Lugbara people live in Northwest Uganda and Northeast Zaire. They belong to the Eastern Sudanic Madi-Moro group. The Lugbara people came under colonial rule in 1900 as part of the Congo free state. Arab slave traders were active to the north and west during the nineteenth century. This ethnic group straddles the common border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with the Majority of their population on the Congo side of the border. Some live in South Sudan.

The Lugbara are traced from Rajat in the Juba region and Boar in Bari. They were originally known as Madi before Lugbara came when the Khartoum Arab slaves encroached on them back in the 19th century. Uganda has 56 tribes and about nine indigenous communities that finally came to be recognised in the constitution amendment of 2005. Lugbara and Swahili are also widely spoken in most parts of the country, while English is the official language.


The cultural symbol of the Lugara people is Leopard. They are predominantly keepers of guinea fowl in Uganda. They occupy the West Nile region of Uganda and includes Arua, Maracha, Yumbe and Koboko districts.

The Lugbara people are divided into many dialects which are easily understandable to each other. These include Ayivu, Maracha, Terego, Vurra and Aringa. Other tribes related to the Lugbara in dialects include Madi and Kakwa.

In early 1874, a faction of the Lugbara people was referred to as ”The Naked People”, due to their attitudes towards clothing. They oftentimes appear naked.


The Lugbara are subsistence farmers with cassava as their traditional staple. They also grew millet, sorghum, legume, pigeon peas and a variety of other root crops before cassava was introduced to them.

Men and women of Lugbara share agricultural tasks, the men opening the field and the women doing most of the remaining work. Men hunt and herd cattle while the women do arduous and time-consuming domestic tasks.


Marriages are forbidden between members of the same Clan or with a man’s or woman’s mother’s close kin. Marriage is concluded by the transfer of cattle (bride-wealth) from the groom’s family to the close Patri-lineal kin.

Polygamy is a male ideal amongst the Lugbara people. About a third of the men practices polygamy, having more than one wife.

Divorce on the other hand is relatively unusual. Divorce can be made by the husband on the common grounds of infidelity, adultery or wife barrenness.


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