Culture is said to be one of the cornerstones of humanity as far as development and evolution is concerned. It embeds ideas, customs, and social behavior of particular people or society and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement. Africa and Uganda in particular is comprised of a number of different tribes, each with a specific culture. A blessing but yet a challenge is that, although these cultures act as a preservation of history, guiding principles deemed at enhancing shared norms and values, they have proven to be the genesis of disunity, civil unrests, human rights violation and a nascence of social class struggles.
Uganda’s landscape is predominantly tribalistic. Culture varies from one tribe to another basing on the origin and settlement of a particular tribe. For example, Baganda, Banyankole and Banyoro-Batoro belong to the Interlacustrine Bantu who are said to have trekked from Cameroon Highlands and Katanga Region in Congo, around 1300AD. These tribes share most of the cultural orientation, such as having centralized kingdoms, living in social classes such as Bahima versus Bairu in Ankole and Bunyoro, Abalangila versus Abakopi in Buganda. However, the languages of these tribes differ but have a common suffix “ntu”. Other tribes include; the Alur, Acholi, Langi, Karamojong and many more.
Culture in tribes is the invisible bond which ties people together. It incorporates different patterns of human activity such as art, literature, language, and religion. Our cultural values and beliefs manifest themselves through our lifestyle. Our moral values represent our culture. The importance of culture lies in its close association with the ways of thinking and living. Differences in cultures have led to a diversity in the people from different parts of Africa.
The multi-disciplinary approaches to the study of Ugandan cultural heritage are scattered everywhere. These include; artifacts, written documents, anthropology, archeology and linguistics. Artifacts also include tools which were used by different cultures to earn a living. Tools such as spears, wooden axe, boats, pots, bark clothes and many more are still present and preserved in museums such as the Uganda Museum in Kampala, Igongo Cultural Centre in Mbarara, Kasubi Tombs in Central Buganda and others. Oral tradition is also a clear distinction of cultural diversity in Uganda.
Many tribes have preserved their culture through oral history which includes traditional dances, proverbs, riddles, folk songs and many more. Phrases such as “tambura ngo’muganda” carry a lot of meaning and moral instruction to the Baganda. Some of the proverbs include “akati keinukwa kakiri kabitsi” among the Banyankole means that spare the rod and spoil the child. Traditional songs such Dingi-Dingi among the Alur, Bakisimba among the Banganda, Ekizino among the Batoro all are all justifications of oral cultural traditions among the different tribes of Uganda.
Leveraging cultural diversity is a tactical game. Uganda being a heterogeneous state, its citizens have enjoyed their cultural rights under different tribal orientations. Worth noting, alien culture such as the European culture seems to be powerful most especially in social and religious settings. Due to these differences, there is a conflict of interest in trying to promote alien culture at the expense of indigenous African cultural heritage. Africans have consistently abandoned their beliefs, norms and values in favor of the western behaviors, which puts its social economic and political organization at stake.