The Bakonzo People
The people who inhabit the villages and farms immediately along the Uganda Rwenzori site are of the Bakonzo tribe. They are slender and of medium height but are amazingly strong in the mountains, capable of covering long distances in a very short time.
In Uganda, the Bakonzo are a minor ethnic group of around 1000000 people (2002 census), in the DRC, they are slightly more numerous. For the Bakonzo, education is very important and they have a great spirit of conserving the environment. They are very relaxed, open minded and have great humour. They are mainly cultivators, producing food crops like cassava, bananas, maize, potatoes, vanilla, coffee and cotton. A few domestic animals like goats, hens, cattle and pigs are kept. The livelihood of the Bakonzo mainly depends on these crops and animals.
The men break normally the new ground but the women are usually the ones who climb the steep hills to plant, weed, hoe and later on bring the harvest to the market. The men are mainly carpenters, plank-cutters, blacksmiths, basket makers and fishers around the lake.
There are two big companies in the area, which employ a significant number of local people – Hima Cement Factory and Kasese Cobalt Company Limited. These opportunities are however limited and work for people who have little or no education is scarce. For men, serving as a porter, guide or cook in the mountains, is one of the few such opportunities.