Friday, 24 April 2009

Lugbara Cultural Heritage

"Ngoni?" is the standard Lugbara Greeting (meaning ‘How are you?’). "Muke!" is the Response when you are fine. Nevertheless, most Non-Lugbara prefer to learn "Mi azaza!" meaning 'You are mad!'; "Awadi fo!" the expression for 'Thank You!' and "Abiri ni ma fufu." ('Hunger is killing me' or simply 'I'm hungry') faster than any other Lugbara phrases. Through this Facebook Group, I hope more outsiders will learn new Lugbara words and understand the culture of Love, Peace en Harmony". The 'Lugbara Cultural Heritage' is also an online platform for tribe-mates to share stories or discuss ideas about their lineage, traditions and events. Poverty, Jealousy and Witchcraft (Ole) are major themes in rural West Nile and meetings are usually held to get rid of them. It is universally accepted that "Most Lugbara will take part in cultural associations only if there is food or monetary benefits received" (I'm not an exception by the way) but I pray that those inhibitions are broken and the Good Lugbara feel proud of their culture like the Japanese, Chinese, French, Germans and Indians. Being the Largest Ethnic Group in West Nile (because the Lugbara also extend towards South-western Sudan, North-eastern Congo [the Naked People] and the Diaspora), I'm proud to say that there is no way our Culture can become extinct. It’s time the world got to know about Gboro-gboro, the first man on earth, Meme his wife and more mythical folk stories like that. Let's spread the Love, Peace en Harmony of Lugbara!

What’s cooking in Lugbara kitchens? Are you craving for Nsenene (Grasshoppers, also available in some Supermarkets like Insect City) or 'Obangulu' also known as 'Onya Pizza' (white ants in a compact mass spiced with anything like pepper, onions or tomatoes)? Will you drink goat milk from a special gourd called a zukulu? What music will you listen to tonight? Could it be Lady J; Van Smokey; Black Harmony (who performed a fantastic Quadro-lingual jam [in Lugbara, English, Luganda & bits of Swahili] introducing "(Lady) Shadia" at the 2008 PAM - Pearl of Africa Music - Awards to usher in a new dawn for West Nile music); J.M. Kennedy (Arua's Dance-hall king nominated for a Best West Nile Artiste Pammy); Aringa (Lugbara dialect) singing Dogman; J*Hope Gospel or the socially conscious Chandiru Leila (Her famous Lugbara name may have an ominous translation but the music is fantastic, makes you think she’s a Tanzanian Star on tour in West Nile. By the way, Uganda’s first female World Champion athlete Dorcus Inzikuru is a Lugbara, says a lot about the sexy athletic bodies of Lugbara Women.

Many other famous names like Emilio Mondo and Ali Bamuze (Lieutenant Generals in Yoweri Kaguta Museveni's UPDF Army); Nikonara Asali Abanya, one of the founding members of UPC Party (died at 107 years in 2010) was instrumental in Uganda’s independence struggle. He attended the Lancaster House Conference and the Marlborough House Conference in 1961, which discussed the independence of Uganda; Joseph Etima (Retired Commissioner General of Prisons); Bakoko Bakoru & Hussein Akbar Godi (former MPs, the latter had a meteoric rise to Parliament at only age 27) are also Lugbara. The sensational Ceasar Okhuti broke through to the Cranes team in only his first season after shining for Super League debutants Ediofe Hills FC and was sold to Bunamwaya FC the following season at 12 Million Shillings. He proved his worth at only 20 years of age by scoring five goals in a single game as his team demolished Sharing FC 10-1 plus led as the Nation's Top Scorer. Bunamwaya won the Championship in 2010; Doctor Ben Kingi is like UG's Ben Carson; Jackie Chandiru, one of the Blu*3 divas rocking East African airwaves is also a descendant of the Lugbara. (Blu*3 is the first African Group to be chosen as ambassadors for International Organisation for Migration - IOM). Jackson Asiku, another Lugbara, is a former Commonwealth feather-weight boxing Champion; Dr. Eric Adriko (the first Chancellor of Kyambogo University since it was established under the Universities and Tertiary Institutions Act 2001 that saw a merger of Uganda Polytechnic College, Uganda Institute of Special Needs Education and National Teachers College) started the West Nile Distilling Company Limited (Distillers & Bottlers of Adriko's '7 Hills' Vodka, White Rhino Gin, Rum Raggi from Arua and launched Hunters Gin plus Sunshine Mineral Water in Kosovo, Lungujja somewhere in Kampala on 20th January 2007. The Adriko Group of Companies also includes the Kampala Metal Works Company and will soon start producing Glucose Biscuits). Leo Adraa, the former coach of the national soccer team (the Uganda Cranes) is Lugbara. Idi Amin Dada, believed to have been born in the ancient Arua District (though his younger brother Amule claims that he was in fact born in Kampala), became one of the Most Famous African Leaders of All-Time. He ruled Uganda from 1971 to 1979 and had a Lugbara Vice President besides a Lugbara wife. Amin’s father, a Kakwa (northern brothers of the Lugbara from Koboko) and Lugbara mother separated soon after his birth (in the 1920s) but the mother raised him. She became a camp follower of the King’s African Rifles, a regiment of the British Colonial Army and her son’s rise to prominence started in 1946 when KAR recruited him as an assistant cook. That is Amin Trivia you won’t see in the Oscar-winning Movie “The Last King of Scotland” or anywhere else. Amin’s Lugbara mother had more children from other relationships (and Amin became the third of eight siblings). Arua Town, the booming Business Capital of West Nile is also the Strategic Capital of Lugbaraland and source of the World’s Best Honey (according to the 2000 Lisbon Expo). The first soldiers recruited for the Imperial British Army were from West Nile; no prizes for guessing which tribe had representatives. Many Lugbara have spread to the rest of Uganda like Busogaland (where they are innumerable) and Masindi on the other side of the Albert Nile because of sugar-cane growing employment opportunities. Men from West Nile are believed to be very strong and loyal to their wives too, ha ha ha!

Every day from 2 to 3 PM, Gad Fix Ruakoa (0774 081342) the seasoned host of a Lugbara radio show on UBC Radio 'decongests the airwaves' with his vibe. Tune in and listen to the latest developments in Lugbara affairs. Bua (0712 678214) a director from CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) Entebbe does extensive research on the tribe. Audiowave Studio Arua (0772 991264) and many other studios sell lots of Lugbara Music you can sample for private enjoyment. Lugbara meet on Sundays at St. John's Church in Entebbe at 3 PM, St. Francis Chapel Makerere University at 1 PM, Buziga Hill, Arua House (Muyenga), Kamwokya Centre, Kyebando Kisalosalo and many other places. Arua based radio stations like Arua One FM, Voice of Life, Nile FM, Koboko FM (Bushnet - Spirit FM), Radio Pacis (BBC’s Best New Station in Africa a few years ago) broadcast in Lugbara and other languages in addition to English the Universal Tongue; BTN (Bornfree Technologies Network) TV the pioneer station in West Nile shows Lugbara Music Videos: It has set up an independent affiliate starting soon in Kampala and later Mbale (if GOD wills). The ‘West Niler’ newspaper used to tell a lot of stories from Lugbaraland and neighbouring areas.

The "Okuza (Lugbara for 'The Gathering') Festival" brings together believers from all walks of life and nationalities to share the word of GOD in a specific camp either in Arua or Kampala. These and more are qualities that should make the Lugbara People proud of their identity...

The Lugbara language is the language of the Lugbara ethnic group. It is spoken in northwestern Uganda's West Nile District, as well as the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Orientale Province. Lugbara was first written by Christian missionaries in 1918, based on the Ayivu dialect. In 2000, a conference was held in the City of Arua in northwestern Uganda regarding the creation of a standardised international orthography for Lugbara. In 1992, the government of Uganda designated it as one of five "languages of wider communication" to be used as the medium of instruction in primary education; however, unlike the other four such languages, it was never actually used in schools. Aringa language, also known as Low Lugbara, is closely related, and sometimes considered a dialect of Lugbara. Some scholars classify Lugbara language itself as a dialect of the Ma'di language, though this is not generally accepted. A Simplified Lugbara-English Dictionary by Paul Ongua Iga (1999) can be bought from Fountain Publishers.

We welcome everyone to enjoy the Group of Leopards; spreading Love, Peace en Harmony... (A Leopard is the Lugbara cultural symbol)