The Legend of the Spear and the Bead: Labongo and Gipir’s Story

Once upon a time there was an old man who lived with his clan in a beautiful, fertile and lush land, teeming with animals and birds in northern Uganda. The land was gifted indeed, with a beautiful river, the Nile running through it, its blue waters bringing life to the land, sustaining the old man’s clan, their plants and livestock. For a while the man, his family and his two teenage sons, Labongoand Gipir lived in peace in this paradise they had discovered when they moved south from the land called Bahel-Gazel. Days turned to weeks, weeks to months and months to years.  The old man’s health began to deteriorate and he’s strength dwindled with each passing day. Soon he couldn’t gather enough energy to get out of bed.  He summoned his elder son Labongo to speak to him.

He told them how he didn’t have much time left; their ancestors were beckoning him. He turned to Labongo and gave him a special spear. The spear was the one that symbolized leadership in the clan and had been passed down from generation to generation. It was now Labongo’s turn to lead and protect the clan. The spear was perfectly decorated with carvings and it gleamed regally in the African sun. Labongo had always waited for this moment. It was finally his turn to rule and take over the clan. He promised his father never to let him down.


A few days later the old man died and sadly the tribe had to move on without him. Labongo took over headship. He was an authoritative leader, but sometimes let his emotions get the better of him. Luckily there were no major wars and calamities befalling them. The boys grew into men, took on wives and had children.  The fertile land always provided for them plenty of food and the Nile never dried up. There was plenty for man and livestock.

One late afternoon while Labongo was out hunting, an elephant strayed away from its herd and found its way to their lush maize garden. The women and children ran to their huts in fear. Gipir who was resting inside one of the huts awoke to terrified shrieks and ran out to see what was wrong. He saw the elephant destroying their precious crop. Without another thought, he ran to the hut where they kept their spears, grabbed one and threw it at the elephant. The elephant was injured and it ran away with the spear stuck into its side. Gipir had saved the day. Everyone came out praising him of his braveness.


Labongo came back to find the homesteads buzzing with excitement about the events that had happened. They relayed to him the story of how Gipir single handedly went against the massive elephant and managed to chase it away. He was stabbed with jealousy because it was he who was tasked with protecting the clan. He went to the hut where the spears were kept and Alas! He discovered his precious spear was missing. At the height of the confusion, Gipir had grabbed the royal spear and the elephant had run away with it still stuck to its side!

Labongo was livid and called upon his brother. He told him how that spear meant everything to the clan and he expected to hand it down to his son, just like their father had done to him. He accused his brother of jealousy and told him he must retrieve the spear. Gipir couldn’t believe what he was hearing. How was he expected to trail and injured elephant and recover the spear? The forest south of where they lived was known to harbor big herds of elephants, giraffes, buffaloes and predators like lions, leopards.   But Labongo was adamant. He wanted his spear. Gipir had no alternative but to bid his wife and kids a tearful goodbye. He didn’t think he would make it back. But his brother was demanding for the spear and he had to leave.

So off Gipir went into the forest. He searched for days and days sleeping under the sky and encountering many wild animals. He remained brave at first but his mission was almost impossible. How would he recover a spear from an elephant in this vast forest? Soon weeks were passing by, finally months. Gipir had become emaciated and scrawny. He wasn’t eating enough, wasn’t sleeping well and he leaved in constant fear for his life. His hands and legs were filled with wounds which were festering each passing day. With no one to talk to he was going mad. He cursed his brother, and cried for his children he would never see grow.  He had reached to limit and couldn’t push himself anymore. Wounded, diseased and starving he gave up- and prayed his ancestors would welcome him to the next life.

One day passed and Gipir wished a lion or a leopard, or even a hyena would come along and take him out of his misery. Lady Luck instead smiled his way. An old medicine woman who gathered her herbs in this particular part of the forest found him and he was saved! Gipir thought he was hallucinating and saw his grandmother who had passed come to his rescue. The old lady realized he was incapacitated and in desperate need for help. He could hardly talk or walk but she burdensomely helped him back to her small hut near the edge of the forest. She tenderly catered to him and nursed him. She treated his wounds, gave him plenty of fluids to rehydrate him and finally he was able to talk.


He told the lady of his harrowing story and she sympathized with his plight. She told him she would provide food and shelter for him while he went in search for his spear. Gipir was delighted with his turn of luck and had re-energized gusto to find the spear. Soon he was back on his feet and able to hunt and provide meat for them. He resigned his life to the jungle and this strange eclectic old lady who reminded him so much of his grandmother and who had saved his life. But he never forgot home. Soon years came to pass. They lived together with their lives falling into routine. They would go into the forest together, with her searching for a special herb and him searching for the spear while the both gathered and hunted what they would feed on. Days went on and more years came by.

One day while they were deep in the forest, they discovered a pile of huge skeletons. They moved closer to investigate what exactly had happened. The old woman recognized the pile as elephant bones. Gipir moved in closer to identify what exactly happened to this elephant. And there it was! The Royal Spear! He had finally found it! Gipir couldn’t believe his eyes. It seemed like the elephant he had speared had finally succumbed to its wounds and died. Among the pile of bones was the spear, shimmering through the forest light, looking as majestic as it had years before. He was so happy he broke into dance. He had finally achieved his mission. He could go home! He was ecstatic.


The old woman was glad he had finally found his spear, but she was sad to see him leave. She had got used to having him around. To show her appreciation, she gave him a number of special beads. This was something Gipir had never seen before. They had beautiful magnificent colors and they shone under the sun. He was so appreciative for the beads because they also reminded him of his traumatic times and how he survived. He gratefully thanked the woman and bed his farewell the next morning.


Gipir trekked through the jungle for weeks until he made his way home. The homestead dwellers saw a strange unkempt man in the horizon and thought he was one of the nomads who was looking for some water. Until he came closer and they recognized him! A buzz set upon the village. Gipir had returned! Everyone was ecstatic and excited. Gipir came forth and presented the spear to Labongo, and his brother couldn’t help but grab him into a big embrace. Despite everything he loved and had missed his brother. He was glad he was alive. Festivities went on for days. The tribe was united. Soon days came to pass and activity died down to the mundane.

Gipir loved the beads the old woman had given him. They symbolized his endurance and kindness of humanity. He liked stringing them into beautiful patterns. One day while he was stringing the beads, the children came to watch what he was doing. Labongo’s last born and favorite child, a toddler daughter was among them and started playing with one bead. Like all toddlers do, she put it into her mouth and accidentally swallowed it. One of the other children saw her doing this and called out to Gipir, told her she had swallowed one of his beads.

Gipir, still filled with bitterness about his brother had done, saw his chance for revenge. He went to Labongo and told him what had happened. He demanded for his precious bead. Labongo didn’t want to be bothered with trivial matters and told him that the bead would soon pass and he would get it. Gipir wasn’t having it. He said he needed his bead at that moment exactly and Labongo had to find a way of getting it from his daughter’s stomach. That is when it sunk in what Gipir was telling him to do. To cut up his 2 year old daughter and retrieve the bead! He couldn’t believe his brother. But it was like the roles had reversed and this time someone was surely going to die.

Labongo pleaded for his brother to reconsider for hours but Gipir reminded him of how Labongo had flippantly doomed his life by sending him into the jungle for the spear and remained obstinate. He needed his bead at that right moment. Labong had nothing to do but to give up his daughter to be cut up and they retrieve Gipir’s bead. It was finally retrieved but the clan was never the same again. Labongo couldn’t stand living with his brother and the grief of loosing his precious daughter was too much. They decided to part ways. They buried an axe at a place presently called Wang-Lei in Pakwach on the shores of the Nile. Gipir and his family took the area West of the Nile and became the Alur in Northern Uganda, parts of Sudan and Eastern D.R.Congo. Labong and his family went to the area East of the Nile moving south wards and then Eastwards into Kenya. Gipir and Labongo were the ancestral fathers of all Luo and this explains why the dialect is hardly different between the different tribes. Acholis, Japhadollas, Itetsos, Langi, Alur and many others have similar wording for different things and are related by their ancestry to Gipir and Labongo.


Wang-Lei, the place where the brothers parted ways in located near the town called Pakwach. Rituals and animal sacrifices are still performed in this area to pay homage to the ancestors. They pray wisdom in leadership, justice, kindness and love. Caretakers reaffirm the story and show you the place the axe is believed to be standing under the flow calm rush of the Nile.



Origins of the Batembuzi and the Bachwezi Dynasty (AD 1100 to 1500)

According to oral traditions, it is generally believed that the Batembuzi were the founders of the Bunyoro Kingdom. Their existence is shrouded in a lot of myth, mysticism and legend. They are believed to be gods hailing from heaven. There is very little concurrence, among scholars, regarding the Batembuzi time period in history, even the names and successive order of individual kings. It is believed that their reign dates back to the time of Africa’s Bronze Age and there were 22 kings in total who ruled over Bunyoro- with Isaza being the last of the Batembuzi.

During that time, there were the Heavens and the Underworld (the earth). Ruhanga ruled over the heavens and the Underworld was inhabited by outcasts who had been thrown out of heaven. One day, Ruhanga’s son Isaza, out of curiosity decided to explore the Underworld. He was fascinated with the different lifestyle the people of the Underworld lived and stayed over for a long time. He met a princess of the Underworld and fell in love with her. However, because of his long stay, he could not make his way back to the Heavens and got stuck in the Underworld. He married the princess and they went ahead to have children. His first son was called Isimbwa.

Isimbwa had the wandering spirit of his father and somehow managed to find his way back to the land of his ancestors. Here he found the former gate-keeper – a commoner and tyrant, Bukuku had taken over the throne and was ruling over the kingdom. Bukuku wasn’t a legitimate heir to the kingship and had been told by fortunetellers that one of his descendants would overthrow him and take over power. He had fathered only one daughter called Nyinamwiru who was the most beautiful girl in the kingdom and a princess. Due to his paranoia, he imprisoned Nyinamwiru and cut off her breasts and removed one of her eyes so she would not be desirable to any man.

Stalactites believed to be Nyinamwiru's breasts

Stalactites believed to be Nyinamwiru’s breasts

One day while on his adventures, Isimbwa stumbled upon the dungeon Nyinamwiru was being hidden. He was mesmerized by her beauty and touched by her sorrow. He immediately fell in love with her and rescued her from the prison. They ran away and soon married and had a son whom they called Ndahura. When Bukuku found out what had happened, he was very furious and immediately ordered a wide search for the little boy- his grandson. Remembering the warnings from the past he sought to execute the little boy before he grew into the man who would eventually overthrow him.

Baby Ndahura was captured and Bukuku decided to end his life by throwing him in a river. Nyinamwiru begged and pleaded with her father to spare her only child. She vowed to migrate to the outskirts of the kingdom to the lands unknown and raise the boy away from her father’s kingdom. But Bukuku was adamant because the boy had royal blood flowing through his veins and was a legitimate claim to the kingdom he had grabbed. He went ahead and hurled him into the river and believed his troubles were over. He had killed his adversary. As luck may have it, the gods were watching over their grandson. The baby’s umbilical cord got stuck on a tree branch and was saved from drowning. One of the king’s porters saw what had happened and hurriedly rescued him, hiding him in a cave. However he could not feed the newly born baby. He was just a lowly porter. If he couldn’t find a solution, the boy would surely die.

The gods saw their grandson was in jeopardy. They magically made the walls of the cave grow tens of breasts, dripping with milk enough to feed all the babies in the kingdom. They came to be known as “Amabeere ga Nyinamwiru” translated as Nyinamwiru’s breasts. The baby was saved. He remained hidden for years feeding on the endless supply of milk in the cave. He grew big strong and as handsome as his father. Soon he was able to leave the caves and join other youth his age.

Bukuku still ruled over the kingdom. His wealth was in the massive herd of long-horned cattle he owned, stolen from the previous king Isaza. He was so proud of his wealth and named every single cow depending on the coloration and markings it hard on its skin. The pride of his bounty was an all-brown cow, so perfect it had no mark breaking the earth-brown color on its skin. He named it Bihogo. His pride and joy. The darling of his herd.

Long Horned Cattle introduced by the Bachwezi

Long Horned Cattle introduced by the Bachwezi

Bukuku soon needed more and more young boys to help him look after his every growing herd and lead them to the pastures. Ndahura was hired as a herdsman and joined the other young men in the fields. One day, unfortunately a lion attacked the herd and killed darling Bihogo. Word spread fast through the kingdom. Bukuku was livid! His most precious and expensive cow had died. He ordered everyone to search for the boy who was responsible for the neglect that led to the death of his beloved cow. He was to receive the harshest punishment ever and later beheaded.

Ndahura heard about the search parties hunting for him. He decided to pre-empt the second attempt on his life. He evaded the body guards, slipped into the king’s quarters and waited for him. When Bukuku was relaxing on his favorite stool, Ndahura sprang forth and speared him in the back. Bukuku was shocked that anyone would penetrate he’s heavily guarded palace. He inquired in surprise who the young lad was. Ndahura proudly declared he was his grandson, true heir to the throne and went ahead and stabbed him to death, marking the end to the tyrannical king’s rule.

Ndahura declared himself king and ruler of the Bunyoro kingdom. The people welcomed him because of his unmistaken remembrance to his great grandfather Isaza. He was a great warrior and strong king who went ahead and expanded the kingdom to as far as all of southern Uganda, Western Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, parts of Northern Tanzania, and Eastern Congo. He was credited to introducing the Long-horned cattle in the region, iron smelting and coffee. Bunyoro kingdom grew in strength and was the most influential of all the interlacustrine kingdoms in that era.

Coffee beans

Coffee beans

Ndahura abdicated his throne and disappeared around the crater lakes area in Fort Portal leaving his son Wamala in charge. He left his capital at Mubende hill in charge of his favorite wife Nakayima. Wamala continued his father’s legacy expanding Bunyoro further. He ruled on for a few more years until an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease affected the kingdom, weakening the economy- many people had to migrate to save their cattle. This made it easy for the Babiito, the next rulers of Bunyoro to take over. Wamala, like his demi-god ancestors, disappeared to a lake named after him in central Uganda. That was the end of the Batembuzi and Bachwezi dynasty and the beginning of Bunyoro-Kitara under the Babiito.

Nakayima tree where the mighty sorceress is believed to reside up to date.

Nakayima tree where the mighty sorceress is believed to reside up to date.

In The Beginning: Banyoro, Batooro, Banyankole

The story of the beginning is similar in the kingdoms of Bunyoro, Toro and Ankole. This is because they were once united under one kingdom:Bunyoro Kitara and just split later to form smaller denominations of the once mighty and epansive Kitara. Legend might defer a little between each tribe but below is the general myth of the story of creation carried by these tribes.

In the beginning, Ruhanga, the creator lived in space with his brother Nkya. Nkya who was younger and restless complained he was bored with everything being so normal and mundane. Ruhanga created heaven and earth for his brother. He threw a stone in the air and it became the sun. Nkya was happy with this but soon started to complain again about the constant sun and no shade. Ruhanga moved the sun to the West and covered it with a cloud. He then threw another stone in the air and created the moon. He ordered Nkya to sleep and created the cock to crow to wake Nkya up when night had passed. He also created grasses and trees for more shade. He then ordered Nkya to stay on Earth while he returned to attend to matters in Heaven.

In heaven Ruhanga realized his hands were dirty and washed his hands which proceeded to pour down to Earth as rain. Nkya got drenched and complained to Ruhanga. He told Nkya to break off branches cut the grass and make shelter but Nkya had no tools. Ruhanga got a rock and threw it to the ground and it broke to make a knife, an axe and a hammer. Nkya went ahead to make a hut.


Beloved Cow Ruhanga gave to Nkya to kill his boredom on earth

He soon got bored again and demanded for something to look at. Ruhanga then created flowers, shrubs, goats and sheep. He also created cattle which pleased Nkya immensely. He made a bowl and showed Nkya how to milk the cows. He also created a creeper that provided more food for Nkya. This time Nkya has so many things to occupy him in the new world and he was impressed. He enjoyed his time on earth but tending to everything was a lot of work. Ruhanga gave him a son who Nkya called Kantu.

In time the work was still a bit hectic for Nkya and Kantu, so Ruhanga gave him 3 other sons.  There was confusion because all of them were called Kantu. So Ruhanga devised means to test Nkya’s sons and name them according to how they performed. For the first test, Nkya hid three items at a junction on a path far from home. He put a basket of sweet potatoes, strips of ox hide and the head of the ox. He then sent his sons on the same path.

On reaching the junction, the eldest son saw the basket of potatoes and immediately bullied his brothers and ate the food alone. The second born saw the stripes of hide and thought they would be important for tying the cows when milking. The youngest one didn’t want to be left out so he carried the ox-head back home. When Nkya saw them return he gathered them and asked them what had happened. He was so angry at the first borne for eating all the food and not sharing with his brothers. He made arrangements for the second test.


The elder brother rushed for the sweet potatoes and refused to share with his brothers

At night, he gave them pots of milk and ordered them to carry them through the night and not to spill any of it. They then retired for the night. The youngest boy fell asleep first and spilled all his milk. He woke up to the horror of the situation and pleaded with his brothers to help him. They each contributed a bit of their milk and the young boy filled his pot again. This time he stayed awake since he had rested enough and was alert.

Towards the morning, the older brother couldn’t hold back the sleep and dozed of and spilled most of his milk. He pleaded with his brothers to help him too but since they had already shared with the younger brother, it was not enough to fill a pot and his brothers refused to give him more milk. Their father awoke and went to check on the boys.


A girl carrying a traditional milk pot, similar to those the boys were given for their test

He was so pleased with the youngest brother that he had managed to stay awake all night and present to him his pot of milk. The other brothers were filled with jealousy and told their father that he had spilled his milk first and they had shared some of theirs to help him refill his pot. Nkya was impressed how the youngest son had managed to convince his brothers to share the milk despite the repercussions. He recalled the way the young boy had carried back the heavy ox-head from their earlier journey, despite not knowing what he would use it for. He immediately named him Kakama and gave him authority to rule over his brothers and everything on earth.

For the second born, he recalled the love for cattle the boy had. He’s the one who had carried back the ox-hide stripes so he could tie the cow’s legs while he was milking. Nkya named him Kahima, the cattle herder and gave him authority over all the cattle. He was least pleased by the eldest son. First he had shown his greed by eating all the sweet potatoes, then had also spilled all his mikl and had nothing to present to his father in the morning. He called him Kairu and gave him the hardest responsibility of titling the land to provide food for his brothers and their descendants.

Till recent history this is how people of this region lived. The descendants of Kakama (Omukama) were royals who ruled over the people and inherited kingship from their great grandfather the smart and clever younger brother. The Bahima were cattle herders by lifestyle and descendants up-to date still have hundreds of herds of cattle which they pride in and treasure. The Bairu were agriculturalists and peasants who did all the hard labour of providing for the kingdoms. They traded alot of food for little pieces of meat and pots of milk provided by the Bahima.


A descendant of Kahima proudly plies his trade.

Today this caste system is irrelevant but in some places deep in these regions people still refer to the system to assert their authority over others.

African Stories of Creation: Baganda Part II

The story of the first man is sometimes confused with the story of the First King because they bear the same name, Kintu. However as the story of Kintu-the first man may be considered as a myth or legend, the story of the first king is widely believed to be true and occurred in a place called Naggalabi, Buddo.

Prior to the establishment of Kintu’s dynasty, the people who lived in the area that came to be known as Baganda had not been united into a single political entity. The people were organized into groups that had a common ancestry and constituted the most important unit in Buganda’s culture – the clan. Despite a common language and culture, the clans were loosely autonomous. The clan leaders (Abataka) ruled over their respective clans. There was no caste system and, all clans were equal. This did not preclude the fact that from time to time, the leader of one clan might be militarily stronger than the others. In such a case, the leader could establish hegemony or authority over the other clans for a time.

During that time a ruthless King called Bemba forcefully established his authority over these clans. Bemba was very unpopular because it was believed he was from a place called Kiziba (now in northern Tanzania) where the traditions there deferred from those of the Baganda and because he was a war monger and a cruel ruthless leader.  His palace was in Naggalabi, Buddo from where he organized raidings and grabbed territory from other clans forcing them to submit to him. This dismayed many of the Abataka and they planned to rebel and dispose off Bemba.


Palace in Buddo where the Wicked King Bemba ruled Buganda .

One of the main ringleaders of the revolt was one Mukiibi of the Lugave clan. He was successful in rallying the clans against the evil king. On hearing word of the revolt planned against him, Bemba and his army hunted for Mukiibi in purpose of killing him before he led the revolt that would overthrow Bemba. Fortunately for Mukiibi many clan leaders were his allies and helped him escape to Ssese Islands on Lake Victoria. The Ssese islands were referred to as the islands of the gods. All the original clans, as well as those that came with Kintu, have important shrines in Ssese. For this reason, some have suggested that wherever Kintu came from, he must have come through Ssese at some point to get to Buganda. That is also why till 1900 Agreement the Ssese Islands were not recognized as a countyand the Kings never established their rule over them.



A lady enjoying a bike ride on the Ssese Islands- Islands of the gods

While there, Mukiibi continued to seek ways to dispose of the wicked Bemba. This was when he got in touch with a young charismatic and strong man called Kato Kintu. Mukiibi told Kintu about the problems the people in the mainland were incurring due to the ruthless rule of Bemba. Kintu was very annoyed on hearing the great details of turmoil and insecurity in the region and vowed to overthrow Bemba.They organnized a huge army that they would use to overpower Bemba.  Together with Mukiibi  and the army,they were able to sneak back into the mainland and reorder the other Abataka and their loyal subjects growing the size of the rebels.

They then stormed Naggalabi and the Great War over Buganda occurred. Bemba could not manage the fitness and skill of the young energetic Kintu who defeated him and he was beheaded. When Bemba was defeated in battle, Kintu slept in Bemba’s house as a sign of his victory. Thus Kintu became the ‘ruler’ of Bemba’s house and his territory.

After the battle to oust Bemba, there was a general conclave of the clans and clan elders that was held at Magonga in Busujju country, on a hill called Nnono. This meeting was of great historic significance, for it was at this meeting that Buganda’s form of governance, and the relationship between the clans and the King was formally agreed upon. Although it was unwritten, this constituted an understanding between the clans that has been followed since then. In essence, it set down Buganda’s Constitution.

It is here that Kintu appointed his first government and awarded chieftaincies to his prominent followers. For this reason, Nnono is one of the most important cultural and historical sites in Buganda. It is also for this reason that when the people of Buganda talk about issues of deep cultural significance, they refer to them as being of or from Nnono (ebyennono).


Kabaka Daudi Chwa is carried shoulder high during his coronation to signify defeat over the evil Bemba.

Unlike Bemba, Kintu was an intelligent young man who saw the advantages of uniting the clans instead of dividing them. Kintu cleverly allied himself with the leaders of the original clans and decided to share his authority with the other clan leaders. In organizing the kingdom, Kintu conceded to the clan leader’s authority over their respective clans in matters of culture. Kintu then became mediator between the clans in case of disputes, thus cementing his role as Ssaabataka, head of all the clans. This played a key role in getting him accepted as the king of Buganda.

Rumor has it that in a bid to solidify his kingship Kintu totally dropped the name Kato and even urged his wife to change her name to Nambi knowing the reverence and adornment the people of Buganda had over the first man Kintu. This is why sometimes people mistake the first King of Buganda to be the First man on earth.

Today Naggalabi, Buddo is of great cultural importance to the Kingdom and after the death of a king, the new king is taken here for traditional rituals including enactment of the Great War between Kintu and Bemba. The area has a big traditional thatched palace where the King also has to spend the night in an enactment of when Kintu took over Bemba’s house and slept in it. The caretakers of the site take tourists around the expansive hill and will gladly relay the story of how Kintu became the First King of Buganda!


Kabaka Mutebi, the current King of Buganda during his coronation in 1993

We organize informative Cultural tours to Naggalabi, Buddo and Ssese Islands for those who would like to relive this part of our rich history!

African Stories of Creation: Baganda I

Long long ago, Kintu was the only person on Earth. He lived alone with his cow, which he tended lovingly. Ggulu, the creator of all things, lived up in heaven with his many children and other property. From time to time, Ggulu’s children would come down to earth to play. On one such occasion, Ggulu’s daughter Nambi and some of her brothers encountered Kintu who was with his cow in Buganda. Nambi was very fascinated by Kintu, and she felt pity for him because he was living alone. She resolved to marry him and stay with him despite the opposition from her brothers. But because of her brothers’ pleading, she decided to return to heaven with Kintu and ask for her father’s permission for the union.

Ggulu was not pleased that his daughter wanted to get married to a human being and live with him on Earth. But Nambi pleaded with her father until she persuaded him to bless the union. After Ggulu had decided to allow the marriage to proceed, he advised Kintu and Nambi to leave heaven secretly. He advised them to pack lightly, and that on no condition were they to return to heaven even if they forgot anything. This admonition was so that Walumbe, one of Nambi’s brothers, should not find out about the marriage until they had left, otherwise he would insist on going with them and bring them misery (Walumbe means that which causes sickness and death). Kintu was very pleased to have been given a wife, and together they followed Ggulu’s instructions. Among the few things that Nambi packed was her chicken.

The first man and woman in Buganda

The first man and woman in Buganda

They set out for earth early the next morning. But while they were descending, Nambi remembered that she had forgotten to bring the millet to feed her chicken. “I have left my chickens’ millet on the porch, let me return and fetch it,” she begged Kintu. But Kintu refused and said, “Don’t go back. If you do, you will meet Walumbe and he will surely insist on coming with you.” Nambi, however, did not listen to her husband, and leaving him on the way she returned to fetch the millet. When she reached the house, she took the millet from the porch, but on her way back she suddenly met Walumbe who asked: “My sister, where are you going so early in the morning?” Nambi did not know what to say.

Filled with curiosity, Walumbe insisted on going with her. Therefore Kintu and Nambi were forced to go to Earth together with Walumbe. It did not take long for Kintu and Nambi to get children. One day, Walumbe went to Kintu’s home and asked his brother-in-law to give him a child to help him with the chores in his (Walumbe’s) house. But remembering Ggulu’s warning, Kintu would not hear of it. Walumbe became very angry with Kintu for refusing him the simple favour he had asked. That very night, he went and killed Kintu’s son. Naturally, this caused a deep rift between them. Kintu went back to heaven to report Walumbe’s actions to Ggulu.

Ggulu rebuked Kintu, reminding him of the original warning he had disregarded. Kintu blamed Nambi for returning to get the millet. Ggulu then sent another of his sons, Kayikuuzi, to go back to earth with Kintu and try to persuade Walumbe to return to heaven or, if necessary, return him by force. On reaching Earth, Kayikuuzi tried to persuade Walumbe to go back to heaven but Walumbe would not hear of it. “I like it here on Earth and I am not coming back with you”, he said. Kayikuuzi decided to capture Walumbe by force, and a great fight broke out between them. But as Walumbe was about to be overpowered, he escaped and disappeared into the ground. Kayikuuzi went after him, digging huge holes in the ground to try to find his brother. When Kayikuuzi got to where he was hiding, Walumbe run back out to the earth. Further struggle between the brothers ensued but once again Walumbe escaped into the ground.

Holes in Ttanda Ssingo where Walumbe disappeared through to hide Underground

Holes in Ttanda Ssingo where Walumbe disappeared through to hide Underground

The famous caves that are found today at Ttanda in Ssingo are said to be the ones that were dug by Kayikuuzi in the fight with his brother Walumbe. (Kayikuuzi means he who digs holes). The struggle went on for several days and by now, Kayikuuzi was close to exhaustion. So he went and talked to Kintu and Nambi as follows: “I am going back into the ground one more time to get Walumbe. You and your children must stay indoors. You must strictly command your children not to make a sound if they see Walumbe. I know he is also getting tired so when he comes out of the ground, I will come upon him secretly and grab him.” Kintu and Nambi went into their house, but some of the kids did not go in.

Kayikuuzi once again went underground to find Walumbe. After a struggle, Walumbe came back out to the surface with Kayikuuzi in pursuit. Kintu’s children who were outside at the time saw Walumbe coming and screamed in terror. On hearing the screams, Walumbe went underground once again. Kayikuuzi was furious with Kintu and Nambi for not having followed his instructions. He told them that if they did not care to do the simple thing he had asked of them, he was also giving up the fight. Kintu in his embarrassment had nothing more to say. So he told Kayikuuzi “You return to heaven. If Walumbe wants to kill my children, let him do so, I will keep having more. The more he kills, the more I will get and he will never be able to kill all my children”. Ttanda, where the fight between Walumbe and Kayikuuzi allegedly took place, is figuratively referred to as the place of death (i.e. Walumbe’s place).

Walumbe's Spears used to fight his brother

Walumbe’s Spears used to fight his brother

So that is the legend of creation according to the Baganda, and how sickness and death started. Nonetheless, Kintu’s descendants will always exsist as Kintu said in his last words to Kayikuuzi. Hence the Kiganda saying “Abaana ba Kintu tebalifa kuggwaawo“. Which means that Kintu’s children (i.e. the Baganda) will never be wiped off the face of the earth.

We organize Cultural Tours to the mentioned places above for a real feel of this part of history!

In the Begining…..: African Stories of Creation

The story of creation or how man came to live on earth has many versions. From the religious point of view of God’s Creation to the scientists’ Big Bang Theory, many stories have been told and shared. As humans we are curious about what was before our time and what will come after our time.


Black Adam and Eve

Ugandans too have tried to explain the mystery of the First Man. With oral tradition stories passed from one generation to the next, these folktales are rich with suspense and sometimes humor. Different tribes tell their stories of the first man in their own versions. In the upcoming series I will try tell these beautiful tales from different parts of Uganda.