Ggwangamujje NY/NJ is a United States registered not-for-profit Section 501c tax-exempt services organization that was started by Baganda (natives of African kingdom of Buganda; singular: Muganda) living in New York and New Jersey, USA.
Ggwangamujje NY/NJ promotes socio-economic and cultural advancement of its members through educational and outreach programs that both use and promote the rich culture, customs, music, poetry, art, language and native problem solving skills of Baganda.
Our Background and History
Members of the Baganda community in the New York and New Jersey resolved to form a social non-profit organization and name it Ggwangamujje New York/New Jersey (Ggwangamujje NY/NJ) on October 15, 1994.
The slogan “Ggwangamujje” literally means “Call to national duty” in the Luganda language. It is also the name of the drum beat that Baganda have sounded over centuries to mobilize the community during disasters and other times of hardship. Ggwangamujje NY/NJ brings together members of the New York/New Jersey community and well-wishers to address challenges to the social-economic and cultural well-being of the Baganda community.
Buganda and Baganda
Buganda is a Kingdom nation that is physically located in present-day Uganda, East Africa. Buganda’s international boundaries are marked by Lake Victoria to the south, the Victoria Nile to the east, Lake Kyoga to the north and the kingdoms of Bunyoro, Tooro and Ankole to the west. With a land mass of 19,600 square miles, Buganda is about twice as big as New Jersey and larger than Maryland, USA.
The Buganda kingdom has existed for approximately 1,000 years, producing one Africa’s richest national portfolios of oral and documented knowledge on governance, customs, language, music, poetry and art. For example, with over 5,000 documented Engero za Baganda, the Baganda have the largest native collection of proverbs in Africa.
The nearly 10 million Baganda make up the largest ethnic group in Uganda today (2013). Over 500,000 members of the Baganda community are estimated to live in Diaspora, with the biggest concentrations in United Kingdom, North America, European Union, Kenya, Tanzania and Southern Africa.
Baganda Culture and Society
The main pillars of Baganda culture and society are:
- Kabaka (King and custodian of the Buganda’s national power, spirit and natural resources);
- Baganda clans (Ebika by’Abaganda) and the clan heads (Abataka Abakulu b’Ebika). Kabaka also has a special title of Ssabataka (chairman of the Abataka council).
- Baganda customs and cultural norms (Obuwangwa n’Obulombolombo);
- Obutaka (the land boundaries and resources, especially native lands and environment);
- Olukiiko lwa Buganda (Buganda national council of chiefs and elders);
- Luganda, the native language of the Baganda.
Since around 1,640 AD, when the current royal dynasty ascended to power, the Baganda have lived under a culture of democracy, based on governance and legal systems with strong checks and balances. Notably, the Kabaka’s role is to provide justice to his subjects (okulamula) and not to rule them (okufuga). Furthermore, he does not engage in formal work outside his palace but appoints a Katikkiro (Prime Minister) to assist him with execution of all political and administrative duties.
Every Muganda belongs to one of the 54 Baganda clans, with members of the same clan considered to be blood relatives. Therefore, for the nearly 10 million Baganda, the incest taboo may extend to tens of thousands of people. Kabaka (Ssabataka) with the Baganda clans (Abataka Abakulu b’Ebika) form the council of ancestors (Olukiiko lw’Abataka ba Buganda) who guide the evolution of Buganda cultural norms and practices.
Under Buganda’s brand of democracy the Katikkiro’s plans are vetted and his performance assessed by Olukiiko lwa Buganda. Also, an matters relating to cultural practices, inheritance and spirituality ordinary Baganda (Bazzukulu), including the Katikkiro, are expected to take the guidance of the clan leaders who work directly with the Kabaka through Olukiiko lw’Abataka ba Buganda.
Centuries of life under a strong formal and civil kingdom society has made Baganda well known for their intellect, administrative skills, good manners, openness and affinity for peaceful solutions in the face of adversity.
Kabaka of Buganda
Kabaka is revered by his subjects, the Baganda people, because his office serves as king and custodian of the Buganda’s political and spiritual power, justice, resources and cultural norms. Two of the very many reasons why Baganda deeply the Kabaka institution:
- Every Muganda inherits his or her clan from the father but the Kabaka takes the clan of his mother. That ensures that, over time, each clan has a fair chance of having a Kabaka among its members.
- Kabaka is not a dictator because he willingly delegates his political and administrative responsibilities to an appointed Katikkiro.