How to greet in Uganda.

Uganda is a Multilingual country with over 40 languages with Bantu languages being the majority followed by Nilotic and Central Sudanic language families.

Due to ethnic diversity, it is quite impressive to look briefly on how you would greet or be greeted in some languages in this east African country.

It’s important to note that in many African cultural setups, ladies are supposed to kneel when greeting their spouse or elderly people.  This is seen as a sign of respect and good discipline.

Let’s have a quick look at how one would greet in several languages in Uganda. Additionally, it’s vital to note that just like any language, there are different greetings to different times of the day.

Among the Baganda, they say Wasuze otyano Ssebo/Nyabo to mean Good morning Sir or Madam and the response would be Bulungi Ssebo/ Nyabo . This however applies when greeting one person/ individual.

In the Afternoon, the baganda say Mwasuze mutya basebo/ banyabo and the response is Bulungi

Among the Basoga of Eastern Uganda, who speak Lusoga, they say Mwasuze mutya in the morning and Twasiibye bulungi is the response. This however is the plural form.

In the afternoon, they say Mwasibye mutya and the response is Twasuze bulungi

If to say how you as a casual way of greeting are, they say Kodheyo Ssebo when greeting a male grownup and the response is Tuliyo Nyabo /Ssebo

Among the Bagisu of Estern Uganda at the slopes of Muntain Elgon, they say mulembe, Wachinyala, kamahuwa, Wakulika chiiro, Wasiibire otye ena depending on the time of the day and the relationship that exists between people. The response is Mulembe, kale ninawe, Kale ninawe, Nasiibire bulayi. This also depends on the time and the prevailing circumstances.

Among the Samia at the border with Kenya, they say Oliyo otye?  , Muliyo mutye?   And the response is Ndiyo, Huliyo also depending on the time of the day.

Among the Bakiga of western Uganda who speak Rukiga language, they say Orire otya, Murire muta, Wasiiba otya or Mwasiiba mutya and the response is Ndiregye, Turiregye, Nasibagye or Tyasiibagye all depending on the time of the day and the relationship existing between the greeting parties.

For the Batooro who speak Lutooro language, they say Oriho otya?  , Osiibire otya? And the response is Ndi kurungi or Nsiibire kurungi depending on the time of the day and the relationship existing between greeting parties.

Among the Iteso of Eastern Uganda in teso subregion speaking Ateso language, they say Yoga noi  or Biaibo as a general form of greeting or Yoga aiwalar or Yoga Akwenyun in the morning. This depends on the time of the day.

Among the Acholi of northern Uganda, they say Ichoo niing’I, Kopang’o, Eri maber, Irii ning’I and the response is Achoo maberi, Kope, Ari maberi, Arii maberi

Among the Japadhola of Eastern Uganda and the border with Kenya who speak Adhola, they say Itye nedi?   Ichewi nedi? Iriyo nedi? And the response is Atye maberi?, Watye maberi, Achewi maberi, Ariyo maberi. This depends on the time whether it is plural or not.

Its important to note that some languages share the same greetings like the Baganda and Basoga, Runyankole and Lukiga, Lutooro and Lunyoro. It is only the accent and orthography which change.

As already indicated, it is amazing to know how people greet in multilingual society. I must state that as you were reading through this article you must have found a challenge to remember something. If greetings can sometimes be confusing then how communication would be with a person of another tongue without the help of Translation Services?