Introduction (Okwanjula) In Buganda

Case Point Pictures, Nakirigya Florence Introduces Kibirige Henry In The Beautiful Place of Buganda Ntenjeru Ward A, Kayunga Town Council Bugerere December 17, 2023

Uganda Today: The Baganda people are an ethnic group native to Buganda, which is the most prolific and dominant Kingdom not only in present-day Uganda but also, it was in the interlucustrine region of East Africa. It was because of the splendid cultural clan administrative strata of the Baganda all through to the great Lukiiko, up to the epitome of the Kabaka that Sir Churchill named Uganda the “Pearl of Africa”.

The traditional introduction ceremony among the Baganda is known as “Kwanjula.” Kwanjula is a significant cultural event that marks the formal introduction of a groom to the bride’s family and is an essential step in the present day marriage process. Otherwise before the advent of religion in Buganda, Kwanjula was the formal unification of a man and a woman to ally in marriage.

Here are some key aspects of the Baganda traditional introduction ceremony:

Bride, Matron (left) and Aunties (Ba Senga) coming out of the house to meet and greet the Groom and his entourage
  1. Negotiations and Approval: Before the actual ceremony takes place, there are negotiations between the groom’s family and the bride’s family. This involves exchanged visits and discussions (first from the groom’s side to the bride’s side and later the reverse is done). This is called Abazadde kunjuuyi zombi okumanyagana. It should be noted that unlike other tribes that  put a stake of bride price to their daughters, the Baganda merely ask for a symbolic item (commonly known as “Omutwalo” or dowry), this is a symbolic gesture of engagement asked for from the groom’s family to the bride’s family to traditionally accentuate marriage.
  2. Exchange of Gifts: The ceremony involves the exchange of gifts between the two families. The groom’s family presents gifts to the bride’s family as a gesture of goodwill and appreciation for accepting their son into the family. These gifts may include items like traditional clothing, household items, and sometimes money. Traditionally, due to the fact that a Muganda bride is not exchanged through payment of bride price, even when death separates the couple, the bride is returned to her ancestral burial grounds (Ekigya) for interment. Surprisingly, this is in consonance with the religious vow of “till death do us part”. However this very vital component of returning the bride to her ancestral burial grounds is being eroded by modernity. The Baganda adhere to the patrilineal system of decent stipulating that a child belongs to the father. Since this is the system, modern women because of their attachment to their children, now agitate to be interred at the burial grounds of their children (The husband’s Kigya).
  3. Introduction and Recognition: During the ceremony, the groom is formally introduced to the bride’s family, and the families recognize and acknowledge each other. In modern times this is a symbolic and public declaration of the intention to marry where a certificate of clearance is issued by the bride’s father to the groom’s entourage.
  4. Cultural Rituals and Ceremonies: Various cultural rituals and ceremonies are performed during the Kwanjula. These rituals may include eating specially cooked and dried coffee berries and drinking of water under the roof of the bride’s father’s  living room. Traditionally, this ritual of water drinking would be performed using a small gourd (Olwendo). Traditional dances, blessings, and other symbolic gestures are also performed.
  5. Gifts Presentation Ceremony: The gifts  presentation among which sugar and traditional beer (Omwenge) are a must and significant component of the Kwanjula ceremony. It is a form of compensation to the bride’s family for the loss of their daughter. The negotiation and presentation of the gifts are important customs that carry deep cultural and traditional significance.
  6. Feasting and Celebration: After the formalities are completed, there is usually a festive celebration with a communal meal. Family and friends come together to celebrate the union, and there may be music, dance, and other forms of entertainment.
  7. Blessings and Well-wishing: Elders from both families may offer blessings and well-wishes to the couple, expressing hope for a prosperous and harmonious marriage.
  8. Groom’s parents Dont Appear at Bride’s Home: Traditionally the parents of the groom aren’t supposed to escort their son to the bride’s home for Kwanjula ceremony, they are only restricted to the initial exchange visits (Bazadde kumanyagana).  On the day of kwanjula, the groom’s entourage is obliged to converge at groom’s father, where the groom’s mother is required to prepare a special breakfast meal to be served to the entourage led by either the groom’s grandfather or maternal uncle (Kojja). That’s why you usually hear the groom’s spokesperson  while presenting the gifts, he mentions that  “we are presenting these gifts on behalf of the groom’s parents (Bakulu bannammwe) who have sent us to present them to you”

The Kwanjula is a joyous occasion that brings together the families and communities of the bride and groom. It is a celebration of unity, cultural heritage, and the beginning of a new chapter in the lives of the couple. The specific customs and rituals may vary among different Baganda clans, but the overall significance of the ceremony remains a central aspect of Baganda culture.

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Chris Kato

Uganda Today is a source of analytical, hard and entertaining news for audiences of all categories in Uganda and internationally. Uganda Today cut its teeth in Ugandan media industry with its print copies hitting the streets in October 2014. We are heavily indebted to all our publics and stakeholders who support our cause in one way or the other. To comment on our stories, or share any news or pertinent information, please follow us on: Facebook: Uganda Today Twitter: @ugtodaynews WhatsApp:+256 702 239 337 Email: Website:

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