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Basamia Bagwe

The Basamia–Bagwe people originate in the eastern parts of Uganda and live in districts of Tororo and Iganga. These people are said to connections to the Jaluo people of Kenya while the Bagwe people claim to have an attachment to the Banyala also in eastern Uganda. It is for this reason that they all face their dead bodies towards the Eastern direction while burying them.

Regarding their births ceremonies, mothers are held in confinement of a period of 3 Days for the sake of a baby boy and 4 days in case of a baby girl. The birth of a baby boy would be given few days because the man was meant to get out early and work hard unlike the girl.

However, among the Basamia-Bagwe people, there is the Balundu clan which later on reversed this ritual. Following the birth of the new born child, the baby mother and father would shave off their hair.

In situations of birth of twins, sheep was slain until it died and every one present had to participate by treading on it. This ritual was meant to cleanse the taboos and misfortunes associated with the births of twins. The father would move with a hunting spear to the in laws and collects a calabash and porridge.

A special calabash with two openings was given out and the father would spit in it and spit on the twins also. This practice would be done after having an open hut’s door in which the twins were also forked with sticks known as “olubibo”.

This ritual of door opening also included people dancing and singing obscene songs. After opening the door, both the people inside and those outside the hut would spit porridge into each other. Regarding child naming, they would do the naming immediately after the baby was born and names were determined by circumstances prevailing at the time of birth.

Regarding marriage rituals, parents would arrange for marriage without the consent of the children. The common method is that the boy would try and seduce the girl first and although the girl didn’t show direct response, an indirect form of agreement would be expressed by the girl. The boy then would come with a spear and plant it in-front of the hut of the girl’s mother and if the girl accepted marriage, she would remove this spear and take it to the mother’s hut and there after bride wealth arrangements would be made.

There was no fixed amount for bride wealth for the girl and thus the amount one gave out would depend on his wealth, tittles and status. 4 to 8 cows and a large number of goats each with a distinct purpose were paid.

After bride price payments, marriage arrangements would be made and the girl would then be taken to the husband’s home. If the girl was a virgin, a goat or its equivalent would be sent to the parents of the girl as a sign of appreciation and respect.

Traditionally the boy would take a male fat goat to the girl’s father for slaughtering and this goat was known as “esiidiso” and the father of the girl would stand on it and be smeared with simsim oil. This goat covered the marriage and strengthened the bond between these two families.

Regarding religion, these people believed in a supreme being known as “were” or “Nsaye” and was thought to be in heaven and responsible for the worldly creations. They also believed in ancestral spirits and also believed that they intervene in their affairs and were also known to bring harm, death if not respected. Each home had a shrine where they fed and pleased these spirits. They believed in existence of “omwoyo” in that when a person died, the “Omwoyo” would fly away in form of wind and such departed spirit was referred to as “omusambwa” residing in shrines and grave yards.

The taboos of the Basamia-Bagwe differed from clan to clan and no one was meant to eat his/her totem. It was also a taboo for a son-in-law to spend a night in the same house with the father-in-law and also children of age above 12 years would have their own house or room. Women were also barred from eating lung fish, pork and chicken.

Basamia-Bagwe people used to put on goat skins whereas women used to put on leaves coverings especially their private parts and the children lived naked. These people used to sleep on bare floor along the fire places and the rich had skins and hides.


Their common local foods were sorghum, cassava and millet. Girls and women shared the same plate while eating whereas the father and boys also used the same plate. Unnecessary talking and whispering was not allowed while eating. It was also considered a decent behavior to reply positively especially when called upon to join the people eating.

The Basamia-Bagwe people had a segmentary society and didn’t have chieftainship. Each village had a responsible elderly person who was known as “Nalundiho”. Nalundiho was famous figure in the society and also a rain maker.

The economic activities of the Basamia were simple as they depended on subsistence farming. They grew various crops which included Sorghum, Cassava and beans. They also reared cattle, goats and chicken.

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