Thousands throng Mutoto cultural ground for Imbalu launch

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By FRED WAMBEDE & LEONARD MUKOOLI

Thousands of people have thronged Mutoto cultural ground in Mbale District for the official launch of the Imbalu ceremony in Bugisu region, today.

Mutoto cultural ground is believed to be the place where the first Mugishu (Mumasaba) was circumcised. This fete takes place every even year.

People started arriving for the celebrations as early as 9am in pomp and style.

On ground, the tempo of singing is extremely high and most women and men have tied their waists with banana leaves and others clad in skimpy clothes. Other men are dressed up in traditional regalia.

The candidates have been organized in clusters from different districts and are soon going to perform varying dances including Isonja and Ineemba dance before they could be blessed by Umukhuk

Mutoto cultural ground is believed to be the place where the first Mugishu (Mumasaba) was circumcised. This fete takes place every even year.

People started arriving for the celebrations as early as 9am in pomp and style.

On ground, the tempo of singing is extremely high and most women and men have tied their waists with banana leaves and others clad in skimpy clothes. Other men are dressed up in traditional regalia.

hu, the cultural leaders of Bamasaba.

The Isonja dance is a preparatory dance for intending candidates. It’s believed that the dance helps the boys to acquaint their thighs with bells (Bitsetse).

While the Ineemba dance’s main purpose is to confirm the newly circumcised as full members of the society.

Circumcision, known as Imbalu among the Bamasaba, is an age-old tradition, which defines and unites the people in Bugisu region comprising of five districts of Mbale, Manafwa, Bulambuli, Sironko and Bududa. They are believed to be descendants of Masaba.

According to Mr Mathias Nabutele, the coordinator of the celebrations, the turn up is overwhelming.

“People have come and still coming in large numbers because this culture is unique and enticing to watch,” he said.

President Museveni and his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta, were expected to grace the ceremony but so far there is no sign of them.

Mr Moses Kutoyi, the chairperson of Imbalu, said the institution will commission a multi-cultural centre which will, among other things, house a cultural village, a zoo and recreational centre.

“We are going to commission our cultural centre, which will aid promotion of our cultural heritage,” he said.

He added that Imbalu is a symbol of pride among the Bamasaba.

“Uncircumcised men have no place in our culture and its total shame to manhood if you never faced a knife and you call yourself, a Mumasaba,” Mr Kutoyi, said.

In 2016, the Bamasaba cultural institution in partnership with Uganda Tourism Board unveiled a plan to upgrade Mutoto cultural site to boost tourism. The Tourism board also announced that the circumcision fete had been elevated to a carnival and added to Uganda’s tourism products.

Monitor.co.ug

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