Superstitions in Uganda


superstitions in Uganda

By: Teberius Emukule Ochekit

The Ugandan nation boasts a broader base of traditions and cultures. Most of the people from the nation associate themselves either directly or indirectly with the traditional activities.

Although some of the practices have faded away, most of them are still in place. In that case, there two groups of the activities; those that cause good luck and the ones leading to bad luck.

To counter the practices, solutions are provided for bad luck and boosts for good luck.
Besides, some of the country’s population are in full support of maintaining the traditional activities.

On the other hand, those that oppose them argue that modern practices should be employed.

Traditions that Apply in Uganda to Attain Good Luck

The Ugandan traditions mean a lot to the people who accept and practice them.

At first, individuals hold the belief that doing good things to others attracts good luck. A tit for tat kind of thinking is perceived, where good attracts good and bad entices bad.

Secondly, the accomplishment of good luck is determined by the first person one meets in the morning. If the person is known for good luck, it will be an advantage.

However, an individual’s day will be ruined completely if the person first met normally attracts bad luck. In fact, even things that seemed to be running well can easily fail to continue.

Thirdly, good luck is attained through the naming system. Some names in the Ugandan society are believed to attract good, forcing most parents to use them. Hence, that remains to be the reason for the increase in hereditary names among them.

Head Tapping for Good Luck in Uganda

Good luck is obtained from the elders when they tap the heads of the individuals to impose knowledge and understanding in them.
Normally, it is done when individuals are set for war just to ensure they win. Another instance that involves head tapping is when leaving for a journey.

Due to some cases of accidents and attacks while travelling, the blessings of the elders are believed to neutralize the dark powers.

Use of Herbs for Protection and Good Luck

Importantly, the acquisition of good luck requires the application of special herbs. Mostly, the traditional herbals are used at the time of bathing. They are mixed with water, allowing them to take cover for the body, even at instances of problems.

Other cases involve the tying of the herbals along the waist, ensuring maximum protection and good luck throughout.
The herbals tied around the waist are not removed, even in cases of changing the clothes. They will stay at the designated place until the time that was directed by the initiator expires.

Run to the River for Good Luck in Uganda

Outstandingly, taking a group of three individuals to the river at dawn is highly practiced. It is believed that, the movement both ways should be by running.

Also, the three should gall at any animal that crosses their path as they run to and from the river.
After reaching the river, they wash their heads and return to the house before the activities of the day resume.

When individuals return to the house successfully, they are believed to have attained good luck.
The evidence from the people that have tried the practice initially makes it necessary to be accepted among the many.

Things People do to Avoid Bad Luck in Uganda

Bad luck is normally associated with evil and should be avoided at all costs. While there are no clear measures on countering it, Ugandans employ several traditions to combat them. The practices are set to be imposed by a special group of people.

Some form of cleansing is done by the elders to locate the best individuals for the positions. The anointing happens at designated places that have been selected by the spirits.

In most cases, the good spirits are passed hereditarily. Still, they can be attracted by actively doing good things to other people in society.

Leaves Superstition in Uganda

The usage of specialized traditional leaves by the public should be avoided to evade bad luck.
The leaves are deemed sacred and are only applied by given people at specific events. The trees that bear the leaves should not be touched for purposes of cutting or anything else.
In fact, when individuals pass by such trees, they should utter some words to signify their importance.
Taking the measure and adhering to the tradition helps to cover individuals from bad luck.


Cleansing is conducted by the elders at regular intervals to prevent the community from evil spirits.
The process is divided into several categories, depending on the societal age groups.

Young men are cleansed in the evenings by a male elder while the women in the morning by a female elder.

Adolescents: No Bathing in the Afternoon in Uganda

Adolescents should avoid visiting river bathing points in the afternoons. Ugandan beliefs perceive river bathing as the best, as passed by the community elders.

In that case, the elderly and the grownups prefer taking showers at the various rivers in the afternoons.
Crossing such points can easily portray the nakedness of the elderly, which is considered as a curse to the individuals. The curses amassed by such individuals are equated to bad luck.

Hence, they haunt the individuals throughout their lives until a specialized cleansing process is conducted.

Additionally, bending in front of the elders for reasons like picking fallen items is highly prohibited.

The move is considered as lacking respect for others and avoiding it will prevent bad luck as well. So, such instances require the permission of elders and should be done more decently.

Celebrating Special Days

Specials days in Uganda are highly considered and are marked remarkably. Several actions should be fulfilled to ensure the success of the traditions. The events also involve special groups of people whose absence will deem everything senseless. Hence, the celebrations are marked uniquely, every time they come in to place.

Generally, celebrations are conducted at the order of their leader, the Kabaka. Such events are attended by a majority of the community members at open places.
They are mostly referred to as Amazukiraga Kabaka. However, various ceremonies are conducted to mark the specialized events at lower levels. Keep reading!

Announcing the Birth of a Child in Uganda

The birth of a child is confirmed by ululations from the aunt of the baby. The noises then attract other members of the family and community. What follows is the arrival of the guests with various types of gifts.
As soon as the baby is born, music and dancing commence welcoming the child to the world.

Naming of a Child in Uganda

What follows is the naming of the child, which occurs either the same day or the following one.

The naming ceremony involves the application of some kind of brew referred to as busaa. A certain name is called while the baby is given the brew to tests.
If the elder calls the name and the baby accepts the brew, the name is accepted. Otherwise, if the name is called and the baby rejects the brew, another one is tried.

Gifts to the Parents of the Bride

Another special celebration is conducted during marriage or weddings.
When a girl gets married, the mother is given a special dress called gomessi as a reward. The dress covers from the neck to the feet and is tied at the waist using a specialized clothe string.

Still, the father and the brother of the girl are given some unique clothes called kanzus.
The payment of dowry is not done in the form of cows, as with other regions. Instead, gifts are preferred where both parents of the bride receive their portions.

Continually, the expected son in law takes a brew called waraji, mini biri or satu to the bride’s family. The brew is the first one to be tested as he matches to meet his bride.

Gift to the Brides Aunt in Uganda

A female goat is presented to a girl’s aunt when she gets married. This is done purely as a sign of appreciation to the aunt because she is considered very important.

In most cases, it is the responsibility of the aunt to mentor the girl until the marriage age. In fact, some of them are closer to the girls than the parents themselves.
The aunt should ensure that the virginity of the girl is maintained until the girl is ready for marriage.

Watch Out for Poisoned Food and Drinks

Meals are considered to be part of the Ugandan culture and contain several superstitions.
The vulnerability of foods to pests and other effects makes it a major target. In most cases, individuals fall into disagreements in society. The move causes an increase in grudges, making communication difficult.

The first case of superstition that is practiced here is giving individuals poisoned food or drinks. The drink poisoning is called ovutua while that in food is referred to as ovwua. It is not always cases of disagreements but some come into place due to jealousy.

Never Sit on a Cooking Stone in Uganda

It is believed that sitting on a cooking stone attracts bad luck to the individual.
In fact, it is perceived that doing so reduces the mother of the individual’s days of living on earth. The cooking stones are assumed to be sacred and they should only be used for the designated processes.

Never Leave Straight after a Meal in Uganda

It is a taboo to leave a homestead once meals are served. The move is equated to bad luck and such individuals will face hunger later on.
Leaving without eating is a sign of disrespect. In that case, such individuals will never find food in the neighborhoods they visit later.

Witch Doctors in Uganda

Witch doctors in Uganda use sheep for purposes of pleasing the ancestors. Since some individuals consider their solutions for solving their problems, they go for their help. Every time a person visits a witch doctor, they should bring a sheep.
In most cases, a white one is required because they believe that it clears blocks on the way.

Witch doctors apply chicken for the intention of releasing the evil spirits. Not all varieties of chicken are needed, but unique ones.
The first category involves the plainly white without a mixture of any other color.

The second grouping is purely black, also without a combination of any other color.

The final category involves either the black or the white ones whose necks lack feathers.

Farming Superstitions in Uganda

Small pots are placed in the middle of a farm facing upside down. The practice is highly considered for foods like groundnuts. The pot normally acts as a protection against animals and human beings.

Uprooting a crop that has a pot in the middle of the farm affects an individual negatively. The person will either go with it to the owner unknowingly or develop some complications. In the case of the latter, the owner should intervene for the imposed spirits to leave.

Also, smearing of cow dung on plants, especially maize, is considered to be a protection scheme. The dung scares animals and humans away, securing the crops and increasing the output.

Another superstition is the tying of polythene papers at the top of plants. The practice is highly applied among individuals who grow sorghum. The papers are tied at the upper points, releasing an oozing sound when the wind blows.
The move both scares away the invaders and is believed to increase the land’s fertility.

Finally, individuals hold a belief that the stormy rain that destroys crops can be reduced. In most cases, elders hold the task of blessing objects and other home items.

A special kind of knife is blessed to help protect the crops from destruction. Whenever the hailstones start falling, individuals utter some words and point the knife to their farms.
Several minutes later, the hailstones cease from falling, allowing only water to drop.

The Grinding Stone

A special amulet that is readily in place is the smoothened grinding stone. There is a relatively bigger one that is laid on the ground and a smaller one for crushing.

For instance, the object is used for grinding millet, which is latter used for making a special kind of brew.
Also, a mixture of food stuff is grounded to obtain flour, which is used for preparing porridge for children. In such cases, cleanliness is key because unclean individuals are forbidden from using it.

Besides, women undergoing their menstrual periods are disallowed from using the grinding stone. The state is considered to be unclean, but they resume their duties at the end of the menstrual period.

Milking Cows Superstition in Uganda

Importantly, people believe that strangers should not milk or stand in front of the cows. The animals possess abilities to detect the change in the milking technique. The move forces them to withhold the milk, leading to reduced output.

Also, standing in front of the animals poses a trait of nervousness to them. They believe that anxiety causes a reaction of the muscles that leads to lower milk production.

Sun and Rain Equals a Cub

Ugandans believe that when there is sunshine and it rains at the same time, a lion is giving birth. In most cases, the sun sets whenever it begins to rain. The concurrent actions in such instances reveal the birth of a cub.

The Super Power Called Musisi

It is believed that a certain superpower crosses the nation while heading to the sea. The power, called musisi, causes a vibration on the earth as it moves on a straight line.
Immediately the vibration is felt, individuals should get out of their houses and ululate while shouting the name musisi.


There is an object referred to as echibo in Uganda, which is used in place of an envelope. However, the application of the object is highly encouraged at wedding events. It is in it that the monetary gifts belonging to the bride and groom are placed. The object is highly valued and is normally designed by skilled people.
Besides, it should be blessed by the parents from both families before it is used.

Oluvugo – Mourning Clothe

Another special object that is commonly used is mourning clothe. This is a special clothing that is designed from a tree referred to as oluvugo.
Whenever individuals are seen in such attire, it is a direct indication of grief. The move helps in preventing further questioning from outsiders, ensuring that condolences are given as required.

Gomessi and Kanzus

The next group consists of special clothes called gomessi and kanzus. While male attire is not highly considered, women are at the forefront.
Putting on of the gomessi is necessary at events to show a sign of respect. The dress is unique because it also helps to ease the identification of the individuals.


A traditional welding place referred to as echukut. The place consists of an air-filled sack that is connected to two sticks. The latter are pressed one after the other, releasing the pressure that ignites the fire.

Arrows and cutting objects like knives are then made in the process. Although it might appear to be easy, some specialized technique is required in every step of the activity.

Special Places that are believed to Attract Good Luck

Uganda claims a richer diversity of resources that are believed to be an attraction of good luck. The special places are spread through different parts of the country. Not only do they benefit the citizens of the nation but also foreigners.
Individuals flock the places on a daily basis to ensure they obtain good luck.

The Sanzi Caves in Mukono Uganda

The Sanzi caves in Mukono district are believed to be an attraction of good luck. A range of activities is performed in the caves including prayers. Due to their quietness, individuals prefer visiting the place for prayers.

Also, all those that have visited it initially have testified that their prayers were answered. Other than praying, moving into the caves while meditating is believed to help individuals obtain good luck.

Namugongo Shrine Uganda

The second special place is Namugongo shrine. This is the place where the Ugandan martyrs were prosecuted to death. Mostly, the place is known for the acquisition of good luck by way of prayer.

Also, the shrine has an adjacent stream of water, which is considered to be holy. The water is believed to hold the ability to heal a range of illnesses. Besides, it is used for spiritual sanctification.

Tororo Uganda

There is a higher pillar rock in the hills of Tororo whose base attracts good luck. Visiting the place early in the morning opens the ways of individuals and boosts their activities. Even at distant places, taking regular views at the pillar gives individuals good luck.

Trees in Bugiri Entice Good Luck

Besides, there are special kinds of trees in the region of Bugiri that are believed to entice good luck. The trees are almost similar to the pines but release a unique smell upon burning.

The attractive smell is considered to be a sign of good luck to individuals.
Whenever families are having conflicts, they take a move to obtain the stem of the tree. Burning the stem inside the house eases the tension and aides in solving the issues.

Also, inhaling the smell by sick people either cures them completely or partially.
The individuals believe that the trees were blessed a long time ago and the trend will continue forever. Hence, a protection scheme has been launched by the elders to protect the species.

Understanding of their benefits by the community members has eased the process. In that case, the protection scheme has been accepted inclusively.


Hence, while the practices outlined in this article might not be accepted totally, their help has been revealed as testimonies by many. Finally, Uganda remains to be rich in terms of traditions and superstitions generally.

By: Teberius Emukule Ochekit

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