THE BAKONZO CULTURAL ADVENTURE
Why you should put the Bakonzo people on you bucket list.
Bakonzo cultural Adventure.The Bakonzo is a tribe that is a Bantu speaking language and this tribe is located the deep Western region of Uganda. The Bakonzo tribe has been strategically situated for centuries on the Ranges of Mt Rwenzori Africa’s second Largest Block Mountain. The Bakonzo tribe for 1000 of years now it has been able to device means and techniques so as to adapt the tough mountainous livelihood that it’s successfully managed to maintain its existence in the Rwenzori Mountain.
The Bakonzo tribe is a monarchical society and for years its Kingdom ship has been ruled by a king. Who’s culturally known as Omusinga Wa Rwenzururu and his a life time leader only passes on his authority hereditarily to his descendants after his death. 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 super-human powers; their gods are called Kalisa and Nyabarika. Kalisa was shown as a monster, with only one arm, one eye, one leg, one ear, the half of a nose and only the 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 use of trapping nets or in groups. They also used dogs, spears, bowl 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 are commonly shortened to Konzo. In Uganda the Bakonzo are an important ethnic group of about 30’000 people, and have kept on multiplying and spreading all over the Western region of Uganda thus spreading to the Eastern region of Congo they number more and are known as Banande.
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.
As Legend has it that the Bakonjo once lived on Mount Elgon in eastern Uganda and that during the Kintu migration, the Bakonjo came with Kintu and other peoples to Buganda.
However, rather than settle in Buganda, the Bakonjo decided to continue and settle in the western highlands of Mount Rwenzori which has a climate similar to that of Mount Elgon where they had originally lived. This is said to have been around A.D 1300 according to the East African History. Another tradition asserts that the Bakonjo have lived on Mount Rwenzori from time immemorial and that they have no foreign place of origin thus creating a name for themselves as “the Mountain peoples of Africa”. So ancestral history says that the ancestors of the Bakonzo people emerged from the caves of Mt Rwenzori and gave birth to the rest of the Bakonzo people.
The Bakonzo family structure
Marriage among the Bakonzo was of great social concern. It was usual duty for families to book spouses early in life on behave of their juvenile family members. Often the booking would be done on the day the boy was initiated into the adult hood after having under gone his circumcision ceremony.
No marriage could be socially recognized unless bride wealth obligations had been settled. The bride wealth was normally paid in form of goats. The number of goats was determined by the economic status of the families concerned. In addition to the number of goats, a digging stick and an animal skin had to be included. The digging stick would replace the girl’s lost labour and the skin would replace one used by the girl when young. The Bakonjo-Bamba usually marry early, the girls at about 13 or 14
In modern times, a hoe and a blanket have replaced the digging stick and the skin. Divorce was rare but in the event of it, all the goats given as bride wealth would be given back. All unmarried girls were supposed to be virgins. If a girl conceived before marriage, she would be executed.
Since hunting was a cherished occupation among the Bakonjo, one can tell the power and importance of Kalisa the goddess of great hurters. On the southern and eastern slopes of Rwenzori Mountain, the Bakonjo used to construct shrines dedicated to Kalisa and Nyabarika .Such shrines would be made of Bamboo sheaths. They were too small for a man to enter. They are said to have been numerous in the Bamboo zones of the Nyamagasani and Nyamwamba rivers.
The Bakonzo economical structure.
The Bakonzo are agriculturalists. They grow mainly matooke, yams, potatoes, cassava and beans. At a later time, they 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.
Attractions in Bakonzo Cultural Adventure
Mountain Rwenzori National park, The Bakonzo basically are situated around the border lines of Mt Rwenzori Park, this great creates an opportunity for the cultural tourists visiting the Bakonzo settlements to access the parks activities. Such as Birding, Monkey trekking, nature walks, site and scenery viewing.
Mountain Rwenzori, the Rwenzori Mountain peaks and ranges are most definitely to be on the tourists to do list once their 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.
Vegetation, The Vegetation cover of the Rwenzori ranges are truly a rare figure of beauty and 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.
Bulemba houses: Traditional ancent Bakonzo homes, these are enriched with lots of Bakonzo history and are the burial grounds of past Bakonzo 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 are greatly being visited and appreciated by the tourists that do a lot of nature photography and site viewing around them.
Lake Edward and George, Africa’s most beautiful twin lakes Lake Edward and George are a marvel one should not miss out visiting as the habitant of Africa’s largest Hippopotamus population alongside numerous other wildlife that is gorgeous for a game viewing experience, boat cruise to the kazinga channel amongst many other wildlife experiences.
Rivers: rivers such as river Nyamwamba and Semuliki play a great vitual cultural role to that traditional tales of the history of the Bakonzo people hence create a great physical stature and value to the cultural tourists who visit the Bakonzo culture.
Queen Elizabeth national Park, the Queen Elizabeth National Park is another maiden of wildlife in Kasese District that the Tourist can add on their bucket list travel elements to enjoy as after visiting the Bakonzo cultural Adventure. For the park yet has to offer a number of many wildlife such as the tree Climbing lions, elephants, leopards, buffalos amongst many others.
Kasese town, Kasese town basically populated by the Bakonzo alongside other migrate tribes is a gradually growing city town that has got a lot of Comfortable 2 star Hotels and leisure accommodation establishments such as kiwa cultural heritage site and Night clubs to create an ambiance of relaxation to tourists that had a long expedition from the great Bakonzo homesteads
Top Tourism activities to be done around the Bakonzo culture Adventure region.
- 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 this goes through the central circuit of the Mountain.
- Bird watching: this is yet another rich activity to be done around the Bakonzo culture adventure circuits whereby as tourist move up wards 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 are endemic species. This has made mountain Rwenzori an Important Birding Area (IBA). Not mentioning that Birders heaven in Semuliki national Park. This that has created a great birding experience a round the Bakonzo cultural circuits.
- Cultural tours: the tourist are bale to have visits around the Bakonzo ancent 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.
- Game viewing. 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 a alongside Mountain Rwenzori ranges create an amazing photographic environment that can be utilized by the tourist while on their holidays tour to the Bakonzo culture Adventure.
Accessibility of the Bakonzo cultural Adventure.
The Bakonzo culture Adventure circuits can be accessed by use of comfortable chartered airlines to fly from either Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airstrip to Kasese district airstrip depending to our clients travel budget. The flight usually takes 40 minutes.
The Bakonzo tribe can be accessed through the road transport. Whereby there are numerous road routes on would utilize such as the Kampala via Mityana via kabarole via fortportal to kasese or even through Kampala via masaka via Mbarara via kasese route. The Bakonzo Tribe can also be access through DR Congo route from congo-uganda border via Bundibujjo via kikwambu via fortportal via kasese route. They can also be accessed through Rwanda-Uganda boarder from Katuna via Kabale via Bushenyi via Mbarara via kasese route. We greatly advice our clients to use a 4×4 vehicle for longer distances.
With the authenticity of the original African continent still visited in this rich Bakonzo Culture Adventure, select Adventure Safaris is always expectant to welcome you to the pearl of Africa and help quench you travel thirst.