The Myth About Coffee Beans Among The Baganda

It was on Saturday 10th June when I and a team of colleagues set foot on the road for a small Kukyala event deep down in Masaka. With a few stopovers along the way, we finally arrived at Butale Village in Masaka at around 2:00 PM on what turned out to be a very sunny day.

Upon arrival, we were ushered into the home by three lads who were clad in white Kanzus and another cream with black coats despite the scorching sun. (I guess it true what they say, smartness knows no weather). Moments after some heart-warming greetings and brief introductions, we were served coffee beans in a woven basket and some local brew, something that totally caught me by surprise.

After a period of about one hour of uninterrupted conversation and greetings from different small groups (three-three to be exact) of our hosts, I still felt the need to satisfy my extremely high curiosity about the coffee beans. From childhood education lessons, I had learnt of how the Baganda used coffee beans to enter into ‘blood pacts’ (omikaggo) but this didn’t seem to be case.

And on the flip of side of manhood, I was already aware of how roasted coffee beans improve a man’s performance when it comes to “eating cake” as far as bedroom matters are concerned. However, that analogy too didn’t suit the occasion. I sought answers from one of our escorts, who was not only superior in age but also much experienced as far as such cultural events are concerned.

In a whisper amidst a Bible quote reading about family values by one of our hosts, Michael Serugo (not real name) tells me that “Baganda share coffee beans at such a family event as a gesture towards the start of a new bondage between two families (okulaga omwoyo gwo’bwaseluganda).”

“Make no mistake; these coffee beans are not just a formality. It’s a long-standing norm that has gradually faded over the recent years but those that understand its value still carry it on with a lot of seriousness,” he added.

“As for the local brew, it was always a local drink given out among the Bangada just like one would serve you a glass of water upon arrival in their home,” he further explained about the cultural treat that we had just been treated to.

The same Baganda have a saying that “okugenda Kulaba, okuda kunyumya” which literally translates that “going is seeing (observing) and coming back is narrating”. Indeed, my trip was worthwhile.

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