Shaking A Booty The Gishu Way

Popular African music is coupled with art forms, such as poetry, ritual or dance, and it constitutes one of the most revealing forms of expression of the African life and soul. Some tribes combine dance and music, and they explain history and the social elements in a form like the theater of today. Dances were most of the time closely related with religion, ancestral worship and spiritualism.

The Bagisu or Gisu also known as Gishu, Bagishu, Masaba or Sokwia are people of the Bantu family who live along the slopes of Mount Elgon (also called Mount Masaba) in Mbale District eastern Uganda.

I love watching the women of the Gishu tribe dance the traditional dance and that’s how I have come to appreciate the cultural dances across Uganda that are performed especially for specific ceremonies. This is when you realize how powerful the indigenous dances have become in our daily lives.

The Gishu dance is performed at marriage and circumcision especially. The Marriage dance of the happy grateful women is usually a royal shaking of the shoulders like a sign language of conquest and achievement and when you think about it deeply, you realize it’s probably true that these women danced like that as a way celebrating their achievement and especially the elderly women today will dance like that.

The women dance for the men who are going to be circumcised and this dance is always erotically danced by the women as if to entice their men further.

The circumcision candidates are Smeared with flour and decorated with traditional beads and bungles. They too dance in preparation for the circumcision knife. During this time period the circumcision ceremony is equal to a festival event. Before this initiation, the young boy must dance for 21 days, and only then will he possess the spiritual powers with no fear and become a man. If a man, even an elderly one, does not go through this ceremony, he will never be referred to as a man, and he will never earn the respect of the community. He will actually be cursed until the spirits force him to perform this ceremony.

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