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Souvenirs from Uganda

Uganda souvenir market

What can I bring back from Uganda?

Uganda, being gifted by nature, is home to the finest artifacts, keepsakes and treasures. Indeed, the road to Uganda is gilded by golden possibilities as to what you may find or remember when you come to Uganda.
So if you’re looking for something uniquely Ugandan that would also make a great souvenir or gift from Uganda for someone special or you just want to take a little bit of Uganda home with you after your stay in Uganda, look no further. We got you covered.

These are our suggestions for the gifts from Uganda to UK, USA etc.

  •  Kitenge

kitenge fabrics on display

Kitenge are some of the most sought after fabrics and indigenous fashion designs in the world. Did you even go to Uganda or on safari if you didn’t buy a kitenge? The Kitenge may come in several forms namely as a silken- smooth (100 % cotton) colorful African print shirt. This shirt gives a man a distinguished and delectably African look. It can be worn with jeans, chinos, trendy timepieces and shoes of one’s choice. Dresses made out of Kitenge will bring out the desired contours of a lady’s figure while being dramatically suited to match any occasion from a simple walk in the park to a glitzy event proclaiming you belle of the ball. These Kitenge may also be customized into pouches, bowties, travel bags etc. Indeed, their finely woven material has become the defining symbol of Uganda and Ugandans.

  • Backcloth

Bark cloth primarily comes from a number of trees, hence the “bark” in the cloth. Then, the gentle bite in its wear owes to damp strips of the fibrous inner bark of these trees being beaten into sheets. Thereafter, you are left looking better for wear. Often this kind of clothing has been referred to as “paper” clothing, possibly because of the treed origins of the cloth. Bark cloth is often found in central Uganda, so you get to capitalize on good fashion by dressing as many Ugandans do in the capital of Uganda. Or should we say, the heart of the country? Because you won’t miss a cultural beat with this wear. To get yourself one, stop in one of the many souvenir shops in Kampala or cities of Uganda.

  • Ugandan art

Uganda wall art

Ugandan art is unique in the way it expresses the soul of a country at one with its dreams. When you experience Ugandan art, you feel it emerging from that part of you which is in tune with the sweet life you shall enjoy in Uganda. Through our paintings, pottery, Batiks, skins etc. a way of life is communicated with the deeper self of both the artist and what it means to be Ugandan. Whether art found in melted wax (applied to fabrics) or sculptures, basketry and instruments (wind, blow and percussion), Ugandan traditional art invokes and evokes different emotions which suit each person’s mood, their time of life.

  • Ugandan Handmade crafts

Uganda gorilla souvenirs

Ugandan handmade crafts could be an effigy of a silverback gorilla, a baboon, and a chimpanzee or shoebill stork to complement. These could also come in the form of African fiber toys, traditional mats, hats, craft shoes, key holders, traditional fiber hats. All these crafts draw one into celebrating God’s favor in bestowing Uganda with a whole sweep of animals. Animals which remind us that we must co-exist with our environment in order to best enjoy nature’s blessings.

  •  Uganda Waragi

Uganda waragi bottle

Perhaps there is no Ugandan drink more well-known and universally adored than Uganda waragi. The term “Waragi” is a byword for locally distilled gin in all parts of Uganda; its name comes from “war gin”. The British expatriates in the colonial era, chiefly in the 50s and 60s, came up with this the name “waragi” to refer to the distilled spirit known as enguli. They mispronounced Enguli and, viola, Waragi was born.

The British often deployed Sudanese or Sudanic peoples in the Kings African Rifles as colonial soldiers. And, to bolster their spirits as well as imbue them with “Dutch Courage”, they gave them Waragi. Apart from its warlike history, waragi is also excellent in times of peace. When distilled to perfection, its viscosity is thinly expressive of a heavenly Uganda in a glass or a bottle. Its watery, colorless hue speaks of its liquid charm awash with the tide of the perfect moment.

Its rosy scent is aromatic with hints of peachy, lemony fruit. Waragi delivers forth an elevated spirit, which warms one’s inner being with a soft glow balanced against musical notes of good cheer that radiate to a spring in one’s step. Its robust power is hard to match. Made up of cassava, bananas, millet or sugarcane it dances on the palate with cultural grooves such as the Baakisiimba, Nankasa, Muwogola.

You also taste its discreetly flavored spices, when you let your groovy buds dance, as you’re taken on a journey from glass to class beyond any ceiling on the best fun you’ve ever had. Without a doubt, waragi will help turn down the volume on your worries while turning on the good times as you let them roll.

  • Uganda coffee

We all love gifts or souvenirs we can eat or drink, so why not carry home some Ugandan coffee beans? Once you get back home, grind them and make some hot coffee, you will be transported back to those cherished moments on  safari in Uganda. In case you didn’t already know, Uganda is the leading coffee exporter in Africa. Ugandan Coffee is no longer just a drink, it’s a culture. This culture primarily whets one’s appetite for a ritualized cup of coffee, and accounts for much of Uganda’s GDP.

It is thus a cultural digest in terms of how the quality of our coffee has contributed to the quality of life in Uganda. Uganda supplies over 72.82 million bags to the world. This makes us the 8th biggest coffee producer in the world.

Although there are upwards of 100 different coffee species globally, Coffee in Uganda falls under two types:
• Arabica Coffee: This is responsible for about 20% of the annual national coffee produce.
• Robusta Coffee: This rakes in 80% of the coffee produced in Uganda yearly.

Robusta Coffee  is grown along the lush emerald expanses of Central, Eastern, Western and South Eastern Uganda situated 1,200 meters above sea level.In this rustic setting, Robusta coffee growing has been a centuries-old tradition and is the principal income generator for its growers.
Arabica Coffee has been a real boon for people where it is grown, which is in the high altitude areas on the foothills of Mount Elgon in the East of Uganda and Mt. Rwenzori and Mt. Muhabura in the South Western Region.
Robusta is native to the Lake Victoria Crescent, while Arabica seedlings were brought from the Malawian and Ethiopian highlands to Uganda in the early 1900s.
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  • Ugandan tea

The story of tea in Uganda is fascinating and worth partly recounting. It was initially brought to Uganda in 1909 to the Botanic Gardens at Entebbe, an idyllic and leafy setting which rhymes with what anyone would call dreamy.

Uganda’s tropical climate, mostly temperate, and rich soils is responsible for making Ugandan tea one of the best in the world.

Whether you like your tea black, white or green, sour or sweet or spicy or earthy, Ugandan tea is the flowing bounty of heavenly pleasure. You won’t get enough of it. And why should you, when you can take it back to your home country and enjoy a home away from home (in terms taking some of Uganda’s spirit back with you).

  • Ugandan jewelry:

Whether you have arm bands, handmade necklaces, bangles with distinct Ugandan designs on them or even multicolored paper bead ornaments, Ugandan jewelry expresses its culture through variety. With 54 tribes in a population of 46 million individuals, Ugandan jewelry ensembles come in varied colours, patterns and shapes. We were proud of our jewelry. Not only does it have aesthetic qualities, it has a decidedly regal allure which adds luster to Uganda being known as the pearl of Africa.

We indeed express our spirit in this jewelry; for our rings or bracelets are not merely ornaments but they also demonstrate how precious the joy we feel within us is to us.

  • Calabashes (gourd):

You may also want to partake of this offering carved out of hollowed and dried gourd (Lagenaria siceraria). Or, simply put, a pumpkin. Used to store water, it may also be used as a bottle-shaped utensil or instrument. In central Uganda, where the Baganda and Basoga tribes are found, the gourd is often used for traditional ceremonies such as in Bigwala music and dance amongst the Basoga. This dance was traditionally performed during royal celebrations such as coronations. However these days even other socio-cultural ceremonies have taken on the use of the same.

  • Shea butter:

Shea butter is a popular beauty product in Uganda. In texture, it is ivory-colored. In composition, it is fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). Ugandans call shea butter “Moo yao” in the Lango and Acholi sub-regions. It is mainly indigenous to those regions in Uganda, and is considered a fruit.

It is also inextricably linked to war in these regions too. On 6 August 1986, the Alice Lakwena took on the Ugandan government. She became the commander of the Holy Spirit Mobile Forces (HSMF) which were mobilized by a spirit called “Lakwena” which told Alice, his spirit-medium, to fight.
In early November, Alice approached another rebel group called the Uganda People’s Democratic Army (UPDA) near Kitgum and was given weapons and soldiers to build up the HSMF. A few weeks later the HSMF fought a major battle against the government troops at Corner Kilak and won. After this victory many more soldiers of the UPDA joined the HSMF because “Alice had power”.

A non-Homeric legend tells of how the great warrior Achilles (of the epic poem The Iliad) had a divine mother who sought to make him invulnerable by dipping him in the waters of the Styx, the river over which the souls of the dead were ferried to the underworld.
Similarly, the soldiers of Alice’s HSMF had to undergo an initiation ceremony in which they were anointed with Shea-butter oil and made holy. Sadly, both Achilles and Alice had the proverbial Achilles’ heel. But this takes away nothing from its beauty and health enhancing qualities, courtesy of ingredients which are noncomedogenic (meaning they doesn’t clog pores on the skin) and thus make your skin glow without side effect.

  • Musical instruments:

Adungu ennanga Uganda harp

As with anything good in life, they come in different shapes and sizes and are made up of different features. These differences spell out their varying functions and classes. When we say classes, we don’t mean some are rich and others are poor. What we mean is that are differing in timber, tone and mellifluity (quality of sound).
In different communities in Uganda, different roles and importance is attached to different instruments. Drums, for instance, are used for communication and royal functions in Buganda, Ankole, Bunyoro and Toro where monarchies are found. In these areas, drums are associated with royalty. While in places like Karamoja and Sebei they are not used at all. Musical instruments such as flutes or Ugandan xylophones may be used by you in the same manner they are used by Ugandans for social, psychological and educational purposes.

All told, there is a chance to treat yourself to a wonderful Uganda souvenir item while on safari with us. We believe it is the perfect way to remind you of your  safari moments in East Africa for the rest of your life.

Next time you’re in Uganda or with us on safari, make sure to get yourself some souvenirs. These items can be found in galleries and craft shops . They make very special gifts and are a wonderful way to remember your  safari trip to Uganda.

 

What is your favourite gift from Uganda to the US or Europe?

 

Nile Basin Safaris is your safari partner to the paradise that is Uganda and Rwanda. In this near-religious experience, we effortlessly unveil Uganda: the “Pearl of Africa” and Rwanda: the “Land of a Thousand Hills ” on memorable safaris trips.’

So whether you wish to join one of our small group tours or want your very own bespoke safari, Nile Basin Safaris is here to offer you the best of Uganda and Rwanda, with great insight and knowledge of these countries, and impacting the local economies with every dollar you spend.

 

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