Local traditions and culture in Uganda

  • Local Customs
    by CatherineReichardt
  • Local Customs
    by CatherineReichardt
  • Local Customs
    by muguruki

Most Viewed Local Customs in Uganda

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    THE FLAG OF UGANDA

    by DAO Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The very colourful flag of Uganda is one of the most striking national flags of the world. It is comprised of 2 stripes each of Black, Yellow and Red and Red with a crested crane in full colour on a white disk in the middle. Black represents the African people, Yellow stands for sunshine and the Red symbolizes the brotherhood of man. The 3 colours were the colours of the Uganda People's Congress party, who came to power in elections in April 1962. The flag was officially adopted on the day of Uganda’s Independence from Britain on 9 Oct 1962. The crested crane was a symbol used for Uganda during colonial rule. Despite the many bloody upheavals and changes in political power – the flag has never been changed.

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    Flip flops/slippers/thongs

    by muguruki Updated Jan 10, 2011

    Ugandans have a real thing about shoes and I don't just mean that Ugandan men like wearing elaborately pointy things.

    Ugandan friends have told me that slippers should only be warn in the bathroom. The wearing of slippers/flip flops/ thongs in the street is really frowned upon by Ugandans especially in the towns and cities. I’m not sure where this kind of footwear snobbery comes from.

    It may have existed for years but it was widely reported that in the time of Idi Amin he would send out some of his goons on the streets and get them to order people to eat their slippers if they were found to be wearing the offending footwear on the streets.

    The photo here is of a standard pair of flip-flops that were provided for me in my room in Kampala to use in the shower. Even some very down at heel places will provide shower flip flops. The reason each foot is a different colour is to stop guests walking away with a nice matching pair, another cunning ruse to stop their flip flops going missing is to cut a chunk out of the shoes usually a V section cut out of the toe end.

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    Drink an Obama

    by muguruki Updated Dec 7, 2010

    Senator lager is produced in East Africa and aimed at the cheaper end of the market. The beer appeared on the market around 2004 just as some chap in Illinois with a Kenyan dad became Senator there. Now not surprisingly a beer called President is available.

    The nice cool bottle you see in the photo cost me all of 1200 UGX at a shop cum bar in Kitgum, 1200 is about the equivalent of 30p in the UK. 30p for a 6% strength beer is alright in my books.

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  • Muzungu direct translates English speaking person!

    by Andykall Written Aug 24, 2010

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    Mazungu is the term for English speaking person, derived from the fact the the language we speak is named Luzungu. I love how the kids shout out muzungu by... I guess one thing to rememmber in this culture is that it is always custom to greet everyone in the room when you enter, and never forget to greet anyone you know who you may see on the road as you walk pass. It is very rude to bypass someone. Ugandans are very hospitible peoples, so when offered a gift, please do not decline. You don't have to eat what you have been given or even use it, but do not refuse to accept a gift. The last thing I would say about this beautiful culture is that the best way to learn about their customs, language, or to get inside of the culture for yourself, is by spending quality time with the children. GOd Bless those who have a heart for these beautiful people.

    school kids hungry for the words of Christ.

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    Manicure

    by muguruki Written Mar 29, 2010

    You don’t have to go far in any Ugandan town before you come across a group of young men armed with a small basket full of their tools of the trade; nail clippers, files, assorted abrasive pads and a hotchpotch of different coloured nail varnish. These young men (always men) that will cut file scrub and paint your finger and toe nails for a reasonable fee tend to congregate around markets or wander around the town looking for business.

    In Kampala hair salons double as nail bars. In one such place on my last visit to Uganda I was to meet a friend of mine. I met her there as planned but what was not planned was for me to get my nails done as well. The first I new of this was when the young lad that had soaked and scrubbed my friend Edith’s feet and toe nails, he once again filled up the basin and told me to put my feet in the hot water.

    “You put your feet in there. I am paying for the manicure” Edith ordered me.

    We were sat outside the hair salon in a busy shopping mall in the middle of Kampala as the lad set to work by soaking my feet before putting cream was on my finger nails before they were then cleaned, filed and clipped. The same process was then carried out on my pre soaked feet after first removing every trace of dead skin leaving my skin feeling like a baby’s.

    All this cost 5,000 UGX. I declined the application of nail varnish which unlike Edith who’s nails were painted in various colours and added with intricate patterns.

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    CLIMATE

    by DAO Updated Jul 10, 2008

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    Uganda sits right on top of the Equator. That makes it hot every day of the year. Every day. Because Uganda is mountainous the temperature can vary a little bit. The highlands o the South West experience a cooler average temperature of 16° C while the North East temperatures exceeding 30° C about 254 days per year! Except for the North East corner of the country, rainfall is well distributed. The southern region has 2 rainy seasons, beginning in early April and again in October. June to December is relatively dry. The North has some rain between April and October is dry from November to March.

    Near Lake Victoria rainfall exceeds 2,100 millimetres a year! The mountain regions of the South East and South West receive more than 1,500 millimetres of rain.

    Even in dry months you can get a day’s rain especially near the lake. Have a light rain jacket and umbrella for any journeys to Entebbe or Kampala.

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    A POT OF COFFEE

    by DAO Written Mar 9, 2008

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    This is a great local custom. If you order a cup of coffee in Uganda, they bring you a little pot of coffee that holds about 3 cups. The prices are reasonably low so this is a great idea that just keeps getting better. The coffee? Gorgeous. They grow it here. I didn’t see any of those high-priced coffee multi-national chains and I hope they never come here. This picture was taken at the Imperial Hotel veranda in Kampala.

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    Cooking method

    by yurxlnc Written Nov 10, 2006

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    Bananas or plantains are a staple in the Ugandan diet and can be cooked in every way possible: baked, roasted, boiled, fried,stewed, steamed, grilled. The leaves of the banana are also used to wrap food before cooking it, instead of cooking in a metal or steel pot. No washing of dirty pans!

    food wrapped ready to be cppked in the oven.
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    greet everyone, and watch you hands

    by JessiLee Written Jun 18, 2006

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    when in the rural areas, not greeting people is seen as very rude, and if you can do it in Luganda people get very excited it's oleyotea nnyabo for a women and oleyotea ssebo for a man... or you can just say Jebale ko, which means well done, but people say it when they pass others and do not feel like talking.
    Another thing i learned, is that when shaking someones hand it is seen as rude to have your other hand doing something else, like you are not giving meeting this person you full attention. People either use both hands to shake, or place their other hand on the inside of their elbow.

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    Mzungu!

    by emeybee Written Jun 10, 2006

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    If you have light-colored skin then everywhere you go in Uganda kids will call out, "Mzungu!" and run after you or your vehicle waving. Mzungu just means foreigner, or white person, and since seeing a white person in a small village is a rarity the kids are curious and want your attention. It's kind of like if Brad Pitt walked down your street at home. I did notice that when I was with adults, especially community leaders, they looked embarrased or told the kids to stop, so keep that in mind for what it's worth. In any case, expect masses of kids to surround you, especially if you come bearing gifts like pencils or stickers, and be nice, because you're representing all of us!

    A Mzungu with stickers!

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  • the culutual greeting before askng driections etc

    by kirkmeister Written Apr 26, 2006

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    In uganda people will greet each other with teh exchange "hello, how are you?" t which the other responds "finen, how are you?" you can then ask for directions, advice , buy your good in the shop whatever.

    If you dive in with a question without this preamble it is rather rude.
    k

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    Markets

    by kokoryko Written Mar 17, 2006

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    In the beginning 80’s Uganda was recovering from civil war; markets were quite poor, with not a lot of choice for the possible customers ; here in Kygorobya, south of Kasese near Lake George the women sell grated roots (taro) and you barely found other type of food on this market. Here were not the bright colours and bright smiles of African markets. . .

    Baskets with grated dry roots market 1 market 2 kids at the market crowded.. .
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    Cattle

    by kokoryko Written Mar 17, 2006

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    In South western Uganda the Bahima shepherds keep the Long Horned Ankole Cattle ; having cattle is a sign of wealth : these cows look beautiful to me, and herds like this one, were not a common view in the 80’s.

    Ankole cattle
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  • Don't wear flip-flops!

    by elleneliz Written Mar 3, 2005

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    For those of us from the West, wearing flip-flops (or "slippers") while out and about is perfectly acceptable. In Uganda, however, these are only appropriate for use at home, inside. When Westerners wear flip-flops out in Kampala, they look underdressed - kind of like wearing your pajamas outside. Please remember that Ugandans (especially in Kampala) are generally well-dressed. Kampala is quite metropolitan, so it's disrespectful to walk around in torn jeans, dirty shirts, or flip-flops.

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    Matoke

    by grets Written Sep 2, 2004

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    There are 7-8 different species of banana here in Uganda, the most common being the plantain-like vegetable called matoke. Plantains are more starchy than sweet and must be cooked before being eaten. They are a staple crop in much of Africa, and are served boiled, steamed, baked, or fried. Robert explained that Uganda also have another plantain called njamonja, the very sweet ggonja, red bananas, finger bananas called ndzi, the large yellow mbite and the big boyoya. Bananas are grown by small-scale farmers who rely on their 'backyard' banana plots to sustain them through times of hardship, when coffee or cocoa prices fall or when annual crops such as beans or maize fail. Ecologically speaking, banana plants help to protect fragile soils from erosion, particularly in densely populated areas with high rainfall. In Uganda, bananas provide the staple for more than 2/3 of the population - the annual consumption reaches over 400 kg per person. As well as providing a staple food, the sales of these bananas in the urban areas provide an income for the largely rural population of the country. Uganda grows and eats 11 million tons of plantains each year, making them the world’s largest producer, although plantain production is now on a decline due to the increase of fast-spreading diseases and declining soil fertility. The plantains are transported on heavy lorries to distribution points, then continue on the back of a bicycle to the sales stalls. Often we see a small child pushing a large bike up a steep hill with a huge bunch of bananas hanging from each side as well as two bunches on the back.

    Bananas

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