When people think about Sub-Saharan Africa, they tend to conjure up images of dry, dusty landscapes – flat, hot and bare – with field upon field of thirsty maize crops.
In several regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, including the Karamoja District in northern Uganda, those stock images aren’t so far from the truth. But the geography and land management practices throughout the huge stretch of land that we call Sub-Saharan Africa is far more diverse than the stereotypical representations of slash and burn agriculture, drought, and mass famines that dominate the international media.
Take southwestern Uganda, a hilly region nestled between Rwanda and DRC Congo, where rainfall is in the plenty, soil fertility remains high, and the Bakiga people who inhabit the area have been practicing subsistence agriculture for centuries.
Although there isn’t a word for ‘permaculture’ in Rukiga, the local language of the Bakiga, they are known as the Abahingi (‘people of the soil’) for good reason.
The Bakiga have subsistence agriculture in their blood, and have been growing food crops, including sweet potatoes, sorghum, peas, and beans, and harvesting wild plants, including greens, mushrooms, pumpkin and passion fruits for many years. The Bakiga are tied to the land culturally, socially, economically, politically, and even spiritually.