The Bafumbira (ethnonym: Bafumbira; singular Mufumbira), are a Bantu ethnic group from Kisoro District in South Western Uganda. They are of three indigenous groups: Bahutu, the Batutsi and the Batwa.[2][3]

Total population
Regions with significant populations
Related ethnic groups
Banyarwanda, Barundi and Other Rwanda-Rundi speakers



The Batwa are believed to have been the earliest inhabitants of East Africa together with the Bambuti of Mt. Rwenzori and Ndorobo of Kenya. They do not lead a permanent settled life. The Bahuutu are Bantu and are believed to have migrated from the Congo around AD 1000. They entered Rwanda from northeast. The Origin of Batutsi is mythical. Some say they migrated from Karagwe in northern Tanzania. Others say that their original homeland might was either Somalia, Ethiopia or Egypt. This is because the Batutsi resemble the Somali and Galla.[4]

The Bafumbira were part of Rwanda until 1910 when Kigezi was annexed to Uganda by the colonialists. In Rwanda, they were governed by chiefs who were under the leadership of the King of Rwanda. The King of Rwanda used the agency system to govern. He used respected Tutsis and Hutus to govern.


The Bafumbira speak a language called "Rufumbira". Rufumbira is a dialect of Kinyarwanda, The difference is in the accents.



The Bafumbira are divided into clans. They have eight major clans. The clans were divided along different totems ranging from animals, plants and birds species. Each clan was identified by the hill they occupied. The Bafumbira do not name their children according to these clans.[5] The clans include:

  • Abasindi
  • Abachaba
  • Abasinga
  • Abakyondo
  • Bazigaba
  • Abagahe
  • Abagesera
  • Abasigi
  • Abagiri
  • Abagara
  • Abarihira
  • Abungura
  • Abatundu

The clans have sub groups. There are the Basinga under the Bagahe. Today, the Basinga are a clan like any other in Bufumbira.


Marriage among the Bafumbira was organised by the parents of the bride and groom. The boy and girl were not aware of the arrangement to marry until the day of marriage. It was a marriage between strangers. They would meet in a room after the wedding. The bride price was a cow. The parents of the girl would respect those of the boy.


Once a Mufumbira died, he or she was buried on the same day of his or her death if they are of a lower class without wealth, if he was of a high class of wealth and or title he would be mourned for at least two days. They would be buried in mats.


The Bafumbira named their children depending on a family situation or the circumstances at hand. If a child was born in a period of brewing beer, that child was named "Senzoga". If the birth happened when the father of the child was on a journey, that child was named "Senzira". If there was a lot of food in the household at the time of the birth, the child was named "Nyirabakire".


The Bafumbira built huts. The roofs were thatched with sorghum and grass from swamps. The walls were circular and were built with mud and sticks. Today they build brick houses with either iron sheet roofs or tiled roofs.


The Bafumbira worshipped Nyabingi, a female divinity. They built shrines for her and worshipped her from there. She was a divinity of cultivators for Bahutu. The Tutsis worshipped Byangombe.

Today Christianity and Islam are the major faiths with most people being Christians.


The Bafumbira are cultivators. Their staple food is sorghum. sorghum grains can be cooked if harvested fresh or eaten raw if harvested dry. They can also be ground to make flour from which a variety of drinks are prepared. They also grow potatoes that do well in volcanic soils and legumes, mainly beans. The main foods are beans, peas, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, maize and millet[5]


  1. ^ "2014 Uganda Population and Housing Census – Main Report" (PDF). Uganda Bureau of Statistics. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 October 2017. Retrieved 17 April 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Mahmood, Mamdani (2014). When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda. Princeton University Press. p. 162. ISBN 9781400851720. Retrieved 27 January 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Jeremy M. Weinstein; James Habyarimana; Macartan Humphreys; Daniel N. Posner (2009). Coethnicity: Diversity and the Dilemmas of Collective Action. Russell Sage Foundation. p. 148. ISBN 9781610446389. Retrieved 27 January 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "Bafumbira People and their Culture". Archived from the original on 2015-01-27. Retrieved 27 January 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b "Uncovering Heritage and Traditions of the Bafumbira". Retrieved 20 January 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)