Monday, 13 July 2009

A Short History of the Lugbara (Madi) by Lulua Odu 1996

The foreword of this book is written by Jason Avutia (The Chairman of LULA and an Elder), preface is by Lulua Odu 24th August 1996 Arua, West Nile. Born in 1947, Lulua Odu is a homeboy from Muni near Arua Town in the former West Nile District. In 1955 he entered Arua Demonstration Primary School at Mvara. During the 1959 Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE),, he came top in the whole District and won a six year scholarship paid by the West Nile District Administration. In 1960, Mr. Lulua proceeded to Ombatini Junior Secondary School in Terego County for two years before joining Kings College Budo (1962 to 1967). In July 1968 he went to the University of Dar es Salaam to read Law which he completed in March 1971. He obtained a Diploma in Legal Practice in 1975 at the Law Development Centre, LDC Kampala. In 1977, he was enrolled as an Advocate of the High Court of Uganda. Mr. Lulua has worked with the Immigration Department as Visa Officer and also the Nyanza Textile Industries Limited (NYTIL) as Legal Officer in Jinja. He is now a private legal practitioner based at Arua. He has, in addition, lectured in Business Law at the National Teachers College Muni. Lastly, Mr. Lulua was responsible for drafting the Constitution of the Lugbara Literature Association (Motto: Angu Owu ‘Bo [The Darkness has Cleared now]).

“I began my private research in 1966 while I was a student at King’s College Budo … from written sources and by interviewing different elders during vacation … I wish to thank … Jason Avutia (Chairman of LULA), Nahor Oyaa Awua (Co-ordinator LULA), Donato amabua (Chairman Arua DLC), Silla Mua (Court Broker), Barakia Yiti (Vurra Elder), Yoramu Badrayi (Ombokoro Elder) … particularly most grateful to the Dutch N.G.O. CAP West Nile for the generous financial assistance to LULA … to my deceased father Mr. Elisa Oda son of Kurua of the Ombokoro – Andruvu Clan. He encouraged me to study local history as a hobby.

Introduction: This book is an abridged version of the results of a research undertaken for the last 30 years on the history of the Lugbara (Madi) … intended for the general reader … For a long time, the Lugbara were generally regarded as people without recorded history. As such they could not be proud of themselves. The same applied to the Madi (The Lugbara are ethnically Madi and not vice versa) … the Lugbara and Madi have a common ancestry. (The issue of culture brings four [or five] countries together – Uganda, Sudan, Zaire and Nigeria [plus Congo])
Another pioneer in the formation of LULA is Abeti S. Ledra (Bachelor in Education, Masters in Education [Makerere University Kampala] Educationist)

SOCIAL STUDIES: A number of scholars have studied Lugbara Society. They were mainly European. The first was Major C.W. Stigand, a British tropical administration in the service of the Sudan Government who visited the Lugbara between 1911 – 3. Next was Dr. Alfred Tucker, a British linguist with a mission to study Eastern Sudanic languages including Lugbara (1930 – 2). The Most Well Known Researcher in the past, however, was John Middleton, an American Social Anthropologist who came to Vurra in December 1949. He wrote many books and articles on Lugbara myth, religion and mourning taboos for 3 years. At the same time, an Italian Catholic Missionary Father J.P. Crazzolara was studying the language. In 1960, the Oxford University Press published his book “A Study of the Lugbara (Madi) Language. In their footsteps came several individuals especially academicians at Makerere University. Foremost among the dons were Dr. Shiroya and Professor Delfovo. Also called A.T, the professor compiled a Bibliography on the Lugbara people and of writings in the language. Lulua’s book is a humble contribution intended to be an eye-opener to the world. The next publication to follow it is “A General History of the Lugbara (Madi) – a more detailed and comprehensive study.

AWA’DIFO FEZURI (The LORD’s Prayer for Thanksgiving)

Ata amani ovupi ‘buari
Ru mini ma ovu inzizaru;
Suru mini ma emu;
E’yo mini leleri ma ‘ye I nyakua ekile buarile.
Mi fe etu ‘dosi nyaka andruni ama dri.
Mi ku mari amani, amani ‘ba afa amani nyapi ‘diyi ma mari kulerile
Mi ji ama obeta ma alia ku;
Mi pa ama ‘ba onzi dri.
Te suru pi, Okpo pie, diza pie,
Dria mini ‘dani ‘dani.


Why is Arua Honey the Sweetest?

I used to wonder why some people regard Arua Honey the Sweetest for example in the year 2000, Arua Honey won the Gold Medal at the Lisbon Expo in Portugal. In 2005, Uganda was chosen among the few developing countries that can export honey to Europe. Consequently, a honey and its by-products processing plant that meets European Union (EU) standards was set up in Arua Town. Bee Natural Products (BNP) is a private company that has an annual capacity of 600 tonnes providing an opportunity for bee keepers in the entire West Nile Region to intensify production of quality honey. Farmers in addition get access to national, regional and international markets. Currently, about 120 farmer groups in West Nile are accessing advisory services, modern beehives (KTB and Langstroth), harvesting gear and honey extraction equipment from BNP under a partnership with the Government of Uganda’s NAADS (National Agricultural Advisory Services) Programme for development and increase of incomes.

I posed this Sweetest Honey Question to Philliam Cema, the Arua District Entomologist, and he reasoned, “…because natural honey is harvested from natural vegetation – Acacia and Combretum Woodland (which has a variety of wild tree species that give sweetness to honey). It stretches across the whole of the West Nile Region. It’s very unique vegetation not found in other regions of the country and enters Sudan and Congo. The main problem is how the good honey can be harvested to maintain the standard. Some farmers dilute or contaminate it with ash or foreign particles when harvesting.”

In Kampala, Golden Bees Family located in Bukoto suburb processes honey products and treasures honey sources from Arua. They won the 2008 Second Runner-Up Award in the whole of Africa during the Api – Trade Africa Exhibition. They are upgrading their honey products to two labels - Wild Forest (Dark Honey) and Acacia (for Light Honey). You can find their products (which also include propolis) at their Bukoto residence and in all leading supermarkets including the new 24 Hour Nakumatt Supermarket (If you need Arua Honey, they Got it). Other outlets include Hot Loaf Bakery (Buy bread and spread with honey, that’s a good deal), Payless, Uchumi, Half Price and others.

Simple Ways of Making a Bee Hive
While paying my respects in January 2009 to my maternal grandmother who had died in October 2008 (amazingly in my father’s arms while they rushed her to Kuluva Hospital – a few miles outside Arua), I sat under a mango tree in the Aliba Home with my uncle Dick Diyo and learnt a few things about beekeeping. His eldest kid among three was also practicing it (efficiently). Maneno once set up a simple pot hive in a tree and by evening, bees had already gathered in it. A simple way to create a hive is to cover the pot opening, leave a small hole for entry probably in a crack at the bottom of the pot or elsewhere. Then put the pot on a tree branch that is convenient and watch the bees invade it after scouting. There is bee trivia that if they smell cocaine, their dances intensify. That’s one way of getting bees high. Another traditional method is making a long grass enclosure and covering the open end with something like a wooden ring, that is with wood stripes across. You can use cow dung to cover the outside. Modern methods include using wood entirely or with iron sheets. These are more long lasting. It can take one to two years to harvest for a good yield though some farmers do it after only six months. The Ediofe factory buys at a low price and sells at an expensive price to the European Market. Farmers nevertheless also sell to the local market. A 20 litre jerrycan can yield 90,000 UgX.

There aren’t very many active beekeeping associations in Arua (as Philliam Cema – the Arua District Entomologist – confessed) but one notable one is the A.M.N Regional Bee Keepers’ Association at Plot 34 Mvara School Crescent. Contact person is Jurua +256(774)680445

A few Lugbara Words

e’yo (message),
o’diru (new),
waraga (letter),
ba (people),
tualu (together),
buku (book),
isu (find),
efini (meaning),
osita (birth),
ori (descendant),
azini (another),
Yesu Kristo (Jesus Christ),
mva (child),
angu (place),
omvi (replied),
alea (inside),
onduaru (wise),
Imbata (Education),
ayiko (happiness),
adaru (true),
dria (all),
ngurube iza (Pig meat – Pork),
a’utani (cock),
Adrou or Mungu (GOD),
ale aza koza fe (I want to give help),
Awa’difo! (Thanks!),
orindi (spirits),
andru (today),
kpere (until),
aga (surpasses),
ega (remember),
kilili (properly),
aku (home),
vini (and),
Alipha (Alpha),
kabilomva (lamb),
nyaku (soil)


Hiphop and Reggae are very dynamic and Black Harmony (from West Nile) are the supreme flag bearers of these genres in Lugbara-land. I prefer categorizing their creations as LugbaRap 'en' Riddim. Savour a few of their lyrics below.

“Leta” in Lugbara means ‘Love’ and this jam is like a courtship song. A man sees a beautiful well disciplined girl and tells her he loves her so much that he cannot sleep. He adds that the overpowering issue leaves him so helpless that the best solution is to marry her and he wants her parents plus brother to know about it quickly. He is ready to pay 100 cows as dowry like the Karimojong do (Even though that number is too high in Lugbara culture) or even pay 100 Million like Europeans do.

Black Harmony, nice melody. Back once and again with Audio Wave production.
(Do be di X2) Murula di ngoyi ka, (Do be di X8) Badi izanva di ngole ya? Murula di ngole ka, izanva di ngole ya?

Geri mini mi a azu taya taya ‘di fe ma asi ni susu
Geri mini guzu miti miti’a ‘di ma asi su lu tu yo
Ani a’yo ‘di zanva la ale mi. Kanisi lu mi ise mi ma rua
Ama ‘iciti, a si aku mi ‘be lu, le mi ati me eri e’yo ‘di ndi
Ani lu ale lu mi ni, E’yo ‘do nde ma okpo ra yo! (Nde ma okpo ra yo)
Eri lu ‘di fe ma ni, ‘badi, o’du kozukuniya
Le mi andri ma eri e’yo di indi, ‘drusi eri lu ma Chandi ne yo
Ale lu mini e’yo ‘do nde ma okpo ra yo (Nde ma okpo ra yo)
Le mi adri ma eri e’yo ‘di indi, drusi eri lu ma Chandi ne yo

Geri ndundusi akini ale lu mi ‘du ni
Zanva ale ini lu ra
Oduko mini njile di ‘de lu ma bi’a ala tu
Izo la mi a’I lu e’yo di
Zanva ale lu mini ndrita mini ndrizudi iza mama dri lu ni
Sweety la, ale lu mini, ndrita mini ndrizudi iza mama dri ra
Bakatelu mi je ti si yo, matenga lu mi je ti 100 [Turu alu] (Karimojongi le]
Bani mi je sillingi si, (Ayi yo) manga lu mi je lu Millioni 100 (Eh, muzungu le)
Adusiku ma adri e’yo ‘di nde ma ra
Ndrita eri ni ndrizu ‘di iza mama dri lu ni
Geri ndundusi akini ale lu mi du ni
Zanva ale ini lu ra
Adriza mini idale ‘di i’de lu ma asia ala tu
Izo la mi a’i lu e’yo di
Geri ndu driasi akini ale lu mi du ni
Zanva la mi a’i lu e’yo di


Kadi ovu drioru, ‘da ta lu vini onyiru tu
Zanva a’yo di, Chandi mani isule ‘do si
Ayiko ‘de lu ma asia yo
Desu ale te ‘ba ma oni ‘ba, ayiko fezu aku’a
Anji nyiri ma isu imbata
Drusi drozi lu angu izozu yo. Ani a’yo di:
Ika ma le ra, le te ile ma avasi tu
Denga podi lu ‘ba sini aku ku
A’dusikuni lu ka te ovu ‘dale ku, ‘da nga ni ayiko fe akua ku
Ani aleta ‘ba ma oni ‘ba
Inzita fezu akua
E’yo woro ka ovu ala
Aku ni nga pa so ani yo
Ka te ovu ‘dale ku, da nga ayiko fe akua ku


(Do be di) X 27
(Woo woo woo yee!)
Murula di ngoyi ka, (Lugbara lediyo, lediyo, lediyo) Badi izanva di ngole ya?
Murula di ngole ka,
(Ma’i Zakariya’i, ma ti fe 8 [Aro] tua!/ Ata Zakariya. Mba, murula ‘di ce be zo da’i rwati nikuni da’i? Ba jo mini ma ti fe 12 [Mudri dri iri] sa ‘do si) (Woo loo loo lee!)
Zanva ‘di ngole ya
Murula ‘di ngoyi ka, izanva ‘di ngole ya?
Izanva ‘di ngole ya, Murula ‘di ngoyi ka?
Murula ‘di ngoyi ka, ‘badi izanva ngole ya?
Murula ‘di ngole ka, zanva ‘di ngole ya?

“Adiaa” is a song about food en love. The man (Singing Voice) tells his lover to cook for him Mutere (Dried cassava or sweet potatoes cut into small pieces). To this, she can add Greens including adrabi, awiribi, palabi, or dodo. She must not forget salt or an appetizer in this case ‘anyu’ (Groundnut paste, a delicacy in Lugbara culinary arts).


Adiaa, mutere (Mani lele), Adiaa mi a’di nga mani mutere (A’i were ci yo)
Adiaa we, adra bini yo (Mani lele), Adiaa mi a’di nga mani awiri bi (Le mi ‘iga lu misi)
Adiaa, pala bi (Mani lele), Adiaa mi a’di nga mani agobi (Anyu were ci yo)
Adiaa we dodo si yo (Mani lele), Adiaa mi a’di nga mani. A’yo
Adiaa, mutere (Mani lele), Adiaa mi a’di nga mani mutere (Alaa were ci yo)
Adiaa we, adra bini yo (Mani lele), Adiaa mi a’di nga mani awiri bi (Le mi ‘iga lu misi)
Adiaa, pala bi (Mani lele), Adiaa mi a’di nga mani agobi (A’i were ci yo)
Adiaa we ‘badi dodo si yo (Mani lele), Adiaa mi a’di nga mani. A’yo

Izanva ni lu ndri ndri, izanva nil u munyi munyi
Izanva mi lu akaza ru, izanva ndri lu tu ya
Aka lu iri ne milesi, ma asi ni m’buni lu
Ma sende inje mbele lu, malu inje fe erini
Ani a’yo cika ni, zanva mi imu ‘ba si aku
Otraki ‘dosi ‘yo ri a’yi dri’a lu ile ti
Anje afe ra, me isu ‘ba’be sende iyi’a
A’du e’yosi ari izanva ni lu inya a’di ku

[‘Dori nde ma ra, a’yo, ‘do ri nde ma ra yo
‘Do ru ri nde ‘di ma tua ‘badi la
‘Do ri nde ma tua te] X2


Anya ri (Gunya), Idra ri (Taya)
Akini emi dri cika emi imba nga eri ci yo
Anya ri (Gunya), kiri kiri si, a’yo ‘di lu dani ku, ‘di ku
Etto, le ma ra, ale eriraya yo
Te akini emi dri geri azinisi aniniku, ‘di ku
Inya ‘bani a’dileri ndu (Iti’a we ‘di yo)
‘Ba le te ‘di ‘ba e’da e’yo ni ku (Ani ndra ku)
E’yo a’iza ‘bani ci yo (Torozi ‘be)
‘Bile’a eri mu dale di (Ani ‘di ‘bo)
Gunya (Anya ri), Taya, ‘ba dria ni ce lu ‘di mali teria
(Anya ri) Gunya, (Idra ri) Taya, kiri kirisi, a’yo ‘di lu ‘dani ku, ‘di ku
(Mami, emi woro woro emi imba ma indi
Dadi la, azi ciri, mi imba ma indi)


Le ife anji ma la skulu’i a’dule ku,
Ma nga azi aku’a ‘di indi yo
E’yo ‘diri haki ni
Mama la, mi imba odekua ‘di ‘drio ru
Denga podi cani nga ku
Ka ovu ‘dini ku nga te paso ku eh!
Ata ago ti’a ‘ba nga eri ‘idro ra
Mi isu eri nga lu bani drinja fe aku alia
Ani, le ‘ba imba anji ra!

“Baby Gal” is a fantastic song in at least three languages mixed beautifully with Lugbara. It introduces Lady Shadia from Kampala (Buganda). She is the reference point of this inter-cultural love affair expressed by the lyrics. Her character in the song doesn’t mind that the man interested in her is not from Buganda, what matters is that he shouldn’t be a liar like most Baganda she had seen.

Shadia, Harmony, bounce along the kid, curfew the dance hall scene. Here we go.

Me isu mani izanva azi ala ni lu bo (Shadia)
Only Number One baby gal (Lady Shadia)
[O yeah, I can’t resist your style even if your baby boy ana ni bamba] X3

You know, Black Harmony lu, Lady Shadia ‘be
A’yo mini me isu mani izanva ala ‘di ra. Oku ala ni a’yo ale lu ni ra. A’yo mini me ibi mani oku, Rua ‘be anjuzaru lu nva le (Lady Shadia), adji ‘be lu Aringa ri (Mi ina nanasi le!)
Mileni lu, zanva ‘di ale nda mi inga ngole ya (Mite’di Abuani)
Ani ekatro ovu aria ni (Mite ‘do amamu ni)
Rua ‘be anjuzaru lu nva le (Lady Shadia), adji be lu Aringa ri (Mi ina nanasi le!)
Mileni lu, zanva ‘di ale nda mi inga ngole ya (Mite’di Abuani)
Ani ekatro ovu aria ni (Mite ‘do amamu ni)
Leta mani mi lezu ri, kiri kiri
Zanva aleni mani aparakaru ku
A’dusikuni lu, ma asi oti misi. Ma ‘dua ‘ye aduni?


Ma baby boy, mazima oli wadala (Aaah!)
You drive me crazy!
Nze nkwagala ku fa (Mmmm!)
Kati kyensaba kukwanjula mu bakaade (Daddy daddy yeah)
Ofuke omuganda, olinga abaganda (Oh!)
Sikifako oba toli muganda (Uuuh!)
Baganda banji abagala abatali Baganda (Eh!)
Baganda banji bendabye naye nga balimba
Nze ne yagalira gwe, atali mulimba
Nolwekyo mwatu mundeke muwane, musutte, mubitte, mu yiye abatesi
[EMMANUEL:] Ani ra ile ma ra, ale mi ra
Zanva ala ale lu mini ma nga mi du ra yo
Ale mi ra, ile ma ra zanva ala ale lu mini ma nga mi du ra
E’yo adasi, leta leta ama isile’a miberi ma zozo mba alu pere bani ba jeria yo


Eh, whine your body, move your body
Groove to the beat, don’t have no body?
As we are, inna de place to be
Open @ da club, where we @
Know, we gat one fi de fierce, wid da engine in da air
Two inna de place, we be fierce everywhere
Shaking over here and over there
Shaking over there and over here
Shaking everywhere ‘coz
(Dis is a nu dance hall tune [Yeah!], all de rude boyz dem cool
Chichi man, woman make a fool, to be true
Dat’s tha nu dancehall rule X2)

[CHORUS:] (Audiowave) Yeah!

People, are you ready for the dance hall queen?
(Lady Shadia X4 Yes well, we are ready for Lady Shadia)
I said, people are you ready for the dance hall king?
(Black Harmony X4 Yes well, we are ready for Black Harmony) X2


“Anga Azi Avasi!” (Let Us Work With Enthusiasm!) is a song that calls on the community to commit to their professions no matter which one, whether driver, doctor, boda boda or whatever.


(Le anga azi avasi, amani cozu afa amani leri isuzu ra
Le a i’ya anvu avasi, amani cozu nyaka amani leri nyazu fo
Le a dinga nyondo avasi, amani cozu sende amani leri isuzu ra
Le a si kalamu avasi, amani cozu mali amani leri nyazu fo) X2

Azi alu alu azi dra dra. Azi kini badi la ale ava yo
Kini ava koko azi nga alu’a ku
Avasi azini nga ni yo. Te ma adripi ale lu mini yo
Inya yoni ile anvu yo. Anvu kini ile ava’i.
Kini ava koko azi nga alua ku
Ava kini ile ovuani ku
‘Desi ovua si azi nga alu. Ovuakoko azini nganiyo
‘Badi la, le anga lu azini yo


[ROBERT:] Everybody must work (Don’t give up!)
Even though you’re going down (Don’t give up!)
‘Coz one day you gonn’ make it to the top
Don’t stop, just keep on going on
[EMMANUEL:] Ata kama wewe dreva (Fanya na bidi!)
Ona tesa gari kubua, (Fanya na bidi!)
Osi kosa siku moja, (Fanya na bidi!)
Kila siku fanya kazi, (Fanya na bidi!)
Ata kama wewe doctor, (Fanya na bidi!)
Ona treat kila mutu, (Fanya na bidi!)
Osi kosa siku moja, (Fanya na bidi!)
Kila siku fanya kazi, iii!


Black Harmony we r tha Wickedest inna de place
Call wid da Wickedest Fire pan de place
Once en agen we r hotta dan fire
Ugandans tire, we r burn lyk fire
We r fire dem
Ala dem, we na play. We murda dem
If dey com inna we way, we no claim no top spot
Run wid da base we gat. Com’ dis, com’ dat, we dat
Coz we no gangsta
Na ruud boi, we rap star
Comin’ an da stage, we actor, cause disaster
Run wid da playaz we gat, ol’ adem just talkin’ about