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At 87, Gubya Insists on Preserving Buganda’s Culture, Local foods

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The former Luganda teacher at Bishop primary school has built a house at her residence, about a kilometer away from Mukono town where she demonstrates Buganda’s ancestral family setting.
Tolofisa Gubya showing a demostration set up of an ancient Baganda Kitchen. Above on the loft is how men preserved food. Besides is a piller where also women kept food and below is fire place used for providing heat.
Tolofisa Gubya, 86, a resident of Nakabago village in Mukono town is very passionate about her cultural roots. The former Luganda teacher at Bishop primary school has built a house at her residence, about a kilometer away from Mukono town where she demonstrates Buganda’s ancestral family setting.  

Located behind a kraal, a few meters from the main house, the house portrays how the ancestors of Buganda lived. The floor of the traditional house is covered with grass sparing only a small space for a fire place for smoking the foods that are wrapped in dry banana leaves and tied up on kitchen loft (ekibanyi).  A fine demonstration of maize, g-nuts, beans, roasted meat (Omukalo) and maize hang over the loft. 

 

In the right corner of the house are different dolls produced from dry banana leaves and draped backcloth representing a man, woman and children. “This house is for my ancestors; Zebidayo, his wife Nataliya and their children because I am a Muganda by tribe. I’ve been able to trace my origin and that’s why I built a home demonstrating it,” she confidently told URN.

A strong pillars stands in the middle of the house will dried local foods wrapped in dry banana leaves. “The pillar belongs to Nataliya, it is where she ties food that is used during the rainy season. She isn’t supposed to get anything from the kitchen loft without Zebidayo’s authorization,” she explains.  

The house also hosts ancient tools used by the ancestors of Buganda including among others hoes (Akasimo), Machete (Panga), needle (Olukatu), Stool (Mwasajjute), Jingles (endege), motor and pestle, axe, baskets and bark clothes. “It is bad to hide away from your ancestry. I took time and some money to travel to Luweero (Bulemeezi) to buy most of these items,” she explained.   

According to Gubya, every tool is important. She cites the example of jingle bells, which could be tied on children’s legs to wake them up during night to stop them from soiling their beds. They also came handy during traditional dances and hunting. Gubya grows loads of trees, crops and fruits in different gardens in the back yard of her main house throughout different seasons.   

She grows different traditional foods “‘Emere enansi’ includes greens, onions, banana, beans, maize potatoes, pumpkins, yams and several other climbing foods. “I don’t stop at showcasing these crops but I chose to add value on them by making flour and packing others for sale,” Gubya said while pointing at some of the crops and flour placed on a malleable plate and in tins.

The fruits I grow here contain medicine so instead of wasting my little money in hospitals, I just invest my energy and time to grow crops and fruits, which in return act as medicine.  “I don’t remember the last time I went to hospital for treatment,” she said. 

Adding that, “Since I am growing old every day, I decided to form and registered a women group known as Kyosiga Kyolikungula to pass over knowledge of maintaining local foods to the next generation.’ She has since trained women in the Mother’s Union Namirembe Diocese where she is a member. 

After harvesting the crops, Gubya keeps them in a granary. Since all her children are married, Gubya uses the remaining rooms in her house as show rooms she branded farming attic. Several people flock Gubya’s home to take processed and packed foods including students on agricultural research.  

Gubya was among the motivational speakers during the Nakasero Women Conference held in 2016 where she was awarded the Victoria Ssekitoreko Award for her efforts in promoting food security, poverty eradication and development through Agriculture. 

Harriet Namuddu, a member of Kyosiga group says she learnt from Gubya the need of patience in farming. “You have to be patient once you start practicing farming.  However, you don’t need to work alone. Joining this group is making miracles in our homes,” she said. 

 

Brenda Nanseko, a resident of Mukono town says that she learnt how to use a small piece of land to grow crops and fruits after visiting Gubya’s place. “When you look at my garden I don’t use a lot of space. But altogether I have most of the crops and fruits that I need making it rare for to visit food markets,” she boastfully said.