Bakiga people of Uganda

The Abakiga (“people of the mountains”) are an ethnic group located in what is now north-estern Rwanda and southern Uganda. They speak a Bantu language called Rukiga.[1] They are sometimes referred to as the Chiga or Kiga, while the singular form is Umukiga. It has been suggested that the Bakiga arrived in Uganda from Rwanda between 1600 and 1700.


The people of southwestern Uganda, mostly located in Kabale district, 7% of the population or 1.7 million according to the last 2002 census.

Pre-colonial period

The Kiga culture is quite confusing. In order to know the Bakiga, one has first to know something about Rwanda. The Kiga people are believed to have originated from Rwanda. It is even in one of their folk songs – Abakiga twena tukaruga Rwanda, omu Byumba na Ruhenjere, – meaning that all of us Bakiga, we came from Rwanda in Byumba and Ruhenjere (called Ruhengeri in Rwanda). Both Byumba and Ruhengeri are Rwandan provinces. The Bakiga are believed to be the descendants of Kashyiga, who came to be called Kakiga son of Mbogo from the small Kingdom of Bumbogo in Rwanda later. He came to form the present community of the Bakiga of Kigyezi or Kigezi as a result of Immigration.

Before the year 1700 A.D., Rwanda is believed to have been occupied by the Twa people as the first group to occupy it, and then was later on occupied by the second immigration of the Hutu people, and the third was the Tutsi. Rwanda was organised in small states and chiefdoms but under one ruler called the Mwami. Originally, he was also known as Omukama. Among the Bakiga, the ruling person was therefore named Mukama, equivalent to Mwami in other parts of Rwanda.
Originally, the name Mukama was not a name, but rather the title of a Ruler. But later on it came to be recognised as a name, implying to one ruling man. In the Bakiga culture, the name was later attributed to God as Lord. Among the Bakiga, the name Mukama is not a female name. There are not many Bakiga called by the name Mukama. It is a name that was reserved to be used in the family of the ruling clan, the Bamuhutu, who possess the inheritance powers. If there is any person bearing the name Mukama, he must be a Bamuhutu, specifically a Mungura/Mwitira, or belong to the royal clan of the Bamuhutu. Not even in Rwanda among the Tutsi who took over the Kingdom after Kirima (Cyirima) had been defeated, did they dare to use the name Mukama because it signified a more fundamental power than they had assumed.

Similar names could be like Byamukama, Kyomukama, Womukama, Kamukama, Bainomukama and so on. Therefore, the title for the King in Rwanda remained Mwami (Omwami), whereas in the Rukiga (the Kiga Kingdom) they continued to use the title Mukama (Omukama).

In the first stages of the formation of the Kingdom of Rwanda, the major states were Bumbogo, Buriza, and Rukoma (These areas kept their names, and are located in central Rwanda near the capital city of Kigali). Each of these states was represented by a clan chief. The first Mwami was Mbogo of the small state of Bumbogo. At that time, the Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa ethnic groups were all present in Rwanda, living side by side. Though these three major groups stood out, their indigenous clans remained as the point of reference due to their totems. Mbogo, who belonged to the Abungura clan, today known as Abaitira clan, is believed to have been conquered by his friend Kirima of the Abanyiginya clan. Kirima accused Mbogo of mistreating the people, and Kirima promised he would be a better chief, though he could not claim to be a King or Umwami. He asserted that Mbogo was using testicles of men to decorate his royal drum, Kamuhagama,[citation needed] the symbol of his kingdom. Kirima is believed to have made progress, but his time was short lived by the first invasion of Bunyoro, led by Cwa I son of Nyabwongo. It remains to verify, whether Nyabwongo is same Labongo, the first Babiito king of the Bunyoro-Kitara kingdom in Uganda.

This post has more pages below-please, look for pages1, page2……etc


  1. This is anice intiative to communicate this wonderful culture to the community that has been taken up by the western traditions.It has helped some of us who just found ourselves in aforeign land of which some cant even speak their mother tongue.Iam one of the few born out side Kigezi and Bufumbira and I take pleasure and pride in my language and tribe.I have carried out some research in this same matter,particulary when at Makerere University to some extent but this has propelled me to further heights.I thank the author and wish you agood time for more research.Thank you.Next time God willing I will post my contribution towards this noble cause.

    Hakiza James


  2. I can´t dance Kikiga; I feel very ashamed because as a young boy I tried it very many times but they always informed me that I din´t bend so well and that my leaps in air were always badly calculated. I tried harder all the time but the adjudicators were never convinced so I left very unwillingly.I love the dance and what is more I know it surges and flows in my veins because both my late father and mother were an authority at it.

    Just recently a friend of mine called me to theatre to watch the Ugandan performers (the young orphans group) and when they reached the Kikiga dance my friend surely noted that something had gone wild inside me.I rose to explain the energetic way we do things in the Kikiga culture, dancing inclusive. I even translated the verses sang out.It was good hearing speak Rukiga in Madrid – Spain!


  4. Hello Bitama,
    What exactly are you trying to find out?
    You need to be specific so people can help you!
    If it was in contemporary Kikiga culture, I would say many are doing well;entrepreneurs, Doctors,Engineers, Role models,Professors,Home managers,etc.
    However, like in any culture, many are still being short changed due to alcoholic husbands and Christian fundamentalism, etc.

    I’m sure Bakiga community will add something here.

  5. Mwebare munonga kutugambira eyi abakiga bakomokire. Nyowe ndyomusigi womunyonyera, kusha nanazarwa tihariho owaranshobororeire eyabakiga barugire kwija Kagarama (Rubona) noMuruhita oweitu. Nyowe ndi mwene Kashega ka Bugwahabi bwa Kakombe ka Muhigi ya Kinkuheire kya Kahima ka Kanyonera ka Kasigi. Nimukazare kandi mugumizaho, turabahagira mazima.

  6. He glanced at her. Will you wait for me? No, I didnt have to. I dont read the stuff. Why, yes, yes, of course. What can any one person do? And I cant say that I blame them, either. Hugh Akston was a distinguished man, a great mind .

  7. She sat up, unseeing and uncaring of the tatter of clothing hanging from her limbs. Given that theyd once been lovers, he would be more in tune to her feelings. A little while ago. Her sinewy warrior had to pummel someone on a regular basis or he became antsy. She wanted to lash out, but she was having trouble finding a focus. She took a deep breath, assessing. Sitting up, she rubbed her hands. Gala teased, tossing a floor pillow at him. She raised her hand and knocked. She wished he were there, but she understood why it was best that he wasnt. Tykir had a warmer heart than that. She froze when his hand closed around her arm just above her elbow. It would be strange if she did. A tiny bud that burst alive when warm lips slid over it. Relief put a smile on Brevins face. He dragged open his eyes. Her pulse sped as he crossed her threshold. He sat in the chair, watching her. Youd allow me to breed with another man? He weighed her breasts with his palms, squeezing gently.

  8. Many thanks for the art work and the history of Bakiga, i have liked it.continue sending to me on my e-mail as indicated.
    Bamwanga Geoffrey Safari

  9. Nimukazaare kandi mukagira obusingye.
    Mwebare munonga kutumanyisa ei twakomokire.
    Nyowe indi mutabani wa Bwondera, Mwijukuru wa Nduru,
    Omushanja wa kahama karukanga.
    mwebare munonga.

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