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By Eric Barigye

Welcome to a weekly blog which will be focusing on a particular aspect of Ugandan life and using it to teach more about the people and place that plays host to our Adventure Like No Other. 

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Each week, Eric will be helping us to explore all things Uganda!

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Gyebale! (Hello!)

This week’s topic is “Greetings!” 

The Uganda Marathon is run in Masaka which is one of the many lands within the Buganda Kingdom and that is why we will be learning how that culture conducts their greetings. 

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Everyday Greetings

With someone you see on a day to day basis, there are two types of greetings depending on the time you meet:

“Wasuze Otya?” (How did you sleep?) OR “Wasibye Otya?” (How have you been today?)

 And this greeting can have a number of responses but the most common being:

“Nasuze Bulungi.” (I slept well.) OR “Nasibye Bulungi.” (I have been well.)

When you have taken a long time to meet someone or when it is the first time of greeting, the common responses will go as follows: 

“Nsanyuse okukulaba.” (I am happy to see you.) then “Nange Okukulaba.” (And I to see you.)

“Eradde.” (How have you been?) then “Mamu.” (I am well.)

“Mirembe?” (Peace?) and then the same in response “Mirembe.” (Peace.)

When the last part of the greeting asks “Peace?” it is asking if there is peace where the person is from. Interestingly the person responding to the last two parts of the greetings can simply say “Mmmm” as a positive response instead of saying the words Mamu.” and Mirembe.” 

As per tradition a woman would kneel when greeting an elder while a man would bow slightly. While a rather specific sequence of handshakes (see this short video we have made) is the normal embrace, hugging can also be done as these greetings are performed. 

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Greeting the King

At the top of the Buganda Kingdom is a King and naturally, he gets a special greeting from his people. 

“Aye Sabasajja Kabaka, nze muntu wo (mention your name here). Woligwa wendigwa. Wangala ssabassajja!” (Aye Man of Men my King, I am your person (name). Where you fall is where I will fall. Long live the King!)

Women kneel as they say this while men lay flat as you would for a push up (the more athletic ones actually do a few push-ups!) while greeting the King. 

This is how greetings are carried out in Buganda. Let’s start practising!

Nsanyuse okukulaba!

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