#Wiki4Refugees 2020 Editathon: Closing the Digital Divide on Wikipedia in Uganda’s Refugees Camps

By Sandra Aceng

Wiki4Refugees editathon in Rhino Camp, Ocea Zone

Rhino camp is a refugee settlement in Arua district that opened in 1980 and is home to many refugees, many of them  from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, and Kenya. It is the second-largest refugee settlement in the Northern region of Uganda that covers the districts of Terego and Madi’okollo after Bidi Bidi refugee camp. The camp grew in the wake of the South Sudanese civil war. In August 2017, “the settlement was expanded with the establishment of the Omugo zone extension area,” according to the Uganda Refugee Response Monitoring Settlement Fact Sheet: Rhino Camp (January 2018). In 2018, the refugee settlement had more than 116,000 refugees, the majority of whom were South Sudanese. It has received many new refugees since then. 

The camp Refugee settlement has seven zones – Ofua Zone, Omugo Zone, Ocea Zone, Odobu Zone, Siripi Zone, Tika Zone and Eden Zone. The refugee settlement is not only home to refugees but also to many vulnerable and/or  marginalized groups of people such as the elderly orphans, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), widows and single mothers. A number of languages are spoken in the camp given the different ancestries of the refugees. English, however, is the most widely used.  

The camp receives assistance from numerous non-governmental organizations and 20 community-based organizations. Several developmental organizations, companies and individuals have set up schools, community organizations, health centers, community learning centers, and brought services like electricity and water,  to support the community and guarantee its growth and the well being of those who live in it.

Many of these organisations have so much information about refugees which  other stakeholders and researchers have either limited or completely no access to. Most of this information is not available on Wikipedia. The refugees are better positioned to document this  information and yet they lack the skills required to edit and create articles on Wikipedia. Much as vulnerable groups that include refugees face many challenges, they have the potential for creativity and innovation that, if documented, can inspire and empower their communities. 

In February, 2020, Platform Africa Uganda, a Non-Profit Community Based Organization Registered with the Arua Local Government Directorate of community services located in Ocea Zone, in partnership with the Wikimedia community User Group Uganda and  and Community Development Centre  (CDC), came together as implementing partners, and organized a two days’ #Wiki4Refugees Edit-a-thon in Ocea Zone, Rhino settlement, to train the refugee community on how to create and improve articles on Wikipedia. Participants were trained on how to create WikiData items on Wikipedia and how to upload images, and videos on Wikimedia commons. The event which  took place between February 22 and 23, 2020, was intended to increase access to credible up-to-date information on refugees in Rhino Camp, on Wikipedia.

A group of Participants after the Two days’ Editathon

Geoffrey Kateregga, a member of the Wikimedia Community User Group Uganda, who was also the lead facilitator during the two days’ training said that the two days’ program was divided into three parts which included; 

  • Intensive training: Participants were introduced to key skills and tools on how to update/ edit and add articles to Wikipedia for the event.
  • Edit-a-thon – This was on the second day and was aimed at improving stub articles on Wikipedia and creating new entries about critical topics, underrepresented groups, initiatives and putting up-to-date figures about refugees, etc.
  • Creating content for upload on Wikimedia Commons including videos, audios and videos to document the life of refugees in Uganda.

On day two of the training, most of the participants who created Wikipedia articles and Wikidata items on refugee settlements in Rhino camp also went for a photo hunt and images were uploaded on Wikimedia commons.

At the end of the two days’ #Wiki4Refugees edit-a-thon, the team created five articles, edited 16, made 122 total edits, added 25 references, made 8 uploads to commons. 14 editors participated and contributed to the event. Click event dashboard for details: https://outreachdashboard.wmflabs.org/courses/Wikimedia_Community_User_Group_Uganda/Wiki4Refugees_Uganda_(February_2020)

Participants from the Rhino refugee settlement also continued to participate in different Wikimedia Community User group projects such as Wiki Loves Africa and WikiGap editathon (Wiki Loves Women) competition, among others.

Lomora Ronald, the program manager of Platform Africa, Uganda  and a refugee at Rhino camp participated in the WikiGap competition in the months of March and April, 2020 and took the fourth position with about seven articles. 

This event not only improved the skills of the participants, but it also offered an opportunity for the participants to develop their capacity, improve access to enormous accurate information about refugees and organizations to people within the settlement and beyond.

We all might know that information plays an important role in our day to day life – It builds well-informed communities while facilitating research and enabling aid workers, students and other stakeholders pinpoint existent statistics, languages, demographics, and issues of concern in their response and reports, however, despite the huge influx of refugees to Uganda, the representation of refugees on sites like Wikipedia is very inadequate. 

Rhino camp had only a two-liner stub article on Wikipedia yet there is immense data pertaining to the hosting community, innovative initiatives working with refugees, the progressive Uganda refugee act 2006 and how it supports refugees, and gaps in the refugee camp that could be collectively improved.

Participants during the Editathon

Wikipedia is not only the most trusted, open and collaborative knowledge base but also the tenth most visited site in the world. With the #Wiki4Refugees program,  it brought  together different stakeholders from the refugee camp to collaboratively co-create information about Rhino Camp refugee settlement and feed it as entries to Wikipedia. 

After the two days’ activity, which was attended by empowered community based organizations, civil society organizations and other organizations, they were able to gain knowledge about editing content online about Rhino Camp. This created an informed community of organizations to  update information about Rhino Camp and other Wikipedia initiatives. 

#WikiForHumanRights 2021: A New Dimension of Rights in Uganda

Participants during the Wiki For Human Rights 2021 Editathon

The Wikimedia Community User Group Uganda held a one day editathon on April 24, 2021, to commemorate Earth Day and give an opportunity for Ugandan based editors to add content on topics related to human rights and environmental health, on Wikipedia. 

Sandra Aceng gave the participants through the background of the “Wiki For Human Rights”, which encourages editors to document on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia platforms, the story of the rights which enable a safe and stable climate, healthy ecosystems, and a non-toxic environment. She took them through various ways through which they could get started with editing on Human rights and environmental health related topics on Wikipedia.

Sandra Aceng, a Wikimedian in Uganda giving a brief Background of Wiki For Human Rights 2021

This was followed by an interactive session that was moderated by Sandra Aceng and Alice Kibombo to help participants share different perspectives of  what they  thought human rights was, and the various aspects of human rights and its dimensions. Participants later shared  a nuanced and interactive discussion on the relationship between human rights and environmental health.

Perspectives of What Human Rights Entails

Alice Kibombo, a Librarian by Profession, informed the participants that Uganda was recently ranked the worst country in the rule of law in East Africa and 117th in the World. ‘Some rights take priority over others depending on where you are,’ she said, and gave an example of the internet which had been switched off in Uganda and demonstrated how that action had deprived different people of rights to communicate, shop or sell items online. 

Alice Kibombo, Wikimedian in Uganda Sharing about what Entails Human Rights

Ndahiro Derrick Alter, a Rwandan Wikimedian, echoed that it is impossible to talk about Human Rights, and not consider the line beyond which we will infringe on someone else’s freedom as a human being.  ‘Whenever there is no fairness,’ he said, ‘it becomes a Human Rights Violation. Take the case of a policeman beating up another human being, or planes grounded and people stopped from moving.‘

Alice told the group that someone in a rural area who doesn’t know about the internet might not feel that their human rights are being violated once the internet is shut down. She then put across a question: should we regard something as a human right depending on the number of people fighting for it? The answer is no. It is a human right even when someone is not aware.

What is the Connection  between Human Rights and Environmental health? 

The cutting down of one tree might not seem to deprive someone else of their rights.  But who are we without a healthy environment? Nature represents freedom. It is our right to enjoy shade, good weather and fruits. When you cut down a tree and do not plant another, you are harming the world.  Without a healthy environment we are nothing.

One should not go around throwing garbage and plastics. Everyone has a right to live in a clean environment. We shouldn’t build in swamps because that messes up the ecosystem and leads to floods or the extinction of crop and fish species.

It is one’s right to stay in a well lit room. But one should take responsibility and switch off the light when leaving a room to stop global warming. We should not hurt the environment by giving human rights as a defense.

WikiData and Wikipedia

Geoffrey Kateregga informed participants that Wikimedia is a global movement whose mission is to bring free educational content to the world. Wikidata, on the other hand,  is a free and open knowledge base that can be read and edited by both humans and machines. He later took participants through the list of Human Rights and environmental health activists and organisations with and without wikidata items. Participants were later taught how to create wikidata items. 

Geoffrey Kateregga, taking Participants through WikiData and Wikipedia

The editathon was summed up by Alice Kibombo who took participants through the notability criteria to consider before profiling human rights activists on Wikipedia. She later created an article of a human rights activist (Simon Peter Kinobe) to prepare participants for the remaining days of the editathon until May 15, 2021.

Written by;

Mubiru Shafix

How it all went down at the #WikiForHumanRights Edit-a-thon in Uganda

In the photo: A group photo of participants after the #WikiForHumanRights Edit-a-thon

On the 25th January, 2020, the Wikimedia Community User Group Uganda held an editathon to celebrate the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR] into practice. 

The day started with the guest speaker, Ms. Patricia Humura, sharing with us what she understood by human rights and it generation. They are inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled because they are human. She added that human rights are founded on two ideas- dignity and worth, the value of individual to live a dignified life. The team got to appreciate the three aspects on which human rights are built;

  • Inalienability; they can’t be taken away and are more valuable because there is really no situation which requires human rights to be taken away. A lot of people refer to it as trump card because they are inherently inalienable.
  • Universality; they apply to everyone. This is usually associated with the natural law. 
  • They are Indivisible ( interconnected, related) 

Humura further talked about liberty, the civil and political rights that deal with the participation of an individual in the society for instance in voting, ownership of properties, speech and religion; Equality which is economic, social and cultural rights; and Fraternity which means collective rights that deal with things that are little bit more cutting edge like the environment, natural resources and participation in cultural heritage.

In the photo: Patricia Humura giving an indepth understanding of Human Rights

 Sandra Aceng, from the Wikimedia User Group Uganda, gave a brief introduction to #WikiForHumanRights Editathon. She informed participants that the campaign began in November 15, 2019 and was to end on January 30, 2020. Its purpose was to celebrate the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by strengthening the factual coverage of human rights on Wikipedia. She further stated that this year’s theme was “To claim your rights, you need to know your rights”. 

Aceng mentioned that as part of the above theme, the Wikimedia Community User Group Uganda highlighted individual activists and organizations in Uganda that were championing Human Rights, to recognize the positive role or participation in collective movement in Human Rights. She added that Articles and Wikidata of Human Rights Activists and Organizations working on Human Rights in Uganda was created to contribute to the theme.

The Editathon was held to build awareness about gaps on Wikipedia in Human rights and to introduce new editors to the topic of human rights, and to build Wikipedia editing skills among participants and support more experienced editors creating content.

In the photo: Sandra Aceng giving an introduction to #WikiForHumanRights

Geoffrey Kateregga from the user group gave a brief detailed overview of how to create WikiData items for Human Rights Activists and Organisations. Additionally, Erina Mukuta from the Uganda user group also presented and took participants through various steps and rules for creating Wikipedia Articles on Human Rights Activists and organisations in Uganda.

In the photo: Geoffrey conducting a training on how to create WikiData items on Wikipedia

The event was then concluded with the #WikiForHumanRights Edit-a-thon where Wikipedia articles and WikiData items of Uganda Human Rights activists and organizations were created by participants.

In the photo: A participant editing an article using a mobile phone during the #WikiForHumanRights Edit-a-thon

During the editathon, a total of 10 articles were edited, 112 total edits were made, 16 editors participated, 3.75k words were added, 34 references were added, 46.9 articles views and 1 Wikimedia commons upload was made. Also, WikiData items were created. Follow link below for details: https://outreachdashboard.wmflabs.org/courses/Wikimedia_Community_User_Group_Uganda/Wiki_For_Human_Rights_Uganda_(January,_2020) This we believe improved the quality and quantity of human rights content on Wikipedia and contributed to the shared commitment to increase access to human rights information and promote freedom of expression and information on the topic.

In the photo: Erina taking participants through article writing on Wikipedia

The Wikimedia Community User Group Uganda would like to extend their sincere gratitude to all the participants who took part in the editathon. The edit-a-thon contributed to increased knowledge on Human Rights activists and organizations in Uganda online.

Written by: Sandra Aceng


After returning from wikimania, I was initially overwhelmed with the next steps. Pondering on what  this experience meant to me. For one I had an event to organise and facilitate two weeks after wikimania .

The whole event started with a six hour journey from Kampala to Kabale .It wasn’t the most sunny journey ,consisting  of bad driving and frequent stops. The sight of Kabale made it all worth it , such breath taking hills and beautiful people. The event(wikiGOESACCT) at Africa College of Commerce and Technology (ACCT)started off on 10th august 2018 with an introduction session facilitated by Fabian Vonbubnoff (Germany) and Isaac Chabota (Zambia). The young gentle men brought energy and Zeal to the students who kept increasing in number per session. The sessions were ranging from how to create an article to how to take your first steps in editing.

The second day of the conference(11th august 2018) started off with an introduction to commons which ended into a photowalk around the school. The afternoon included a photo viewing session and uploading session. Finally on day three (12 august 2018) we had an edit-a-thon . For this session , we worked in draft space to create eight articles . It was an intense way to end the workshop but was a great way of applying the lessons from  the previous days of the workshop.


I can credit the success of this event to the connections made at wikimania and the support received. For one, the great facilitator from Zambia and Germany. But also the renewed experience in event coordinating. I got to know about (evc) event coordinator rights, massive upload tools, massive editing tools. I see a future in collaborating with other usergroups or chapters , this brings alot more skills to the table . It enriches team members and the communities we reach out to.

Mujje Tulye (Come and Eat)

Egyptian food Koshary
The idea of working with a food community was quit exciting and  i kept wondering how i would convince foodies to share their recipes to create a Ugandan cuisine book. I realized that sharing the recipes was the easy part but documenting  the process through videos and taking pictures was the harder part. Luckily around the same time the wiki loves Africa competition was confirmed and the theme was cuisine. This competition couldn’t have come at a better time. After the concluded wiki love’s Africa-cuisine competition, an  idea came up of creating a cuisine book (Mujje tulye )
Common Ugandan Cuisine
Mujje tulye was one of my best statements growing up. As a very active child and teenager i needed the fuel to keep me going. I can actually hear my mum’s voice when i read the statement ‘ Mujje Tulye’. And when the idea came up of creating a book about  cuisine in Uganda after the concluded wiki love’s Africa-cuisine competition, we couldn’t have chosen a better title for the book.

Due to my previous interactions with food communities , it made the process of acquiring information about the selected topics much easier. I was able to contact the owners of the photos to describe their food preparation processes , the way food is served and presented. One of the challenges i faced was the lack of food measurements/or quantities  for the  recipes provided.Generally in Uganda, it is said ‘ we measure with our eyes’,  it was not surprising to get such a response when i asked for the specific measurements. This is the first book i have worked on and hopefully not the last

Photo Hunt at the Uganda Museum


Saturday is a good day for a photo hunt. The museum is full of life with all the visitors streaming in. which made it a good day for my family to tag along for the photo hunt. As they toured around a museum they had not seen in  long time , they were excited about the pleasant new  introductions to the museum. But of course my 8 month old had a better idea ‘ how about i eat some of these collections presented in front of me’. Needless to say, it was such a disappointment to her watering mouth.

From first impression one may not know how many galleries exist in the museum and the variety of displays. I was mesmerized as i went around seeing the different clothing, fishing, musical, cooking, hunting , Presidential cars and house displays. I had a lot to learn about the different tribes in Uganda. It showed me i had limited knowledge about the history of the people that surround me everyday.

We then met up in the office to have an upload and editing session. We initially reviewed the images we had taken and selected the best which we would upload. Some pictures required a retake due to the natural lighting in the museum. Never the less we were able to come up with a set of good images to upload .We added new galleries and sections to the article which made it look more appealing.

A day in the life of a fisherman

Fishermen returning to the landing site with fish


I almost returned to bed to wait for rain to subside, when it started raining. But what a weak excuse that would be, standing someone up because of rain. I got an umbrella and walked through it, to the taxi stage.

I was bound for Gaba landing site to find out what a day in the life of a fisherman was like. Often we imagine what the days of successful businessmen, politicians and celebrities, are like. But never the days of fishermen.

I arrived at Gaba landing site shortly after nine O’clock in the morning, to meet Musisi John, a fisherman at the site. I had met him while carrying out research on fishing in Uganda. He was the perfect choice since he resided near Kampala.

He was mending a fish net when I arrived.

‘This is what most fishermen do during day,’ he told me, ‘especially when the fish nets get damaged during fishing trips. Fishermen do not fish during day. Those who do not have nets to repair either go and rest or relax by drinking or playing pool.’

He told me that some people, like the police, take the life of fishermen for idleness and yet when other people are sleeping, fishermen are working.

‘We spend nights at the lake,’ he said. ‘We would return after casting the nets but that would mean using more fuel. If we sleep at the lake, we make two trips instead of four. We move from the site to the lake, in the evening, and come back with the fish in the morning.’

I asked him what they do while at the lake.

‘We sleep,’ he said. ‘We wear jackets to stay warm. There are boards we put in the boats, on which we sleep. Some fishermen even go with mattresses.’

The fishermen return to the landing site from 11:00 am in the morning to sell the fish. Sometimes they do not catch any fish after spending the entire night on the lake.

Musisi took me around the site, showing me what different fishermen were doing. A number of them were mending nets. There are those who were walking around the site, and some who were in bars.

All fish that is delivered at the landing site is auctioned by a selected group of people. They are the only ones who have the right to do this according to the laws on the landing site. Once the fishermen deliver fish, these men who wear white overcoats, begin the job of selling the fish. The fishermen do not sell fish to individuals.
A man taking nile perch to be weighed

The auctioning takes place at the auction table. Fish like tilapia, lung fish, and clarias locally known as “emalle”, are auctioned mostly. The Nile perch is weighed before it is sold. The more kilograms it has, the higher the price.

If the fishermen return to the site before dawn, the fish is put in freezers. The fishermen are either paid in full for all the fish or in part. They receive the balance later.

Seeing them smile back home after payment would give one the impression that they are enjoying a windfall.

‘It is not all rosy out there,’ Musisi told me. ‘Some times we encounter harsh weather out there. Other times, ships and boats tear our nets. All the fish run away. Some fishermen even steal our nets with all the catch because there is no one to monitor all the nets.’

Fishermen are resilient. They can spend two weeks on the lake, going in the evening and returning in the morning, with empty nets. But they don’t give up. They are always hopeful that the next day will bring something.

Musisi stays with his family in Bunga, Kampala. He arrives at Gaba landing site at 7:00am to begin work. He told me how the lives of fishermen have changed tremendously over time.

‘Being a fisherman is a job these days,’ he said. ‘It wasn’t always the case. Fishermen used to live unsettled lives. It was rare to find one with a permanent home. They would move from one landing site to another. But this has changed. There are more people engaged in fishing now. The landing sites have also grown. They are towns now with a number of services.  There is no need for a fisherman to relocate from one landing site or island to another looking for services they can get at their landing site or island.’

When I asked him how they fund their activities, he said that they use their earnings and savings or work for some people. It is not easy for a fisherman to access credit.

‘Bankers do not understand this business,’ he said. ‘If you tell one that you might not catch fish in two weeks and yet you go to the lake each night, he will withhold the funding and channel it somewhere else. This business always needs a cash injection. A net might cost five hundred thousand Uganda shillings. If you need thirty fish nets, then that is fifteen million. A banker would not release such an amount easily. But still, we work with what we have.’

A day in the life of a fisherman revolves around a lake. Take away the lake and he will look for another water source. Fishermen are survivors. They tame the lake to earn a living. When the lake is polluted or has no fish, they will look for a cleaner water source. But with such measures, the fish become more expensive for us the buyers. That is why we have to be mindful about what we dump in water bodies.


Mulumba Ivan Matthias

Musisi John and I

Rose Rwakasisi

Rose Rwakasisi at St. Luke secondary
Rose Rwakasisi is an author of children’s literature, adult fiction and books of biology. I met her at St. Luke School in Kisenyi, where she is a director. She is a teacher of biology who holds a degree in botany and zoology, and a post graduate diploma in education. One would wonder how she became a writer.

‘I was a member of the literature class in my “O” level,’ she told me when we sat down to speak. ‘In HSC, I did Biology with English as a sub. I read a lot. Sometimes I go to places to speak about writing. After introducing myself and telling people what I do, they wonder what I’m doing there. But when I start speaking, they realise that in some ways I know more about writing than the “experts”. Writing is a gift. You do not have to major in the arts to write.’

The story of how she started writing for children has a motherly attachment to it.

‘I could not communicate with my children in my mother tongue,’ she said. ‘I wanted to tell them stories from oral tradition from my culture but they could not understand them. I decided to write these stories down in English and read to them. I would write the stories, read to the children and keep them. I had a pile of them after a while.’

Rwakasisi’s colleague who was familiar with her writing introduced her to fountain publishers which was looking for authors. This led to the publishing her book “How friends became enemies” in 1993, marking the start of her career as a published author. She has written and edited a number of books since, including: “The great escape”, “How rats escaped the trap”, “How goats lost their beautiful tails”, “Gift for the singer”, “Why mother left home”, “Sunshine after rain”, “The old woman and the shell” and many more. Her short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies published by Femrite.

She is a retired teacher now. Before retirement, she taught in a number of schools where she held high positions. She was deputy head teacher at “Old Kampala Secondary School”, “Nakasero Secondary School” and “Kyamate Secondary School”.

She is a curriculum developer for schools, something she says has taken most her time and prevented her from writing more books.

Rwakasisi has not let what she studied subdue her writing talent. She has written for both story lovers and students of biology. She is a testament that irrespective of what you studied, you can still charm the world with your talent.

Rose Rwakasisi and I

Mulumba Ivan Matthias

Evangeline Barongo: an author with a heart for children


Children’s literature is not something many people give thought to. We rarely read books meant for children until we become parents.

Meeting an author in Uganda who has dedicated her writing to children, is rare. Evangeline Barongo is one such author. She has authored fifteen books, her latest title being “Courageous weaverbird”, published in 2015.

Evangeline Barongo at her office

I was intrigued by her passion to write for children. I asked her what led to the decision to write for children. She told me that she has had a passion for writing since she was a child.  What keeps her writing though, is the desire to preserve our cultures and norms.

In her view, modernity has changed us a lot. We are ashamed of our cultures.

“Someone goes to England for three months and returns with a British accent,” she said. “How is that possible? I am a Munyoro. If I stay in Buganda for five years does that mean that I have forgotten Runyoro? Does my accent change? Someone cannot forget a language they leant in the first five years of their life just like that.”

This in part, explains her commitment to teaching children their norms. She writes stories from oral tradition but with a twist to suit the children. Sometimes she writes new stories.

Her book, “Greedy monkey loses a friend”, is about a friendship between a monkey and a crocodile. It is intended to teach children to share. In the story, the Crocodile brings a monkey fruits. The monkey does not share the fruits with its family. It tells them that it is medicine meant for him.

“When children read this story,” she said, “they learn that it is important to share with other children and not to be greedy.”

Another story, “My name is a street child”, was inspired by an encounter with a street child. The child wanted to read. She approached a reading tent where Barongo and another librarian were in charge. The other librarian chased the girl away because the child was dirty. But Barongo told the girl to seat and gave her a book to read. The girl wanted to take some books. Other people were concerned that she would sell them. Barongo let her take the books provided she would take a bath, first.

She took her to the library from where she had a shower. The girl wore the same dirty dress after the shower. Barongo was forced her to bring her a dress the next day.

When the girl came to the tent, Barongo took her to the library to have a shower and gave her the new dress. People would not tell that it was the street child they had chased the day before, when they returned to the tent.

They developed a friendship with time which led the girl to share her story with Barongo. Barongo was able to convince the girl to return home and leave the streets where life was harsh.

This shows what reading can do for children. If the girl hadn’t shown the desire to read, maybe Barongo would have ignored her. It reaffirms the contribution authors of children’s literature make.

Evangeline Barongo is the chairperson of Uganda Children’s writers and Illustrators Association (UCWIA). She said, one of the challenges the association faces is that few people buy children’s books in Uganda. The other is inadequate funding for the association’s activities. They would have published more books.

She told me that it is easier for some parents to buy mobile phones for their children than to buy books.

“Sitting down to read trains your brain to concentrate,” she said. “Modernity and the gadgets it has brought make it easier for us to perform tasks. But is denies us the chance to concentrate and understand most of them.”

She gave an example of mathematics. If a child has a calculator, it is easier for that child to add two plus two to get four. That child does not have to give the addition some thought. But if the same calculation is illustrated in a book, the child gets a better understanding of the calculation. Take an example of an illustration of the addition of two oranges to two other oranges to get four oranges. The child will understand that better.

I was amazed by Barongo’s zeal. She has been writing for a long time and is still writing more books.

It is important that more writers like Barongo write for children. It is such authors that inspired me to write.

Evangeline Barongo and i

Mulumba Ivan Matthias

Of the Bafumbira and Bufumbira

town signpost

I arrived at Qualicell Bus terminal for my trip to Kisoro, at 6:10am. I was told that the first bus to Kisoro for the day, had left at 6:00 am.  The next bus was leaving at 6:30pm. I wished I had come a little earlier. But it was too late. I decided to board the bus to Kabale and from there board to Kisoro town. The bus was leaving at 8:00am. I walked to where the bus was to begin my wait for the time for departure.

There were two passengers in the bus. They seemed to have waited for ages. I got a place to seat. I noticed that the bus was dirty. There were empty bottles of drinking water everywhere and polythene bags. I sat nonetheless and waited.

A group of boys came in after close to thirty minutes to clean the bus. This took a while. I stood outside throughout the cleaning. More passengers came. By 8:00am, most of the seats were filled.

We left Qualicell Bus terminal for Kabale, a few minutes past eight. The bus was slow at first as more passengers boarded along the way. But it gathered pace afterwards and within four hours, we were in Mbarara.

We had to stop shortly after we left Mbarara when one of the tyres was pierced by a nail. The change of the tyre took a while. The passengers were frustrated but suppressed the agitation. The music videos and movie clips that were playing on TV in the bus, kept them occupied.

We reached Kabale at 5:00pm.  I boarded a Toyota Ipsum that provides taxi service from Kabale to Kisoro. It is supposed to carry seven passengers. The one I boarded carried twelve. There were five passengers in the back and middle rows, instead of three.

I sat in the co driver’s seat.  I was happy that I was going to reach Kisoro in comfort. But along the way, a woman with a child was picked up. I shared the front seat with her. There was a pillow on the handbrake on which I sat. I was so uncomfortable. My legs and back hurt badly. I could not wait for her to get off. But when she did, another passenger took her place.

The journey to Kisoro was long. There are so many corners. With each corner, I held onto the seats as I tried not to crash into the driver.

I arrived in Kisoro at 7:15pm. The journey that had started at 8:00 am had finally come to an end.

Kisoro is inhabited by people of different ethnicities.  There are the Congolese, the Hutus, the Tutsis and the Bafumbira, among others. The Bafumbira were the focus of my trip.

Canon Samuel Mfitumukiza and I

As I learned from David MS Munyangabo, the Bafumbira originated from Rwanda. Mr. Munyangabo is a Mufumbira and a retired head teacher. He told me that “The Bafumbira” were governed by chiefs who answered to the King of Rwanda. They were mainly Hutus and Tutsis. It is the country demarcations that split them from Rwanda as a kingdom.

Rufumbira, the language spoken by the Bafumbira, is similar to Runyarwanda. It is the accents that are different. I wanted to know what makes the accents different. I learnt this from Canon Samuel Mfitumukiza, to whom I was introduced by Mr. Munyangabo. The canon told me that the closeness to Bakiga is what is responsible for the difference in accents.  Rufumbira has an intonation of the Bakiga.

The Bafumbira have eight main clans: the Bazibaga, Abagahe, Abagesera, Abasigi, Abagiri, Abagara, Abarihira and Abungura. The clans have sub groups. For instance, there are the Basinga under the Bagahe.

There are a number of foods considered as staple foods among the Bafumbira. Beans, peas, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, maize and millet, are the main foods.

The Bafumbira have transformed over the years. Long ago they lived in thatched houses. The roofs were thatched with either sorghum or grass from wetlands. The walls were round and built with mud and sticks. Today, they stay in houses built with bricks and mortar for the walls, and roofed with iron sheets or Mangalore tiles.

Like in other cultures in Uganda, marriage among the Bafumbira was organised by the parents. The boy and girl were not aware of the arrangement until the day of the marriage. It was a marriage between strangers. They would meet in a room after the wedding. The bride price was a cow.

The Bafumbira named their children depending on a family situation. If a child was born in a period of brewing beer, that child was named Senzoga. If the birth happened when the father of the child was on a journey, that child was named Senzira. If there was a lot of food in the household, the child was named Nyirabakire.

I learnt a lot about the Bafumbira. This rekindled the need to know more about other cultures and ethnic groups, outside my own.

David WS Munyangabo and I

Mulumba Ivan Matthias