Why Nilotic Bahororo and their cousins don’t marry Bantu women

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Eric Kashambuzi

In the article on “Who are Bahororo?” it was mentioned that men do not marry Bantu women. Some readers have asked me to elaborate in order to understand why they don’t. Although Bahororo (Batutsi from Rwanda), Bahima and Batutsi cousins speak Bantu language, they are ethnically different from Bantu people, hence the use of Nilotic Bahororo and their cousins in the heading. At one time it was erroneously believed that Bahororo and their cousins were white people, but scientific studies have demonstrated conclusively and definitively that they are black people and darker with thicker lips than Bantu people – no disrespect is intended (J. D. Fage A History of Africa 1995 & Jean Hiernaux The People of Africa 1975). Although Bahororo and their cousins do not marry Bantu (Bairu and Bahutu) women they use them frequently for sexual pleasure and even produce children together. More references will be provided for those who would like to read more on the subject. Many quotations will also be used to avoid misinterpretation of authors’ messages.

According to John Hanning Speke (The Discovery of the Source of the Nile 1863, 2006) Bairu people (slaves) theoretically refers to all Bantu people south of the Nile. However, because of extensive intermarriage between Nilotic and Bantu people in Bunyoro, Buganda and Toro, entirely new communities were created and the ethnic distinction disappeared. This article will therefore refer to Bahororo, Bahima and Batutsi of southwest Uganda (Ankole and Rujumbura) and Rwanda and Burundi where Nilotic men do not marry Bahutu and Bairu women. It is important to add at this juncture that when wealthy and/or educated Bairu and Bahutu men marry Bahororo, Bahima and Batutsi women, they marry them mostly from relatively poor families. Thus, Bahororo, Bahima and Batutsi women from wealthy or royal families do not marry Bairu or Bahutu men reminiscent of medieval Europe where the nobility married among itself (John Merriman A History of Modern Europe 1996).

Although Bahororo and their cousins argue that they do not marry Bairu and Bahutu women because they are not pretty, historians and anthropologists and other commentators have given a different reason. One of them states that “… the Hima and Tutsi of the southwestern highland zone [southwest Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda] did not mix so freely. They avoided intermarriage and by keeping themselves distinct they managed, in time, to establish a position of domination over the majority peasants [Bairu and Bahutu] cultivators of the region” (Kevin Shillington History of Africa1989).

Another historian has written that “It was the political domination [of agriculturalists or Bairu and Bahutu] by the pastoralists [Bahororo and their cousins] that brought the two groups [pastoralists and agriculturalists] to live together” (Bethwell A. Ogot Economic and Social History of East Africa 1979). Thus they have avoided marrying Bairu and Bahutu women to keep their secrets about dominating Bahutu and Bairu people and other people in the great lakes region. Conversely, one can argue that Bahororo, Bahima and Batutsi women marry wealthy and/or educated Bairu and Bahutu men largely for political reasons – to get access to Bairu and Bahutu secrets about liberating themselves from Bahororo, Bahima and Batutsi domination.

Here is more information. According to Kinyarwanda law or culture “The punishment for rape depended on the social status of the person involved. Thus if a Hutu raped a Tutsi woman, he was put to death; if a Hutu woman was raped by a Tutsi, the matter would be settled by compensation” (James L. Gibbs Peoples of Africa 1965).

Regarding marriage and ownership of children, “The legality of a marriage depended on the handing over of a bride price by the groom’s father to the bride’s father. The mere performance of the marriage rites did not constitute a legal union. The transfer of bride wealth caused the husband … to acquire an exclusive right on his wife’s reproductive power so as to make him stand out as the legal father (pater) of all children born to the woman, either begotten by himself or by another man” ( James L. Gibbs Peoples of Africa 1965).

Another Kinyarwanda or more specifically Tutsi culture is that a woman is expected to remain virgin until she marries. Therefore “unmarried Tutsi boys would be ‘given’ Hutu girls, temporarily, for sexual purposes”. As noted above “Intermarriage occurred, but usually with successful Hutu men marrying Tutsi women. Tutsi men would take Hutu women as concubines, rather than marrying them” (Neil J. Kressel Mass Hate 2002).

In Ankole although intermarriage was prohibited, “Bairu concubines were especially common among Bahima chiefs and gave rise to a class of half-castes known as Abambari. From the point of view of legal status, the Abambari were classed as Bairu, but personal consideration often modified the strict rigor of the rule” (Ramkrishna Murkherjee Uganda: An Historical Accident? Class, Nation, State Formation 1985).

The analysis above has demonstrated clearly that contrary to popular belief, Bairu and Bahutu women are not ugly otherwise Bahororo, Batutsi and Bahima men including the chiefs (with unlimited access to Bahima, Bahororo and Batutsi women) would not have had sex with them frequently. It means they enjoyed their company and possibly still do! In other words, they do so because in their eyes Bairu and Bahutu women are pretty and that is why Bahororo, Batutsi and Bahima men had sex with them frequently. Those in doubt including Kesaasi take another close look (free of bias) and you will not fail to admire the beauty of Bairu and Bahutu women. Bahororo, Bahima and Batutsi men do not marry Bairu and Bahutu women not because they are ugly but if they married them their secrets about dominating other people in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi or elsewhere would be exposed.

As we progress into the 21st century, let us hope that the premise of domination that has prevented Bahima, Bahororo and Batutsi from marrying outside their Nilotic ethnic group will become a thing of the past – and pretty soon. The world will be watching.

Eric Kashambuzi

UAH forumist in New York

About ekitibwakyabuganda

Ba Ssebo ne ba Nyabo, Twebaza Abaganda bonna abulumulirwa Obuganda . Era twebaza ne mikwano gya Buganda gyonna wonna wegiri munsi yonna. Omukutu guno gwatandikibwawo nga e’kigendererwa kwe kuyigiriza abantu ebintu ebikwatagana no’Buganda era nokuwanyisiganya ebilowozo nebanaffe abatali Baganda. Abaganda ne mikwano gya Buganda mukozese omukisa guno muwereze ebirowozo byamwe no’bubaka bwona obunaagasa Abaganda na’baana Buganda berizala mu maaso eyo. Obumu ku bubaka obuwerezebwa ku mukutu guno bugyibwa mukuwanyisiganya ebirowozo okubera kumukutu gwa Ugandan’s at Heart (UAH) Forum ogwatandikibwawo Mwami Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba. Era twebaza muzukulu wa Kintu ne Nnambi ono olw’omulimu gwakoledde bana Uganda bonna abali e’bunayira mungeri yo kubagatta mu byempuliziganya no’kutumbula okukolaganira awamu.

5 responses »

  1. Non-Bahororo Women VS Bahororo Men

    “It was mentioned that ‘men’ (Bahororo men) do not marry ‘Bantu’ (Non Bahororo) women…”
    1. Do Non-Bahororo women want to marry Bahororo men? What is the evidence (Statistics)?
    2. What is the position of the women in question (Non-Bahororo women) on the issue? Do we have the right to infer a position on women’s desires or intentions?
    3. Why is it of value to the writer, that there is an increase in the number of intermarriages between these men and women?
    4. Is it desirable that the two groups intermarry more often in view of the socio-economic development of Uganda? Whom does such information benefit?
    5. Have some surveys been carried out showing a disproportion in the number of Non-Bahororo women with a desire to marry Bahororo men who are successful vs those who are not taking into consideration the populations of the two groups.

  2. have had experience with many tutsis being angry when their daughters marry non tutsis……..!!!

  3. It’s diatribe like this that leads to genocide! You are a very sick man in urgent need of psychological help. It is exceptional that the United Nations could ever employ a bigot like yourself and that’s if you have even really ever worked for the UN. The charade of your supposed expertise is only suitable for forums that publish revisionist history. Everything you write is intended to inflame and spread hatred and not understanding. No reasonable person is even vaguely interested in the imaginary sexual history of targeted ethnic groups.

  4. Kashambuzi, You sound like a real Mbuzi you know. Find out that means in most Bantu languages. Where is your work cited buddy?. U know in other parts of East Africa. The more succesful parts, Nilotes begg to marry or be married by a bantu for example Kenya kikuyus (bantu) and masai (nilotes) very high late of intermarrage history doesnt even remember how long . Lets just say I didn’t like what you wrote. It sounds like someghing a 1990 British teacher in Africa would write and teach to rot the connections between different groups. That ussually kills any kind of growth for both groups involved.

  5. I am a Muhororo, and I like Baganda women very much. If the good professor could create a practical forum for this, it might be more practical than just writing in the papers. Otherwise for the other Bahororo, I think it is their choice. And who is to say a Muganda girl would want to marry me. I can not manipulate the choices and preferences of others.

    However, there are also other groups that marry more into their own tribes and ethnicity. We could expand this research if it helps and find out about the incentives of marrying other groups. If we looked at the Indians in Uganda, how many marry Baganda, Banyankole, Karamajong? And how many of their sisters marry Basoga, Bakonjo, Sebei? What can we do to promote, marriage of Bahororo to some of our Indian sisters who are also Ugandans?

    I have also noticed that internationally there are groups which seldom intermarry: Koreans, Indians (mentioned), and Pakistanis. Perhaps the research might could be used to bring International homogeneity, so that there is no diversity whatsoever in say the next 100 years. Which could be good in reducing racism and cultural prejudices as opposed to instructing people to just “stop being racist”. And maybe the professor is right, what is the purpose of diversity if it causes us so many problems by way of petty prejudices based on skin colour and choice of subsistence and culinary preference.

    The president may have been right in saying “Ugandans should intermarry” I do not know what his reason was, but as EDMUND put it, “it is a matter of choice” you can’t enforce something like that. You would need to provide incentives, by first finding out why it is is that people marry into their own ethnicities, and races. Using that information, you can then find a way to provide the right incentives for them to do otherwise if you have realised through some scientific means that it is beneficial to Uganda or the world over.

    So I hope we can expand this research by first discussing the benefits to Uganda as a nation, and then deciding on whether it is feasible to implement and what kind of incentives can be provided. As for me I ready, I hope there are some nice Baganda girls out there that can comply, for God and my country.

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