Kerry did want to see the Batwa people, the God fathers of the forest. These are short people who were taken out of the Bwindi forest when it was gazetted as a UNESCO site. As some were taken away and relocated to a nearby land, others were taken far to the hills of Lake Bunyonyi. We decided that we could double the experience of Lake Bunyonyi with a Batwa community experience.
We did drive to Lake Bunyonyi landing site where all boats and canoes dock coming from the islands carrying all sorts of cargo including traders in transit to the nearby town markets of kabale. George was our guide for the day to the Batwa community experience. The boats here are locally owned by locals of the community and most of them seem to take advantage of the many tourists flocking here for the boat rides and the tour.
Boarding the wooden-Engine boat, we set off for our long awaited tour of the lake Bunyonyi. Through the traditional islands like the punishment island, up-side down island kyahugye and the epilepsy island among the 29 islands on this second deepest lake in Africa. Stretching 25kms long and 7kms wide, the lake offers one of the most relaxed boat cruises in Uganda. Being bilharzia free calls for swimming in the lake and so many activities that include diving. “lake bunyonyi” the lake for many small birds is another bird watching destination for many bird lovers, Oh yes, the sceneries here are just breathtaking.
Proceeding to the extreme end of the lake, we embarked off the boat and hiked for about 30mins to the top of the hill where the batwa Pigmy community settles. The sceneries to the top of the hill provide that aww-breathtaking views being locked and surrounded by terrace rolling hills and a lake snaking around the beautiful islands.
At the top of the hill lives short and minority batwa ethnic tribe in Uganda that once lived and shared inhabitant with the endangered mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. They were later taken out and re-located to different settlement camps by the government when the forest was gazzeted into a UNESCO site. These short persons lived and still live that ancestral life to-date. Living in shank huts build of forest shrubs, using herbal medicines despite the government building them structures for shelter.
The batwa pigmies are a true definition of African culture and customs. They portray a great reflection of the true African ancestral life decades back before the western intervention. Originating from the biggest ethnic group of the Bantu group who are believed to have migrated from West Africa and finally settled in west, central, south and parts of east Africa. The shortness of these people is their Brand and identification from the rest of the Bantu origins.
After touring their home-steads, it’s usually dance time. The batwa have very interesting traditional songs called the Kiga dance where they dance and shake the ground. After two welcoming songs, one of the leaders dancing picked up Kerry and off to the floor they went. This tour guide from California seems to have mastered the art of Africans because he did dance almost perfect. He followed the rhythm and dance which i later joined him to dance to the exact rhythm and strokes. After the last ground-shaking dance song, time was up for us to descend down back to our boat and head back to the main land and for our next destination.
This Batwa tour experience comes with a fee of 120000ug.sh or about $40 paid to the local boat guide. We then proceeded to mbarara through the rolling terrace hills of kabala until we got to mbarara at my wife’s village home in Ruti-a nearby village to mbarara town.
Preparing the Ugandan Traditional meal.
Our main visit here was all about the famous traditional meal, the Luwombo and how it is prepared. The luwombo is a typical Ugandan traditional meal prepared all together wrapped in banana leaves, tied and steamed all together in a saucepan. The scent of the meals in the banana leaves that steams out when opened is irresistible and mouth watering. This is a kind of meal prepared on most traditional ceremonies like the introduction where a man is being introduced to a woman’s family or when asking for a hand in marriage or any other traditional ceremony. It’s a traditional and occasional meal.
When we arrived at my wife’s village home who also doubles as the Director at Auto Rental Uganda car hire and self drive safaris. We were welcomed by my wife and her mother. In our local traditional belief’s we command a lot of respect towards our mothers and the reverse is true. We are not supposed to share a house, toilet or even get so close to each other. She commands a lot of respect for the fact that I’m married to her daughter and so she isn’t comfortable neither shaking my hands nor hugging me. Usually she stays meters away from me and greets me from a distance. For this matter and to keep our traditional customs, I decided to hand over my guiding part to my wife to take over. Kerry looking at us probably thought we were into some kind of comedy but good enough he understood it right.
Because we were a little bit late, we checked in to his new home and in a min was a chicken craw, tied its legs and headed to butcher its head off. “would you be so kind cut off this chickens head” my wife asked terry. This American tour guide was just looking in amazementon how the hell is going to cut this out. Finally they did cut the chickens head off and used hot water to tactfully remove the feathers off. Kerry was guided on cutting the chicken, prepared the banana leaves, peeled the matooke, wrapped everything as it is done and started the cooking part. We did have to wait for about 4 good hours until the food was ready to be eaten. We did engage each other with all the members of family on the different traditional customs of Africans and Americans just as we passed time and waited for the food steam up.
On preparation, we served and ate as family. Kerry did try using his hands but that wasn’t easy and was excused to use the fork and knife. Well that meal is always delicious and there Kerry loved it as well. After meals, I had to leave and find a hotel to sleep because I wouldn’t spend a night in my mother in-laws home or still share one roof but my wife was at home and Kerry still felt at home. “I had a good time with your wife’s family and yes we shared a lot after you had left” Kerry said in the morning. I picked up Kerry in the morning and we started to drive back to kampala for an appointment with one Dragu he was supposed to meet and help out for a charity visit in masaka. The remaining part of me was to drive as part of my work was done here.
Not so many people request for such local authentic experiences but it is a growing demand from our clients that have traveled with us. It is of no doubt that Kerry did love this and happily wrote us a review on Trip Advisor the worlds travel site and also watch us go down the traditional kiga dance on Youtube and has promised to return to Uganda for more authentic experiences.
Did this interest you, are you in for an authentic local experience and need to discover the true African experience? Drop us a mail and we will be more than happy to introduce to you the true African life of the local persons.