Surrounded by beautiful spacious gardens and tranquil environment, Hoima Cultural Lodge is a newly opened lodge situated in Hoima district, the northern part of Western Uganda opposite the Bunyoro Palace.
Hoima Cultural Lodge is a perfect break from the 10 hours drive on the dirt road between Murchison falls and Kibale which helps clients rejuvenate for the rest of their journey.
The lodge offers spacious en-suite grass thatched cottages ideal for couples and families with each room brightly colored and furnished with African Art pieces which give clients an African feel.
The perfect break from the 10 hours drive on the dirt road between Murchison falls and Kibale which helps clients rejuvenate for the rest of their journey.
Community partnership and involvement
The best and most comfortable lodge in Hoima
Great, fresh food, much of it fresh from the garden
The Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara is the remainder of a once powerful empire of Kitara. At the height of its glory, the empire included present day Masindi, Hoima, Kibaale, Kabarole and Kasese districts; also parts of present day Western Kenya, Northern Tanzania and Eastern Congo. That Bunyoro-Kitara is only a skeleton of what it used to be is an absolute truth to which History can testify.
One may ask how a mighty empire, like Kitara, became whittled away to the present underpopulated and underdeveloped kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara. This is the result of many years of orchestrated, intentional and malicious marginalization, dating back to the early colonial days. The people of Bunyoro, under the reign of the Mighty King Cwa II Kabalega, resisted colonial domination. Kabalega, and his well trained army of “Abarusuura” (soldiers), put his own life on the line by mounting a fierce, bloody resistance against the powers of colonialization. On April 9th, 1899, Kabalega was captured by the invading colonial forces and was sent into exile on the Seychelles Island.
With the capture of Kabalega, the Banyoro were left in a weakened military, social and economic state, from which they have never fully recovered. Colonial persecution of the Banyoro did not stop at Kabalega’s ignominious capture and exile. Acts of systematic genocide continued to be carried out against the Banyoro, by the colonialists and other foreign invaders.
Colonial efforts to reduce Bunyoro to a non entity were numerous, and continued over a long period of time. They included invasions where masses were massacred; depopulating large tracts of fertile land and setting them aside as game reserves; enforcing the growing of crops like tobacco and cotton at the expense of food crops; sanctioning looting and pilaging of villages by invading forces, importation killer diseases like syphilis that grew to epidemic proportions; and the list goes on.
Details of the horrific, genocidal acts against the Banyoro are well documented in “Breaking Chains of Poverty”, published by the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom Advocacy Publications; authored by the Hon. Yolamu Ndoleriire Nsamba, Principal Private Secretary to H.M Solomon Gafabusa Iguru I, Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara. This book is a “must read” for anyone interested in the History and welfare of Bunyoro-Kitara. It enumerates Historical events, plus practices, past and present, that made Bunyoro-Kitara “a kingdom bonded in chains of poverty”.
The British invaded Bunyoro–Kitara to control resources of the Kingdom. We shall see evidence is in the records of the agents of Britain who massacred large numbers of Banyoro. Lugard had estimated in 1893 Banyoro to number over 2.5 million people. He wrote, “Unyoro is probably more populous than (B) Uganda and Ankoli about equal to it. Before Colville invaded Bunyoro-Kitara, there was a lot of trade, agriculture and livestock rearing. Seven years of military occupation stopped production. Famine, diseases and epidemics followed. In four years of British rule Gregory estimates that the population was reduced to a fourth,” Soldiers, historians and Kinyoro oral sources record looting of the Kingdom. The invaders ignored the sustained upsurge of popular resistance in the Kingdom. The population fought colonial military occupation for more than 30 years their determination could not be broken.
It all started on 29th April 1872 when Baker built headquarters at Masindi preparing to prepare to annex Kitara to Egypt. The Banyoro were angry at Baker’s pride and rudeness imposing himself on the Kingdom ignoring their king and his chiefs. On 14 May 1872, he announced the annexation. He started buying ivory cheating the Banyoro Kabalega ordered his subjects to sell ivory only to the King. This monopoly over the ivory trade to protect his subject annoyed Baker. To provoke the King Baker demanded food from the Chiefs for soldiers daily. He ordered them to mistreat the Banyoro. On 7 June he sent Abdul Kader and Mounsuru to the King to demand food.
The inhabited territory of the Kingdom remained only 1119 square miles. Governor Bell disorganized, controlled and effectively repressed the Banyoro. Passive resistance ended once clans were scattered. The passive resistance to colonial rule popularly called Kyanyangire (I have refused) rebellion ended. It is not true that sleeping sickness killed 6000 people at Pajao. This is another lie told to give a human face to injustice penetrated when large parts of this country were made conservation areas.
The natives of Pajao, the Abakwonga or Bakibiro clan traditional grandmothers of the Omukama were scattered to Kitana, Hoima and Panyimur and Deyi, Nebbi. The Ababyasi clan that thickly populated Kyangwali and attracted the Church Missionary society (CMS) to build the first church in Bunyoro-Kitara on a five square mile estate that has remained undeveloped to this day. Families and clans scattered were forced to leave their ancestral homes. The town of Baranywa and Mugabi hills were depopulated by a garrison stationed at it and are wild country to this very day. Thousands “were removed from northern Bunyoro forcing the abandonment of fishing grounds, fertile lands, cultivated gardens, including the Pabidi coffee shambas, that became part of the Budongo Forest Reserve. Knowledge of a vast area was lost. Removing cattle keepers and cultivators made room for forests, tsetse flies and wild animals to colonize formerly cultivated lands.”
The policy to make and keep Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom lonely and wild, stopping people to use it, was written in the Bunyoro agreement of 1933. It stated that natives were subject to the “provisions of the Sleeping Sickness Rules and all other Protectorate legislation from time to time in force” but Sleeping Sickness had ended 18 years before. reserved to the Government of the Protectorate State of Uganda the right to appropriate and place under his direct control any area which he required for a forest
Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom is ruled by the Omukama of Bunyoro. The current Omukama is H.M. Dr. Solomon Gafabusa Iguru I, the 27th Omukama (king) of Bunyoro-Kitara. The people of Bunyoro are known as Nyoro or Banyoro singular: Munyoro the language spoken is Nyoro (also known as Runyoro.
Omukama Rukirabasaija Agutamba Solomon Gafabusa Iguru I was born in 1948.
The King’s Empaako (traditional alternative name used by family) is Amooti.
The Omukama (King) rose to the throne in 1994, after his father, Sir Winvi IV of Bunyoro was annexed in 1967 by the Ugandan government.
There are different ministries in the kingdom that contribute to the development of the kingdom currently for example, On top it’s the Attorney General followed by the ministries; Minister of Finance, Minister of Gender, Minister of Natural Resources (Lands, Minerals & Forests), Minister of Investment, Minister of Social Services (Education & Health), Minister of External Relations, Minister of Production (Agriculture, Animal Husbandry & Fisheries), Minister of Palace Affairs (PPS to the Omukama), and the Minister for Special Duties.
The people of Bunyoro are known as Banyoro (singular Munyoro). They belong to the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara, Western Uganda, in the area to the immediate East of Lake Albert. Their cultural leader is the Omukama (king). Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom is composed of the districts of Hoima, Masindi and Kibale. The native language is Runyoro-Rutooro, a bantu language. Runyoro-Rutooro is also spoken by the people of Toro Kingdom, whose cultural traditions are similar to those of the Banyoro.
Inspite of Western cultural imperialism, the Banyoro have maintained their rich cultural heritage. While many Western cultural elements have been assimilated, many Banyoro proudly uphold the ancient traditions of their ancestors. Under the leadership of H.M. Solomon Gafabusa Iguru I, great efforts are underway to revive many of their cultural traditons, and document them for posterity. Schools are encouraged to include traditional kinyoro (adjective) culture in the curriculum.
A few months after a child is born, three months for a boy and four months for a girl, a simple ceremony is held at which the child is given a personal name along with one of the traditional Mpaako names. The name can be given by a parent, grand-parent or some other relative. But if the father of the child is known and present, he has the last word. The names given differ considerably. A few of them are family names handed down in particular clans to commemorate, for example, a relative or some feature on the child or some circumstances surrounding the child’s birth.
There are special names for twins and those immediately following them. However, the majority of other names portray the state of mind of the persons who gave them. Most names are real words which are used in every day speech. In the olden days, the general theme of the names used to rotate around the constant imminence of sorrow or death, the experience or anticipation of poverty and misfortune and the spite or hatred of one’s neighbors, but that has since changed with today’s naming themes rotating around joy, hope, anticipation of good, love, and faith in the creator.
Traditionally, a Munyoro had just one name (ibara) and one empaako (name of praise) which were given to him/her shortly after birth. This name has always been a kinyoro name. Officially, the name is given by clan elders; but practically, the will of the parents is paramount in this decision. Like most African names, kinyoro names are actually words or phrases in the Runyoro language; and they have a meaning. This meaning is based upon the prevailing circumstances in the family or clan at the time of the child’s birth. For example, the name Nyamayarwo (meat for Death) implies that the parents are prepared for the worst, because many of their children have already died. Names like Ndyanabo (I eat with evil people), Nyendwooha (who loves me? no one), Nsekanabo (I laugh with the evil people), etc. portray the sentiments of a parents very ill at ease with their neighbors.
Following the introduction of Christianity, in the late 17th century, a new class of names was created. It was the Christian name, given upon baptism. Many Banyoro took on English names like Charles, Henry, George, etc. for their Christian names; while others took names from the Bible, like Matayo (Matthew), Yohana (John), Ndereya (Andrew) etc. Let it not be forgotten that Islam is an important part of Bunyoro’s religious heritage; so all Banyoro of Islamic persuasion will have an Islamic name, in addition to their kinyoro name. Names like Muhamadi (Muhamad/Mohamed), Isimairi (Ismael), Arajabu (Rajab), Bulaimu (Ibrahim), etc. are common.
There are special names given to twins and the children following twins. These names are standard. When twin boys are born, the first one to emerge is Isingoma, the other Kato. The female versions are Nyangoma and Nyakato, respectively. If a person is named Kaahwa, he/she comes after twins
Unique to Bunyoro and Toro are praise names, empaako. These names are given at the same time a child is given its regular, kinyoro name. They are special names used to show love and respect. Children call their parents by the empaako, not the regular name. The empaako is also the salutation when the Banyoro greet each other. Instead of the Western “Good morning, John?” the Banyoro substitute the empaako for John. There are eleven empaako names, shared by all Banyoro and Batooro. They are Abwooli, Adyeeri, Araali, Akiiki, Atwooki, Abbooki, Apuuli, Abbala, Acaali, Ateenyi and Amooti.
The official empaako of the Omukama is always Amooti, regardless of what it used to be before he became the Omukama. Another, very special, empaako reserved for the Omukama alone is Okali. This is not one of the eleven, and can never be used by common people.
Contrary to the general rule that kinyoro names have a meaning, the empaako names do not have a kinyoro meaning; because they are not, really, words in the Runyoro-Rutooro language. They are words (or corruptions of words) in the Luo language, the original language of the Babiito, who invaded and colonized Bunyoro from the North. The Banyoro and Batooro have, however, assimilated these luo names into their language, and even attempted to append some meaning to them. For example, Ateenyi is the great serpent of River Muziizi; Abwooli is the cat; Akiiki is the savior of nations; Araali is lightning, etc.
These are the clans of the people of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom and their respective totems as part of the cultural establishment of the Banyoro people
Every Munyoro belongs to a clan. The clan is the collective group of people who are descended from the same ancestor, and are, therefore, blood relatives. Long before the tradition of kingdoms, the Banyoro lived in clan groupings. Areas of the land were named after the clan which lived there. For example, Buyaga was the area of the bayaga clan, Buruli for the baruli clan, Bugahya for the bagahya clan, etc
The clan is very important to a Munyoro, man or woman. It is important that one is well aware of the clan relationships on both mother’s and father’s side of the family. This is crucial in order to avoid in-breeding. One cannot marry in one’s own clan or in that of his/her mother’s. Marriage to one’s cousins, no matter how far removed, is not acceptable. An exemption from this rule is claimed by the princes and princesses of the kingdom. In their effort to maintain their “blue blood lines” it is not unheard of for the royals of Bunyoro, Toro and Buganda to marry very close to their own or their mothers’ clans.
Orunyege, a cultural dance from Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom in western Uganda is a dance performed at social ceremonies such as Empango, marriage, among other similar social gatherings of joy and jubilation.
The ground crackles and reverberates with an unwavering mild tremor and the air tinkles with the sound of rattles firmly fitted to the feet of aggressive male dancers stomping to the pulsating rhythm of fervent drummers. The women, dressed in colourful costumes and sash reeds wrapped around their waists, stomp in gentler aggressive rhythm. Air rising, husky male voices meander through the drum rumblings and the nectar-sweet, feminine voices pitch in as if to mellow the uproar. The collective sum of the sound and sight is a compelling performance.
This is a ceremonial dance of the Bunyoro (and shared with Batooro). It is also a courtship dance performed by the youth when it is time for them to choose partners for marriage. The dance was named after the rattles (binyege / ebinyege / entongoro) that are tied on boys’ legs to produce sounds and rhythms. The sound produced by rattles is more exciting as it is well syncopated as the main beat is displaced but everything blends with the song and drum rhythms.
Its origins: Once upon a time, there was a problem when more than 10 men wanted to marry the same beautiful and good-looking girl. What happened is that a very big ceremony would be organized and all the male candidates invited to come and dance. The girl had to choose the best male dancer. It is believed that the best dancers always showed the best marriage life. It was also to see who the strongest among the men was as families in kinsmen did not want to give their beautiful girls to weak men, for when there was a period of drought or famine, one should have a husband who will really struggle to see that he looks for water and food. So in this dance the man who would get tired first, would lose first and that who would dance till the end would win the game, and the BRIDE.
An Introduction Ceremony in Bunyoro-Kitara culture, after a connection is established between the bride and groom to be; is preceded by a small group of the groom and his immediate family and friends visiting the home of the bride on a familiarization tour. It is at this event that details of the Introduction Ceremony are agreed upon (Dowry for the Bride, dates of the Introduction, the delegation number, etc.).
On the agreed upon Introduction day, a delegation (Usually composed of male parents, aunties, brothers and sisters, relatives, in-laws and close friends) from the groom’s family visit the bride’s home with an appointed spokesman (Usually an Elder with a good command of culture and Runyoro Dialect ) to represent them in various negotiations with the Brides family.
The groom’s family is welcomed by their hosts and ushered into the compound by Omuko (a brother, or a close male relation of the bride) from the bride’s family. On arrival, Enkoko yo’muko (A cock for the brother-in-law) is handed over to him, before he agrees to usher them in.
By the time of arrival of the Bride’s delegation, elders from the bride’s side are already seated in anticipation of the visit. Upon greeting the hosts and taking their seats (offered by the hosts’ chosen Elder), the guests are offered traditionally roasted coffee as a symbol of formally establishing friendship between the two clans / families (kunywanisa Enganda).
After settling in, the elder from the groom’s side is asked by the host elder to introduce the purpose of the visit. The visiting elder, after introducing himself in a polite manner, mentions having come on this visit to seek a hand in marriage for his son; the groom (in runyoro that is to say; ‘Twizire Kuzaarwa omuka enu’) literally meaning, we have come to be born into this home. This in Bunyoro-Kitara tradition means that the visiting delegation has found someone of interest in the host family.
After this declaration, there is a prolonged discussion, involving both elders on either side, sometimes attracting argument, all done in a dignified and civilized manner, supporting their discussion with local proverbs, and parables.
But today, this process is mostly peaceful and the guests are treated with dignity. After the name of the bride in question is pronounced, the bride’s family might joking deny knowledge of the Bride saying it might be a mistake of identity or a lost delegation. At this point, the groom’s spokesman will not relent on his effort to accept their response but insist that it is the name of the bride. The Muko is delegated the duty to the search for the bride and present her to the visitors for confirmation.
After a group of girls, and or ladies from the host family is brought to greet the visitors. The Muko will return with the bride, in the company of her paternal Aunt (who first interfaces with the groom before the introduction visit (Isenkati wensonga), her sisters and friends, all dressed in beautiful traditional wears. They are ushered to the audience by traditional music and dances to highlight celebration and jubilation. This erupts much excitement and applause from both the host and guest congregations.
The groom, in company of his Bestman is tasked to identify his bride from among the group, by putting a traditionally made necklace on her (Kugweka Orukwanzi) amidst ululations and celebrations from the groom’s entourage.
The bride after being asked a few confirmatory questions by the host elders on the union, is tasked to put a symbol of identification on the groom (often a decorative flower), and to be welcomed by the community.
At this point, the groom’s side is required to present the gifts brought for the bride’s family (Among these, and depending on different circumstances of the union of the bride and groom by the time of this event are; Ekichwa Mukaaga, Akasiimo K’Omugurusi, Embuzi ya’Nyina Mwaana, Embuzi ya’Nyinenkuru Mwana, Embuzi ya’Isenkati Mwana, Embuzi y’Aboruganda (if the Bride is a Mubiitokati, this is Ente y’Aboruganda (gyeete Kyahenda), Amaarwa g’Aboruganda (local brew) Blanket ya’Isenkuru mwaana, among other gifts as agreed upon and drought by the groom).
After the groom’s team Elder has presented the gifts brought, the bride is asked one more time by her family elder whether she is fully committed to this union, a question whose answer is often in affirmative. The elder from the bride’s family then goes ahead to officially receive the presented gifts on behalf of the bride’s family.
At this point, the groom is called upon to put an identification of the bride, which is often an engagement ring as a sign of union amongst them and engagement.
At this point, the groom is formally accepted as a son-in-law (he has become Omwana omumaka) by an announcement from the Elder on the bride’s side.
A meal is then served to the visitors. Traditionally, the groom and some elders (altogether, 9 people) Omwenda Ogwenda Abantu are ushered into, and served in the house, with the groom being served a special meal by his bride assisted by her sisters or aunt (Isenkati)
Thereafter, the elder on the groom’s side will introduce members in his entourage, and also get introductions from the elder of the people from the Bride’s family.
According to the Bunyoro-Kitara tradition, the mother of the groom does not accompany the son for the introduction ceremony.
The Elder from the groom’s side will express thanks and gratitude for being hosted, and request to leave, which is always granted by the elder from the Bride’s family.
The bride’s family might also have some gifts for the groom’s team to carry back for his people who did not attend the function.
The departure of the groom’s visiting team always marks the end of an introduction ceremony, followed by singing and dancing at by the brides relatives in celebration of their daughter finding a suitor, and getting married.
Believed to be the parliament / meeting place of the Bachwezi. Semwema Rock, is found on Mubende – Kakumiro, the site is about 2kms west of Kakumiro trading centre and 1km east of Munsa earthworks in Kibale District. Apart from being a tourist attraction, it is an active shrine of the Bachwezi. The cave underneath the rock can shelter / accommodate about 200 people.
The Royal Mile is found in the 793 km2 Budongo Forest Reserve, within Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom that lies at the edge
The Royal Mile is found in the 793 km2 Budongo Forest Reserve, within Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom that lies at the edge
Mparo Royal Tombs is the final resting ground of King Kabalega II who was exiled in Seychelles by the British. And so many other cultural heritage sites like Babiito Dynasty Kings
Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom is endowed with a number of both natural and planted forests, among these are; Budongo Forest, Bugoma Forest Among others.
In addition to it’s rich history, traditions and culture, Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom boasts of the following tourist attractions:
Murchison Falls National Park (Kabalega National Park), Kabwoya Wild Life Conservation Game Reserve, Budongo Forest, The Royal Mile, Bugoma Forest, The Great Rift Valley Escarpment, Lake Mwitanzige (Lake Albert), Kibiro Hot Springs, Kibiro Traditional Salt Mines, Baligota Isansa (Point of meeting between Omukama Kabalega and Sir Samuel Baker), Karuziika Royal Palace, Kihande Royal Palace, Mparo Royal Tombs, Kinogozi Royal Tombs, Semwema Cultural rock, Musaija – Mukuru memorial War Zone Hill, Buhimba liberation Heroes site, Nyabyeya Polish Burial grounds, Kinyara Sugar Works – Factory and Plantations, Bugambe Tea Estates, Ebigere bya Wamara magical foot prints, Gamugole site (Bride and bride groom who turned into stones), Nyanyama Island , Cultural Hills Magoma ga Mukanga, Musaija Mukuru Wairanga, Kamahenu, Kaduku, Ngobye and corresponding cultural hills – Karandaranda,Isebitwe, Isolero Rwababito and Magita and Ruhunga Rw’Okwiri and Corresponding Cultural hills-Kasongoire and Nyabiguhyo, etc, Omukicaica where Kabalega passed while heading to Bugangaizi (legend has it that at this point, Kabalega walked on water), also called Orukanga rwa Akaraca, The Kitonya “Kabalega Battle Grounds”. The war that helped Omukama Kabalega ascend to the throne, The Oil wells scattered across Bunyoro, Kabalega Hydro Power dam, Rivers Wambabya, Kafo kababembe, Nguse, Muzizi, Karuma, etc , Omukama Kitehimbwa burial grounds – Kakumiro, Omukama Kabalega Fresh wells, Bwendero Factory among others.
This is ceremonial from Bunyoro and Toro (Batoro) kingdom. It is also a courtship dance performed by the youth when it is time for them to choose partners for marriage. The dance was named after the rattles (ebinyege) that are tied on the boy’s legs to produce percussion like sound or rhythm. The sound produced by the rattles is more exciting as it is well syncopated as the main beat is displaced but everything blending with the song and drum rhythms.
Hoima Cultural Lodge is situated in Hoima district, the northern part of Western Uganda opposite the Bunyoro Palace. The Lodge is 200 Km from Kampala district.