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Uganda: Bagisu
Country Study > Chapter 2 > The Society and Its Environment > Ethnic Diversity and Language > Eastern Lacustrine Bantu > Bagisu

BAGISU


The Bagisu (people of Bugisu) constitute roughly 5 percent of the population. They occupy the well-watered western slopes of Mount Elgon, where they grow millet, bananas, and corn for subsistence, and coffee and cotton as cash crops. Bugisu has the highest population density in the nation, rising to 250 per square kilometer. As a result, almost all land in Bugisu is cultivated, and land pressure causes population migration and social conflicts.

A large number of Bagisu were drawn into the cash economy in 1912, with the organization of smallholder production of arabica coffee and the extension of Uganda's administrative network into Bugisu. After that, the Bagisu were able to exploit their fertile environment by producing large amounts of coffee and threatening to withhold their produce from the market when confronted with unreasonable government demands. One of the mechanisms for organizing coffee production was the Bugisu Cooperative Union (BCU), which became one of the most powerful and most active agricultural cooperatives in Uganda. Bugisu's economic strength was based in part on the fact that coffee grown on Mount Elgon was of the highest quality in Uganda, and total output in this small region constituted more than 10 percent of the coffee produced nationwide.

Land pressure during the early decades of colonial rule caused the Bagisu to move northward, impinging on the territory of the Sebei people, who have fought against Gisu dominance for over a century. The Bagwere and Bakedi people to the south have also claimed distinct cultural identities and have sought political autonomy.

Data as of December 1990




Last Updated: December 1990


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Uganda was first published in 1990. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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