Sep 23, 2010

The Kwamba

Written by Administrator

Location within the country: Uganda Ruwenzori Region, Bundibugyo District and eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Geography and Climate: The region of the Amba is characterized by loam-clay soil and beautifully scattered hills and valleys with ever green vegetation. It lies in the Eastern Rift Valley rising to over 1800 metres above sea level and about1300 metres above sea level in some valleys. Both on the hills and valleys there are natural trees that help to serve as fuel, timber, poles and rafters for construction of houses with plenty of elephant grass/reeds for roofing. There are many streams flowing from the Ruwenzori Mountains as their source that supply people with fresh drinking water and empty into Semuliki River. There is a natural forest, Semuliki Game Reserve, with some wild game including elephants, buffalos, chimpanzees, monkeys, warthogs and plenty of birds of all kinds. There is only one murram road that runs from Fort Portal meandering through Mount Ruwenzori to the DRC. There is plenty of rainfall throughout the whole year, October being the rainiest month, causing blockage of roads due to landslides. The soil is very fertile allowing all sorts of crops to grow without requiring any artificial methods of crop maintenance such as irrigation.

Altitude: About

Population: 45,000

Cultural information: The Amba are mainly engaged in farming, with cassava, rice, pumpkins, bananas, sweet potatoes and yams as their principal food crops. Beans, soya, groundnuts and dodo are used to make sauces to accompany their staple foods. Fish is obtained directly from fresh streams or bought from the markets that are within the district. Most of the fish is from Lake Albert and Semuliki River. The farming seasons correspond to the type of crops to be cultivated; nevertheless, most of the people get engaged in preparation of land in the month of January. The Amba produce cash crops such as cocoa, coffee and vanilla. At least every homestead has one or two cash crops as a source of income. They also rear animals such as goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits, dogs and cats, and some fowl: chicken and ducks. In the past goats and sheep were the main assets for bride prices.

Amba homes located up country are constructed with wattle and mud, and with grass thatched or tin roofs. The homes are surrounded by gardens either food crops, cash crops or both with a number of families living together. They practice communal work rotating working in groups and in turns. Each homestead has at least a house in which to live and a separate kitchen and animal habitat. The Amba are a social community, showing hospitality to any whether relatives, non-relatives or strangers. They call themselves Bhamba and prefer calling their language Kwamba. The Amba practice male circumcision which is seen as a symbol of courage, bravery, purity, manhood and maturity.

There are government primary schools in the area and at least a secondary school in every sub-county especially in Bundibugyo in Uganda. This is not the case across the border in the DRC. There are also easily accessible health centres. All government aided institutions have qualified personnel with government grants.

Diet: Cassava, sweet potatoes, bananas, rice and yams.

Economic Status: At least every home has a cash crop as an economic base. The average annual income is about $ 2,500 per capita with reliable harvest

Alternate language names: Kwamba, Lwamba, Lubulabule, Kihumu.

Language group information: There are approximately 72 villages that are occupied by Kwamba speakers. In their language the Amba people call themselves Bamba and their language Kwamba. In the DRC they are called Bhahumu and their language Kihumu. They also refer themselves as Bhamba Ti̱nene.


Religion: Christians, Muslims.

History: Christianity began as early as 1912. The main churches are the Church of Uganda and Roman Catholic Church. Other churches include; Pentecostal, Charismatic Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Seventh Day Adventists.

The Bamba are believed to have originated from the great Sudanic immigration southwards through Bunyoro Kitara the present Bunyoro Kingdom, through Toro Kingdom, over the Ruwenzori Mountain to the current day Bundibugyo, Bwamba County; and to the current day Groupment Bhahumu of the DRC, with the main centre at Mulopya.

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