Sunday, August 23, 2009



The Bakisimba dance is the oldest and most common among the Buganda community in Uganda. It is danced by both men and women for entertainment on almost any occasion when a celebration is not contrary to the purpose. Musical accompaniment for Bakisimba includes the nseege (gourd rattles), engombe (trumpets made of cow horns), and four drums: Mbuutu, Nankasa, Mpuunyi and the Ngalabi. The Bakisimba dance emphasizes waist movements and intricate footwork.

Dancers wear animal skins around their waists to exaggerate these movements, while ankle bells are attached to emphasize the foot work. The choreography is divided in to two parts. The first part is slow and graceful, while the second part, referred to as Muwogola, is fast and builds to a climax. Nankasa is the cousin to Bakisimba and is purely used for entertainment as well. The attire and musical are the same as Bakisimba. The only difference is the speed and form, Nankasa is done at a very fast speed from beginning to end and is either played before Bakisimba or after Muwogola. Source: Dambe


A former Bugandan king (kabaka) greatly enjoyed the local beer, tonto omwenge. Tonto is made from banana plants, and the name is taken from the Lugandan word tontomera, which means, "Do not knock me". At one gathering, this king drank too much of the beer and became quite happy. (In Buganda, it is taboo to say that the king is drunk; you can only say that the king is very happy.) The king then started praising the people who had made the beer, saying abaakisiimba, which means "those who planted the bananas", and bebaakiwoomya, "they made it delicious". The musicians at this gathering created an abaakisiimba rhythm that imitated the words of the king, who was so happy and relaxed that he began to move and dance. While the musicians mimicked the king's words on their drums, the women imitated the king's movements, which eventually became a dance that is now performed throughout Buganda by all generations. There are three major movements in this dance: the first is Baakisiimba, the second is Nankasa, and the third is Muwogola.


The functions of music in Buganda society are vast; they are used for initiations, funeral rites, weddings, war, hunting, manual work, worshipping, healing rituals and entertainment. Musical instruments include idiophones such as xylophones, aerophones such as trumpets and horns, membrane instruments such as drums, and chordophones such as harps and lyres. In Buganda music is an educational tool. Before classroom education was introduced to Buganda in the year 1862, teaching often consisted of people gathering around a fire in the middle of the village Source: Dambe

Music is usually accompanied by songs that often contained messages. Master musician sing songs that discourage cheating, selfishness, lack of cooperation, violence and laziness. They also teach respect of elders, hard work, reliability, patience, discipline, honesty, love and cooperation. Music is also played in the palace of the Kabaka (Buganda King) and is used as a means of communication. Music is often used to relay messages from the people to the Kabaka and from the Kabaka to the people. It is very difficult for the common folk, or those who do not have royal blood or lineage in them, to reach the Kabaka and therefore it is common for someone to hire a musician to create a song for the Kabaka. The musi cian will develop a song around the message to be communicated to the Kabaka. When there is a function at the palace, the musician will go and play the song for the Kabaka.
Music accompanies the traditional dances of the Baganda. There are four major types of dances that are danced in the palace. They are: 1) Bakisimba, 2) Nankasa, 3) Mbaga, and 4) Maggunju.

Music in Buganda is derived from the local language, Luganda. It is a tonal language and melodic patterns of music are derived from the intonation of the spoken language. Rhythmic patterns are guided by the verbal flow and accents of the language. Source :Dambe

Dambe education


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