At last count (2018), the United Nations estimates the current population of Uganda is 44.8 million people. It’s an extremely diverse nation made up of five major ethnic groups and some 30 spoken languages and dialects. At the same time, Uganda is a nation of solidarity, equal opportunity and tolerance.
Cultural tours of Uganda are as popular and an interesting add-on to a Big 5 safari tour and gorilla trekking. With over 56 tribal communities featuring distinct customs and age-old traditions, it’s fascinating spending time in Uganda discovering its cultural diversity.
Monarchial kingdoms are still a prominent cultural feature in Uganda.
For instance, the ancient Buganda Kingdom is one of the strongest kingdoms out of all those in existence in Africa. The Kasubi Royal Tombs are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth a detour for a day visit.
As would be expected, the cultural diversity of Uganda has led to authentic cuisines which have become signature Ugandan dishes. This includes ‘luwombo’ which is a traditional Baganda dish; ‘eshabwe’ which is a Banyankole sauce prepared without fire; ‘atapa’ which is millet bread; and ‘marakwang’ which is a sour vegetable.
The people of Uganda are world-renowned for being remarkably hospitable; warm and welcoming of its foreign guests and tolerant of its own people’s cultural heritages. The distinguishing customs, beliefs and traditions of the people of Uganda are intertwined to create a rich cultural tapestry.
Uganda’s cultural evolution is rooted in the Bantu inhabitants which arrived in the region in the 10th century. Today, the Bantu constitute half of the Ugandan population and dominate the central and southern parts of the country.
The north and north-eastern regions were inhabited by the Nilo-hamites and Nilotes which can be traced back to Ethiopia. They were a semi-nomadic group and their migratory habits led them to split and settle in different parts of the country.
The Sudanic speakers from West-Nile form another group. The Lugbara, Madi, Bari, and Metu are counted as part of this group. They are sometimes referred to as the Madi-Moru group.
You’ll also find indigenous tribal groups in Uganda such as the Batwa Pygmies who are former forest dwellers, now living on the forest fringes in south-west Uganda.