Explore the Bakonzo Culture – Unique Culture in Uganda
The most beautiful moment for every tourist is the time they spend interacting with the indigenous inhabitants of the area they visit and we are here to bring to your attention the brief lifestyle and richness of the Bakonzo people. This Bantu-speaking tribe is located deep in the Western region and extreme border of the Uganda-democratic Republic of Congo, strategically situated at the Ranges of Mt Rwenzori Africa’s second Largest Block Mountain. They are agriculturalists who grow mainly matooke, yams, potatoes, cassava, and beans. They also took up coffee, cocoa, and cotton growing. In addition, they rear goats, sheep, and fowls. Production was initially subsistence and they supplemented their produce by hunting and fishing on Lakes Edward and George
The Bakonzo tribe is are under the monarchical strata and its Kingdom is ruled by a king culturally known as Omusinga Wa Rwenzururu which is hereditary. The Bakonzo are found in Kasese District. They are the majority of the Rwenzori people, being more than the Bamba or the Bambuti. Physically they are generally short, stout-small people and dark-skinned. These form the original population of the mountainous areas and forests. Their natural surrounding gave them a rich variation in small percussion instruments, wooden horns and other small portable instruments, and simple dances.
The Bakonzo who are rather dark-skinned (Negroid) culturally believe in superhuman powers; their gods are called Kalisa and Nyabarika. Kalisa was shown as a monster, with only one arm, one eye, one leg, one ear, half of a nose, and only half of a body. One-half of his body was like a man. Nyabarika was the strongest spiritual power, the ruler over life and death, companion during the hunt, etc. Shrines in the form of little huts were erected for these gods, and they were given sacrifices in the form of food offerings so as to gain favors from the goddess. These mountain people “Bakonzo” were excellent hunters; they hunted alone with the use of trapping nets or in groups. They also used dogs, spears, bows, and arrows to aid strategize their hunting grounds. The hunters played an important role within the community.
The people communicated while hunting or within the family by means of quiet whistling (a form of signal). Bakonjo is commonly shortened to Konzo nowadays spread all over western Uganda and some parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Bakonzo bear themselves with great dignity, are conscientious about Traditional education and that wonderful core spirit of conservative African values and modest manners. They are relaxed and open. Humor is plentiful, and a good joke that can last for weeks in your system as it keeps reminding you of the great fun with the flock tales and stories. The Bakonzo homestead usually consists of only one or two rectangular houses and a few small store huts, widely scattered and patched on the ridges of the foothills. The houses are made of a double layer of plaited bamboo filled with clay and roofed with grass or banana thatch, although now more frequently with the ubiquitous African corrugated iron roof. Coffee (more recently some people have moved on to growing cocoa) has been the main cash crop in the foothills.
There are several ways of reaching to have time with this indigenous community. Chartered flights that take 40 minutes to the Kasese airstrip, then the van or vehicle will pick up you from the airstrip. By road, one has to drive from Kampala to Fort Portal to Kasese. However, be reminded to use a 4×4 vehicle on these longer distances and due to the nature of the terrain here too. All give clear access to these people and their culture.
Attractions around this Bakonzo community
Mountain Rwenzori National Park
The Bakonzo basically is based at the slopes of Mt Rwenzori Park, this greatly creates an opportunity for the cultural tourists visiting their settlements to access the park’s activities. Such as Birding, Monkey trekking, nature walks, site and scenery viewing.
The Rwenzori Mountain peaks and ranges are most definitely to be on the tourist’s to-do list once they chose to visit the Bakonzo homesteads not only experiencing the great Bakonzo cultural Adventure but more so this creates an avenue for mountain Hiking to the peaks of Mountain Stanley, Speke, and Baker mountain Tops all been accessed through the central circuit of Kilembe mines trails.
The montane vegetation cover that changes in line with the altitudes of the Rwenzori ranges is truly a rare figure of beauty and is uniquely found within the Rwenzori Bakonzo regions these can also be utilized by our Cultural tourists that regularly visit the Bakonzo homes. The vegetation may include lobelia, heather, and groundsel, Crip commonly known as everlasting flowers, the garishly colored mosses, and gnarled trees deeped with certain lichens.
The Bakonzo are amongst the few tribes in Uganda that take their culture so personally and have a thousand rationales to preserve their cultural traditions and norms. Balemba is traditional ancient Bakonzo homes, enriched with lots of Bakonzo history that are as well the burial grounds of the Bakonzo early kings where the Bakonzo currently make pilgrims to and sacrifice offerings to the past kings and traditional gods.
Creator lakes and rivers.
The Rwenzori Ranges have created 20 magnificent lakes mainly lake Bujuka, Mahoma, and 2 great rivers around the Bakonzo home that is greatly being visited and appreciated by the tourists that do a lot of nature photography and site viewing around them.
Among the rivers serving this community are Nyamwamba and Semuliki that play a great role in the cultural and traditional telling of historical tales that the Bakonzo people have attached to them hence create a great physical stature and value to the cultural tourists who visit the Bakonzo culture. And several other attractions.
What to do as tourists while with the Bakonzo?
Hiking the Mountain Rwenzori ranges:
The Rwenzori Mountain hike usually takes an average of a 7 Days hike to the peak of the Mountain through the main Hiking trail of the Robuni Trail which goes through the central circuit of the Mountain.
This is yet another rich activity to be done around the Bakonzo culture adventure circuits whereby as tourists move upwards the Bakonzo settlement their go through birding enriched areas such as the mountain forested zone that habitats about 217 species of the total Albertine rift valley bird species, of which 17 species of these endemic species are. This has made mountain Rwenzori an Important Birding Area (IBA). Not mentioning that Birders heaven in Semuliki National Park. This has created a great birding experience around the Bakonzo cultural circuits.
The tourist is bale to have visited around the Bakonzo ancient homes and get exposure to the great Bakonzo culture and traditional norms of the Bakonzo tribe. Alongside a visit to the Royal Palace of the Bakonzo Kingdom where to the Tourist will be opened to a whole new Bakonzo history.
The presence of the two most loved unique Game packs around the Bakonzo region creates the possibility of the tourist to enjoy numerous wildlife viewing and spotting with on a game drive in Queen Elizabeth National park or on a boat cruise in Lake Edward and Lake George.
Site viewing and photography
The great Western rift valley base alongside Mountain Rwenzori ranges creates an amazing photographic environment that can be utilized by the tourists while on their holiday’s tour to the Bakonzo culture Adventure.
With the authenticity of the original African continent still visited in this rich Bakonzo Culture Adventure, www.jewelsafaris.com is always expectant to welcome you to the pearl of Africa and help quench your travel thirst. Bakonzo is one of the 56 tribes in Uganda and has unique traits that you should pay a visit to explore what many don’t know about this beautiful tribe in relation to their culture, traditions, and many others.