Gisu people



The Gisu people, or Bamasaba people of Elgon , alternately Gishu, Masaba, or Sokwia, are a tribe of the Masaba people of eastern Uganda, closely related to the Bukusu people of Kenya. Bamasaba live mainly in the Mbale District of Uganda on the slopes of Mount Elgon. The original inhabitants on top of the Elgon Mountains before the arrival of Maswahaba were known as Kony.


The Masaba people, Bukusu or Luhya believed that their ancestor was Kundu and Sela.The People of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Highlands have no name of Kundu, accept it is mountain peak in Oromiya.

The Bamasaba Ancestor, Maswahaba migrated from Ethiopian Mountains traveling via Lake Turkana to Sironko and settled around Bududa were he got in love with a Maasai people, girl who was known as Nabarwa.The Maasai family of Nabarwa demande from Maswahaba that in order to marry their daughter he had to under go their culture of circumcision which he did.


Circumcision in Africa is an old culture as practiced by the Bamasaaba in Eastern Uganda. The culture of circumcision was adopted by the Bamasaba form their in-laws the Maasai people.The men among the Bagisu Tribe under go Initiation ceremonies known as (Imbalu). The initiation ceremonies among the Bamasaaba are held every two years during August.

The Bamasaaba ancestors lived on Bamboo shoot also known as Malewa in lumasaaba language.These Bamboo shoots are collected from Bamboo trees on top of Mt. Elgon.

Origin of the name Bagisu

Maswahaba's first son with Nabarwa was Mwambu who was nicknamed Nkisu by his Maasai uncles who had stolen his fathers cows from him. Masawahaba failed to pronounce the nickname of Nkisu meaning a bull in Maasai language,given to his son his uncle and he pronounced it as Mugisu. The name Bagisu originated from the nickname Nkisu given to Mwambu by Maswababa's Maasai Brother-in-law.

The Gisu speak a dialect of the Lumasaba language called Lumasaba, which is fully understandable by other dialects, and is also understood by the Bukusu.


    External links

    Imbalu: Initiation Ritual Among the Bamasaba of Uganda


    The Bamasaba Tribal History

    Andrea Kauka Mayegu - 1952

    Transafrican Journal of History - Volumes 11-13 - Page 190


    Identity, power, and culture: Imbalu: Initiation ritual among the ...

    John Placid Wotsuna Khamalwa - 2004

    Deuxième Colloque International Folklore en Afrique D'aujourd'hui


    Ethnicity and National Identity in Uganda: The Land and Its People

    Godfrey Mwakikagile - 2009 Safari - Volume 1 - Page 28


    Kenya Historical Review - Volume 2 - Page 44


    A history of the Abaluyia of western Kenya: c. 1500-1930 - Page 43

    Gideon S. Were - 1967

    Performing Wisdom: Proverbial Lore in Modern Ugandan Society

    Dominica Dipio, Stuart Sillars - 2014


    CLETUS CHUKWUEMEKA NWAOGWUGWU - 2011 Controlling Anger: The Sociology of Gisu Violence - Page x

    Suzette Heald - 1989

    I Shall Walk Alone - Page 107

    Paul Nakitare

    African Musics in Context: Institutions, Culture, Identity - Page 314

    Solomon, Thomas - 2015

    Shaping The Society Christianity And Culture: Special Reference to ...

    Pastor Stephen Kyeyune - 2012

    Ethnomusicology in East Africa: Perspectives from Uganda and Beyond

    Sylvia A. Nannyonga-Tamusuza, Thomas Solomon - 2012

    Traditional Religion, Custom, and Christianity in Uganda: As ...

    Francis-Xavier Sserufusa Kyewalyanga - 1976

    Trekking in East Africa - Page 270

    David Else - 1998

    A Traditional History of the Abakuria: C.A.D. 1400-1914 - Page 27

    Paul Asaka Abuso - 1980

    e Uganda Journal - Page 46


    Women and Politics in Uganda - Page 127

    Aili Mari Tripp

    Doing Conceptual History in Africa - Page 133

    Axel Fleisch, Rhiannon Stephens - 2016

    Library of Congress Subject Headings - Page B-41


    Musics of Many Cultures: An Introduction - Page 189

    Elizabeth May - 1983

    Chronotypes: The Construction of Time - Page 251

    John B. Bender, David E. Wellbery - 1991

    The Combing of History - Page 218

    David William Cohen - 1994

    Mountains of Africa - Page 125

    Duncan Souchon, Michael Walton - 2007

    Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening

    Christopher Small - 2011

    The Sphere: An Illustrated Newspaper for the Home


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