Lecture 3

“Plucked String Music: Evolutions”
Day 1 – 1:00pm-2:15pm

The endongo (bowl lyre) of the Baganda of Central Uganda: Evolution in the performance, functionality, and significance

Speaker: George Kitaka (Uganda)


Endongo is a vernacular kiganda name given to an eight stringed traditional bowl lyre of the Baganda people, from Buganda sub region, of central Uganda. Baganda is the biggest and one of the fifty-six cultural communities making up Uganda. Endongo is a traditional royal chordophone rooted in the Kabaka’s (King’s) palace of Buganda. Since the last quarter of the 19th Century and the first half of the 20th Century, the Endongo was accorded a lot of value and respect, and it was played only played in the palace and strictly before the king.
In 1966, Uganda’s cultural communities were in turmoil whereby the then political central government abolished all the cultural chiefdoms leading an era of “cultural blackout” in the country. The palaces were invaded and demolished by the government’s armed soldiers, leading to mass killings of people in the palaces, some kings were exiled, and many cultural artifacts were dismantled, both tangible and intangible cultural heritage was affected by the turbulence. Baganda were most affected by this political turmoil. Among the intangible and tangible cultural heritage that were destroyed included the musicians, musical instruments and other regalia.
In this lecture I intend to give a summary of the evolution of the instrument, its music, performance, timbre, functionality and significance. The lecture will also contextualise a brief comparison of the instrument during the period before and after the abolition of the chiefdoms in Uganda. The lecture will summarise with a hint on the position of endongo and its music on the scene of Uganda’s cultural music and will finally project into the future prospects of endongo and its music.


George Kitaka is currently on Erasmus Mundus program, pursuing a Master’s degree in Ethnochoreology in Europe. He is interested in cultural exploration of diverse cultures, and safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. He is Executive and Artistic Director of Hope to Hop Africa, a non-governmental organization focused in imparting knowledge and skills of singing, playing a variety of musical instruments, dancing, acting and other forms of folklore to impoverished children and youth. The organisation was established in 2005 with a major aim of helping less disadvantaged children and youth to access education and other basic needs of life such as food, shelter, clothing and medication. Kitaka finished his Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) (2012) in Kyambogo University and his Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Music in Makerere University (2010).