"Mulembe" is a greeting in Lugisu, my language. It is a language spoken by a people who live on the western slopes of Mt. Elgon in eastern Uganda. When literally translated it means "peace." The person being greeted would also respond with the same, "Mulembe." This greeting serves the purpose of declaring no intention of harm. Therefore, I welcome everyone to this blog with, "Mulembe!"

May 28, 2011

The Pearl of Africa

Sipi Falls, near Mt. Elgon, Uganda, 2008

I totally agree with Winston Churchill who described Uganda as "the Pearl of Africa."

Whether you arrive by road, train or plane, you will immediately be struck by Uganda's beautiful, elegant landscape and its friendly people.

Uganda is blessed with nature's beauty and has been referred to as the "Garden of Paradise."  Mountains, waterfalls, forests, lakes, the Equator, islands, rocks and rock paintings are all there, and much more.  Tourists go to the southwest to visit the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park where they can track gorillas, and see beautiful Lake Bunyonyi and the rolling hills of Kigezi. To the west they can see the breath-taking, Murchison Falls, the Ruwenzori mountains of the moon and the Ruwenzori National Park.  In central Uganda one can cross the Equator, visit Lake Victoria , tour Sesse Island and visit bustling Kampala, the city built on seven hills.  To the east through Mabira Forest one can visit the Source of the Nile and Bujaggali Falls near Jinja, Uganda's second largest city, where whitewater rafting is a big attraction.  Travelling northeast one can visit and climb Mt. Elgon, see the beautiful Sipi and Sisiyi Falls, view the the Nyero historic rock paintings, and enjoy beautiful Mbale town.  In northern Uganda tropical forests give way to a savannah lanscape.  There one can visit Mweya National Park. In the National Parks the tourists are assured of seeing wild life - elephants, giraffes, zebras, lions etc. Uganda is a natural and cultural treasure chest - true pearls to harvest!


For more information on Uganda, click here.

May 27, 2011

MULEMBE, YAYA! - A Short Story



Immy Rose Namutosi
© 1999

Once upon a time, there lived a young handsome man on the slopes of Mt. Elgon in eastern Uganda.  His name was Masaba, which is the local name for Mt. Elgon, a mountain that people regard with reverence.  It was therefore a very special name for this young man.

Masaba lived up to his name by being a perfect, ideal young man.  He was hardworking, respectful of all people, especially elders, and very pleasant.  But most important of all, Masaba was the son of the chief of the clan.

It was Masaba's father who had led his people from a distant place in the unknown East to this new land the people called Bugisu.  He was a great leader.  He was unlike other chiefs in that he never demanded to be called "King."

He was a leader with no real title.  Those who chose to call him chief did so because of the great respect they had for him.  It was no wonder that his son was brought up to work hard for the improvement of the clan.  People showed their love for their chief by bringing him gifts such as chickens, goats, and fresh produce which he in turn, shared with the poor.

Masaba was well liked because he was not a show off despite his father's fame and his own good looks.  He was often found helping people construct their mud huts or establish new homesteads.  Masaba was also a good hunter.  He never failed to accompany the village group when they went up Mt. Elgon to harvest bamboo.  Bamboo is one of the Bagisu people's special delicacies.

Masaba was a most eligible bachelor and the villagers were anxiously awaiting his selection of a girl to become his wife.  Masaba on the other hand was involved in so many different projects he never thought of marriage.  Since it seemed he would never make a move, the elders encouraged some pretty girls to distract him.

A Brief History of Bugisu

Bugisu* is the homeland of the Bagisu people.  It is in Mbale District in the east of Uganda, bordering Kenya.  Its main town is called Mbale.

"The sub-region is historically divided into North (Sironko), South (Bubulo and Bududa) and Central (Bungokho). These divisions also had political ramifications. For long, the north complained of marginalisation by mainly the south in job allocations.

"While the north largely produced coffee, the managers of Bugisu Cooperative Union (BCU) were largely from the south. It’s said the south then used to laugh at the north as coffee producers who only preferred business to education.

"History at Play
Secondly, the divisions in Bugisu had ancestral roots in the legendary Masaba, father of Bamasaba (Bagisu) who is said to have had three sons; Mwambu, Mubuya and Wanale.

"Mwambu, the first born, settled in Sironko, Mubuya, the second born, settled in south Bubulo and Bududa area while Wanale, the last born, settled in Bungokho. Some of Mubuya’s descendants migrated and settled in Sironko in areas bordering Teso and Sebei and came to be known as Babuya.

"But Mubuya’s other descendants who stayed in the south, some crossing to Kenya where they took on the tag of Bakusu, slowly took over leadership in the entire Bugisu. This never went down well with their brothers in the north.

"Their dominance was accelerated in colonial times when many Bagisu from the south were appointed chiefs. These included Stanley Wanambwa, a former District Commissioner in colonial times; the late Bwayo, who headed the Bugisu administration in Malukhu; the late Wamboka from Bududa, a former treasurer of Bugisu; the late Wandawa, Namasake and Wandubere, a former Saza chief who ruled both north and central." - from the Monitor

Mbale, once known as the cleanest town, overlooks Wanale a small mountain southwest of Mt. Elgon.

* - Bagisu are the Gisu people, Bugisu is their homeland, and Lugisu is their language.  The Bagisu are also known as the Bamasaba, their homeland as Bumasaba and their languge as Lumasaba.