Basamia Bagwe

The Basamia – Bagwe thrive in the east of Uganda and live in the districts of Tororo and   Iganga districts. They claim to have blood connections to the Jaluo of Kenya while the Bagwe claim to have an attachment to the Banyala. They all face their dead towards the East.

Regarding births, the Basamia Bagwe mother is held in confinement for a period of 3 Days for the sake of a boy child and 4 days in case of girl child. The birth of a boy would be accorded few days as the man was meant to get out early and hassle with the world unlike the girl. However, the Balundu clan reversed this order. Usually following the birth of the child the mother and the father could shave off the hair. Regarding the births of twins, the sheep was slain by treading on it until it died and every one present had to participate. This practice was made to cleanse taboos that were associated with the births of twins and children cleansing. The father of his brother would move with a spear to the in laws and collect porridge and a calabash. A special calabash or pot with two openings was provided and the lead person would spit in it and then spit on the twins. Thus practice would be done after having forcing to open the hut’s door in which the twins were with forked sticks (olubibo). During this ritual of door opening, people would be dancing and singing obscene songs. After the door opening, both the inside and the outside hut people would spit porridge in each other.

Regarding naming, the Basamia would do the naming immediately after the child is born and the names would be determined by the circumstances that are prevailing at the time of births or ordinary daily verbs among others.

iganga
Iganga, home of the Basamia

Regarding marriage, the parents would arrange the marriage without the input of the children if they were friendly though such cases were not all that common. The normal method is that the boy would seduce the girl first and though the girl could not show direct response, an indirect form of acceptance would be expressed. The boy would then come with a spear and plant in front of the hut of the mother of the girl and if the girl consented marriage, she would remove the spear and take it to the mothers hut and there after bride wealth arrangements would be entered to. There was no fixed bride wealth for each girl and thus the amount would depend on one’s wealth, tittles and statuses. This depicts that the rich would be charged more than the poor. Four to Eight cows and a large assortment of goats each with a distinct role would be paid. After paying the bride price, the marriage arrangements would be hurried up and the girl would then be take n to the husband’s parents. If it was landed on that the girl was a virgin, a goat or its equivalent would be sent to the mother of the girl as a sign of appreciation. Customarily the boy would take a fat male goat to the father of the girl for slaughtering and this goat was known as esidiso and on occasion, the father would stand on it and be smeared with sim-sim oil. His customary goat cemented the marriage and strengthened the bond between the two families.

Regarding religion, the Basamia Bagwe believed in a supreme being called Were or Nsaye and was thought to be dwelling n heaven and responsible for heavenly and worldly creations. Besides that, they also believed in ancestral spirits. The ancestral spirits were believed to intervene in the affairs and were known to bring harm, misfortune of death if not attended too properly. Thus, each home had a place/shrine where they could feed and please the spirits and these spirits could be called upon in the vent of sickness or any misfortune and would be appealed for things like good harvests, good health and fertility of women. They believed in existence of Omwoyo which is the heart of a living thing and that when a person died, the Omwoyo would fly away in form of wind of a shadow and such departed spirit became omusambwa residing in shrines and grave yards. The Emisambwa could interface with both the living and non-living and they had their abode in the underworld (Emagombe).

The taboos of the Basamia varied from clan to clan and no one was meant to each his totem. The Basamia society was patrilineal and the ladies would take up the clan of their husbands and their children would take up that of their father. It was a taboo for a son in law to spend an overnight in the dame house with the father in law and also children of a given age like 10 years would have their own house. The women were stopped from eating lung fish, chicken and pork.

The Basamia used to put on goat skins while the women put on leave coverings especially in their private parts while the children lived nakedly. The people used to sleep on a bare floor along the fire and the few rich could have skins.

The common foods for the Basamia were sorghum, millet and cassava. The girls and women shared the same plate while the father and the boys also shared the same plate. Unnecessary talking wasn’t allowed while having meals and it was considered a good behavior to respond positively when called upon to join the people having a meal.

The Basamia-Bagwe had a loose and segmentary society and did not have chieftainships and each village had a responsible elder and this was called Nalundiho. Nalundiho was famous political figure and at the same time rain maker. He had great influence at village level and his leadership was hereditary. It is asserted that if any person refused to clear the debt, Nalundiho would deny the location of the debtor rain until the debts were fully settled. As a result of his remarkable superiority, no one would taste the new harvest before him.

The economy of the Basamia was rather simple and depended on subsistence agriculture. They grow various crops including Sorghum, Cassava, Sorghum and a range of beans. They also referred cattle, goats and chicken. In general, minor transactions occurred between them and the neighbors. They had communal ownership of land and were owned on clan basis.