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History of BaKonzo

Posted: Wed, January 20, 2016 | By:

The Bakonzo some times called Bayira or Banande are a Bantu speaking group of people settled in western Uganda and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. In Uganda they are concentrated in Kasese, Kabarole and Bundibugyo districts.

There are approximately 5 million.

The BaKonzo are said to be short and stout.

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The tribe is called BaKonzo in Uganda, and BaNande in Kivu province in Congo. They are generally proud of their society.

They believe that the Rwenzori Mountains belong to them. The mountains are jealously protected by the BaKonzo who live deep in the hills.

The original name of the mountain was Rwenzururu but due to difficulty in pronouncing the word, foreigner named it Rwenzori which has been accepted widely in the region.

The profix Ba is attached to mean ‘people belonging to’ while Rwenzururu means snows.

The Rwenzori mountains are a symbol of culture that defines the existence of the BaKonzo.

There are two stories told of the origin of the BaKonzo.

One asserts that the BaKonzo are indigenous to the Rwenzururu mountains. Those who support this assertion say that the Rwenzoris belong to them as the Garden of Eden was to Adam and Eve.

After the advent of the Toro government, the BaKoonzo gradually settled on the low lands. The mountains were blessed with reliable rainfall and lakes as natural storage tanks to supply water to both man and wildlife.

The area was ideal for agriculture both crops and live stock. So it is believed the ancestors of the BaKonzo emerged from caves of the Rwenzori and produced the rest of the BaKonzo.

During the expeditions from Egypt through Ethiopia, the Egyptian king Ptolemy is said to have reported the existence of short physically strong men and women who stayed in the mountains of Rwenzori. He mentions that these people used to circumcise and put a piece of bark cloth around their waists.

It is further added that Ptolemy named these mountains the Mountains of the Moon, a name still used today in modern times.

Another tradition asserts that the BaKonzo came from near Lake Nalubale (Victoria). Some of the works of art in Kasubi tombs (Baganda cultural heritage site) near Kampala indicate that two clans escaped from the region to the Rwenzori mountains and formed the Konzo community.

The above theory is supported by the sayings of one writer that the Konzo escaped from Buganda region after a tough clash with the Ganda after they had made a clay boat for the Kabaka that broke on the water and left many dead.


The Konzo were - and are - polygamous as for as long as a man had the capacity to care for them.

Families booked spouses for their sons early in life. Often the booking would be done when a boy went through the initiation ceremony of adult hood. A father would also choose a husband for his daughter.

Marriage was socially reorganized when bride wealth was settled. Twelve goats, a hoe or a digging stick, and an animal skin were given to symbolize the replacement of girls lost labour. Tonto - a brewed booze from ripe bananas mixed with sorghum - was beer that accompanied the bride wealth, and was required at every party, wedding, funerals and communal work.

A successful man in BaKonzo society was one who looked properly after his family. Every body protected marriage institution. Divorce was reached only after a number of meetings by brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and finally parents.

Divorce was caused by adultery on the side of woman, witchery, intolerable behaviour, impotence, barrenness, or dangerous diseases such as leprosy or epilepsy.

Among the BaKonzo birth is a highly respected event. Men marry for the purpose of bearing children and expanding a family.

Order of Names


  • Baluku
  • Bwambale
  • Masereka
  • Kule
  • Mbusa


  • Masika
  • Biira
  • Kabugho
  • Mbambu
  • Ithungu
  • Kyakimwa


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