Culture

Bukedi is the land of the naked people?

“Bukedi – literally ‘the land of the naked people.'”

Joan Vincent quoted by Dr. Ben Jones in his book: “Beyond the state in rural Uganda.”

“Eeeh!,” was my reaction when I read how my homeland got its name. I immediately asked myself, “how come I did not know this?” So, I went on a Google search to find more context on how the name of my homeland came into being. What is the history of the name Bukedi?

I am a borne of Pallisa District, which together with the districts of Busia, Tororo, Butaleja, Kibuku, Budaka and Butebo, form Bukedi Sub-Region (the red strip on the map of Uganda here below).

@Wikimedia Commons

Taking it for granted that that Bukedi came about from the domestication of naked, perhaps as our English colonisers referred to our unclothed ancestors, I Google-searched for confirmatory sources. Not so, because, apparently, Bukedi is not derived from an English word.

Bukedi, is a Luganda word, according to Janet Lewis, in her book: “How insurgency begins: rebel group formation in Uganda and beyond;” and moreover it is a disparaging Luganda word, according to Philip Briggs and Andrew Roberts in their book: “Uganda.” Interesting, I think.

And yes, it is feasible that Bukedi is a Luganda word. This is because our homeland was at some point colonized by the Baganda, under the reign of the famous or notorious Semei Kakugulu, a Muganda, who was a mecernary or a warrior or a statesman, depending on if you were the English colonialists, a Muganda or the colonized.

Needing to confirm, I have made phone calls to people, including Baganda, that I thought should and would confirm that Bukedi is a Luganda word or term that means “the land of naked people.” And, so far, they too are in my boat, so to speak, they did not know that “Bukedi” was a Luganda word and of that meaning.

Sunset in Pallisa

I will continue to investigate and I will revert back to up-date this post, if and when I find out more.

1 comment on “Bukedi is the land of the naked people?

  1. luswatakafuluma

    Sat at the back of a land cruiser matatu, driving through Kapoeta in South Sudan, our matatu comes to a scheduled health break. As is ‘normal’ at such public transport stops all over most of Africa, roadside vendors rush to our windows to market their wares – only that this time they were mostly topless young lasses shoving milk in our faces (no pun). I turned to my neighbour with a smile to see if they were seeing things the way I was seeing them – my neighbour was huggling with the girls totally unperturbed. So was everyone else in this land cruiser matatu. I struggled to look up, down sideways and everywhere else, except at these bare chested damsels. I didn’t want to be viewed as a pervert as I thought to myself ‘Bunkeredde’ (my dawn has come). If I’d uttered it out loud and it were picked up, could it have been adulterated to Bukedi? However, I believe nakedness is relative.

    Liked by 1 person

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