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Ugandan History told through Paintings

The importance of Cattle Ownership to the Region 


In pastoral tribes of the Region - the Highland Kingdoms of Rwanda, Burundi, and Ankole- Cattle served as the center of the economy. Wealth was measured in cows and dictated one's social class. Even marriage dowries were negotiated in cows. The ruling elite were cattle-owning aristocracy who would often tax the local population of farmers. 


The Kabaka's Court

By the beginning of the 19th century, the Buganda had become the most powerful group in the region. The Baganda King, The Kabaka, had a court with several different administrators. Everyone at court was required to be dressed in a cloth bark robe. 


Seruti- The Royal Brewer

One of the positions that the Kabaka kept in his administration was that of the Royal Brewer. Seen below is a local beer brewed in a large gourd and being shared between three friends using straws. Bananas are used as one of the main ingredients while brewing this local beer. 


A large portion of the people of the Baganda worked in the banana industry. Bananas in this region produced high yield crop harvests, which helped to sustain the population as a staple crop. These trees would remain productive for up to 50 years. Due to the little maintenance that these trees required, one person could tend a grove large enough to feed 4 people - one acre could yield as much as five tons. 

Additionally, the fronds of the leaf were used to thatch the roofs of huts. The strong stems were used to build fences. Anything left from the tree that spoiled was used to create fertilizer. This allowed for permanent villages to be set up around these banana groves as they were able to avoid tiring out the soil. This meant that Ganda society revolved around the Banana Tree. The addition to the value of the land increased the strength of the monarchy as people became more tied to their land. 

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