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The Sebei People – Culture and Practices, Safari Uganda

sebei-uganda-cultural-safariThe Sebei people live on the slopes of mountain Elgon found in eastern Uganda. They mainly occupy the north and northwestern part of the mountain and a couple of them can be seen on the lower plains. These people belong to the Nilohamites ethnic group and they speak the Nandi language.

They live in the eastern district of Kapchorwa and area with dry plains. A number of Sebei communities mainly are majorly pastoralists – keeping cattle with some others are actually farmers.

Sebie Marriages

The rules governing these people do not allow marriage between people of the same clan as well as a man marrying daughters of someone who is in the same age-set as he his.  The marriages here are at times pre-arranged, or by force through capture simply through elopement. Bride price is given during their marriages although it is negotiable. When choosing a spouse, these people consider one’s physical beauty as an important decisive factor.

These people are polygynous and the girls are married off as soon as initiation is over a ritual that is conducted on them during their mid teenage. The men on the other hand get married between the mid twenties and by thirty years. The men who normally have more than one wife usually build a house with a kitchen for each wife. They are also assigned each a piece of land to cultivate (an activity mainly done by the men).

Sharing of Responsibility

The women (co-wives) collaborate with one another and it’s their responsibility to maintain the house, make beer, cook, milk the cows as well as cultivate their gardens.

The main responsibilities of the men on the other hand include clearing bushes, looking after cattle, goats as well as sheep – they keep their livestock in kraals surrounded with thorny thickets. They also occasionally hunt wildlife.

The Sebei Food and Drinking Culture

The Sebei people love drinking local beer which they traditionally brew from honey, maize or plantain; this they do almost on a daily basis.

Measure of Wealth among the Sebei

“Cattle” is the main measure of wealth among these eastern people; the more cattle you have the richer you are. Because of that these people do a number of raids on the neighboring communities since it’s not only the easiest but also the quickest way to increase the size of their cattle herd.

Consequently the Sebei men are also always on the lookout and alert security wise against any raids from the neighboring communities the constant defensive from raiders and are sometimes

Circumcision among the Sebei

According to the Sebei culture, similar to the boys, the girls are also circumcised as a way of initiation into one of the age-sets. They are also trained in the different practices and values of their tribe. According to these people, a child only transitions into adulthood only after they have been circumcised.

Male circumcision is conducted every 2 years they formally organize the circumcision of the male however female circumcision is an annual ritual (although due to health, human rights among several other  reasons the government of Uganda together with several human right activists and organizations have come up to discourage and stop the circumcision of women). During these rituals these people drink a lot of local beer locally brewed from maize.

Social Hierarchy among the Sebei

The Sebei people recognize Agnatic seniority wherebyblades-circumcision they follow a patrilineal order of inheritance where by the succession order dictates that the young brother of the deceased becomes the heir rather than the son. The male children can only succeed only after the elder generation has been fully exhausted.

They have large clans which are then divided into lineages locally referred to as korik). Each of the different clans has its own ancestral spirits (locally referred to as oyik) and those are believed to monitor the behavior and welfare of the clan members. It’s said that those spirits only have an influence on the members of their respective clans.

The Sebei people are divided into age-sets, and the main reason behind this kind of formation during the ancient kingdoms was to define the duties of the people according to their age and physical abilities and that way they were able to form functional units that included warriors as well as elders. When it comes to the Sebei people, these age sets were formed primarily to establish a measure-of-protocol in their interpersonal relationships the different people.

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