Lugbara people

Last updated
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Total population
2,091,000 [1]
Regions with significant populations
Flag of Uganda.svg  Uganda 1,445,000
Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg  DR Congo 646,000
Flag of South Sudan.svg  South Sudan 10,000
Lugbara language, English language
Christianity, Lugbara mythology
Related ethnic groups
Avukaya, Logo, Aringa, Kaliko, Omi, Olu'bo, Madi and other Central Sudanic peoples

The Lugbara are a Central Sudanic ethnic group who live primarily in the West Nile region of Uganda, in the adjoining area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with a few living in South Sudan. They speak the Lugbara language, a Central Sudanic, Nilotic language similar to the language spoken by the Madi, with whom they also share many cultural similarities. The Lugbara are famed for their beauty, tenacity and craftsman ship.


Traditions and culture

A group of Lugbara women harvesting groundnuts. A group of women harvesting groundnuts.jpg
A group of Lugbara women harvesting groundnuts.

Traditionally, the Lugbara are farmers who rear some livestock and poultry, mainly Guineafowl locally known as 'ope'. They are the predominant keepers of guinea fowl in Uganda. Lugbara occupy the West Nile region of Uganda and Arua, Arua City, Maracha, Terego, Madi-Okollo, Yumbe and Koboko districts of Uganda to be specific. The Lugbara are divided into many dialects which are easily understandable to each other. These include; Ayivu, Maracha, Terego, Vurra and Aringa. Tribes related to the Lugbara in language include Madi and Keliko in South Sudan.

In the early days, the Lugbara were a mainly chiefdom based community. They did not have kingdoms and kings presiding over them as like other ethnic groups in Uganda. They mainly had chiefs who were their leaders. They formed friendly alliances with neighbouring chiefdoms so as to ensure their security against attacks from other ethnic groups. The earlier Lugbara did not have soldiers or a standing army in their chiefdoms. Every able bodied man had the duty to protect his village hence all able bodied men were automatically considered a soldier though this was not a permanent duty. The Lugbara were originally animists as their mythology attests. However Christianity is now the predominant religion amongst them today with Islam another major religion.

They are settled subsistence farmers. Cassava is now the traditional staple. They also grow millet, sorghum, legumes, pigeon peas, beans and a variety of root crops. Before cassava was introduced to the Lugbara to manage famine when the cereal [millet and sorghum] failed due to drought in the 1960s, millet and sorghum used to be their staple food. Chicken, pigs, goats, and at higher elevations, cattle are also important. Groundnuts, simsim [sesame], chick peas and sweet potatoes are also grown. Maize is grown for brewing beer, and tobacco is an important cash crop. New emerging crops are avocado, pineapple, and mangoes.

In early days of 1874 the North Eastern side of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a faction of the Lugbara were called "The Naked People", due to their attitude towards clothing. Most women did not wear shirts and many of them did not wear even dresses, but they were covered with grass skirts or leaves. Taller than many Congolese, the Lugbara men are great hunters as well, using powerful bows with long arrows that have fishing hooks type tips.

This ethnic group straddles the common border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo with the majority of their population in the Congo side of the border. Some live in South Sudan.

A collection of the proverbs of the Lugbara have been published, and also a description of how their proverbs relate to ethics. [2] [3] The same author has described other parts of traditional Lugbara customs and society. [4]

Famous and well known Lugbara include Dorcus Inzikuru, the 3000-metre steeple chase world champion in Helsinki 2005 and Jackson Asiku, the previous Commonwealth boxing light-weight champion. Another important Lugbara is John Munduga, an international boxer. Idi Amin Dada's mother Aisha Aate is said to belong to the Okapi/Lenya Clan of the Lugbara tribe in the D R Congo. [5]

The cultural symbol of the Lugbara is a leopard with 300 spots.

See also

Related Research Articles

The Lugbara live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and South Sudan. In Lugbara mythology, Adroa appeared in both good and evil aspects; he was the creator god and appeared on Earth as a man who was near death. He was depicted as a very tall white man with only one half of a body, missing one eye, one leg, etc. His children were called the Adroanzi.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kakwa people</span>

The Kakwa people are a Nilotic ethnic group and part of the Karo people found in north-western Uganda, south-western South Sudan, and north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly to the west of the White Nile river.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arua District</span> District in Northern Uganda, Uganda

Arua District is a district in the Northern Region of Uganda. Like many other Ugandan districts, it shares its name with its administrative center of Arua. The name Arua is said to be derived from the Lugbara name for prison (Arujo) and prisoner (Aru), since the white settlers had a detention center at Arua Hill.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Moyo District</span> District in Northern Uganda, Uganda

Moyo District is a district in Northern Region of Uganda. Like many other Ugandan districts, it is named after its "chief town", Moyo, where the district headquarters are located.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nebbi District</span> District in Northern Uganda, Uganda

Nebbi District is a district in Northern Uganda. It is named after its main municipal, commercial and administrative centre, Nebbi, the location of the district headquarters.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yumbe District</span> District in Northern Uganda, Uganda

Yumbe District is a district in Northern Region, Uganda. Like most other Ugandan districts, it is named after its 'chief town', Yumbe, where the district headquarters are located.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Koboko District</span> District in Northern Region of Uganda, Uganda

Koboko District is a district in the Northern Region of Uganda. The town of Koboko is the site of the district headquarters.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">West Nile sub-region</span>

West Nile sub-region, previously known as West Nile Province and West Nile District, is a sub-region in north-western Uganda, in the Northern Region of Uganda.

Moru is an ethnic group of South Sudan. Most of them live in Western Equatoria. They speak Moru, a Central South Sudanic language. Many members of this ethnicity are Christians, most being members of the Episcopal Church of the South Sudan (ECS). The Pioneer missionary in the area was Dr Kenneth Grant Fraser of the Church Missionary Society (CMS). The population of this ethnicity possibly does not exceed 200,000.

The Aringa are a Central Sudanic ethnic group in the northwestern corner of Uganda. The majority live in the rural areas of Yumbe District just south of the Sudanese border, and to a lesser extent in other areas of the West Nile sub-region. They are considered the indigenous people of their lands, which was later settled by so-called "Nubians". They speak Aringa language, a Central Sudanic language.

Lugbara, or Lugbarati, is the language of the Lugbara people. It is spoken in the West Nile region in northwestern Uganda, as well as the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Orientale Province.

The Moru–Madi languages of the Central Sudanic language family are a cluster of closely related languages spoken in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda. Moru is spoken by 100,000 people, and Ma'di is spoken by twice that number. The most populous languages are Aringa of Uganda, with close to a million speakers, and Lugbara, with 1.6 million.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Maracha District</span> District in Northern Region, Uganda

Maracha District is a district in the West Nile sub-region, in the Northern Region of Uganda. It was formed in 2006 from Arua District.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lugbara cuisine</span>

Lugbara cuisine is one of the meals of East Africa and the ancient Lado Enclave. The Lugbara people of northwestern Uganda and northeastern DR Congo eat not only vegetable dishes, but also animals like goats, cows plus ope (guineafowls) and catch insects like onya for food which is called nyaka in the standard Lugbara language used in Arua. Cassava flour sometimes mixed and mingled with millet or sorghum like posho or ugali is the staple food and is called enya(sa) [kalo or atap(a) in Ateso, fufu in West Africa] accompanied with a range of soup dishes. Rice, yams, potatoes and matoke are also eaten. Below is a list of some of the Lugbara-styled delicacies found in West Nile Restaurants, Ariwara Town, Arua Park in Kampala and many homes or cafeterias that cherish traditional Lugbara cuisine.

Tara is a subcounty at the north-eastern end of Maracha District of Uganda. It is an area endowed with rocks and is neighboured in the Northwest by Koboko; to the Northeast by Yumbe; to the East by Omugo subcounty plus to the South by Nyadri. Other subcounties in Maracha include Yivu, Aiivu, Oleba, Uriama, Omugo and Nyadri.

Agofe is the noble title for the chief cultural leader among all the Lugbara people or King of Lado Kingdom which covers the regions of West Nile, Ituri, Torit, Uele and Yei. The term means 'Pillar' or 'Paramount Chief' but a king is also called opi in Lugbara; an opi is usually the clan leader of a lineage. Around 1967, President Milton Obote abolished kingdoms, then the 1995 Constitution reinstated cultural institutions but the Lugbara only chose county chiefs. In 2012, the Government of Uganda finally recognised this revised Agofe institution. The Agofe's duty will be to preserve Lugbara culture through literature and other assignments.

Mount Wati is the highest mountain in West Nile. It is located in Terego District, near the border with Maracha. Ranges next to it include the Offude Hills. Rebels used to hide there and monitor advancing government soldiers. It is also reported to harbour big snakes that use lights for trapping prey at night. Its elevation is approximately 1250 meters above sea level.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Terego District</span> District in Northern, Uganda

Terego is a district in Uganda's Northern Region. It is located approximately 360 kilometres (220 mi) northwest of Uganda's capital Kampala. The administrative centre of the district is the trading centre of Leju in Aii-Vu Sub-County. Terego District covers an area of 1,102 square kilometres (425 sq mi) and the areas now making up the district recorded a non-refugee population of 199,303 in the 2014 Ugandan census. Terego District also hosts an estimated 168,000 refugees, mostly from South Sudan, in the Imvepi Refugee Settlement and the western zones of the Rhino Camp Refugee Settlement in the district.

Lugbara Kari refers to the official traditional and cultural institution of all Lugbara people on Earth and headed by the Agofe.

In October 1980, Uganda's West Nile Region was the site of a major military campaign, as Uganda Army (UA) remnants invaded from Zaire as well as Sudan and seized several major settlements, followed by a counteroffensive by the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) supported by militias and Tanzanian forces. The campaign resulted in large-scale destruction and massacres of civilians, mostly perpetrated by the UNLA and allied militants, with 1,000 to 30,000 civilians killed and 250,000 displaced. The clashes mark the beginning of the Ugandan Bush War.


  1. "Lugbara language resources | Joshua Project".
  2. Dalfovo, A.T. Rome: Comboni Fathers.
  3. Dalfovo, Albert T. "Lugbara proverbs and ethics." Anthropos (1991): 45-58.
  4. Dalfovo, Albert Titus. "The Lugbara Ancestors." Anthropos (1997): 485-500.
  5. Amin, Jaffar, Idi Amin : the real biography, archived from the original on 2009-02-11, retrieved 2009-09-22

Further reading

Idi Amini is the first president of the Uganda from West Nile