The Banyoro people live in western Uganda to the east of Lake Albert they inhabit the present districts of. Hoima, Masindi and Kibale They speak a Bantu language and their origins, like other Bantu can be traced to the Congo region They lived in scattered settlements in the populated parts of their country and their homesteads were rarely more than shouting distance from one another. Politically, they were organized under a King (Omukama). The people of Bunyoro are known as Banyoro (singular Munyoro). They belong to the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara in western Uganda, in the area to the immediate east of Lake Albert. Their cultural leader is the omukama (king). Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom is the districts of Hima, Masindi and Kibale. The native language is Runyoro-Rutooro, a Bantu language. Runyoro-Rutooro is also spoken by the people of Toro (Batooro) Kingdom, whose cultural traditions are similar to those of the nyoro people. They were polygamous, and the dowry was often paid after several years of marriage. Death was usually attributed to sorcerers, ghosts and other non-human agents. Death was the result of action on the side of bad neighbours, provided with a vast range of magical and semi-magical means of injuring and even killing others. Indeed, many deaths were attributed to the act of sorcery by ill-wishers. They celebrated the new moon and an annual ceremony called "Empango". The basis of the kingdom was the family head "Nyineka". Each village had an elder chief known as "Mukuru w'Omugongo". Guests were always welcome and always regaled with something, even if they arrived after midnight. Their craftsmen were also very talented, and there was a flourishing trade in durables with the regions outside the kingdom. The blacksmiths working metal were also well-respected, especially for their production of hoes for the cultivation of the fields. The melodies are based on a constant meter with two distinctive rhythms (runyege and entongoro). Their vocal lines are characterised by massive yodelling (melismatic lines). Their music is mainly responsorial in nature. They are the origin of Bushmen and Negro people, and their music is clearly pentatonic. At times, their vocal lines are polyphonous. Runyege / Entongoro traditional dance in Bunyoro Kingdom - This is a ceremonial dance from Bunyoro and Toro (Batooro) 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 - binyege - entongoro) that are tied on boys'legs to produce percussion - like sound on rhythm. The sound produced by rattles is more exciting as it is well syncopated as the main beat is displaced but everything blending with the song and drum rhythms. Once upon a time, there was a problem in the Kingdom when over 10 men wanted to marry the same beautiful and good-looking girl. What happens is that a very big ceremony is organized and all the male candidates have to come and dance. The girl had to choose the best male dancer. In this culture it is believed that the best dancers also show the best marriage life. It is also to see who is the strongest among the men as families in Africa do not want to give their beautiful girls to weak men, for when there is 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 gets tired first, loses first and that who dances till the end wins the game. There was a problem when some girls wanted to get married to particular men and these were the men who got tired first - what a pity! The girls did not have a choice, as their parents decide for them whom to marry. The western Lacustrine Bantu people includes the Banyoro, Batooro , and Banyankore: their complex kingdoms are believed to be the product of acculturation between two different ethnic groups, the Hima and the Bayira. The Hima are said to be the descendants of pastoralists who migrated into the region from the northeast. The Bayira are said to be descendants of agricultural populations that preceded the Hima as cultivators in the region. Bunyoro region lies in the plateau of western Uganda, constituting about 3 per cent of the population. Its nucleus is Masindi and Hima. The Batooro region evolved out of a breakaway-segment of Bunyoro that split off an unspecified time before the nineteenth century. The Batooro and Banyoro speak closely related languages, Rutooro and Runyoro (a Bantu language), and they share many other cultural traits. The Batooro live on Uganda's western border, south of Lake Albert and constitute about 3.2 per cent of the population. In pre-colonial times, they lived in a highly centralized kingdom like Buganda, which was stratified like the society of Baganda people. Traditionally, a Munyoro (singular) had just one ibara (name) and one empaako (praise name) 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 parents very ill at ease with their neighbours. Following the introduction of Christianity, 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. It is to be noted that Islam is an important part of Bunyoro's religious heritage; so all Banyoro of Islamic belief 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 be born 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 Banyoro and Batooro are praise names, empaako. These names are given at the same time when 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 quot "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 (king) 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. Contrary to the general rule that kinyoro names have a meaning, the empaako names do not have a kinyoro meaning because they are not, real, 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 people 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; Acaali is lightning, etc. Every Munyoro (singular from Banyoro) belongs to a clan. The clan is the collective group of people who are descendants from the same ancestor, and are, therefore, blood relatives. Long before the tradition of kingdoms, the Banyoro lived in clan groups. Areas of the land were named after the clan that 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. 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, Batooro and Buganda to marry very close to their own or their mothers' clans. - The Batembuzi Dynasty- The first kings were of the Batembuzi dynasty. Batembuzi means harbingers or pioneers. The Batembuzi and their reign are not well documented, and they are surrounded by a lot of myths and oral legends. There is very little concurrence, among scholars, regarding the Batembuzi time period in history, even the names and successive order of individual kings. It is believed that their reign dates back to the time of Africa's bronze age. - The Babiito Dynasty- Any attempt to pinpoint the dates of this, or any other dynasty before it, is pure conjecture; as there were no written records at the time. Modern-day-historians place the beginning of the Babiito dynasty at around the time of the invasion of Banyoro by the Luo from the North. The first Mubiito (singular) king was Isingoma Mpuga Rukidi I, whose reign is placed around the 14th century. - The Bachwezi Dynasty- The Bachwezi dynasty was followed by the Babiito dynasty of the current omukama (king) of Bunyoro-Kitara. The Bachwezi are credited with the founding of the ancient empire of Kitara; which included areas of present-day central, western, and southern Uganda; northern Tanzania, western Kenya, and eastern Congo. Very little is documented about them. Their entire reign was shrouded in mystery, so much so that they were accorded the status of demi-gods and worshipped by various clans. Many traditional gods in Batooro, Bunyoro and Buganda have typical kichwezi (adjective) names like Ndahura, Mulindwa, Wamara, Kagoro, etc. The Bachwezi dynasty must have been very short, as supported by only three names of kings documented by historians. The Bachwezi kings were Ndahura, Mulindwa and Wamara; in this order. In addition to founding the empire of Kitara, the Bachwezi are further credited with the introduction of the unique, long-horned Ankole cattle, coffee growing, iron smelting, and the first semblance of organized and centralized government, under the king. No one knows what happened to the Bachwezi. About their disappearance, there is no shortage of colorful legends. One legend claims that they migrated westward and disappeared into Lake Mwitanzige (Lake Albert). There is a small crater lake in preday Fortpotal that others they disapeared into. Another legend has them disappearing into Lake Wamala, which bears the name of the last king of the dynasty. There is a popular belief among scholars that they simply got assimilated into the indigenous populace, and are, today, the tribal groups like the Bahima of Ankole and the Batutsi of Rwanda. The Bahima and Batutsi have the elegant tall build and light complexion of the Bachwezi, and they are traditionally herders of the long-horned Ankole cattle. Bachwezi (Chwezi): According to oral tradition they were supposed to be demi-gods; even if they were born of men and women, they did not die. They are portrayed as standing with one leg in the world and the other one in the underwold. They ruled the Kitara empire after the Babiito Dynasty. Today 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, Kibale, 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 the presently 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 Ccwa 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 Islands. 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 they 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 growth of crops like tobacco and cotton at the expense of food crops; sanctioning looting and pilaging of villages by invading forces, importing killer diseases like syphilis that grew to epidemic proportions; and so on. The omukama (king) of Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom, however, was restituted by Statute No. 8 of 1993, enacted by the Parliament of Uganda, after the monarchy had been abolished for 27 years. Unlike the pre-1967-Omukama who was a titular head of the local government of Bunyoro, the omukama, today, is a cultural leader with no governmental functions. Banyoro traditional Naming of their offsprings A few months after a child was born, three months for a boy and four months for a girl, a simple ceremony would be held at which the child was given a personal name along with one of the traditional Mpako names. The name could be given by a parent, grand-parent or some other relative. But if the father of the child was known and present, he had the last word. The names given differed considerably. A few of them were 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 were special names for twins and those immediately following them. However, the majority of other names portrayed the state of mind of the persons who gave them. Most names were real words which were used in every day speech. The general theme of the names rotated 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. The names which related to sorrow and death include; Tubuhwaire, Bulewenda, Buliarwaki, Kabwijmu, Alijunaki, Tibanagwa and several others. The names associated with poverty include;, Bagamba Bikanga, Baligenda, Babyenda etc. The names intended to portray the spite of neighbors included;, Itima, Tindyebwa, Nyendwoha, Nsekanabo, Ndyanabo, Tibaijuka and many others. Almost all the names portray that there were three things which the Banyoro feared very much, namely; death, sorrow and poverty.
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