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Traditional meal prepared, goat sacrificed and Banana planted at the performance of Empaako naming ritual among the Bunyoro community

Mparo royal tombs where King Cwa II Kabalega was buried

The Empaako naming ritual among the Banyoro community in Western Uganda was performed on 27th May, 2019 in Ddoli Village, Kiragura parish in Kitoba Sub County, Hoima district at the home of Mr. Kyalisima Mutwalibu Atwoki.

Bunyoro community in Western Uganda is well known for its rich history because it was one of the greatest, biggest and most powerful kingdom in Africa during the pre-colonial times.

Bunyoro kingdom is also well known for having one of the greatest King Kabalega Chwa II who ruled the kingdom from 1870 to 1899 fiercely fought the British imperialists before he was defeated, captured and exiled in Seychelles Islands.

The Empaako naming ritual started with people bringing a goat to the mother of the girl child who slapped the goat which is a sign that she has given them permission to sacrificed it.

The aim of sacrificing a goat is to give a child blessings, the intestines of the goat were cooked and given to the mother of the child so that she can replace the lost blood when giving birth and also keep the mother of the child healthy to enable the child have enough breast milk.

Preparing Empaako traditional meal

A traditional meal was also prepared which included millet bread and traditional soup called ‘enyobwa’ which a mixture of beans, groundnuts and egg plats (enjagi) for people to eat after performing Empaako naming ritual.

Cutting grass and placing it in the sitting room and outside the house in addition to traditional mats and hides and skins to beautify the place where the guests will sit.

Among the Banyoro community, Empaako naming ritual is performed in the middle of the day (between 12:00pm – 01:00pm).

The child was brought from the bedroom to the sitting room by the mother accompanied by other women and given to the head of the family to officially start performing Empaako naming ritual.

The head of the family puts the child in his laps and then roasted banana (gonja), traditional local brew (tonto), roasted simsim and coffee beans are shared among people performing the Empaako naming ritual while also identifying the different features of the child.

The head of the family takes a traditional local brew and moves outside carrying the girl child to the entrance of the house where he spits the traditional local brew. Where the head of the family spits the local brew, they dig a hole where the umbilical cord is buried with three leaves of ‘Omusambya’ tree for a girl child and four leaves for a boy child.

Performing Empaako naming ritual

Before giving Empaako name, a child was taken outside and a banana plant was planted and another name of Birungi apart from Empaako was suggested and confirmed by the head of the family.

The girl child was taken back to the sitting room and people suggested Empaako name and confirmed by the head of the family. Finally, the girl child was given Empaako name of Ateenyi which was followed by giving gifts to the child and celebrations involving singing traditional songs and drinking local traditional brew (tonto).

In summary, the head of the family is Kyalisima Mutwalibu Atwoki who is also the father of the child, the mother of the child is Kwikiriza Annet Ateenyi and the Child is Birungi Ateenyi.

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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