Heritage and Culture

Dufile Fort in Uganda

Dufile Fort in Uganda

Welcome to Dufile Fort in Uganda

Are you someone interested in exploring some of Uganda’s outstanding historical sites during your trip in the country? If yes, then the Dufile Fort is one of the exceptional places not to miss on your bucket list.

Constructed by Emin Pasha (the Governor of Equatoria) between 1874 and 1879 near the site chosen by Colonel Charles George Gordon (28th January 1833 to 26th January 1885)-the British Governor, Dufile Fort is apparently the oldest Monument in the country and is found on the Albert Nile, within the north-eastern end of Moyo District in West Nile Region close to the South Sudan border. The Fort was constructed on the site of the Battle for Dufile between Forces Loyal to Egypt and the Mahdist Forces but until now, it remains a hidden and magnificent cultural site that showcases the ways of life of the Madi people through the years and the popular Battlefield. Dufile Fort is made up of the first brick buildings in Uganda and the first harbor for docking of steam boats.

It mainly existed for assembling steamers that were carried to the Albert Nile overland but Emin Pasha and Arthur Jermy Mounteney Jephson (1859–1908) were restricted within the Fort during the revolt in 1888. This was however followed by the Battle of Dufile when the former rebels, after freeing Emin Pasha and Jephson decided to re-unit to fight the Mahdist forces. However, Dufile was later abandoned in January 1889 by people loyal to Emin and was eventually re-occupied and revamped by the Belgian soldiers from 1902 to 1907. At the entrance of the Fort stands a big signpost with portraits of Emin Pasha and Colonel G0rdon showing the years of construction of the Fort.

Due to its magnificence, Dufile Fort was explored by writer Alan Moorehead, who with a team from Imperial College surveyed it in July 1965. The site was later excavated from between December 2006 and January 2007 by a team from International recommendations on the conservation of historical sites including the Fort are on file. This team also identified some Egyptian and Belgian buildings as well as bullets within the area that was attacked during the Battle of Dufile in 1888. However, the level of the river is lower than it used to be in 1907 but the ferry terminal doesn’t have an effect on this Archeological site although it doesn’t appear as beautiful as it used to be in the past.  What stood as Emin Pasha’s Military Base is now taken over by nature and when you visit, you will see a vast area of primary forest characterized by Acacia, coconuts, fig tree as well as other savannah vegetation.

How to Reach the Dufile Fort

Dufile Fort, comprising of a bank and ditch covering an area of 4.8 hectares (12 acres) can be accessed by road or boat from Laropi, Emin Pasha’s old harbor which is also the departure point for Passenger ferries from the area to Nimule in South Sudan.

Therefore, Dufile Fort is one of the important cultural and early historical sites in the country due to the important history it plays in modeling Uganda, and was constructed on the site of the Battle for Dufile between Forces Loyal to Egypt and the Mahdist Forces.

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Aziz Life Experience of Rwanda

Aziz Life Experience of Rwanda

Are you in Rwanda for any kind of safari? Spare some time on your visit to Kigali City and head straight to Muhanga Town (only 45 minutes drive away) to experience some of the cultural activities of typical Rwandan rural areas. It is undeniable that culture in a destination is as important as the natural attractions because they unveil the history of the people but also their way of living thus tourists interested in learning about the people have to engage in cultural safaris in Rwanda.

One of the most fascinating cultural experiences a tourist will enjoy is by enjoying the Aziz Life Experience of Rwanda, in Muhanga Town. Aziz is a Kiswahili word that means “good life” and is a Charity Organization with a Vision of participating in local initiatives for the development of different Rwandan Communities tirelessly working towards spiritual and physical wellness for all. While here, you will get your hand at cutting grass for the cattle, ploughing the gardens, weaving, cooking and tasting mouth-watering home-cooked meal and fetching water from the village wells among others. The hospitality and friendliness here is unsurpassed and the memories are one you will always treasure.

This group helps in coordinating the sale of art and crafts of the local women in addition to having social enterprise programs. Therefore, tourists that visit Rwanda are offered with the exceptional opportunity of interacting with the Rwandans in rural villages but also gain an insight to their traditional lifestyles. Additionally, the program offers a number of cultural experiences in form of half or full day activities such as banana juice making, traditional cooking demonstrations, African dance and drumming demonstrations, organized bike tours and spending a day in the life of a local artisan.

Detailed activities to be enjoyed while at the Aziz Life experience include;

A day in the Life of a local Artisan

When y0u arrive at the Head office of Azizi Life within Muhanga Town, you will be welcomed and greeted by the local guide who will give an overview of this Cooperative. Women of this Group work together to sell their handcrafts and have through this formed a strong network of support to encourage each other in all aspects of life-social, economic and family.  They will always be excited to host tourists and are always willing to offer everything you need to learn about Rwandan culture.

Preparing some of the traditional dishes and partake of it

You will also participate in the preparation of the meals (especially lunch) where you will have to cover your knees with wraps and heads with scarfs like most Rwandan women do before cooking. Some of the foods enjoyed include sweet potatoes, cassava, plantain, pumpkins, fresh beans, vegetables and some fresh fruits like mangoes, avocado and yellow bananas harvested from their gardens. After the hefty lunch, tourists are led to the gardens to prepare the soil and plant some beans and maize (if you visit during the rainy season) and also harvest sweet potatoes or cassava as well as cut the grass for the cattle using hand tools.

Ornamental Baskets

Ornamental Baskets

Basket weaving Demonstrations

After spending some quality time in the fields, you will take part in basket weaving with mainly dry banana leaves to make bags, baskets, bracelets and mats. Because bananas are generally the staple food for Rwandans, the leaves can be got from anywhere in the country thus easy to get raw materials for basket weaving.

Traditional songs and dances

The Azizi Life experience is usually climaxed with invigorating singing and dancing by the local women and youth. By the time you reach this stage, you will not want to say goodbye to the women because the entire experience is moving and worthwhile.

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Heritage and Cultural Experience in Rwanda

Heritage and Cultural Experience in Rwanda

Rwandan Traditional Music and Dances
In Rwanda, music, dance and drama are among the priority and members gather in companies to enjoy the experiences. The Rwandanese gathers in the afternoon or evening to relax while dancing, singing and prays.

Types of dances in Rwanda

Dances like intore (“the elite”) danced in the royal court to cheer up the king. It should also be noted that all events in the country are embellished with traditional dance and songs: birth celebrations, weddings, traditional baptism (guterekera), launching of new projects, anniversaries, political parties or the welcoming of important visitors.
Intore dance refers to the war dance which encourages those who wage war or hunt. Intore means “the elite” or “leader.” Intore troupe participants are chosen for their exceptional moral and physical qualities. While training, not only do they learn to dance but they also receive education in moral values.

Ukurambagiza – Courtship dances where ladies and gentlemen dance together – other call it the Dance of Fiances and Ukurambagiza in Kinyarwanda . In this single ladies take part in the courtship dance until they are married allowing their beauty to be accented by movement and dance.

Umuganura Harvest Festival – This was banned by the Belgian Colonial Authorities in 1925 because, the Belgians  got scared of the Rwandan King gaining extra power since it was the second most important even in the kingdom after coronation of a new king. This festival for long has been part of traditional Culture in Rwanda for centuries; communities gathered to share and celebrate the first harvest of fruits, this was accompanied story telling, Dance, music, drama and local brew.
Female dancers dressed in festive gowns perform traditional dances of thanksgiving and honor the Traditional Deity for blessing them with a bountiful harvest and a time to bring and bless seeds for the new harvest to come.
To add more flavour, the Rwanda music is accompaned by musical instruments likr drums, xylophones, the inanga is a traditional instrument similar to a guitar, and has 9 or 12 strings (made from cow hide), and made from a wood called umyungu, The umuduli is a single-string traditional instrument, The amakondera is a Rwandese horn among others.

Like other African societies, Rwanda has also got a variety of songs and dances which range from acts that demonstrate heroic commemorating excellence and bravery, humorous lyrics to hunting root. The traditional songs are often accompanied by a solitary “Inanga”, a harp-like instrument with eight strings.
Rwanda’s tradition dances are backed by a drummer group, which normally comprises of seven to nine members.
But today, the exciting act can be arranged at short notice through the national museum in Butare, and normally performs during ceremonial events.

In Rwanda, music, dance and drama are among the amusing activities not only to Rwandanes but also tourists. After a day of long hour of moving from one tourist destination to another, visitors need relaxing in the evening to enjoy the Music, Dance and Drama in which they can also participate. Visitors can participate while clapping, druming, singing and so on.

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