Ugandan families stick together, they don’t fly far from the nest

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Over time, Ugandan families tend to stick together as they don’t fly far from the nest like the western families do.

This is partly due to culture and tradition, also partly due to financial constraints. Women marry into the husbands family and move to his family’s homestead.

The father will divide his land between his wives (2 was common practice for the grandfather generation) and additional homes will be added to the homestead to accommodate the growing families.

The fathers family pay a dowry for the woman, and she moves from her home into the husbands home on his family’s homestead.

On my way home one day from Lake Bunyoni, I witnessed “The day after” a wedding, as the bride walked to her new home with her husband.

The husbands family was with her, carrying the beer to the new house, and one of the children were carrying her handbag for her.

All of the family rallied around her, as she made her significant journey from her natural born family home to that of her new husband.

I get a wonderful sense of comradery from the way the family units operate and connect together. They believe family is important and tend prioritize the families quite high.

This feels good to me.

The culture feels like a hybrid.

The marriages aren’t arranged per say, however families that have friendships can often conspire to have their children become friends or meet, and then encourage them to foster a romantic relationship. 

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7 Rukiga words to up your street cred while travelling Uganda

Knowing just a few words, particularly greetings in the local Rukiga language will make you feel like a pro and will get you a lot of surprised laughs.

Here are a few essentials for your stay.

Agandi – How are you?

There are an endless amount of Ugandan greetings and this particular phrase is just one of many. It might actually cause further confusion because it will result in one of a variety of responses which are hard to predict, definitely expect a smile though. 

Webare, Munonga – Thank you

An essential word in every language. Munonga means ‘very’ so add it on the end as many times as you like to show the extent of your thanks.

Tashonga – No worries

No worries: for the rest of your days!

Ya benozire – It was delicious

It’s always nice to be able to fully show your appreciation for a good meal.

Turebane mukasheshe – See you tomorrow

A great sounding word as well as a bit of a lesser known phrase to really impress people with!

Tindakyega – I don’t understand

Helpful for when your language knowledge runs out!

Muzungu – Foreigner

You probably already know this one, but it is pretty essential and you will hear it everywhere in East Africa not just Uganda. It is generally used to refer to white people or foreigners in general but literally translated supposedly means “someone who roams around aimlessly”.

10 Ugandan delicacies you must try!

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Katogo

Start your day off right with this Ugandan breakfast. Traditionally it is made with offal but if that’s not up your street then you can always ask for it “without insides”. It is made with a thick sauce and normally plenty of Matoke. A good start to the day if you have had a heavy night on the Waragi (a local gin).

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Rolex

The king of Ugandan food! You can find Rolex in every corner of Uganda and for good reason. It is the perfect salty snack street food made by rolling (hence the name) cabbage, onion and tomato in an omelette in a Chappati. The number of eggs in your omelette and the number of chapattis in your Rolex are optional so feel free to build the perfect Rolex for you.

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African Tea

Quite like a Chai tea, African tea is a rich and spiced drink. Best made with fresh milk and plenty of sugar- having a sweet tooth is very important in Uganda.

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Matoke

Matoke is a particular type of banana which is harvested when green and used in everything. It has the consistency of potatoes and can be boiled in the same way, added into stews or cooked in its skins and eaten as a roadside snack. 

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Mandazi

These sweet treats are like little Ugandan donuts. Deep fried dough with plenty of sugar in the batter- remember what I said about having a sweet tooth! You can buy these in packets but the best ones will be fresh, hot and home made.

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Groundnuts

Peanuts by any other name but I swear they do have a slightly different flavour- perhaps a bit more earthy. Best when roasted and coated in salt. If you’re self-driving round Uganda these make the perfect driving snack and can also be purchased from street sellers. 

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Chapati

The humble chapati has already made an appearance on this list for its key role in the famed Rolex. But a good Ugandan chapatti on its own is a delightful experience. Again best when purchased hot from the road side. These were introduced by Indian settlers but are now an essential part of East African cuisine and slightly crispier than their original version. Have one by itself or add local honey or an avocado (they grow beautifully in Uganda and are delicious and prolific!)

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Eggfruit

These are not actually native to Uganda and are known as eggfruit in the region around Bwindi but elsewhere are known as tamarillo. They have a bit of a sour but refreshing taste when fresh and make a particularly fantastic jam 

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Muchomo

This is the official name for meat stick! Meat sticks are sold by vendors in the bars come night fall and are a fantastic salty snack- the perfect accompaniment to an Eagle or a Nile! Alternatively purchase a goat or a sheep at the local market, grab some mates, build a fire and make your own. Again be wary of offal, but if you like liver this is a good way to have it. 

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Irish

The colloquial name for potato (as opposed to sweet potatoes) These are an essential part of Ugandan stews in particular and grow really well in the hilly regions around Bwindi. Not solely Ugandan but the name is worth knowing to understand the lingo.