Technical details

Full title Eiwanika ly’Olusoga. Eiwanika ly’aboogezi b’Olusoga n’abo abenda okwega Olusoga
Author Minah Nabirye
Release date 8 June 2009
Size 210 x 150 mm
Pages 704 pp.
Binding Soft cover
ISBN 978-9970-101-00-9
Price 49.95 EUR | 40,000 Ugandan Shs

What you can find in the dictionary

The Eiwanika ly’Olusoga has made tremendous contributions to the study of Lusoga. In most cases if not all this is the first comprehensive record of the information stipulated in summarised form below. The Eiwanika ly’Olusoga contributed in the following ways:

  • It regularized the Lusoga alphabet, and specified the rules of writing as well as the sound changing rules (found both in the front matter and in the language portrait). This formed the background to the spellings of the Lusoga words used in the entries of the dictionary.
  • It allocated parts of speech to all the words in the dictionary. Detailed information is given in the front matter of the dictionary to explain the different categories. In some cases, additional information on the word categories was given, e.g.:
    • The verb category also shows whether the verb takes an object (transitive) or not (intransitive).
    • Genders are allocated to all nouns, with special treatments for irregular noun forms and their diverse plural or canonical forms.
  • It came up with the first record of Lusoga terms for the most important and useful grammatical and linguistic terms. These can now form the basis for a formalized study of Lusoga. These include the first record of terms for parts of speech, usage labels, Lusoga references for levels of linguistic analysis (i.e. morphology, syntax, etc.), punctuation marks, etc.
  • It lists compounds, idioms and proverbs of Lusoga as part of the dictionary information.
  • It gives a summary of the history of Busoga, the Busoga clans, and the Busoga anthem.
  • It lists over a hundred abbreviations. They are given in their short and full forms, and are then explained in Lusoga.
  • It illustrates the family tree and gives the relevant Lusoga terminology. This section is located in the language portrait.
  • It provides pictures throughout the dictionary, to give more vivid descriptions of the words being defined, and also has selected thematically arranged pictures in an interspersed section.
  • It gives an English version of all the introductory information to the dictionary, to assist those not well conversant with Lusoga to follow the information given in the dictionary.

What the Lusoga term for ‘dictionary’ means

Previously the Lusoga term for ‘dictionary’ did not exist. It is very imperative that a monolingual dictionary should render its information in that language. A number of methods were explored to come to the right Lusoga referents for dictionary data. In some cases where Lusoga lacked concepts for advanced technical or scientific terms, foreign words were ‘Lusogaized’. This method was however refuted in the quest for a title as it would otherwise defeat the purpose of the dictionary under compilation.

Dictionaries are considered a treasure trove of a language because they are the main references to the insights of a culture and its people. Lusoga words entailing the concept of a treasure of a language and its people existed but were a bit blurred. They had to be shovelled up a bit to get the best term to serve the intended purpose. The search for the term ‘dictionary’ was therefore based on establishing what the Basoga regarded as valuable and what held that culture together in its eternity. Words for treasure and storehouses for valuables were examined to establish their denotative meaning and their relation to the concept of a dictionary as an eternal cultural monument.

The first valuable for the Basoga that came to mind was food – for survival. Food itself did not have the eternity characteristics needed for a title. We were instead led to the consideration of the store for food which is ekyagi. Though ekyagi is a store, it has a temporary feeling to it. The food stored in this place is only seasonal and does not surpass a certain timeframe, which a dictionary should. It was therefore found inappropriate and was dropped.

After some consultations, a think-tank raised our second valuable: wives. This ‘valuable’ was biased and gender compromised right from the start to serve the purpose of the title. A dictionary should serve all its users indiscriminately and this ‘valuable’ was found to be very condescending.

We changed our focus and instead looked at the ‘store’ of wives, which revealed the term amaka (home). Though the institution of a home could be seen as credible, it lacked the direct meaning of value and eternity. In Luganda, for example, the word enkuluze is the storehouse for royal valuables. We were also looking for a special Lusoga term for a house or institution that houses Busoga valuables. To the best of our knowledge, such a place did (and thus word does) not seem to exist.

The focus was then shifted to the keeper of valuables and this led to the word omuwanika (treasurer) whose main task is to manage monetary valuables. This was the closest term to the value sought for in the concept of a dictionary. Although this person is mainly charged with the administration of money matters, the general meaning of this job could be stretched to include the aspect of keeper of other valuables as well. We followed standard word formation rules to conclude that if the keeper of valuables is known as the omuwanika, then the place where the valuables are kept is the eiwanika.

The term eiwanika was however considered rather grim and mainly referred to the temporary store for corpses. The popular meaning of this word was found limiting. When the underlying meaning was analyzed, however, we made interesting discoveries about the meaning of the eiwanika to the Basoga.

Apart from the sociological mind-framing which had forced this word into the fearful context, linguistically it was very apt as a title. It had the concepts of store, value and eternity, bringing in the fact that eiwanika can have a positive connotation in Lusoga. This led to a re-examination of the social context accorded to the term eiwanika and its core meaning to the Basoga.

A revelation that ensued revealed that corpses are of cultural value to the Basoga. African cultures in general record wars waged about the right place for burying someone, about who should take the body, and about taboos surrounding exhuming bodies, as well as many cultural beliefs about disturbing dead people. We concluded that these are not only whims but strong cultural beliefs, valuable to the people who express them. What became apparent was that eiwanika has only been reflected as a sad referent to the Basoga, but it has a positive side to it as well. Eiwanika is a referent for a treasure store of the culture and customs of the Basoga and a good term to be used as the title of a monolingual Lusoga dictionary. In the eiwanika you can store all kinds of valuables – money, gold, customs, as well as the words of a language, or anything else considered valuable.

The revived meaning of the word eiwanika therefore gave rise to the title Eiwanika ly’Olusoga as a store of valuable words and the culture of the Basoga. We hereby de-demonized the term eiwanika and from now onwards present it as a word of beauty, a value inherent in the indigenous nature of the Basoga.


The research leading to the compilation of the dictionary started as a self-sponsored study which kept on being expanded in the course of time, up to the point that the researcher could no longer single-handedly content with the budgetary requirements to see it through. Having been conceived as an academic study, no budget was envisaged for the final production and publication of the dictionary. A number of funding institutions, individuals and well-wishers were approached to solicit the funding that eventually helped to bring the dictionary into reality. All contributors are warmly thanked and we hope that you join in the celebration of the contribution you managed to secure for the future of the people of Busoga as a whole. All those who assisted financially or otherwise are hereby thanked and acknowledged in the (alphabetic) list below.

  • Hon. Kirunda Kivejinja
  • Chinese Embassy in Kampala, Uganda
  • Dr Ahmed Sharif – World Islamic Call Society
  • Suresh Sharma – Kakira Sugar Works
  • Associate Prof Waswa Balunywa
  • Asher Birabwa
  • Prof Dr Ing Gilles-Maurice de Schryver
  • Dr John Kalema
  • Prof Peter Kasenene
  • Ayoub Kasule
  • Deo Kawalya
  • Mawaazi Kibeedi
  • Muzamiru Kibeedi
  • Dr Kibuuka Balubuliza Kiingi
  • Deborah Nakafeero Kirunda
  • David Kohlberg
  • Ibra Magoola
  • Prof Manuel Muranga
  • Aussie Mutalya
  • Hazeda Naigaga
  • Betty Nakisendo
  • Lydia Namatende
  • Agnes Annette Nambooze
  • Remmy Namutangula
  • Fatuma Nangobi
  • Phapha Nantambi
  • Ismail Nunguuli
  • Nite Tanzarn
  • Prof Livingston Walusimbi
  • Hassan Waswa


The documentation and standardization of Lusoga is ongoing. Since we are treading on new ground we may have stumbled here and there, and need your help on how to rectify some of the aspects we may have omitted or misrepresented. Please feel free to share with us any observations and comments that come to mind when you use the dictionary. We would very much like to enrich future editions and your suggestions could help us to reach that goal. Please send us your feedback on the Eiwanika ly’Olusoga at feedback@menhapublishers.com.