The Baganda are the largest single ethnic group in Uganda and occupy the central part of Uganda which was formerly known as the Buganda province. The Baganda are mainly found in the present districts of Kampala, Wakiso, Mpigi, Mukono, Masaka, Kalangala, Kiboga, Rakai and Mubende though they can also be found in other regions of the country. They are a Bantu speaking people and their language is called Luganda.
The Culture of the Baganda
Buganda’s clan system is central to its culture. A clan represents a group of people who can trace their lineage to a common ancestor in some distant past. In the customs of Buganda, lineage is passed down along patrilineal lines. The clan essentially forms a large extended family and all members of a given clan regard each other as brothers and sisters regardless of how far removed from one another in terms of actual blood ties. The Baganda took great care to trace their ancestry through this clan structure.
A formal introduction of a muganda includes his own names, the names of his father and paternal grandfather, as well as a description of the family’s lineage within the clan that it belongs to. The clan has a hierarchical structure with the clan leader at the top (owakasolya), followed by successive subdivisions called the ssiga, mutuba, lunyiriri and finally at the bottom the individual family unit (enju). Every Muganda is required to know where he/she falls within each of these subdivisions and anyone who could not relate his ancestry fully was suspect of not being a true Muganda.
The Baganda were essentially agriculturalists. The main crops grown included bananas, sweet potatoes, cassava, yams, beans, cow-peas and a wide assortment of green vegetables. They also kept chickens, goats, sheep and cattle.
The Baganda believed in superhuman spirits in the form of mizimu, misambwa and balubaale. The Balubale were believed to have been men whose exceptional attributes in life were carried over into death.The mizimu were believed to be ghosts of dead people for it was believed that only the body could die and rot but the soul would still exist as omuzimu (singular of mizimu). Such ghosts were believed to operate at the family level to haunt whoever the dead person had grudges with. If the mizimu entered natural objects, they were believed to become misambwa. At another level, the mizimu could become tribal figures and also be known as Balulaale.
The Baganda regarded marriage as a very important aspect of life. A woman would normally not be respected unless she was married. Nor would a man be regarded as being complete until he was married. And the more women a man had the more of a man he would be regarded. This presupposes indeed that the Baganda were polygamous. A man could marry five wives or more provided he could manage to look after them though he could not marry from his own clan.