Uganda – Ankle Bell: Culture beyond the frontiers

The ankle bells are worn at dances to celebrate the birth of twins, at weddings, at funerals and other cultural events in northern Uganda

Text by Betty Lamunu, LWF Uganda

Photo by Karen Ressel, LWF/DWS Uganda

The ankle bells form dancing gear. Just as the name suggests it’s worn around the ankles by able bodied men and women given their weight. Fabricated from metal, the gear is worn during dances to celebrate the birth of twins, marriage ceremonies, funeral rites and any other cultural event.

An original ankle bell is kept by Adiko, an old woman of 60 years in Bisina village, Ngariam SubCounty. This piece of fabricated metal reminds her and the elderly people of the good old days where cultural activities were cherished by all. The cultural events would bring people together, creating stronger social cohesion and feelings of belonging.

The armed conflict that filtered from Northern Uganda into Eastern Uganda, sending people into IDP camps lead to erosion of valuable cultural activities. The ankle bell is the only item Adiko moved with to the camp. Upon resettling back home, she continues to treasure the item and hangs them up in the house to avoid losing them. There is still hope that, as peace returns, the use of these bells shall be revived. 

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