Banyole people


Banyole / Banyuli

The Banyole or Banyuli are a Bantu people of Eastern Uganda who mostly in Butaleja District.

They are also called 'Abalya Lwooba' which means mushrooms eaters because they love eating mushrooms.

The Banyole are found in the eastern district of Butaleja, their neighbors being the Jopadhola, Bagisu, Bagwere and Basoga in south, east, north and west respectively.

Banyole people

Location and economy

The Banyole were one of the ethnic groups in the plains between Lake Kyoga to the west and the slopes of Mount Elgon to the east when the British established the Bukedi District in this area at the start of the 20th century. Bukedi district also contained Gisu people in the populous and mountainous northeast, and several other ethnic groups in the western and southern plains including the Nilotic Teso people and the Bantu Gwere people. The plains peoples were mostly acephalous.

The Banyole today live mostly in Butaleja District in the east of Uganda. They also live in the nearby Budaka, Mbale, Tororo, Bugiri, Namutumba and Pallisa districts The surrounding peoples are the Gisu people to the east, Adhola people to the south, Soga people to the west and Gwere people to the north. The Banyole typically live by subsistence agriculture. The region is one of rolling grassland surrounded by papyrus swamps. The land is now densely populated and mostly cultivated. Rice, cotton and coffee are grown for cash. Their staple food crop is finger millet, and they also grow sorghum, maize, cassava and sweet potato.



The Banyole are one of the smaller Bantu ethnic groups in Uganda. They are sometimes called "Abalya Lwooba", meaning "mushroom eaters". They speak the Nyole language. They are mostly polygamous, and are divided into many clans. They have similar language and traditional customs to the Bagwe people, and like the Bagwe claim origins with the Banyala of Kenya. The traditional founder of the Banyole came from near the point where the Yala River enters Lake Victoria. He was named Omwa and lived 45 miles (72 km) west of their present location. They were forced to move east due to pressure from Nilotic people.

According to a 2014 report by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics the Banyole population is about 300,000. In September 2019 the clan leaders of the Banyole elected their first cultural head. At least 148 clan leaders participated. There was controversy because one of the two candidates was not a resident of the district.



The Banyole have two major religions where they are Christians and Muslims. However, there is also a small percentage of traditionalists who still strongly believe in them. Due to limited literacy, it is hard for people who converted to Christianity and Islamic to understand the scriptures which are most of them published in English and Luganda.

Some people have failed to keep up with the religión due to hardships in understanding the scriptures leading to vulnerability and to turn back to their traditional religious prácticos and beliefs while others turn from Christianity to Islam. There is a lot of need for missionaries and other volunteers who can assist in translating and helping them in understanding the scriptures as well as deepening the local leaders' and pastors in understanding the discipleship and training. Witch craft has declined largely though there is still some people who believe in it.

Divination. Nyole diviners, known as lamuli, commonly practice invocation as a form of divination. When a person is visibly afflicted (usually determined by change of character, wellness, vocal exclamations, etc.), lamuli will ask "ohwebusa" in an attempt to ask a potentially malignant spirit who they are. Lamuli are used by Nyole people solely to determine the causes of misfortune, which is believed to be the cause of malignant or upset spirits. It is believed by the Nyole people that the possession of a person is largely due to the spirits of his kin, who may feel as though the afflicted person has not done enough to honor them or their legacy. There are three main types of unhappy kin spirits. The first are known as ohulama or ohung'waba, and are older family members such as grandparents. The second type are ancestor spirits known as emigu j'abafu, and the third type are known as ekuni, or "clan spirits".

The lamuli also use books for divination. The books used by the lamuli might be The Holy Qur'an, the Sa'atili Habari and the Abu Mashari Faraki Divination by the use of books is thought to have begun by way of the first influence of Ali bin Nasoor, a trader from Oman who settled in Busolwe, and also by the influence of other Swahili or Arabic traders. Findings of an investigation made by S. R. Whyte found that the majority of people went for divination consultations for reasons of their own bad or failed health.



There are many clans and every clan leader is called Omutuusa who on many occasions he puts on skins for recognition. The Banyole live in Tororo district in Banyole County. They are closely related to Basamia - Bagwe in customs, language and origin. They also seem to be a sub- group of the Basoga

They claim to have originated from Banyala of Kenya just like the Bagwe and their marriage, birth and burial ceremonies are similar with slight differences



Their lives are surrounded by carrying out subsistence agriculture, originally they would grow finger millet but these days they have turned to rice growing which serves as a nontraditional cash crop. The Banyole are mostly polygamous people.



They are mostly polygamous people and due to modernity it has got an impact on the Banyole. The older men worry about the younger men going off to earn as employees instead of staying home to build their house and provide for their families in the traditional way. Women originally would stay home to cook while men go to look for what to eat.


Food and beverages

Their staple food is finger millet, but they also eat sorghum, cassava, sweet potatoes and maize. Their sauce includes meat, peanuts or tomatoes to accompany the staple food. They plant their food and most of their cultivation is done by hand.


Naming and giving birth

When a child was born among the Banyole, the placenta was taken and buried where no one could see it or use it for any evil purposes. The Banyole always believed that if an evil person landed on the placenta, there were high chances of that person using it to harm the newly born baby or bewitch them to death or do something to the mother of the child like stopping the from waking up or do something that will stop her from giving birth ever again. The mother of the new born baby was kept in the house until the umbrícal cord breaks off from the navel. The remains of the umbrical cord were kept in the special place and the mother of the new born baby had to be take care and keeps the number of cords for the children she had because these cords were

believed to work as antidotes if anything evil had happened to any of them. The food cooked for the mother after birth could not be given to any other person apart from the mother and her husband.
In case a woman gave birth to twins, the newly born twins were just left where they were as demanded by tradition. Special porridge was also given to the mother and father and later were followed by other functions similar to the Basamia - Bagwe. The mother could leave the house in special circumstances during the time of the confinement and in such an event; she would be covered with winnowing tray before she moves out of hiding or house
Historically, surnames evolved as a way to sort people into groups of place of origin, clan affiliation, occupation, parentage, patronage, adoption and even physical characteristics.



Among the Banyole when a girl grows up, she's asked by the parents about who she want to get married to. Then the girl introduces the man to her parents and later they will discuss will discuss the bride wealth negotiations and make arrangements. The day the girl is released to go and get married, they will make a feast and celebróte. If the father of the girl died, the paternal únele (brother to the father) chose by the clan members would be the one to hand take her and gives her hand in marriage. If a woman was already elderly, she would remain with her children.


Death and burial

If a man died among the Banyole, there were observed three days of mourning and there would be no bathing during the days of mouming and after they would perform a ritual known as the Kasanja on the road and people would bathe then resume with their ordinary business. In case it was a woman, morning would take four days and still no bathing until the days are over and a ritual is performed. There death rituals were similar almost in all aspeets to those of the Basamia-Bagwe.
If twins died, mouming and wailing was not allowed because custom forbids it. When burying, the Banyole face their dead in the eastem direction to symbolize their origin as it is said.


Tradional way of birth among banyole

When a child was born, the placenta was taken and buried where no one could see it and use it for evil purposes. It was feared that if the placenta landed in the hand of an evil person, he could manipulate it so as to use it to inflict death or harm on the newly born child or to prevent the mother from ever conceiving again.
The mother would be confined in the house until such a time when the remains of the umbilical cord would break from the navel.The remains of the umbilical cord were kept in a special gourd and the mother took care to keep as many cords as the children she had.
In the event of evil, these cords were believed to be of great importance as an antidot.
The food cooked for the mother after birth could not be given to any other person save the mother and her husband.
Immediately twins were born, they were just left were they were. Special porridge was administered to the mother and the father rand there followed other functions similar to those of the Basamia-Bagwe.
The mother could leave the house in special circumstances during the time of the confinement. In such an event she would be covered with a winnowing tray before she got out.