Introduction / History
The Bamasaaba are a Bantu people group of about 1,000,000 who live in eastern Uganda, Mbale and Sironko Districts, adjacent to Mt. Elgon at the Kenyan border. They were the first people to inhabit the western and southwestern slopes of Mt. Elgon. The area is considered the food-basket of Uganda and is also known for producing high-quality Arabica coffee, the main cash crop.
The Bamasaaba are subsistence farmers, growing bananas, sweet and Irish potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes and onions. They also raise cattle and other livestock and trade on a small scale. The main custom that distinguishes them from other tribes is their tradition of male circumcision. They see this rite as their defining feature as a tribe. They also have different naming rituals and worship a different local god than their neighbors although the majority belongs to one of the many Christian churches in the area. The problem they face is the dense population and minimal land; a father's land is inherited by all of his sons, so the land is being divided further and further into very small plots.
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