The school can be found atop the Mountains of the Moon (an ancient term for the Rwenzori Mountains) in western Uganda. There are times when the mist surrounding it is so dense, that the building actually seems to be floating in air. Couple that with the fact that it is at least a thousand years old, and you can well understand the mystery that seems to shroud Uagadou like a fine cloak. The entire structure is carved out of the mountainside, and it is, by far, considered to be the largest of the eleven continental wizarding schools. There are certainly other schools of magic to be found in Africa, but they are much smaller, and it Uagadou that has stood the test of time where others have failed.
The idea for the school can be credited to Ajani Babangida, a warrior of the Buganda tribe, whose own origins can be traced back to the Bacwezi. The Bacwezi were said to be a race of giants capable of miraculous deeds. Like many of his people, Ajani was an animagi, whose chosen form was that of the cheetah. Known for its speed, cunning, and accuracy when hunting, the cheetah was the perfect animal for the young warrior, whose prowess on both battlefield and hunting grounds were often spoken about around the campfires in hushed whispers. Like the race of giants his tribe descended from, he was both fearless and powerful and some of the deeds attributed to him could well be classified as miraculous.
Take, if you will, for example, the victory claimed by Ajani and his people against a neighboring tribe that outnumbered Ajani's small band by almost 100-1?! He would go on to defeat them, using not only physical skills, but the powerful magic he had learned as a young boy. I suppose, however, that the true credit must go to his paternal grandmother, Nabulunji, for it was at her knee that the boy would learn the magic that would save his life on more than one occasion and be the impetus that would change a nation. Nabulunji was considered a powerful witch-woman among her people and was greatly revered. Next to the chief himself, she held the greatest power in the tribe, and none wished to fall in ill favour with her, including her young grandson. Which is why he paid careful heed to her instructions, and the world is a much richer place because of it.
Ajani, in turn, took it on his own shoulders to teach the young men and women of the village what he had learned. He taught them the language of the stars, and explained in great detail how they could be used not only to determine the future, but be as guides during hunting or battle as well. Though it has never been proven, legend even has it that he managed to turn mercury into silver, long before the famed Philosopher's Stone had yet to be discovered. A powerful master of the elements, he may not have known what they were called, but he knew well how to bend them to his will. But his true talent was in self-transformation, and it was this skill that he even incorporated into military training, to be used both as a defensive and offensive weapon.
The irony is that for all of its present fame, Uagadou was never a vision shared by Ajani. He never sought to start a formal school, for it is doubtful that he ever considered himself a scholar at all. It was others, the sons and daughters of his first 'pupils' that carried the idea into the neighboring villages and beyond. In fact, the first 'formal' lessons were taught in caves carved into the mountainside as his 'disciples' gathered the ones they deemed worthy of being taught. Over time, the need was such that a building was erected, and what started as a simple thatched hut gradually turned into the school as we know it today.
The school today
Front entrance of the school
Some would argue the fact that all magic originated in Africa, and even if you do not hold to that particular belief, there is no denying that Uagadou produces some of the best witches and wizards the age has ever known. Its graduates excel in the fields of Astronomy, Alchemy, and Self-Transfiguration, which is really no surprise considering its origin. It can count many celebrated witches and wizards among its graduates, including Babajide Akingbade, who succeeded Albus Dumbledore as the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards after Dumbledore was voted out for announcing the return of Lord Voldemort.
While it is not an outright requirement for admittance, the school does seem to skew heavily in favour of those who show an interest in developing their talent as animagi. Again, not surprising, considering the person who started it all. A heavy focus is put on this particular magic talent, and Uagadou students even formed their own Animagi Competition Team. It was this very team that left a host of more experienced witches and wizards in stunned silence during the 2016 International Symposium of Animagi, when they performed a synchronized Animgus transformation as part of their exhibit. It nearly caused a riot, and there were formal complaints lodged by one Adrian Tutley with the International Confederation of Wizards. Despite Tutley's best efforts, however, the petty protest was shot down almost immediately, no matter how 'offended' he was at such a 'vulgar display of egotism'.
One noticeable difference about Uagadou is that unlike other wizarding schools, the students here are not provided with, nor are they taught how to use a wand. A bit of arrogance perhaps on the part of the administration, but they uphold the belief that the wand is a European invention that natural witches and wizards simply do not need. In lieu of a wand, Uagadou students are taught to cast and direct their magic by the pointing of a finger or various hand gestures. This also gives them a sturdy line of defense if any charges are ever leveled at a student for performing underage or illegal magic. "Honest, I wasn't trying to break the International Statute of Secrecy! I didn't intend for his nose to fall off; I was merely waving my hands about to express a point! " See what I mean? The International Confederation had made rumblings about forcing wand use to be taught as the primary source of magic practice, so that they would 'be in compliance with the rest of the world', but it never amounted to anything more than words. I somehow doubt, given Uagadous's staunch position on the matter, that it ever will.
The robes of the students depend heavily on their chosen animagus form. New students are presented with robes of stark white, and as their animagus is revealed, the fabric will take on the primary colour of that particular animal. For instance, if one's animagus turns out to be a cheetah, the robe will turn golden with a sash of black. If the animagus form is not clear within a certain amount of time, or the student is having trouble finding one, the robe will turn gray. And if the student has no desire or talent to be an animagus, the robe will turn black. This is not considered a mark of shame at all; it is merely a method of record-keeping. It also helps the students bond with those of like forms and alert the staff to those students needing extra attention.
Another major difference between Uagadou and the other magic schools is the way in which prospective students are notified of their acceptance. Instead of the mundane message via owl, the school utilizes Dream Messengers to deliver the news. These Messengers, sent by the school's present Headmaster or Headmistress, will appear to the child in a dream, and leave them with a small token (usually in the shape of a small, inscribed stone) to be found upon awaking.
Perhaps the biggest difference, however, is the fact that Uagadou students are not sorted into formal Houses. The phrase, 'it takes a village to raise a child' is put into full practice here. The focus is on unity between all students, and it is believed that division only breeds elitism and contempt for those not of your 'tribe'. In Uagadou, the collective body of students is the tribe, and the village mentality of 'one for all' is taken as gospel. They are housed in accordance with the individual needs of the child (do they have any siblings attending, do they need extra help with lessons, etc). The practice is to encourage the students to bond naturally, rather than be forced into a contrived setting.