rakai.
The Bakiga belong to the Bantu ethnic group and are known to be energetic and strong people who mainly inhabit highlands of the Kigezi sub-region. There has been controversy regarding their origins with a number of traditions tracing their origins to somewhere and some say they originally inhabited areas of Karagwe after migrating from Bunyoro resulting from the Luo invasion and are associated with the Banyambo of Tanzania while the other tradition believed that they came from Buganza in the neighboring country of Rwanda and their migration was due to the search for fertile lands for agriculture since they are traditionally cultivators. After leaving Rwanda, they transverse through Rutchru, Bwisa and Bugoyi in the Democratic Republic of Congo before finally settling in the Kigezi sub-region.
When it comes to their social setting, these people live in clans with each of them having several lineages and each lineage has its head/chief locally referred as “Omukuru W’ Omuryango and the largest being the Basiga clan yet culturally a man is not allowed to marry from his clan and vice versa.
Just like most tribes in Uganda, marriage is a very significant cultural institution among the Bakiga people whereby no marriage is not honored without payment of Dowry or Bride Price in form of Cows, goats and hoes but in the past, it was organized by the Uncle or father of the boy on his behalf. Usually, the amount to be paid varies from one family to the other and surprisingly, it is a taboo among the Bakiga to sell animals offered as Bride wealth but instead used to find wives for the bride’s brother or even father’s wives. Traditionally, these people are polygamous and the number of wives depends on the abundance of land as well as bride wealth obligations.
This Bride wealth is usually shared among the Bride’s relatives especially paternal aunts and maternal uncles and unfortunately, if any of them is not contented, they render the bride barren or make her ill by calling the wrath of the ancestors. Divorce is also common among the Bakiga with common reasons being laziness or barrenness on the side of the woman or even the man and the divorcee is allowed to remarry but will fetch less Bride wealth because she is no longer a virgin.
Bakiga are traditionally agriculturalists growing beans, millet, sorghum and peas much as they also rear goats, cattle, sheep and poultry and were in the past wonderful iron-smiths that made spears, hoes and knives. Their staple foods are peas, sorghum and beans which are supplemented with meat, pumpkins, green vegetable and yams. They brewed beer locally known as “Omuramba” that is always enjoyed in pots during social gatherings like weddings. The domestic utensils of the Bakiga include mingling ladles, spears, wooden pestles, baskets, winnowing trays, pots, bows and arrows, grinding stones and stools among others.
Therefore, visit the Bakiga people of Kigezi sub-region in south-western Uganda during cultural tours to learn more about their interesting culture that includes how marriages are conducted, divorce, traditional dances and traditional foods among others.