Country Listing

Uganda Table of Contents



The traditional territory of the Basoga (people of Busoga; sing., Musoga; adj. Soga) is in southeastern Uganda, east of the Victoria Nile River. The Basoga make up about 8 percent of the population. Before the arrival of Europeans, the Basoga were subsistence farmers who also kept cattle, sheep, and goats. Basoga often had gardens for domestic use close to the homestead. There the women of the household cared for the most common staple foods--bananas, millet, cassava, and sweet potatoes. Men generally cared for cash crops--coffee, cotton, peanuts, and corn.

Traditional Soga society consisted of a number of small kingdoms not united under a single paramount leader. Society was organized around a number of principles, the most important of which was descent. Descent was traced through male forebears, leading to the formation of the patrilineage, which included an individual's closest relatives. This group provided guidance and support for each individual and united related homesteads for economic, social, and religious purposes. Lineage membership determined marriage choices, inheritance rights, and obligations to the ancestors. An individual usually attempted to improve on his economic and social position, which was initially based on lineage membership, by skillfully manipulating patron-client ties within the authority structure of the kingdom. A man's patrons, as much as his lineage relatives, influenced his status in society.

Unlike the kabakas of Buganda, Basoga kings are members of a royal clan, selected by a combination of descent and approval by royal elders. In northern Busoga, near Bunyoro, the royal clan, the Babito, is believed to be related to the Bito aristocracy in Bunyoro (see Western Lacustrine Bantu , this ch.). Some Basoga in this area maintain that they are descended from people of Bunyoro.

Data as of December 1990