Bunyoro cultural dance regains ground in Hoima City

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A troupe performing Runyege dance (Love dance) in Hoima (Kazi-njema News)

East or west home is best. Bunyoro traditional musical dance groups have seen some rays of hope in getting platforms to display their talents and cultural heritage in Hoima City and other urban centres.

The signs of hope have been growing since the beginning of 2019, according to Mr Vincent Nyegenya, Director of Professional Pearls, one of the renowned and organised Bunyoro cultural musical dance groups that have since then severally taken to the podium causing a beam on the face of the spectator.

Audio: Kinyoro cultural song performed at the launch of Hoima Oil City

Speaking to Kazi-njema News, Mr Nyegenya said that selecting traditional dance as the only form of entertainment at the launch of Hoima City on August 13, 2020, is a good gesture that the city leadership values and will continue valuing the cultural heritage of the indigenous community that hosts it.

In the preceding years, cultural dance has been at a high risk of extinction to the extent that western entertainment has been dominating at some such purely traditional ceremonies as marriage introduction locally known as Okweranga.

In 2017, at the Bunyoro Amasaza Tournament crowning officiated by Omukama (King) Solomon Gafaabusa Iguru I at Sir Tito Winyi stadium in Hoima city, western entertainment was plentiful as the function ended devoid of any cultural dance. 

Hajj Burhan Kyakuhaire, the special assistant in charge of cultural affairs in the office of the Prime Minister of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom has consistently condemned Banyoro who organise such functions for neglecting their own in favour of the foreign.

Mr Nelson Businge, the acting deputy Mayor for Hoima city said that as city leadership they intend to continue working tooth and nail to protect, promote and buttress the cultural values of the community that hosts them as the city grows with factors that put culture at risk of vanishing due to the increase in the number of people with different cultural backgrounds.

He added that the leadership will also consider the role cultural values of migrant communities towards advancing tourism and the associated benefits for the betterment of the city.

Mr Nyegenya attributes public return to loving traditional musical dance to its dynamism and the troupes’ current adoption to use modern sound systems connected to the traditional ones to produce sweet melodies.

Audio: Kinyoro cultural song at the launch of Hoima City

During the Hoima City launch activities, Mr Raphael Magyezi, the minister for local government, challenged the Banyoro to work towards promoting their culture in order to benefit from it.

According to him, culture is an indispensable aspect of any society since it is a good source of income that cultural troupes generate from their presentations.

He also said that culture provides an extra millage to national income with the consequential economic growth and development by contributing to national revenue through tourism which is the leading foreign exchange earner for Uganda.

Bunyoro is endowed with a unique cultural heritage with its various ethnic communities including the Bakobya, Banyabuyaga, Bagungu, Batyaba, Bakibiro, Banyamwenge and Basindi among others with varied creative and special cultural values that once promoted can check some of the challenges that have left most of the community members swimming in abject poverty and illiteracy for long.

The values include special traditional dishes like ndwa and nswi (cassava bread and fish) amongst the Bagungu, akaro and enyobo y’amacande (millet bread and a mixture of beans and sesame) among the Bagahya and esabwe (butter) among the Banyamwenge among others.

Cultural dance including Orunyege and entogoro (love dance), honorifics or praise / petty names called empaako like Amooti and Ateenyi among others to make important a sense of culture by displaying respect and love.

In art and crafts, Banyoro are known for smelting stones to produce iron hoes, spears and axes, production of costumes from back-cloth tree, traditional dance equipment like enaanga (zither) from the wood of enkukuuru tree (Europhobia Candelabra) and sinews from the tendons of a bull whose six strings are strummed with fingers among other instruments.

Banyoro dropped most of their cultural values after they were pummelled by the British colonialists and their local allies during the second most protracted rebellion against colonialism in Africa. The revolt that was staged by Omukama Cwa Kabaleega ended with his capture in 1899 after nine years of struggle.

Untold terror against the Banyoro communities was evident during the rebellion that left an estimated 2.4 million people massacred, decimating the Banyoro population to around 100,000 persons only, according to Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom.

Pillaging of domestic animals, plundering of natural resources, rape and ghastly murders were perpetrated, now memorable at Nyarweyo and River Nguse mass graves among others in Greater Kibaale, according to Mr Ashraf Nyorano Mugenyi, former Chief of Protocol (Omunyamirwa) in Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom.

He says that though the post-colonial governments including the current National Resistance Movements (NRM) have not laboured to take affirmative action as required by the 1995 Constitution of Uganda and the United Nations Education Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in order to protect and promote cultures that suffered historical injustices, the present Banyoro can give some millage to their culture if everyone plays their role from wherever they are.

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