Uganda’s Bagabu’s long fight for ancestral land, recognition

Published: 11/Avr/2023
Source: The East African


Uganda’s indigenous community the Bagabu has never recovered from the trauma of being evicted from their ancestral land, Bunyampaka Chiefdom, by the British colonial government where it established Queen Elizabeth National Park.

In the 17th century, majority of the Bagabu lived in Bunyampaka Chiefdom along the shores of Lake George, Kazinga Channel and Lake Edward in Western Uganda.

Fishing was banned on Lake George in the 1940s and in 1952, the Kazinga Game Reserve gave way to Queen Elizabeth National Park dealing a big blow to the Bagabu whose source of livelihood was fishing, hunting and grazing cattle.

The community was forced to migrate, and few settled at Nyarwambu, Kasenyi and Nyakatanda (Kahendero).


They are demanding to be recognised by the Uganda government, be allowed to access their cultural sites in the Queen Elizabeth National Park and use of Rugabo language in schools where their children are the majority to enable preservation as well as dissemination of Bagabu cultural heritage.


“When we are finally recognised in Uganda’s constitution as indigenous ethnic group, then our language will be taught in schools. During registration for national identity cards, most of us have to be identified or registered as either Batooro or Banyankole because the Bagabu are not recognised in the constitution. »

The group, which is not recognised in the country’s 1995 Constitution, sought intervention of Ugandan parliament through a bill on July 5, 2022.

The bill moved by MP Jacob Karubanga, seeks a constitution review commission to amend the country’s Third Schedule. The schedule recognises 56 ethnicities as at February 1, 1926.

“The bill will be re-tabled in parliament to cater for minorities that have not been recognised in the constitution. Karubanga has moved to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) and urged the agency to include him in a meeting, bringing together representatives from the Bagabu, Bakingwe, Baziba, Maragoli, Mosopisyek, Bahaya and Saboat communities,” the group’s coordinator Emmanuel Kyalimpa told The EastAfrican.


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Themes: Apatridie, Discrimination, Ethnique/Raciale/Religieuse
Regions: Ouganda
Year: 2023