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Empaako naming ritual performed among the Batuku community, a traditional meal of melted butter soup and millet bread prepared

Taking cattle for grazing

Empaako naming ritual among the Batuku community was performed on Monday 23rd May, 2019 at the home of Katusabe Christopher Apuuli of the Abacwezi clan in Kazigiso village, Kyabukungu parish in Butungama Sub County, Ntoroko district.

Among the Batuku community, Empaako naming ritual is either performed very early in the morning or very late in the evening and before performing the Empaako naming ritual, all the cows have to first be taken for grazing. Women who are not yet married are not allowed to be part of the Empaako naming ritual.

Batuku community are traditional cattle keepers occupying Ntoroko district which borders DR Congo in Western Uganda. The Batuku traditions and language are almost similar to those of the Basongora who are also traditional cattle keepers in Kasese district, Western Uganda.

The room where the mother and the child stay in after birth (Ekyoto) has a permanent fire place to control germs and reduce bad smell. The boy child gets out of the room after four days while a girl child gets out of the house after three days.

Getting the child out of the house

The boy child was carried out of the house by a man (any relative of the father of the child) out of the room after four days. While getting the child out of the house the man carrying the child gets in and out of the house laughing and carrying a spear for four times.

The spear is supposed to be placed in the right hand side of the entrance of the house where the child and mother are staying. A girl child is got out of the house with a traditional tray (orugali) made out of traditional art and crafts. Ash is put on the traditional tray and a girl child is got out of the house by a woman who is a relative of the father of the child.

After getting the child out of the house, he was given to the head of the family to suggest Empaako name, other family members also suggested Empaako names. Finally, Empaako name was confirmed by the head of the family and after giving the Empaako name a traditional meal was prepared and served which involved millet and melted butter (Ekyagyo) as soup.

Partaking a traditional meal

The head of the family has to first partake the traditional meal four times for a boy child and three times for a girl child before giving permission to other family members to partake on the traditional meal.

The boy child was given Empaako name of Amooti because the child resembles the grandfather whose Empaako name was Amooti. Other names given to the child were Mucunguzi Wamala. The father of the child is Ruhweza Simon Atwoki and the mother of the child is Kobusinge Dinnah Abwoli.

Currently, Engabu Za Tooro is implementing a UNESCO co-funded project UGA 01210 on documentation and revitalization of Empaako naming rituals and practices.

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The Empaako Platform and Database is an online tool to bring together and unite the people from the Empaako communities so they can interact, promote and safeguard their rich cultural heritage of Empaako.

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