Helpful Hints for
Visitors to Uganda

A trip to another country is less scary if you can prepare yourself. Here are some helpful hints for visitors to Uganda that you may wish to consider.

Practice Phrases in Luganda

olyotya: means 'how are you?'

kikati: means 'what's up?'

Webale nnyo: means 'thank you very much.'

Wasuze otya?: means 'how did you sleep?'/ or 'goodmorning.'

Sula bulungi: means 'sleep well/ or 'goodnight.'

Burungi: means 'okay.'

Akayu kali ludawa: means 'where is the bathroom?'

Please note that our people usually add to the end of the phrases 'sebo' when addressing a man, and 'nyabo' when addressing a woman.

There is a good video about Uganda on this other site

Background Information About Uganda

Everyone knows the Equator the waist-line around the widest part of the earth. Uganda is right on that equator in Eastern Africa. To be exact, it is between longitude 29 1/2 degrees east and 35 degrees east, and between latitude 4 1/2 degrees north and 1/2 degree south. Altogether it is 236,580 square kilometers in area. The average altitude is 1,100 meters above sea-level, so ours is more of a mountain air.

We are a land-locked country, with no coastline on the ocean. The Arab Republic of Sudan is to our north, the Republic of Kenya to our east, the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, and the United Republic of Tanzania, and also the Republic of Rwanda to our south.

We like our temperate climate. The areas in the tropical sections have 16-26 C temperatures from April to November, and then up over 30C during the warmer months, which are December to March here. We are proud to be the location of the world's second largest lake, the famous Victoria Lake, and the very fountain of the long, long river, the Nile.

What kind of land is it? Well, we are right where the jungles of West Africa meet the savannahs of East Africa. This provides Uganda with wonderfully lush countrysides, and open plains too, where you can see lions prowl an open plain in the morning. In the afternoon you can track chimpanzees into the rainforest. Or, you can go to the more tropical places that team with hippos and crocodiles. There are also gorillas in the mountains, and antelopes playing, when you get back to the plains.

Are you a birding enthusiast? Then you may already know that Uganda's list of birds is more than 1,000 kinds!

Those interested in promoting safaris will tell you that Uganda is ideal for all the kinds of animals or birds you want to see. We have those that love the open plains, and those that prefer the mountains, and the forests. And there's enough mud for those hippos that like to cool themselves in it. So if you want to add a safari to your trip agenda, go for it!

As for Ugandan People

Our country is divided into four quadrant regions, central, eastern, northern, and western, and our capital city is Kampala. Our total population is about 31,367,972 (an 2008 estimate), with about 3.6% growth rate.

The Republic of Uganda is led by a President, who is guided by our republican constitution. Everyone over 18 can vote.

Culturally, Uganda is a melting pot, for we have absorbed about 30 different languages and linguistic groups. This makes for a very diverse mosiac of music, arts and crafts. To help us get along we have adopted several official languages. English is the main one, but we also use Kiswahili (also known as Swahili), Luganda, Runyankole, Rukiga, or Rutoro.

You may wonder about tribal groups. The Batwa and Bambuit Pygmies are in the hills of the southwestern region. If you visit them you will want to see their rock paintings like the Nyero Rock Shelter near Kumi.

The traditional tribal heads of kingdoms like Buganda, Bunyoro, Ankole and Toro were abolished by President Milton Obote in 1967, however they were reinstated in the 1990s. Now they are important cultural figureheads, but tradition has it that these kingdoms which were centuries old, descended from Batembuzi and Bachwezi. (They used to be near our present-day places called Mubende and Ntusi). Digs for archaeologists have uncovered some impressive burial spots for the long-time-ago kings. If you get near Kampala you may see the impressive tombs of three former kings of Buganda.

Then you might wonder what religions predominate. 41% are Roman Catholic, 40% are Anglican, 5% are Islam, and 14% are a variety of others. This includes tribal beliefs and also other protestant, evangelical churches.

Ugandan Economy and Currency

Our economy is consistently one of Africa's fasting growing economies for the last 25 years. We see a steady expansion of infrastructures and more and more international tourists are coming. Our market does well. Our money is the Ugandan Shilling, usually shown with a mark like UGX and the /= sign.

Official Ugandan Holidays

At present we have eight national holidays;
* New Year's Day - 1 January
* NRM Liberation Day - 26 January
* Easter Sunday, Good Friday - March - April
* Martyrs' Day - 3 June
* Heroes Day - 9 June
* Independence - 9 October
* Christmas Day - 25 December
* Boxing Day - 26 December

Foods in Uganda

This is made from a combination of sorghum, millet and cassava flour mingled in a proportionate quantity of water. The amount of water to use is the tricky part, for the grains slurp up the water, and form a large ball. Akaro is especially liked by farmers from the Northern and Eastern part of Uganda.

This is a ghee (butter) mixed with milk, and usually eaten with Akaro. It is a tradition from the Banyankole tribe.

Beans are soaked overnight, and then the seed coat removed. The beans are boiled and mixed with mashed up onions, then topped off with a cow ghee, which turns it into a tasty white sauce. The Batooro, Bagisu, and the Acholi tribes like this a lot.

A sour vegetable usually prepared with groundnut paste to form a typical northern food. Malakwang is best served with sweet potatoes.

Smoked fish
Fish is usually smoked to preserve it from rotting. Smoked fish, usually prepared with simsim or groundnut paste is a common food type in Northern Uganda. It is served with kalo or any other food.

This is a thick paste made from maize flour though cassava is sometimes added. Ugali is a delicacy among the Alur and Lugbara of West Nile region.

Books for You

Rev. Isaac Peter Okayo has written two books that can be of great help to you!