Think of travelling and tourism in Uganda and what comes up? Wildlife safaris, nature walks, water rafting, birding or gorilla trekking may top your bucket list with absence of cultural tours. Well, that thought is not far-fetched because most of Uganda’s tourism attractions are physical. The few that were inscribed on the UNESCO heritage list included the tombs of Buganda kings at Kasubi, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Rwenzori Mountain National Park. These are physical sites you can savor on a one-day-tour of Kampala, on a savanna game drive or mountain climbing. But there is more…
UNESCO, on 30th November 2016 added to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list Uganda’s Ma’di Bowl Lyre music and dance and comes as an addition to Uganda’s cultural adventure menu. It was music and dance performed at weddings and at the celebration of harvest back in the day among the Ma’di people in Northwestern Uganda but the younger generation is brushing it off as old fashioned. Old is gold they say; because what is more treasurable than an evening spent listening to the soft tunes of a bowl lyre, travelling through the cultural hands of time to the soundtrack of a mellow bowl lyre?
Uganda’s traditional music is a backpack and safari boot-free travel experience that will leave your heart racing to the first beats of the engalabi(long drum), breathless from dancing, and lift your spirit as the skilled hands of the instrumentalists strum the strings of the Addungu (arched harp) and hit their high notes. The instruments themselves are a sight because of the materials they are made of. The engalabi is made of reptile skin that is nailed to the wood that forms the greater part of the drum; the Baganda and Basoga lyre is made of lizard skin and laced with a non-sonorous skin in the same manner as harp and drum. An ideal cultural experience of Uganda should not leave out Uganda’s traditional music and dance like the Amagunju from Buganda, Ekitaguriro from Ankole, Bigwala from Busoga, Kadodi from Bamasaba and Larakaraka from Northern Uganda; to mention but a few.
A day at the Kampala National theatre and Ndere Centre is the step between you and the full cultural experience of Uganda, whose traditional dance and music has become a world heritage.
While you lace up your hiking shoes, do not leave your dancing shoes behind; although in Uganda bare feet suffice for a fun music and dance venture!