When Kamal Bilal was a young boy in the 1950s, the village of Kirasa on the outskirts of Masindi town was decades away from being flooded by other tribes. The village was only home to the Nubians.
“Nubians lived in community and usually occupied an entire village where no other ethnic groups lived,” said Bilal, now 69 years old.
< P> Native to Malakal and Bari in South Sudan, Nubians arrived in colonial Uganda, and indeed Kenya and Tanzania in the late 1880s, as soldiers who fought alongside the British colonial army. Others, according to Bilal, were already fighting alongside the army of the Kingdom of Bunyoro of King Chwa II British Colonial Army – and most of them settled in Bombo, about 40 kilometers north of Kampala, where the army headquarters were.
At the beginning of British colonial rule, Nubians made more than 50. from percent of the army, according to the available records.
“In 1905 the Bombo barracks had 1,052 soldiers, including 675 Nubians, 118 Zanzibar, 99 Indians and 60 Baganda,” says 72 year old Ismail Karim, the Secretary General of the Nubian Consultative Forum, the umbrella organization of the Nubian community in Uganda.
It is because of the historic soldier life of the Nubians, Mr. Karim believes that they embrace the culture of life as a sworn in Community.
“Soldiers are safety conscious through their training,” he says. “The Nubians began to live in communities so that they could protect one another. In fact, this settlement pattern is the same among the Nubians in Kenya and Tanzania. ”
However, Mr Bilal disagrees. For him, the culture of coexistence among the Nubians developed after the Second World War, when retired Nubian soldiers were “dumped” in a settlement.
In his own words: “After the Second World War there were many Nubian soldiers grown old and retired from the army and settled in Kololo, Kampala, but some of them were relocated to Hoima (in Bunyoro, western Uganda) because Sir Tito Winyi, the then King of Bunyoro, considered them to be his people because of Nubians had fought his side father, King Kabalega.
“The king gave the Nubians land in Hoima and they built a village that later became known – and is still known – Kinubi (Land of the Nubians). < / p>
Since then we started to have a community life because we were thrown into settlements together. ”The same happened in Kenya, where Nubian ex-soldiers and their families in Laini Shaba (also known as Laini Saba) in the Kibra area (also known as Kib era) were suspended in Nairobi; and in the Majengo area in Mombasa. In Tanzania, however, they married each other and now disappeared as a homogeneous group.
Living together, according to Bilal, meant that they could easily help each other in times of need and keep their culture and traditions intact. and they stayed intact for decades.
However, things have changed now, says Bilal, modern times have forced Nubians to mingle with other ethics, mainly because of land scarcity as the population grows. His beloved village of Kirasa is now inhabited by people from all over Uganda, while many Nubians have since settled in different parts of the country.
The Nubians now number around 45,000 people and have been living in various urban centers across the country assimilated into other communities, risking their culture diluted.
Their language, known colloquially as Kinubi and also spoken by the Nubians in Kenya, has not only started to become, but has become, relatively unusable watered down as some Nubian communities add ” foreign words ” to the language.
“For example, the Nubians in Kampala have now included some Luganda words in the Kinubi they speak while those in Kenya have added some Swahili words, ”says Karim.
Conversely, those who still live in Bombo, according to Karim, have an estimated 9,500 people who keep Nubian culture and traditions alive ten.
Reviving culture and tradition ons
In 2001, Mr. Karim and other Nubians of the older generation founded the Nubian Consultative Forum, the aim of which is to give the younger generation a connection point to theirs to offer Nubian culture and traditions.
Located in the town of Bombo, Mr Karim’s organization is a resource center where young Nubians can learn about their customs, especially the making of their distinctive and colorful useful and decorative handicrafts like baskets and mats.
Speaking of mats, Karim says they are very important in a Nubian life because most of their traditional ceremonies – prayers, duas, and weddings – are all performed on mats.
“Young Nubian women learn how to make Nubian handicrafts from here, and then our office helps market their handicrafts. Any Nubian is free to make and sell his or her handicrafts from here, ”said Karim, adding that his office is currently exporting Nubian handicrafts to European markets such as Austria.
For posterity, the organization is current in the process of publishing a book describing the history, culture, traditions and “the Nubian contribution to the creation of Uganda,” said Karim, adding that Nubians arrived in Uganda long before the modern state of Uganda existed.
Today the Nubian Advisory Forum office also serves as the Nubian Tourism Development Center and is currently marketing Nubian culture and traditions as tourist experiences.
The main draw is the authentic host families that tourists can visit Nubian homesteads and experience more firsthand about Nubian culture.
The menu also features live dance performances by a traditional Nubian Dance group that pampers their audience with doluka – the traditional Nubian dance – while gourmets get a taste for Nubian cuisine such as s kirisa (a mixture of wheat, cassava and corn flour), kofta (fried meatballs) or korofo gwanda (pasty cassava leaves ) ua
Like their grandparents, the majority of today’s Nubians avoid school – with the exception of a few like Moses Ali, Uganda’s former second deputy prime minister – which they like in an informal occupation banned from running small retail stores.
“In fact,” says Bilal, “the Nubians are the ones who introduced kiosks in Uganda, a craft used in the 19th century fighting in Somalia because “that’s all our parents taught us when we were little,” says Halima Twaha, a 40-year-old Nubian in the village of Kirasa.
In Uganda, Nubians are also known for giving turkeys breed the s They historically preferred because they were big enough to support a typically large Muslim Nubian family.
Today birds are a source of income. Ms. Twaha, who is married with five children, raises the birds and sells one for up to $ 150,000 ($ 42.8).
Nubians were also historically good athletes, and well into the 1960s For years they dominated the Uganda Cranes national soccer team.
“Our parents put a lot of emphasis on sport and education, and many Nubians were then excellent at disciplines like athletics and soccer,” says Karim.
Some of the best-known Nubian footballers include Ahmed Doka and Majid Mohammed, the duo who played for the national football team in the 1960s. Majid Mohammed even became the coach of the Kenyan national soccer team Harambe Stars in the 1980s.