When we dance in Uganda, we do it like a peacock flashing its beauty for all to see. We know it’s beautiful and want to show it off. We clap, sing, stomp and dance till the ground shakes and the dust rises, then we know we’ve done a good job.

Ndere cultural center offers the most culturally diverse and well executed dance performances in Kampala. Not only do they showcase the finest from Uganda, they cross over to Rwanda and Burundi to spice it up and remind us that the world is indeed a global village. I attended the Sunday show with a friend who was as pumped I was, he just rarely shows it (hahaha), so I did most of the clapping and cheering. But when the final drums were sounded, we all applauded: what a performance!

Because, I do not want you to feel left out, here is a sneak peek of what we enjoyed:

  1. Waist twisters of Busoga

In Busoga, waist twisting is not a female preserve as is the case in most tribes of Uganda. These guys have mastered it and we aren’t complaining.

Yes, they twist that fast!

2. Gentle gliders of Rwanda

Rwandans, our neighbours to the South West, are the more graceful part of the East African family. Through dance, they express their deep love for and honour given to cattle in their community.

Graceful and colourful

3. Bellowing trumpets of Alur

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”. The Alur trumpets bring that phrase to life; with the smaller/shorter trumpets producing a deeper and louder bellow than the longer trumpets.

Hearing is believing

4. Boys to men in Bugisu

In Bugisu, the transition from boyhood to manhood is achieved through an initiation ceremony named “Imbalu”. The candidates are invigorated by music and dance to embolden them for the initiation. Legs in the air, wriggly waists and painted faces all add to the excitement.

Boys, not yet men

5. Thrilling love hunt in Karamoja

In Karamoja, it is a race for love. To impress the lady you must prove that you are physically stronger and faster than her. She becomes “prey” and the man the hunter”. This was by far my favorite performance of the evening.

Men preparing for the chase
After the chase when love conquers all

6. Feathered heads of Acholi

It all starts with an engaging story about the calabash and its many uses in their daily lives; one of which is making music. The Acholi pride not only in this magical instrument, but the fancy feathered head-dress that goes with it. This dance, Larakaraka, is one of my favorite from Uganda.

Men hitting the calabashes while the ladies balance pots on their heads

7. Spellbinding drums of Burundi

The Burundians blessed the continent with the synchronized magic of their drums. The massive drum seats on the head of the drummer and gets the beating of its life, all for our pleasure.

Drummer boys

In conclusion, the thematic dances, all unique in delivery exceeded my expectations, and are part of my top attractions in Kampala.

Shows are held weekly on Wednesday and Friday at 7pm, and Sundays at 6pm. They also offer a buffet at 30,000 UGX for those interested in having dinner.

Treat yourself to this masterfully crafted performance this week and you’ll thank me later.


7 thoughts on “RHYTHMS OF UGANDA

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