Culture of Uganda
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The culture of Uganda is made up of a diverse range of ethnic groups. Lake Kyoga forms the northern boundary for the Bantu-speaking peoples, who dominate much of east, central, and southern Africa. In Uganda, they include the Baganda and several other tribes.
In the north live the Lango and the Acholi, who speak Nilotic languages. To the east are the Iteso and Karamojong, who speak a Nilotic language, the Gishu are part of the Bantu and they live mainly on the slops of Mt Elgon. They speak lumasaba closely related to the Luhya of Kenya. A few Pygmies live isolated in the rainforests of western Uganda.
Christians make up 85.2% of Uganda's population. There were sizeable numbers of Sikhs and Hindus in the country until Asians were expelled in 1972 by Idi Amin, following an alleged dream, although many are now returning following an invitation from the new president, Yoweri Museveni. There are also Muslims who make up 12% of Uganda's population.
Football is the national sport in Uganda. The Uganda national football team, nicknamed The Cranes, is the national team of Uganda and is controlled by the Federation of Uganda Football Associations. They have never qualified for the FIFA World Cup finals; their best finish in the African Nations Cup was second in 1978. Cricket is one of the major sports having made the Cricket World Cup in 1975 as part of the East African cricket team.
Basketball is not well developed in Uganda, but there is a national league played by college students and a few high school students. Uganda hosted and won a regional tournament in 2006 other countries that participated were Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. Rugby union is a growing sport in Uganda, and the Uganda national rugby union team has been growing stronger as evidenced by more frequent victories and close games against African powerhouses like Namibia and Morocco.
At multi-sport events, Uganda has enjoyed most success in athletics and boxing. Uganda has won seven medals at the Olympics and 39 at the Commonwealth Games, all in these two sports. Some of Uganda's most notable athletes include John Akii-Bua, who won Uganda's first Olympic gold in the 400 metres hurdles at the 1972 Munich Olympics, Davis Kamoga, a bronze medalist in the 400 metres and the first Ugandan to win a medal at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics (winning a silver at the 1997 World Championships in Athens).
Moses Ndiema Kipsiro was the bronze medalist in the 5000 metres at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, and Stephen Kiprotich, the winner of the marathon at the 2012 London Olympics and the 2013 World Championships. Notable among female athletes is Dorcus Inzikuru, who was the first Ugandan to win a gold at the World Athletics Championships when she won the 3000 metres steeplechase at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, before adding a gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
Ayub Kalule was one of Uganda's most successful boxers, winning golds in the light welterweight category at the 1974 World Amateur Boxing Championships and the lightweight division at the 1974 Commonwealth Games before turning professional and becoming World Boxing Association light-middleweight world champion in 1979.
The cuisine of Uganda consists of traditional cooking with English, Arab and Asian (especially Indian) influences. Like the cuisines of most countries, it varies in complexity, from the most basic, a starchy filler with a sauce of beans or meat, to several-course meals served in upper-class homes and high-end restaurants.
Main dishes are usually centred on a sauce or stew of peanuts, beans or meat. The starch traditionally comes from ugali (maize meal) or matoke (boiled and mashed green banana), in the south, or an ugali made from pearl millet in the north. Cassava, yam and African sweet potato are also eaten; the more affluent include white (often called "Irish") potato and rice in their diets. Soybean was promoted as a healthy food staple in the 1970s and this is also used, especially for breakfast. Chapati, an Asian flatbread, is also part of Ugandan cuisine.
Chicken, fish (usually fresh, but there is also a dried variety, reconstituted for stewing), beef, goat and mutton are all commonly eaten, although among the rural poor there would have to be a good reason for slaughtering a large animal such as a goat or a cow and nyama, (Swahili word for "meat") would not be eaten every day.
Ugali which is maize flour is mixed with water to make porridge for breakfast mainly for children. For main means, maize flour is added to some water in a saucepan and stirred into the ugali is firm like American cornbread. It is then turned out onto a serving plate and cut into individual slices (or served onto individual plates in the kitchen).
Uganda is ethnologically diverse, with at least 40 languages in usage. Luganda is the most common language. English is the official language of Uganda, even though only a relatively small proportion of the population speaks it. Access to economic and political power is almost impossible without having mastered that language. The East African lingua franca Swahili is relatively widespread as a trade language and was made an official national language of Uganda in September 2005. Luganda, a language widespread in central Uganda, has been the official vernacular language in education for central Uganda for a long time.
In Uganda, the kanzu is the national dress of men in the country. Women from central and eastern Uganda wear a dress with a sash tied around the waist and large exaggerated shoulders called a gomesi. Women from the west, northwestern drape a long cloth around their waists and shoulders called suuka. Women from the southwest wear a long baggy skirt and tie a short matching cloth across their shoulders. Woman also wear a floor long dress called a busuti which was introduced by the 19th century missionaries.
Notes and references
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- Mukama, Ruth G. (1991) 'Recent developments in the language situation and prospects for the future', pp. 334–350 in Changing Uganda, eds. Holger Bernt Hansen & Michael Twaddle, Fountain Publishers, 1991, ISBN
- Trowell, Margaret; Wachsmann, Klaus (1953) Tribal Crafts of Uganda, Oxford, 1953