Uganda's Culture


In pre-colonial times, traditional communities in what is now Uganda were closely knit units. Their social, political and economic organisation revolved around the family, clan and/ or the institution of the traditional leader. The daily activities of men, women and children, whether as individuals or as groups were intrinsically linked to, and determined by culture.

Uganda is endowed with a rich and diverse cultural heritage, of sixty-five indigenous communities with unique characteristics. This heritage includes artistic and cultural expressions. These are; language and literary arts, performing arts, visual arts and handicrafts, indigenous knowledge, cultural beliefs, traditions and values, cultural sites monuments and antiquities.

Language and Literary Arts

Uganda has a variety of indigenous languages and dialects. English is the official language of Uganda and Kiswahili is the second official language.

The various languages are a unique storehouse of knowledge and have facilitated the communication between people within and outside the country. In addition, literary arts are one of the existing cultural industries in the country.

Performing arts

The performing arts include; dance, drama, music, theater, motion pictures, opera, traditional sports and the marching arts such as brass bands. These are used for self-expression, education and sensitization of communities as well as for entertainment. In the communities, traditional and modern performing arts have been popularized as a means to facilitate participation by communities in development. In addition, cultural, educational institutions and the private sector have supported the performing arts. 

Visual Arts and Handicrafts

The visual arts and handicrafts include among others; basketry, mats, ceramics, beads, pottery, hand-woven textiles and products, toys, jewelry, bags and ornaments, leather products, batik, wood carvings and paintings.

The raw materials used in the production of visual arts and crafts are readily available in the country. Visual arts and crafts are produced in almost all regions of the country with product differentiation based on culture and history. This has promoted the identities of the various communities and created avenues for income generation.

Indigenous Knowledge

Indigenous knowledge is diverse, accessible, affordable and acceptable. IK provides the basis for problem solving strategies for local communities especially the poor.

IK is commonly used in agriculture, traditional medicine, health care, food preparation, education, natural resource management and a host of other activities in rural communities. It is also characteristically relevant for women who use it to perform their traditional roles and responsibilities.

Cultural beliefs, traditions and values

Ugandans have different beliefs and traditions that are deeply rooted in their cultural and religious values. The beliefs, traditions and values have contributed to the propagation of social harmony and development. 

These beliefs, traditions and values sometimes conflict with modern laws. Some of these include; widow inheritance. Ugandan cultures are continuously adopting and adapting because of local and foreign influences. In some cases, this has led to the degradation of the moral fabric of the society with the most affected category being the youth.

Cultural Sites, Monuments and Antiquities

Uganda has several cultural sites and monuments. Some of them are man made while others are natural. These sites, monuments and antiquities are important for socio-cultural and educational purposes. They promote tourism and consequently create employment for people. The natural sites also enhance the protection of the environment. 


Indigenous Communities

Uganda has 65 indigenous communities representing a diverse cultural heritage of Uganda. The diversity contributes to a wealth of indigenous knowledge, languages, folklore, customs and traditions and products that can be harnessed for development. Interrelationships as a result of interactions in educational institutions, at work places, intermarriages enhance understanding of other cultures and enhance harmony and social cohesion.

The Non- Indigenous Communities of Uganda

There exists in the country non-indigenous communities. Some are a result of intermarriages between indigenous people with foreigners while others are foreigners who live in Uganda. These interrelationships have not only enhanced understanding of other cultures, but have also led to the emergence of new cultures.