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Table of Contents
The Uganda Society
Coronation ritual and customs of Buganda
The procedure in accession to the throne of a nominated king in the Kingdom of Bunyoro Kitara
The inauguration of the Omugabe of Ankole to office
The coronation of the Abakama of Koki
The anointing of clan heads among the Lango
A guide to the snakes of Uganda, part VIII
THE ORGANC. OF THE UG.4NDA. SOCIETY.
Vol. IV. MAY, 1937. No. 4.
The Coronation Ritual and Customs of
Buganda ... ... ... ... ... ... ... by R. A. Snoxall.
The Procedure in Accession to the
Throne of a Nominated King in the kingdom of
Bunyoro-Kitara ... ... ... ... ... .. by K.W.
The Inauguration of the Omugabe of
Ankole to Office ... ... ... ... by F. Lukyn Williams.
The Coronation of the Abakama of Koki ... by F. Lukyn Williams.
The Anointing of Clan heads among the
Lango ... ... ... ... ... ... by Erimayo Olyeoh.
A Guide to the Snakes of Uganda,
(Part Vll) .... ... **... .. ... by C. R.S. Pitman.
The Dry Crossing of the Nile near Nimule ... by N. B. Watney.
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The Uganda Journal.
THE ORGAN OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY.
Vol. IV. MAY, 1937. No. 4.
Coronation Ritual and Customs of Buganda ... ... ... by R. A. SNOXALL.
The Procedure in Accession to The Throne of a Nominated
King in the Kingdom of Bunyoro Kitara ... ... ... by K. W.
The Inauguration of the Omugabe of Ankole to Office by F. LUKYN WIILLAMS.
The Coronation of the Abakama of Koki ...
The Anointing of Clan Heads Among the Lango
A Guide to the Snakes of Uganda, Part VIII. ...
... by F. LUKYN WILLIAMS.
... by ERIMAYO OLYECH.
.. by C. R. S. PITMAN.
The Dry Crossing of the Nile near Nimule ...
... by N. B. WATNEY.
THE UGANDA SOCIETY.
His EXCELLENCY P. E. MITCHELL, ESQ., C.M.G., M.C.
H. JOWITT, ESQ.
MARK WILSON, ESQ.
SIR ALBERT R. COOK, KT., C.M.G. THE RT. REV. BISHOP E. MICHAUD, C.B.E.
E. J. WAYLAND, ESQ. DR. H. H. HUNTER, C.B.E., LL.D.
MRS. C. G. MOODY.
Miss P. B. KNOWLES.
MRS. N. D. HIRA.
CAPT. F. L. GUILBRIDE.
F. LUKYN WILLIAMS, ESQ.
K. D. GUPTA, ESQ.
B. K. MULYANTI.
DR. A. T. SCHOFIELD.
C. G. MOODY, ESQ.
Honorary Joint Editors:
E. F. TWINING, ESQ., M.B.E.,
R. A. SNOXALL, ESQ.
Representative in Great Britain :
A. R. MORGAN, ESQ., O.B.E.
THE UGANDA SOCIETY.
1. There are no restrictions as to membership of the Uganda Socity.
Membership is open to all races and to Institutions and Clubs. No entrance
fee is imposed. The annual subscription, which is payable in advance on ist
July of each year, is Shs. io/- for single membership and Shs. i5/- for double
members. The double membership is introduced for the convenience of families
and entitles two members of a family to all the rights and privileges of a full
member except that they receive only one copy of each number of the Journal.
2. Additional copies of the numbers of Volume III and of Volume IV (the
current Volume) may be obtained from the Uganda Printing and Publishing
Company, Ltd., Kampala (Business Managers). Price Shs. 2/50 per copy.
The bound Volumes I and II (Vol. I incomplete), and single numbers
of those Volumes are obtainable only at the Uganda Bookshop, Kampala.
Prices are as follows:- Vol. I, Shs. 12/-; Vol. II, Shs. I5/-; single numbers,
Shs. 3/-. Vol. I, No. 2, is now out of print.
Numbers of the current Volume and of Volume III are also on sale at the
Uganda Bookshop, Kampala.
3. Arrangements have been made with the Uganda Printing and Publishing
Company, Ltd., Kampala, to bind Volumes of the Journal at a cost of Shs. 3/-
4. 'Separates' of articles will in future only be printed if ordered in advance.
Orders should be placed with the Editor or with the Business Managers.
Prices of 'separates' vary according to the length of the article and the number
and nature of illustrations. Minimum price 20 cents.
5. Blocks of illustrations may be purchased on application to the Honorary
Treasurer or Editor. The price of these is usually half the cost of production.
6. Subscriptions should be sent to the Business Managers, P. O. Box 84,
Kampala, from whom Bankers' Orders may be obtained. Members are parti-
cularly requested to pay subscriptions by Bankers' Order, if possible. See also
Paragraph (8) below.
Under no circumstances will the Journal be sent to those whose subscript-
ions are outstanding.
7. Contributions to the Journal should be sent to the Editor, P. O. Box 5,
Entebbe. No guarantee is given to return any MSS. submitted. Articles
should be typed in double spacing on one side of the sheet only and should not
contain matter likely to cause political or religious controversy. Those submitted
by Government Officials must comply with Colonial Office Regulations; they
should either be submitted u.f.s. the Head of Department concerned or they
should be addressed to the Editor, with a request that hewill obtain the necessary
permission for publication.
Those sending photographs should send glazed prints if possible.
8. The postal address of the Honorary Secretary is P. O. Box 161, Kampala.
The postal addresses of the Honorary Editors are P.O. Box 5 Entebbe, and
P. O. Box 263 Kampala.
The Business Managers of the Society are the Uganda Printing and Publish-
ing Company, Ltd., P. O. Box 84, Kampala, to whom all communications for
the Honorary Treasurer should be sent.
9. The postal address of the Soiety's representative in Great Britain is A. R.
Morgan, Esq., O.B.E., 66 Brodie Avenue, Mossley Hill, Liverpool. Members
resident in the United Kingdom may send their subscriptions to him.
0o. The Society's Bankers are the National Bank of India, Ltd., Kampala.
11. Members are particularly requested to notify the Honorary Secretary of
any change of address. If this is not done safe delivery of the Journal can-
not be guaranteed.
12. Books belonging to the Society may be borrowed on application to the
Honorary Joint Editor, Education Department, Makerere.
The first note struck by this Editorial must be one of regret at the resignation
owing to pressure of work and his impending leave of our Honorary Editor, Mr. J.
Sykes, whose distinguished pen now descends into our tremulous hand. The So-
ciety owes a very real debt of gratitude to Mr. Sykes for his most conscientious
and distinguished services so ungrudgingly given, and whilst wishing him a most
happy leave we would also express the hope that invigorated by the air of Europe
he may once again be persuaded on his return to take up the cares of Editorship.
Elsewhere in this issue will be found a notice giving particulars of what should
prove an interesting competition for the purpose of evolving a new and more
attractive cover for the Journal. We would urge all our readers to give this im-
portant matter their serious thought and attention, since a topical and worthy cover
will greatly contribute to the future success and increased sale of the Journal.
A word of explanation is perhaps necessary on the particular nature of the pre-
sent issue, but we offer no apology for making this essentially a special "Corona-
tion" number. In addition to deriving a particular interest from the recent cele-
brations, it should prove a valuable record of local Investiture Ceremonies which
would otherwise be preserved in no written records. Of particular value there-
fore are the series of excellent photographs taken by Doctor A. T. Schofield to
illustrate the description of the Investiture Ceremony of the Bakama of Bunyoro-
The untiring Honorary Secretary Doctor A.T. Schofield has more than main-
tained the quality and regularity of the society's monthly lecture, and availing him-
self of the presence of the Makerere Commission he arranged a most attractive
programme, which in the case of the first two lectures was repeated at Entebbe.
On Jan. 2oth, Doctor John Murray lectured on "Democracy and Dictatorships
On Feb. 3rd, Harold Nicholson, Esq., M.P., on "Has Great Britain a Foreign
On Feb. 17th, Z.K. Mathews on "Native Policy in South Africa."
On April 3rd, Professor C. Van Riet Lowe on "Stone AgeAfrica."
On April 28th, E.F. Twining-Esq., M.B.E., on "The English Coronation Cere-
We would remind our readers of the existence of the nucleus of a library which
is at present housed in a none too spacious cupboard in the offices of the Education
Department, Makerere. There is much interesting information in various numbers
of our contemporaries, and books will willingly be lent upon application to the
Honorary Joint Editor.
We acknowledge with thanks the receipt of the following:-
Man-January, February, March 1937.
Annales du Mustee du Congo Be/le-Ethnographie-Octobre 1936, and
Journal de la Socidet des Africanistes-Tome VI-Fascicule II.
Sudan Notes and Records-Vol. XIX, Part II. (1936).
The Nigerian Field-Vol. VI, No. i, (January 1937).
For those particularly interested in native music we would commend the
Ethnographical number of the Annales du Mus6e du Congo Belge, which contains a
full length treatise on the Xylophones of the Belgian Congo, together with some
most instructive diagrams and illustrations.
A Prize of
ONE HUNDRED SHILLINGS
is offered for a design for the cover of the "Uganda Journal."
I. Designs should be topical and representative in some way of the aim of the
Society, namely, the promotion of interest in scientific and cultural subjects
among all people in the Uganda Protectorate.
2. Designs should be black and white, preferably 12 inches by 9 inches, or in
similar proportions, for reproduction on a block the size of the present cover of
3. Designs should incorporate the title, "Uganda Journal," and should leave a
'frame' for the monthly variable title and contents summary, e g., "Vol. IV, No.
i, July 1937,' with "Contents........." This 'frame' can be about 3 inches by 4
inches of the large design.
4. The accepted design shall become the property of the Society. There is no
5. The Committee reserve the right to withold the prize if no design of sufficient
merit is received.
6. The result of the competition will be announced in the October number of the
7. Designs should be sent to the undersigned before August 31st, 1937. Return
postage should be included if the designs are to be returned.
A. T. SCHOFIELD, Honorary Secretary,
P. O. Box 161, KAMPALA, Uganda.
To Barclay's Bank (D.C. and 0.)
National Bank of India. Ltd,
Standard Bank of S. A., Ltd.
at. .................. .........
Please to pay to the Hon. Treasurer of the Uganda Society, P.O. Box 71,
Kampala, the sum of .......................... Shillings; and ......... ............ Shillings
on each successive 1st July, and debit my account.
Date ... ............ .....................
The Coronation Ritual and Customs
By R. A. SNOXALL, EsQ.
To the present and future generation who will never be able to witness the
ancient ceremonies attendant on the choosing of Kabaka and the subsequent essen-
tial ritual conveyed in the expression 'okulya Buganda' such accounts as exist of
what was the usual procedure are invaluable, but it is noteworthy that the only coron-
ation of which we have an eye witness's account is that of the present Kabaka, Sir
Daudi Chwa II, K.C.M.G., although Sir Apolo may have remembered that of Mwa-
nga II. This is most important in that the ceremony in this case was quite untypi-
cal and naturally completely modified owing to the recent introduction of Chris-
tianity to the country and the Christian form of ceremony, choice of hymns and
form of prayers which accompanied it. It is probable therefore that we possess no
account by an eye witness of any previous coronation, in fact our only two sources
of information are Sir Apolo Kagwa and Roscoe and the latter's account is more or
less a translation of Sir Apolo's with many important omissions and variations to
which I shall draw attention in the course of this article. Not only does the late
Katikiro's invaluable work 'Empisa za Baganda' contain a full account of the ancient
ceremonies but also gives us a full account of the procedure at the coronation of
the present Kabaka as before mentioned.
As we should expect, we find that the importance of the observation of the cor-
rect ritual was amply appreciated by the Baganda who always held that their King
was sacred, his power of life and death absolute, and if not the head of the count-
ry's religion at any rate the one through whom the important deities made their
wishes known and upon whom they relied for the carrying out of these wishes.
Even the universe was held to be in a degree dependent on his will, and his life
had to be so regulated that no natural acts of his should by their very unexpected-
ness upset the course of nature; thus a drum was beaten to announce that the King
had awoken and "his goings out and comings in" were bound by the most rigorous
ceremonial which therefore would most certainly be stressed in the case of such an
important national and religious event as the coronation of a new King (1).
In this article therefore I shall first endeavour to give an impression of what
the ancient pre-Christian type of coronation ceremony was like, relying on the
account given by Sir Apolo and Roscoe and secondly to retail the account as given
1 cf. The article in this number by F. Lukyn Williams in which it is recorded that the
Mugabe of Akole might not turn from side to side in his bed or he might upset the Kingdom,
by Sir Apolo Kagwa of the ceremony in the case of the present Kakaba. At the
outset however it must be made clear that in the ancient ceremony the word Coro-
nation is actually a misnomer, for the 'Drum' and not 'the Crown' has always been
regarded as the hereditary emblem of Kingship amongst the Baganda and the sur-
rounding tribes, as well as the sign of office and authority. Upon assuming office, as
Roscoe tells us, a chief was said "to have eaten the drums" (okulya engoma) and an
essential ceremony as I have mentioned which the new king had to perform was
that of "eating Buganda". Apart from this installation ceremony which was most
important and of considerable antiquity, the only other ceremony of importance in
connexion with the accession of a new King is to be found in the choosing and an-
nouncing of the King and the struggles between the rival factions which in ancient
times were likely to develop into serious civil war and which more recently had
become an accepted though not dangerous part of the ceremony.
THE CHOICE OF THE NEW KABAKA.
The Kasuju was the chief who was responsible for the guardianship of the
'balangira' or princes, and the 'bambeja' or princesses, and like certain other chiefs
notably the Mugema, the Katambala and the Kimbugwe, held office by virtue of
such particular hereditary duties which he owed to the Kabaka (2). The eldest son
of the King who took the title of Kiwewa was responsible to Kasuju for the conduct
of his brothers, but by virtue of the responsible office which he held was precluded
from reigning himself. It will thus be seen how any attempt to transfer Kiganda
terms to our own royal family will result in many misconceptions and inaccuracies
and that to regard the Kiwewa as being merely synonymous with the eldest son of
the King, as he is described in Blackledge's dictionary, is sufficient for the Baganda
but most misleading for ourselves. In view of the large numbers of princes within
the country the Kasuju's office was no sinecure and he had to appoint guardians for
each of the balangira and to see that each was properly settled on his own land which
was designated by a Mutuba (barkcloth tree) planted when the prince came into
occupation. In spite of the Kasuju's care however the princes often rebelled and
so from the time of Kabaka Semakokiro and during the next two reigns up to that
of Mutesa, Roscoe tells us that the usual practice was to put to death all the princes
as soon as the new Kabaka was secure in the succession through the birth to him
of several sons.
The Kasuju together with the Katikiro and the Kimbugwe were entrusted
with the final selection of the new Kabaka, and they were usually able to come
to a quiet and amicable conclusion. Since the Katikiro had been with the late
King up to his death he knew the opportune moment during the King's illness at
which to send to the Kasuju requiring him to have the princes in readiness, and
on the death of the king issue the order for them to be brought up to the capital.
The Proclamation followed immediately the choice of the new king and was per-
formed before the assembled chiefs and populace and in front of the royal enclosure.
For the actual ceremony I quote verbatim from Roscoe whose description of this
ritual is fortunately fairly full, and follows closely that of Sir Apolo Kagwa in
Empisa za Baganda.
2 For these hereditary duties vide Mayezi Ntakke pp. 74 and 75 written by J. T. K. Ggo-
'The Katikiro called to the Kasuju for a prince to reign; the Kasuju brought
forward the prince whom they had chosen, leading him by the right hand and plac-
ing it in the Katikiro's hand with the words: "This is the King." Before leading
out the prince, the Kasuju walked slowly along the line of princes from the end
where the Katikiro stood to the spot where the chosen prince was standing, look-
ing at each prince as he passed, as though he were doubtful whom he ought to pre-
sent. Walukaga of the Genet Clan, handed the Katikiro a bundle of spears as soon
as the prince was presented. The Katikiro proclaimed the prince, saying with a loud
voice: "So-and-so is King," and adding: "Those who wish to fight let them do so
now"; he also offered the spears to anyone desirous of fighting.'
At this point the Katikiro seems to have combined the office of Herald of the
Realm with that of Chief Constable, for we are told that he always appeared on
the scene with a strong armed force in order to quell any disturbance that might
arise! After the acceptance of the newly-appointed King the other princes were sum-
marily dismissed by the Kasuju, and were taken into the Katikiro's enclosure where
their welfare was provided for in the shape of a good meal to assuage their imme-
diate wants and adequate oxen for their subsequent needs (3).
This being accomplished the new King was taken away into the house of some
chiefs to await the arrival of the new queen who was chosen for him by the Ka-
tikiro, the Mugema and the Kimbugwe.
The queen, or the Lubuga, was chosen by the above three chiefs assisted by
the ex-Queen from among the princesses of the royal family and she had to be a
sister of the new King although not by the same mother, and it was also necessary
that her own mother should have no sons. After the choice of the Queen the two
were carried off to Budo hill for the most important part of the ancient coronation
OKULYA BUGANDA. (4)
The Ceremony at Budo Hill.
This ceremony whilst undoubtedly of great significance did not become an
essential portion of the coronation until the reign of Kabaka Namugala (1750) i.e.
fairly recently in the history of Buganda, although it appears from what the witch-
doctor Budo told Namugala that the great success of Kintu who had driven out the
snake Bemba had been commemorated by some such ceremony and in the same place.
According to Sir Apolo Kagwa the Kings of Buganda between Kalemera, the third
in the line, up to Namugala who was the twenty-eighth, had not observed this cus-
3 .Episa za Bagalna p. 5 does not however suggest that the oxen were intended to be
more than an immediate provision and those they took back to the Kasud's were
apparently only to be eaten by them.
4 The accounts of the ceremony as given by Sir Apolo Kagwa and Roscoe differ consider-
ably. I have followed the former's account.
tom but had gone to Nankere for the ceremony. However the witch-doctor Budo
had commemorated the spot on Budo hill where Bemba was killed and ever since
that time the journey and ritual at Budo has been regarded as possibly the main
part of the whole ceremony.
On arriving at the foot of the hill the party was first conducted to the shrine of
Serutega, the umbilical cord of Kibuka, where they found waiting for them Semanobe
the Mutaka of the hill. Semanobe and his followers were equipped with spears and
shields and when young sugar canes had been thrown at the King and his party
and had by them been thrown back at Semanobe and the guards, a mock fight ensu-
ed with these weapons which the King and his followers won (5). This fight was
designed to show how closely the hill was guarded and how any other prince than
the real Kabaka would find it impossible to gain admission to the hill.
When this fighting was finished the King was taken by Semanobe to a temple of
"Lumansi (6), the umbilical cord of Budo, this action was a reminder that by going
into this house the King would be endowed with the strength of Budo who through
his relic was regarded as being still alive. When the King came out of this hut
he was taken to the actual hut of Budo in which had been placed the jawbone (olu-
wanga) of his skull after his death.
From this the King next went into the most important house called Buganda
built first for King Namugala, and called Buganda because the prince on being
given the kingdom spent his first night therein. Here Semanobe gave him a goat
roasted, and plantains roasted in their skins, which he ate like this to show that he
was still a prince and that Budo had not yet called him King nor had he as yet
walked in sandals.
On the next day at night Semanobe again took him to the shrine of Budo
where he was given the bone of Budo's skull and his umbilical cord Lumansi
to hold. He then said to the Kabaka, "I have given Budo to you to hold and this is
his cord. He is the one who gave your ancestors the Kingdom and he has bidden
you go and eat the Kingdom, and may you live longer than your ancestors and may
no one speak you evil." When he had spoken thus to him Semanobe took the
Kabaka to a mound on which was placed the charm called Namulondo (7). When
the King entered this space encircled by a reed fence he had to crawl along
the narrow entry, while the Katikiro and the Kasuju were holding aside the corners
of the barkcloth which closed the entrance. Inside this enclosure the King stood
up and climbed on to the top of the small mound where Semanobe handed
5 It is of interest to note how important these mock displays of valour and watchfulness
were held to be. When chiefs were presented to the King from whom they had received
their office they were expected to show by an assumption of fierceness what loyal supporters
of the King they would be. Empisa za Baganda p. 108 cf. the omwoleko as performed before
royal visitors to Buganda.
6 Roscoe's failure to understand that the omulongo (umbilical cord) of Budo was per-
sonified as Lumansi has led him to drag in King Lumansi most inappropriately into the
7 Namulondo is now synonymous with the coronation chair of Buganda and occurE
at another point in the ceremonial with this significance.
him a spear of Budo, Kanuna (8), and invested him with two new barkcioths knotted
on each shoulder. The old barkcloth and girdle which he had been wearing were
taken off and deposited in the temple of Budo. The queen was also similarly
invested and more words confirming the King in his office were spoken.
The King was next carried down from the hill into a plantation where special
trees for spears were grown, and there cut down a tree from which the royal spears
were made. He was then taken to a place where a certain kind of rushes grew
which were used in basket making, and was given some of the rushes being told to
weave a basket that his days might be long like those of a basket which even though
it fell did not break.
A most interesting feature of the ceremony now occurred in which from the
analogy of the game of mweso (9) the superiority of the King's wisdom to that of
any of his subjects was symbolized. Semanobe leading the King into the judgment
hall of Makamba the chief of Budo hill, picked up a certain one of the mweso (1o)
seeds which signified that the King's wisdom would surpass that of even his clever-
est subjects in the same way that a mweso player takes his opponent's pieces by
his superior skill at the game.
When this was finished he was taken to the hill called Sumba and was announ-
ced to the mutaka Mainja of the lugave pangolinn) clan, who was the guardian of the
shrine of Sebwami, with the words: "This is the King." Thereupon Mainja an-
nounced him in the shrine to Sebwami in the same words and thus these two bataka
were the ones to whom the office of foretelling long life and blessings for the King
were entrusted. On the completion of this ceremony they took leave of him.
The next act of the King's was to choose a hill on which to be built a grass
and reed enclosure, called a Kakomero, wherein to accomplish the mourning for his
late father and when this Kakomero had been built for him he was known as Kabaka
and finally discarded the title of omulangira.
Sir Apolo Kagwa's account in Empisa za Baganda then goes on to describe in
detail the ceremonial observed in the burying of the late King, which is hardly
within the scope of this article, but I propose to deal with certain features of the
subsequent ceremonial which appear to be relevant, particularly as in certain in-
stances variations appear to have crept in. It is noteworthy for example that in
these recorded respects King Mwanga II appears to have altered the ceremonial.
8 Kanuna is merely the demonstrative form in Nyoro and may well be just that here.
It is most interesting wherever old Ganda is recorded to find how it resembles Nyoro.
9 Vide Uganda Journal Vols. II and III articles by R. S. Shackell.
10 Empiki buteba the one seed which brings you back into such a position that you can
take those of your opponent.
This picturesque incident is dismissed by Roscoe with the words: 'They passed on to
another place where some wild plantains grew; a few seeds were taken from the trees and
handed to the King with the words: "May you surpass your subjects in wisdom and under-
standing.' The symbolism of the act has been quite unappreciated.
In the first case he waited until the mourning was over before going with the Mu-
gema and Kasuju for the ceremonial hunting of the little buck (empewo) which was
designed to commemorate the hunting of Kimera during his return from Bunyoro.
This had previously been done on a day during the mourning period.
Secondly under Mwanga the Mugema and the Kago went into the Lubiri of the
dead Mutesa and brought out the younger wives to the Kakomero leaving the older
ones within the Lubiri, where that same night they performed their mourning for
the dead King. Previously the young wives had been handed over to the successor
and the other wives had been left at Kitala (the Mugema's saza headquarters) in
On the morrow when the mourning rites had been completed the King was
awoken and carpets of lion, leopard and hyana skins were spread under a stool in
front of the house built in the centre of the Kakomero. Accompanied by the Mu-
gema and the Kasuju and led by the Katikiro the King bearing his (11) two spears
and the shield was brought to this point and told by the Mugema: 'Linya ku Namu-
londo.' Whereupon the King mounted the stool Namulondo and stood on it. Here
the Mugema knotted a barkcloth on the King's right shoulder and the Kasuju on
the left, and another even finer barkcloth was placed on him by the Mugema.
It is interesting that while both Sir Apolo Kagwa and Roscoe record that the
Mugema was responsible for this investiture up to the time of King Mutebi, only
the former records that King Mwanga II transferred this honour from the Kasuju
back to the Mugema again. This therefore provides another example of Mwanga's
After various oaths had been administered to the Kabaka by the Mugema and
the King had promised to stand by his people and rule them wisely and well, the
chief showed him the charms or relics of his ancestors, and Kasuju, of the Pango-
lin clan, gave him the drumsticks of Kyebabona (12) the drum of Kintu which the
King struck. Having gone on to strike Timba the most important drum of the
royal Mujaguzo (1s) or battery, the King handed back the sticks to Kawula the royal
drummer who continued the beating.
The King and Queen were then carried around on the shoulders of people
chosen by Kaira (14) of the Buffalo clan and manifested to their joyous subjects in
a ceremony which was known as 'Kukazakaza.'
After this two men among those standing by were captured by the bambowa
(ceremonial executioners) and were brought before the King. The saza chief
Kayima (15) gave the King a bow and arrows with which he shot and slightly
wounded one of the men who was then kept by the bambowa until they burnt down
11 In which is apparent the origin of the Kabaka's order of the Spears and Shield.
12 Kyebabona. This drum Roscoe calls Kibonabona.
13 Mujaguzo. For information on the royal drums of Baganda see the article by A.J.
Lush in the Uganda Journal Vol. III.
14 Roscoe alludes to this man as Kairo.
15 The chieftainship of the Kayima was known as Busale because of his hereditary
duty of producing the bow and arrows on this occasion.
the house of the late King. When the hut had been burnt the Kabaka despatched
chief Kajqngolo with this man to Bunyoro together with a portion of the e-gwagi
(centre pole) of the burnt hut. On arrival in Bunyoro the captive had to be burnt
with the portion of the pole and Kajongolo returned to Baganda plundering on the
way. The second captive was known as Kawonawo and was spared to become a
guardian of the royal women folk.
On the next day the King entered his new house which had been built for him
and was seen in the lukiko and gave his new home the name which he had chosen
for it (18).
On the day after that the King was handed over certain of the wives of the
dead King, and as we have previously mentioned Mwanga II was responsible for a
slight alteration in this procedure. When this action had been completed and not
until then, did the King deliberate on where exactly he should place his Kibuga or
capital, called the akasakate or e-sanya, and after his decision had been made the
coronation ritual was complete.
THE CORONATION OF HIS HIGHNESS KABAKA DAUDI CHWA II.
The writer of Empisa za Baganda amply realises the significance of Sir Daudi
Chwa's coronation and says: "there was none of his ancestors who preceded him
who was like him, because he is the first Christian King of this tribe".
The oath which he swore at his Coronation before the Acting Governor ran as
"I Daudi Chwa, swear that I will serve with truth and loyalty our King George
Vth in the Kingdom of Buganda. So help me God."
Then followed the Judicial Oath in which he promised to give righteous and
impartial judgement according to the laws of his Kingdom. The account of the
events of the Coming of Age of the Kabaka and his assumption of the reins of
Government on that important day, his birthday August 8th 1914 is then termi-
nated by copies of the Acting Governor's Speech and the Kabaka's message to
the young men of the Kingdom, instilling into them their responsibilities and ex-
horting them to be loyal defenders of their country in the war which had so re-
cently broken out.
Following this account of the Accession Ceremony comes the Kabaka's Wed-
ding on September 19th 1914, at Namirembe Cathedral, to Lady Aireni Dulusira
Namaganda Kai'zi the daughter of the Reverend Yonasani Kai'zi.
The clergy in attendance were the Reverend Batolomayo M. Zimbe, the Vene-
rable Archdeacon G. K. Baskerville, and the Reverend E. Millar, and the Register
was signed by the following witnesses:- Hamu Mukasa, Sekibobo, Damali Nkinzi
16 cf. The customs to which the Mukama of Bunyoro so often alludes in his articles on
the Bakama. This definite naming of the palace was an important ritual.
Nalinya of Kasubi, Sir Apolo Kagwa, K.C.M.G., Katikiro, Stanislas Mugwanya,
Omulamuzi, Zakaliya Kizito Kisingiri, Omuwanika, Yakobo Lule, Kago, Semewo
Nsubuga, Kasuju, Andereya Kiwanuka, Kayima, and the Balangira, Yusufu Suna,
Kiwewa, Yozefu Musanje Walugembe, and certain Gombolola chiefs.
The bridal party then drove off in a motor car to the reception and wedding
breakfast, for the arrangement of which the Kago had been responsible and, at this
function the Provincial Commissioner of Buganda F. A, Knowles, Esq., was the
Acting Governor's representative and many people of various nationalities were
present. What particularly excited the wonder of the writer of Empisa was the
wedding cake, which was carried in to be displayed by live men and was consider-
ed to be the first wedding cake of its kind to be produced in Buganda.
Finally comes the modern version of the ancient ceremony of 'eating Buganda'
on the hill of Budo which was carried out on November 7th, 1914.
The Provincial Commissioner of Buganda together with other officials pre-
ceded the Kabaka on this journey in order to be in position to welcome him outside
the school enclosure (Wankaki). The Katikiro, the Mulamuzi and the Muwanika
were also awaiting his arrival at this place, but outside the school grounds, and in
front of all was Semanobe the Mutaka of Budo who had played such a prominent
part in the pre-Christian ritual. To him then went the Kabaka who was announ-
ced to him (by whom we are not told) as 'the Kabaka who had eaten Buganda' and
after this announcement Semanobe cut a rope and the Kabaka entered the precincts
of Budo where he found in the school quadrangle the Provincial Commissioner and
other officials. Here the Kabaka got out of his car and a procession was formed
which moved forward in the following order:-
The royal musicians or heralds.
The great chiefs.
The Provincial Commissioner.
His official assistants.
Outside the school chapel he found awaiting him the Bishop of Uganda with
the clergy, and passing between their two ranks he entered the chapel for a short
space for silent prayer. Upon coming out of the chapel he stood on a platform before
them all and was acknowledged by the great chiefs as the rightful King of Buganda
and a short response of "God save the King" was given by all in Luganda, and the
the royal musicians immediately blew on their instruments and played their drums.
The Kabaka then returned to the school chapel accompanied by certain privil-
eged spectators who had the right of admission and the following form of service
was carried out.
Psalm 122 "I was glad when they said unto me".
A short Litany.
Hymn "0 God our help in ages past".
The Ante-Communion Service.
The Nicaean Creed.
The service was then conducted again out of doors and the King swore two
oaths, the first to the Bishop that all that he should promise on tlat day he would
endeavour faithfully to carry out, and the second to the Katikiro that he would
rule righteously and with justice according to the existing laws of the Kingdom of
Buganda and according to any future laws concerning the Government of Buganda
which the British Government should enact. He also swore to co-operate loyally
with the British Government in the administration of the Kingdom and that he
would give judgment according to the custom and precedent existing in his Kingdom.
The witnesses of this oath were the Provincial Commissioner and the Bishop
After this follows a description of the actual Investiture and Coronation in
which the attempt is apparent to preserve connexion with the ancient ritual of
First Namulondo, the coronation stool, was placed in position on its carpets of
barkcloth over which had been spread the skins of an hyaena, a leopard and a lion,
and this office was performed by people from the Nkima, (17) Fumbe, Butiko and
As the Kabaka stood by the stool he was given various symbolical gifts.
The Katikiro gave him two spears to show his power. As the writer adds in
parenthesis: "These showed that when he should be required by the Government
to go to war he would gather his forces to go to fight."
The Mukwenda, Sabagabo of Buganda gave him a shield with the words: "Take
this shield to preserve the power of your men and their freedom."
The Omulamuzi gave him a staff saying: "Take this staff, it is a sign to show
that you will rule your people with righteousness and that in judgement you will
The Lubinga gave him a dagger and said: "Take this dagger it is a sign to
show that you will settle the affairs of your realm establishing righteousness and
punishing evil doers."
Semanobe gave him the rim of a basket of osiers to hold saying: "Take these
reeds which foretell a long life in which to rule your people." In parenthesis the
writer reminds us that this has the same significance as in the ancient ceremony
that if a basket falls to the ground it does not break as a clay vessel would.
Then the Omuwanika brought a garment which he gave to the Mugema who
invested the Kabaka with the words: "With the wearing of this royal robe of the
Kingdom may the Lord God give you knowledge and wisdom and strength which
comes from above."
Chief Nankere brought a ring which he gave to the Bishop who placed it on
the third finger of the Kabaka's left hand and said "Take this ring as a reminder
of how you have been united with your people in an everlasting bond.
17 i. e. The Monkey, the Civet-Cat, the Mushroom and the Bean Clans.
Prince Nuhu Mbogo, the Katikiro, the Omulamusi and the Omuwanika, then
carried the crown of the Kabaka and gave it to the Bishop, and the Kabaka kneeling
before the Bishop was crowned with the following prayer: "O God the crown of the
faithful, we beseech thee to grant to thy servant Daudi our King blessing, and right-
eousness, and even as thou dost crown him today with a holy crown of gold upon
his head, enrich him with thy blessings in his spirit, and crown him with a crown of
all princely blessing, through the Everlasting King Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen".
Then all the Saza chiefs put on the hats of their chieftainship and all the people
around acclaimed their King with shouts and drum beating. When the cheering
had subsided the chiefs settled the King on the Coronation stool (Nanulondo) and
the following hymn was sung:-
1. O God our Father we thank thee to-day, our joy is great because our Ka-
baka who has come to the throne (lit. eaten his Kingdom) is to rule the
Baganda. We thank thee for his fame be thou his helper, O Lord.
2. We also beseech thee O Holy Spirit be thou in his heart that he may
know how he is thy servant, that he may be humble. May he realise how
power cometh from thee and not from himself alone.
3. Jesus our Saviour, honour be unto thee, we forget not how thou wilt
come a second time to take us unto thee, that we may see thee with our
eyes, how.thou wilt take up thy Kingdom and rule all nations.
4. We thank thee then O God our Father, for that thou hast given to us all
a helper and guardian. Give him thy daily help, the Kabaka of Buganda,
that in all his deeds he may glorify thee".
Then the King knelt before the Bishop who said:-
"Be strong and steadfast, cleave to God's commandments and walk in his holy ways,
fight the good fight of faith and hold fast the hope of everlasting life, that thou
mayest be crowned here with all success and honour: and when thou dost finish
thy course thou mayest obtain the crown of righteousness which God who judgeth
all things shall grant to thee on that day"
The clergy the Reverend Yairo Mutakyala and Yonasani Kai'zi brought a
bible to the Bishop which he gave to the King with the words: "Blessed Kabaka
we give you this book, it is the most valuable thing which the earth gives, this is
the wisdom, these are the laws of the Kingdom, these are the words of the God of
life" After this followed the Coronation of the Kabaka's wife, the Nabagereka, and
then a hymn was sung and the Holy Communion followed in which the Sacraments
were administered to the Kabaka and his family only, by the Bishop.
On the completion of the service most of the assembled multitude returned to
Mengo and'only the specially invited guests remained behind to partake of food with
the royal family in the school hall. Kaira, the head of the Buffalo clan, then lift-
ed up the Kabaka, and the Nabagereka was also lifted up so that the ceremony known
as Kukazakuza, to which reference has been made, could be carried out.
Some speeches followed the meal, and the Katikiro on behalf of all processed
loyalty to His Majesty King George Vth, and the Provincial Commissioner replied.
Sir Albert Cook then congratulated His Highness the Kabaka and testified from
his own experience to the uprightness of his character, and a reply was made by
the Kabaka in person.
This completed the first Christian Coronation ceremony of a.Kabaka-of Buga-
nda and the gathering then broke up and returned to Kampala.
The Procedure in Accession to the Throne
of a Nominated King in the Kingdom of
The procedure of enthroning any nominated Mukama in succession to either
his father or his brother is as follows:-
After burying the body of his father or in another way after defeating his
brothers who sometimes happened to fight for the throne, a quite new enclosure
used to be afterwards made in preparation for the new Mukama. Then a day
for enthronement used to be arranged and declared. On the fixed day the people
used first to wash the whole body of the nominated Mukama, but his finger nails
and toe nails, and shave his head. All these used to take place at the newly ap-
pointed Mukama's uncle's house, or in like manner at another chiefs house whose
clan is entitled to the procedure. At about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the group
of the chiefs and all the people take the Mukama in procession into the prepared
enclosure. On arriving at the first main gate (Mugabante), just at the drum mound
(or platform), the following people precede the Mukama :- (i) Bamuroga who at
that time was Katikiro, (2) Nyakoka the physician of the Basuli clan holding his
stick called Binyonyo, and another minor physician. (3) Kasoira Nyamumara of
the Batwaire clan, (4) and a Mubito known to be descendant from Mukama Nyarwa-
On passing through the gate called Mugabante then the two mentioned physi-
cians slaughter there one white bull and one white cock. At the same moment
the above-mentioned Mubito prays in a loud voice saying: "Oh God of God Be-
getter of Kings, Oh, Creator of Heaven and Earth, I have brought this new Mukama
to succeed to the throne of his father, but if you find him unworthy and that he is
not a real son and grandson of his forefathers the Bakama, may he suddenly die; or
may the drum fail to give out its sound when beaten so as to signify that he is
After hearing these words the group of persons all round there pass over the
flowing blood of the slaughtered victims. The Mukama then is allowed to enter the
fence accompanied first by the Owisaza Mugema who, in old time was a head of all
chiefs and was the chief justice; and after which he was followed by all other
chiefs and people. On entering the royal house (Karuzika), before stepping over
the elephant tusk laid down just on the threshold of the gate, again the aforesaid
The Mukama standing under the Canopy in the Seventh Sacred Court Yard (Murugo).
Photo: by A. T. Schofield.
. I -
The Mukama seated on the Royal Stool. (Nyamarro).
Photo: by A.T. Schofield.
Mubito, together with the two physicians above mentioned, pray and say the saine
words as those mentioned above. The Mubito afterwards asks for an axe (Nyarebe)
from a certain man Mulimba of the Basita clan. After getting it the Mubito holds
it and shews it to the Mukama who also knocks upon it with another tool nine times.
The people during this event congratulate the Mukama with much pleasure. And
then they bring a metal drum (Kajumba) to him, he also strikes upon it nine times
while the people rejoice. After these events the Mukama is then allowed to pass
over the said elephant tusk and entering the room he sits down on the royal
wooden stool called 'Nymya'ro'. From this moment he really becomes Mukama,
and there is no further doubt that everything is in his hands. He is not allowed
to speak nor to whisper during the whole night and besides this he is obliged to
lie on one side of his body until the day time (1). A guardian is placed there to
watch him to see that he does not break any of these obligations.
HANDING OVER OF REGALIA TO THE MUKAMA AND THE
CORONATION DAY CELEBRATION.
On the very Coronation Day the Omwambukya whose duty is to prepare the
royal bath, awakes the Mukama very early at about 3 o'clock in the morning; and
after awaking him leads him from the house Kabagarama to another main house
Karuzika in which is kept the sacred spear Ruhango, and asks him to lie there on
a bed until the day breaks. During the morning time he leads him to the bath
place (Kyambukya). Whilst there the Mukama sits on a stool called Kabwizi and
Omwabukya bringing the water in a pot called "Rugaju", pours it into a wooden
vessel and afterwards the Mukama begins to wash his body. After having taken a
bath the Mukama then proceeds from there to the former house "Kabagarama" and
sits in a very nicely prepared place. The maid in charge of the house and who
belongs to the Babopiclan brings water in a vessel with a lid on it; then the Mukama
starts wahing his face. After washing the servants bring the garments ofbarkcloth.
The Mukama then removes those he had put on during the night and puts on new
ones. After dressing, the same lady brings a basket full of beads and fastens them
on the Mukama's wrists and legs and on his neck. Then the Mukama returns to the
"Karuzika" passing through several passages and appears in the front room. He
finds the men who take care of his Regalia waiting to greet him there. Again in
this room the Mubito of Nyarwa's stock prays thus: "Oh God save our Mukama;
make him live long and make him advance in years; give him wealth and many
During these ceremonies the Kondo-wearers (2) stand in a position ofexpectation
at the platform Mugabante with the drum placed just on the top of it waiting to
beat it in respect of the new Mukama. Very many persons in addition to Kondo-
wearers also stand round the platform such as Ntimbo drummers, spear holders,
trumpet blowers, flute players, rake holders, torch holders, grain seed keepers,
keepers of the axe Kararamaire, horn blowers.
1 cf. This belief is noted in the case of the Mugabe of Ankole elsewhere in this number
of this Journal.
2 Those who have been given the right to wear the colobus beard and crown.
THE MUKAMA'S OATHS ON THE INSTALLATION bAY.
During this ceremony, the Mukama is first made swear as follows:-
The Mukama is first handed a towel, then the Bamuroga, Mugema, the Mubilo,
the Kasoira a physician, other chiefs and the ladies Iremera in charge of the bed-
chamber and Nyaraki in charge of Kapanapa, and another lady of the Baitira clan
who looks after the dairy, make the Mukama swear that he will never frighten his
nation, he must rule his people peacefully, he must admit foreigners to settle in his
country, he must equally love his subjects however poor they may be, he must
look after the orphans, and that he must justly 'cut cases'. When swearing the Mu-
kama lets fall the towel once at the end of every clause. When these are over the
Mubito then pours the consecrating oil on the Mukama's head. The oil is kept in a
metal vessel made in a shape of a horn. By anointing him with the oil the Mukama
is therefore consecrated. The oil is obtained from a tree known as Ojwangi. Then
they put on his wrist a ring called Ziriboyo and Rwendoro on the neck.
Then the lady of the bedchamber of the Bakwonga clan brings a basket full of
some grains mixed with sim-sim and some other sorts of wild leaves and flowers
(Orwthura, and Omuhabura, and Kasekera) and hands them to the Mukama, The
Mukama then picking them out scatters them four times by throwing some to the
back and some to his front.
When these are finished the Mubito then proclaims the Mukama by the royal
name and other dignitaries (Mpako), then he puts the hereditary crown called
Rwobusungu on the Mukama's head nine times. An assistant called Muhesera also
brings several other crowns and puts each at a time on the Mukama's head; and
lastly he puts the proper crown called "Kasunsunkwanzi" on the Mukama's head
and leaves it there.
Another assistant called Mujwiga bringing sandals called Biganja puts them
on the Mukama's feet; and the Omuhagane man hands the Mukama the spear called
Kinegena. This spear signifies this: "You have been put in possession of your
country, should any person despise you, kill him."
Abebirongo of the Basonde clan hands the shield called Bisegege to the
Mukama which means the whole nation is in his hands and it his duty to preserve
it from war.
Omusekura of the Banywagi clan hands a dagger called Busitama to the
Mukama which also means that the Mukama must protect his country and 'cut cases'
justly as well.
Omusindizi then hands the stick called Kaliruga to the Mukama. This means
that though he may be the Mukama he must take care not to kill anyone who per-
haps vexes him in a trifling matter, but he must punish him.by beating him with a
stick. The same man also hands the whip to the Mukama which also has the same
meaning as a stick.
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The Sacred Guilds (Abajwarakondo).
Photos: by A. T. Schof .J.
Royal decorated trumpets (Makondere) with a Stick
Royal Shields and Spears. (Emomi and Amacumu.)
Photcs; by A. T. S-hofi'd,
A man known as a Mutamura hands a thin long staff (Kajunju) or a cane to
the Mukama which denotes that he must punish the people for minor offences by
beating them with it.
Another man called Muhamba Nyamugoya hands to the Mukama a quite new
hoe called Empese which indicates that he has become father of his people and that
all persons must cultivate and must see that food is grown in order to avoid famine.
The man Munuma then comes holding the bow known as Nyampogo and quiver
known as Ndayampunu. This signifies that the Mukama must proceed at once
against any foes in his Kingdom.
Another man, Musindizi hands to the Mukama a bag made of leopard skin which
is called Rutanga. This means that he must trade and become rich, and that also
he must teach his subjects to trade as well.
The Muhesera man then hands to the Mukama a wooden whistle and another
made of bamboo. It means that if the Mukama hears the people sounding the alarni
whistle he must go to the war. On the other hand the Kasisi (a dried plant used
as a decanter or vessel in which water is put for drinking and used as a glass)
When all these rites are performed, the Bamuroga then sends word to a man
Kakahuka of the Babwijwa clan at the mound outside the fence and orders him to
raise the alarm. Kakahuka raising an alarm shouts: "You enemies, you witches,
you barbarians, why do you disobey this brave Mukama?".
In the meantime the man of the Basita clan immediately beats the drum
whilst standing at the summit of the mound and all people make a noise in honour
of the event.
The other men stretch mats along the path. They lay them from Karuzika to
Omurugo stretching them through many small huts named Muchwa, Kyakato,
Kyamunuma and Kamurweyo. From Kamurweyo only papyrus grass is laid right
through Kitogo to Omurugo, where the men called the Baswata have already hung
up a mat Mukanaiguru to make a canopy. Two calves, a heifer and a bull, are
found there too, with the cattleman called Lingiro who has prepared a smoke-fire
After the ceremonies described above the Mukama leaves the stool Nyamya'ro
He meets a lady of the Bakwonga clan holding a basket full of dried coffee berries
and another plant known as Rugusa, which the Mukama takes before stepping over
the tusk. He takes out two male coffee berries and two female ones wrapped in the
Rugusa and chews them. He keeps the husks in his hands and then steps over
the tusk. Then he meets a Mubitokati called Kabatongole whom he finds holding
red clay, kaolin and ordinary earth, and a wooden mould full of water drawn from
a well at Mubende Hill which formerly had been used by Mukama Ndahura of
the Bachwezi race.
The Mubitokati then mixes the above articles into the water and smears each
of the colours on the Mukama's cheeks near the ears. She first of all anoints him
with the red clay, and then with the kaolin, and lastly with the earth. After doing
so she then dips the gathered wild flowers and leaves already referred to in the water
in the mould and then sprinkles the Mukama and the other people by way of be-
stowing on them a blessing. Whilst sprinkling she calls on the names of the Bakama
of old and says: 'This throne belonged to your father (she mentions the name)
and to your forefather. "You have now inherited their seat called Tibamulinde
May it bring you success." Holding the gathered wild flowers and leaves she again
says that she wishes him blessing and prosperity, to have as many children as
possible, to be wealthy, to save his kingdom and people and that God may favour
him. When speaking these words she closes her eyes and she opens them when
they are over. Then the Mubitokati is told to choose a part of land which she pre-
fers to reside in, the Mukama therefore sends her there after finishing the cere-
mony. He orders the chief of that region to erect for her a dwelling with a fence
round it. He also gives her many presents such as cattle, male and female ser-
vants. From that time this Mubitokati never returns to see the Mukama until his
Then the Mukama also utters these words: Oh Nyarwa who eats in the hea-
vens, letting the bones drop down, I pray you to make me live long and advance
in age, to give me wealth, to give me many children, to help me in defeating other
nations and to leave me in peace ".
After concluding this prayer the Mukama then proceeds to Murugo. He is
led by a man entitled Nzini of Rwotamahanga (the grandson of Nyakwehuta of the
Bayaga clan). Also the Ntimbo drummers and flute players lead him. The group
ot other persons come after the Mukama praising him thus: Ha kyaro, nzaire ha
kyaro lyogere, ha kyaro mbaire, ha kyaro Nyamunyaka, etc., etc".
On entering the hut, Muchwa, the Mukama meets there his head royal sister
(known as Batebior Kalyota) together with other Babitokati. On seeing him they all
stand up in the meantime the Balebi or Kalyota touches the shoulder of the Mu-
kama. She touches it whilst he is standing on a calf's skin, called Okwemerra.
Leaving this hut, he goes on and passes through another hut called Kato, and
before entering the next hut Kyamanuma he meets a man representing foreigners,
who produces an elephant tusk and two copper bracelets and shews them to the Mu-
kama. The Mukama touches them. (It denotes that the Mukama is the head of
all rain-makers, and that in case the rain fails to fall he may ask for rain from God
that his people may be saved from a serious famine).
After passing through the hut Kyamunuma, the Mukama meets in the yard a
man holding the sacred spear Kaitantahithe bow Nyampogo and two quivers Nya-
myezi and Nyamirima. These mean that the Mukama is guarded from enemies by
means of them.
Alter leaving there he passes the hut Kamurweyo and arrives at the hut Ki-
togo where he finds the Baswata. They pass their hands over his garments as if
they are clothing him; and then he reaches Murugo and stands under the canopy.
Care-takers of Royal Spears, with Rake and a tuft of tow or tinder (fire)
with small bag of Buro. (Abebikwato).
. Vr*- r. .
The Mukama and the Sacred Guilds (Abajwarakondo) in the Seventh
Sacred Court Yard.
Photos: by A. T. Schofield.
The Royal drummers (Batimbo).
A-et -,a 0 -l.
Royal Drummers (Entajamerwa).
Photos: by A.T. Schofield.
Whilst there the Abeganywa bring to the Mukama some spears which they get
from the hut, Rwemigo. They hold them towards him. Then another man Muku-
mirizi stands below the Mukama and shouts to the Kondo-wearers, Babito and to
other people warning them that the Mukama is already in Murugo As soon as
they hear this all Kondo-wearers immediately put on their Kondo crowns on their
heads and-move towards the Mukama to salute him and to give him some presents.
One man goes through the form of accusing another for two debts as if they
are in Court. The Mukama cuts the cases, quickly and symbollically He who
wins the case thanks the Mukama by kissing hands. Then every Kondo-wearer
approaches; and kisses his hands, which means that they realise the distinction be-
stowed upon them because some of the Kondo-wearers are chiefs, and some are
caretakers of the regalia, After this ceremony the Mukama then goes back to his
-house, on the way he stops for a moment at the hut Kamurweyo, then a Mujaguzo
man named Musila beats the drum four times; and Kakahuka of the Babijwa clan
again raises the alarm repeating the same words as those described before when he
was standing on the mound. Then another man of the Balisa clan holds the shield
Mugidu which is believed to have belonged to the original Mukama Rukidi. He
waves it as a sign of pleasure. The Mukama then goes on as far as to the royal house
Kanuzika returning there by the way he came. But at this time the drums and the
people do not pass through the huts as before, they accompany him by passing
outside them. On reaching Karuzika the Mukama, after stepping over the tusk,
meets again a lady of the Bakwonga clan awaiting him there having already
spread a white calf skin upon which he must stand. He then gives to her the
coffee husks which he had got from the coffee berries he had chewed on his way
to Murugo as explained above. When this is over he then sits on the stool
Nvamyarro. Omuhesera comes and takes the crown off from the Mukanma's head
puts it on the Queenmother's lap, and then takes it from her and puts it away in
its proper place.
TheMukama then leaves the seat and goes in to another room of the same house.
He finds there a lady of the Balisa clan awaiting him to give him some milk to
drink. Whilst there the Mukama sits on a chair known as Kaizirokwera. He does not
drink the milk immediately, but he first sips it nine times and then at last drinks it
up altogether. After drinking, the lady hands to the Mukama a towel with which
he wipes his mouth. Also she gives to him another towel with which he wipes
his hands. Afterwards the Mukama remains there for only a few minutes lying on
a bed. After which he goes and sits on Kaizirokwera. At this moment another
lady of the Baitira clan producing a butter bowl called Afyamutungo elevates it nine
times in the.presence of the Mukama. By doing so she conveys the symbolic mean-
ing that such a bowl was put in her charge by Bachwezi Bakama their predecessors
and after their disappearance she guarded it for the Babito Bakama his ancestors,
and that she claims that she is still its keeper for the present Mukama. Also she
produces a basket called Kaguli which she elevates too nine times and which action
also has the same sense as that in the case of the butter bowl.
After this ceremony the Mukama then goes out of this room and takes his seat
on Nyamyarro, in the throne room. Immediately the Mpango drum is beaten at the
threshold and the Kondo-wearers are called out from the hut Muchwa to come and
approach the Mukama in the Karuzika.
Then both the Mubito who is said to be a descendant of Nyarwa, and Bamuroga,
announce to the gathering thus : "Now know that this is your new Mukama, and
the same is the descendant of the first Mukama Rukidi Mpuga; every one must obey
him; but whosoever shall disobey him shall be liable to be killed, or he shall be
When the announcement is over, then the Mubito proclaims to the people
what new official name the Mukama has taken and his other dignities (Mpako).
Then after that the multitude stand up and greet the Mukama thus: "Engundu
zona Okali, kahangirize Wamara, kahangirize Agutamba, kahangirize Nzaire, kaha-
ngirize Nkyanungi, etc. etc."
When this is over, the drummers hand to the Mukama the principal drum
Mpango Tibamulinde which he beats in nine different rolls. Then they give him
other small drums too and he strikes them, beating each in four rolls.
A man of the Bakurungo clan then brings to the Mukama two long trumpets
Nyamalya by name which are said to have been possessed by Mukama I.M. Rukidi.
He hands both to the Mukama four times. It is said that Mukama I.M. Rukidi
was using them when hunting in Lango at the time when Nyakoka and Karongo
found him there to inform him of his succession to the throne, and the Mukama
after being informed that he was nominated to be Mukama, ordered these trumpets
to be ornamented with beads.
Then after this event, a man Mujwiga who takes care of the bow Nyapogo and
quiver Ndampunu brings them to the Mukama. The Mukama then draws out only
four arrows and begins to shoot towards the four corners of the world. With the
first arrow he shoots Eastward (i.e. towards Buganda, Busoga and other tribes of
that side): with the second be shoots Westward (i.e. towards Bulega in the Congo)
with the third he shoots Southward (i.e. he aims at Ankole and Rwanda, etc.) and
with the fourth he shoots Northward (i.e. he aims at Bukedi i.e, Acholi, Lango, etc.)
He indicates that war shall be prevented from coming from any of the quarters
towards which he has shot an arrow.
Then the Nlimbo drummer brings his old drum Mutengesa which formerly
had been possessed by Bachwezi Bakama and hands it to the Mukama. By doing
this he signifies that whenever the people hear the sound of this small drum they
at once know that the Mukama is roaming about in his enclosure.
After this then the Mujaguzo drummer and his companions holding long
drums called Tomuju or Namagaija come before the Mukama and play their
drums. These drums have the same meaning as that of Ntimbo. At the same time
the other drummers beat the little drums (Amahurru and Obwana bw'engoma.)
Royal trumpeters (Abakondere).
L6 '' jmA,_.
- - *,:. *-;s
Royal Drums (Assembly).
Photos: by A.T. Schofield.
The Abahaimi bring the sacred spears: Mahere, Kimuli, Kaizireijo, Mutasi-
mbwa, Gotigoti and others and slope them towards the Mukama. It means that by
these spears the Mukama's forebears, the Backwezi and the Babito, have defeated
all other nations, and that in case he likes to attack other countries, they will guard
and help him.
After this, another man of the Bukalari clan brings a hammer, and another one
brings a stone anvil called Oruhija and they place them before the Mukama and he
then hammers some iron four times. By this action it means that he is the head
of all blacksmiths, and this hammer is the tool with which l:e hammers the spears
for war and hoes for his people to cultivate with. Another meaning is "May the
Mukama all his days be strong and endure like this hammer which cannot be spoilt
or broken by any man." (3)
In the meantime a man of the Batwaire clan called Kasoira, the physician,
comes and squats in the doorway in the front of the Mukarna. Then the Bamuroga
on the other hand brings a pipe Kyoma and gives it to Kasoira who smokes it in
the presence of the Mukama. By this pipe the Mukana commemorates the power
and dignity which his ancestor Mukama Rukidi bestowed upon the physician. Be-
cause this soothsayer had explained to Rukidi the reason why the Bachwezi Baka-
ma disappeared from the country.
After this, then the Nyakoka of the Basuli clan brings to the Mukama the Bi-
nyonyo stick and four knives, viz: Kabutika, Kyeraigongo, Nyamahunge and Kye-
bagira and he hands them all to the Mukama nine times, saying the royal saluta-
tions. In this action, Nyakoka represents the original Nyakoka the physician who
was a doctor to Mukama Rukidi and who had prophesied how Rukidi was going to
A moment after, Kadongolima chief of Maliti of the Bakwonga clan comes
wearing his Kondo head-dress made of feathers and taps slightly on the Mukama's
shoulders and afterwards salutes him: "Zona Okali". This Kadongolima repres-
ents the old Kadongolima who at that time was a chief of Matiri and who belonged
to the Bakwonga clan, and was husband of the sister of Rukidi.
Finally other ceremonies of different sorts are performed which it is unne-
cessary to include here.
When all these are finished, the Mukama goes into the dressing room to change
his garments. After putting on other clothes he then goes and sits at the third
gateway Ihundiro at the back of the enclosure where the lady Nyaraki is in charge.
Then all the ladies of the royal houses bring baskets containing beads, emblems,
lions, and leopard's claws nicely ornamented, which are put on by the Mukama.
After receiving these presents he then returns to the dressing-room and rechanges
his vestments, and then returns to the throne-room. At this time the Mpango and
other drums are brought from Kyawairindi to the threshold. Then the chiefs, ba-
3 of. The implication when the basket is given to the Kabaka of Buganda at his installa-
bitokati and other persons who are not Babito approach and sit by the Mukama.
Then a Mujaguzo drummer begins to beat the drum nine different beats, after
beating it he gives it to the Mukama who also strikes it as many times as the former
did and gives it back to the drummer. The former again hits it in four rolls whilst
Kakahuka raises the alarm and a man of the Balisa clan waves the shield Mugido
about. Then the Musita drummer sounds four rolls, and on the fifth he beats the
Irambi song and all the drummers and musicians proceed back to the court-yard
Kyawairindi, and the Mukama retires. During this interval the people who live in
the Mukama's enclosure to perform services begin to have their meals.
At 3 o'clock in the afternoon the Mukama again undertakes other ceremonies.
He first goes to the dressing-room and puts on other clothes. He moves again to
the Murugo called Kyawairindi where he finds a seat Kabwize already arranged for
him to sit on. This seat is taken care of by the Bambukya, who dress him. The
drums also are rebeaten as explained in the preceding lines. The Kondo-wearers,
the Babitokati and many other people assemble there and begin to dance accompany-
ing the instruments. Others present the Mukama with many presents. He remains
there for at least one hour and then goes back to the dressing-room to change his
garments and then after changing he comes and sits in the throne-room. A young
boy of about 12 years of age brings some of the sacred milch-cows raising an alarm
in order to warn other persons to get away from the path so as to give the cows a
free passage. The boy drives them gently. When this boy becomes a grown up
person he ceases to do this work, but another one of the same age is selected to
succeed him in his office. But the former is kept in charge of other kraals. The
clans from which such a boy is selected are: Balisa, Basambo, Basita, Baitira, and
Bayaga. In raising an alarm the boy is obliged to call out these words: "Erakafa
efe, erakahendeka ehendeke, Omwenzi wabyo aliyo" which is interpreted, "if one dies
let it die, if one breaks a bone let it be broken, provided the owner is there." Another
man at seeing the cows coming, at once spreads a mat upon which they stand when
being milked. Two ladies one being of the Baitira clan and the other of the Balisa
clan, after smearing their bodies with kaolin assemble, one holding an old horn
containing water, a brush for driving away flies, and a cord for fastening the cows
legs; the other holds an earthenware bowl. A man of the Mugambirwa clan fastens
the two back legs, the milkman, who is one of the caretakers of the sacred spears
begins to milk. He squeezes the two front teats four times, and then the back teats
the same number of times, and the bowl Nyanmsika is filled. But great care is
taken when milking, because before starting milking the man has to brush the teats
and legs so as to avoid dirtiness and dust in the milk. Also when milking he has
to speak many soothing words so as to make the cow happy that it may not kick.
The milking man and two ladies are all of them entirely forbidden from having
any sexual intercourse during all these days. They are obliged to appear as if they
are happy all the time, and not show any signs of vexation. When the cows are
being milked it is strictly forbidden to cough or sneeze.
When all these are over, the Mukama then takes his meal called Nyakabito.
A man named Nyakabango of the Bakurungo clan with his companions serve it.
They wear two quite new cloths, and are smeared with kaolin. One of them ser-
ves the food cleanly wrapped in two bark-cloths, and the other serves a wooden
Vessel containing food and a vessel of water Marere covered with a nicely paint-
ed lid. Another brings a wooden bowl containing long pointed pins and knives
and another a small water-mug. All these things are wrapped up in bark-cloth.
Before serving them a man called Nyakabango first gives to the Mukama a moist-
ened towel which the Mukama takes and with it rubs his hands; after which
Nyakabango gives him four long pins and two knives placed on the towel. The
Mukama then takes one of the four pins and a knife and cuts the meat in small
pieces. Before eating he first casts one piece on the right hand side, and the second
on the left side, and the third he casts to the back, and the fourth he casts before
him. After doing so he afterwards cuts nine other pieces for himself to eat.
Whilst eating the servants must look downward in order to avoid looking at him.
After he has finished eating the man Nyakabango again gives him a moistened
towel to rub his hands with. After rubbing them he takes a glass of water to drink.
Then Nyakabango knocks at the door to warn the people that the meal is now fini-
shed. Then Nyakabango announces to the Mukama that his post is a heredit-
ary one from the time of the first Mukama Rukidi up to date and at the same time
swears before him that he agrees to continue to fill it during his reign. The Mu-
kama agreeing to his promise orders him to return very early and kiss his hands
(a sign of thanksgiving) in the presence of all chiefs. When this is over the Mukama
retires and the Accession celebration concludes.
THE NECESSARY DUTIES THE MUKAMA IS BOUND
TO PERFORM DAILY.
The Mukama is awakened daily at about 3 a.m. by his servants and goes to
the bath-room. On leaving there before the dawn he proceeds to Karuzika and
lies on the bed until the sunrise. Then he goes back to Kabagalama and sits on
the verandah. The servants bring tepid water in an earthenware pot, a wooden
basin, a vessel full of water and a towel, and then he begins to wash his face. Other
servants (Abaswata) afterwards bring some clothes for him to wear, and in the
meantime a lady of the Babopi clan in charge of the house Kabagarama bringing
sets of beads fastens them on the Mukama's legs, hands and on the neck. Then
he returns to Karuzika to drink the milk. After drinking he goes into the audience
hall, and sits on the stool Nyamatro to watch how the cows are milked. After
watching them, the cattlemen, then impart to him their requirements and griev-
ances. After that the Mukama moves to the Court hall to hear people's cases. For-
merly he used to sit on a chair called Kirangira. It had been made of leather and
was under the care of the Bajumba. It was placed on a number of calf skins which
were spread over a mat. Some cows of spotted colours were there under the charge
of a man Kalyegira of the Bayaga clan, the milk of which used to be drunk by the
Mukama's wives and children. After finishing milking the herdsmen used to plead
their cases to the Mukama and at the same time they used to inform him of their
needs. They always begged him to give them more herds of cattle to graze for
Then after concluding this, the servants used to open all gates so as to admit
chiefs and other persons to enter the court and speak with the Mukama. County
chiefs sat by the Mukama in the Court. This court was considered to be a common
otirt for all people of Kitara. And the persons who wished to present him some
gifts also used to do so in this hall before the session began. The Babito were not
forbidden to be present in this hall too if they wished. The Mukama remained
there till about i a.m. On leaving there he returned to Karuzika and went straight
on to the dressing-room. When there he sat near a lady who held a little basket con-
taining beads. The lady was dressed in two white cloths with a pair of beads on her
neck. Both the Mukama and the lady remained there for about half-an-hour while
he rested. Then the servants brought other cloths for a change, and the Mukama
put them on; and the lady (Omugo) at the same time fastened the beads on his
hands, legs and neck.
Then the Mukama going out proceeded to Mugobe at about 12 o'clock (noon).
Before stepping out a man Murugo marked the Mukama on his face with kaolin
and red clay with the magic horn called Bwigi-bwaitaka and then he went to Mu-
rugo. On arriving there he stood under the canopy. Whilst there the Babito
pleaded their cases before him, and if anyone had a case against a Mubito he was
obliged to prosecute him there. The Mukama used to return to Karuzika at about
i p.m. As soon as he arrived there he drank milk and then returned into the
audience hall where he stayed for about two hours and decided three or four cases.
After which he went to Kabagarama to take off the beads, he then went to the din-
ing-room Kyokya to take his lunch called Kayanja. After finishing his meal he re-
turned to Kabagarama to change his clothes at about 4 p.m.
From this time he remained there until 6 p.m. drinking beer. In the evening
he went out to see how the cows were being milked. After that he then went to
have his dinner. When the meal was over the people who wished to do so came and
spent some hours conversing with him until he went to bed. The above detailed
events used to take place daily during every Mukama's reign.
Names of The Different Huts in the Royal Enclosure.
i. Barwara: used to be a court hall in which chiefs, natives of Kitara and
herdsmen had their cases heard.
2. Bamwenagaho: used to be a reception room in which foreign visitors had
an interview with the Mukama; mostly the messengers sent
from the Kabaka of Buganda.
3. Binyonyi: use to be a reception room in which his people from his possess-
ions: Gang, Lango, Madi and Bulega used to have an inter-
view with the Mukama.
4. Kyamunuma: used to be a hall in which he used to have an interview with
the messengers from Ankole and Karagwe. Also a spear called
Kaitantahi used to be kept there. Also the heirs of Kondo-
wearers used to be announced to him there and kissed his
hands, which fact meant that they were confirmed in their
5. Munkambi: this hall used to be built at the back gate of the fence called
Kaitabasiru. At the same time it was treated as a treasury
or store in which ivory (tusks), coins, bundles of barkcloths,
etc., etc., were kept.
The Inauguration of the Omugabe of
Ankole to Office.
By F. LUKYN WILLIAMS.
Before describing the inauguration of the Omugabe of Ankole it it necessary,
first of all, to record the events which usually take place between the death of the
preceding ruler and the assumption of power by his successor. Also, in order to
get a clear picture of what occurs at inauguration a short description must be given
of the drum, Bagyendanwa, and its meaning to Ankole, because this drum and the
accessories pertaining to it take the place, more or less, of regalia in more civilised
Let us take the drums first.
Bagyendanwa is the name by which the large drum of Ankole is known. It has
a consort similar to it, which is called Kabembura, and a nest of attendant drums.
The origin of Bagyendanwa and his consort is unknown.
Every neighboring kinglet had a drum as an emblem of sovereignty and a
mark of independence; some of these still exist. Mpororo had a drum called Mu-
rorwa; Igara had Kihoza; Buhwezhu still have eight large and two small drums
kept at Amaizi and Kitega by members of the Basita clan. The principal drums of
Buhwezhu are called Mashaizha. The sacred drum of Ruanda is called Kalinga, and
is treated with similar respect and rites as was Bagyendanwa: each province that
now is incorporated in Ruanda had its own drum until conquered by the Batutsi and
Bagvendanwa and his consort are said to have been brought into the country by
the Bachwezi with their cattle, and that on the death of the cattle they went to Ma-
wogola and disappeared, leaving the drums behind. This tale is in keeping with the
probability that the Bachwezi were not mythical people, but represented one of the
Hamitic waves of migration into the country, and at a later date were driven out.
Certain it is that the two drums are of a great age, possibly 300 or 400 years old.
It is said that at one time the drums used to be black, but that a Muhororo advis-
ed the Omugabe Ntare to make them black and white like Mpororo drum, Murorwa,
which had been lost (1). The drums now have a white surface with a broad, black
strip of hide across the centre.
1 There is a certain amount of doubt in the minds of the present generation as to how
this drum was lost. It is said to have been lost at Kyabukuzhu, in Kazhara, which was part
of Mpororo. The daughter of Kahaya of Mpororo married Machwa of Ankole, from which time
the fortunes of the two countries were one and the same. It is said that when Ishemurari
saw that Machwa's wife was not treating her son, Kahaya, properly he buried the drum,
Bagyendanwa was considered to have a spirit of its own, which personified the
greatness and strength of the country of Ankole (or Nkore, as it is called locally).
It was worshipped and reverenced as controlling the destinies of the country. On
the safety of the drum depended the safety of the Kingdom. The man who got
possession of the drums was considered to have possession of the country.
It should be remarked, however, that all who seized power in this way in the
past are not now necessarily thought of by the people as Bagabe, as is done in
neighboring states, even though in some cases their control extended over a few
years. Karara, son of Omugabe Machwa, fought his nephew Rwebishengye, who
ultimately succeeded to the Kingdom, and seized Bgayendanwa for three years.
Karaiga, a brother, fought Rwebishengye and carried off Bagyendanwa to Koki,
until he was defeated and the drum brought back. Bwarenga, another brother, drove
Rwebishengye, to Koki and seized Bagyendanwa and power. Rwanga, a son of
Rwabishengye, stole Bagyendanwa and hid it, and then fought and defeated his
nephew, Omungabe Mutambukwa. Mutambukwa later defeated him at Gayaza, in
Apart from such periodic adventures, Bagyendanwa has had a checkered career
to prevent it falling into the hands of neighboring countries. It has always been
kept south of the river Ruizi, for the simple reason that the original home of the
Bahima in Ankole was in the Ishingiro-Bukanga region. Even when, at a later
period, Bagabe penetrated to the north, and Nshara, Kashari and Mitoma were
absorbed into the Kingdom Bagyendanwa always remained in Ishingiro.
The usual place of abode was Mabale in Masha, where the old enclosure of
over-grown trees can still be seen to this day. At one time the drums were mov-
ed to Nakiyozho, in Ruampara, to avoid Baganda raids; at others, to Kaharo, near
Gayaza, and Kagarama, both in Ishingiro, to avoid Banyaruanda raids. They
have also been located at Igarya (where Gayaza camp is now situated). On the
death of Omugabe Ntare, in 1898, they were brought from Kagarama and kept at
Nyabikiri, near Birere, where they remained until the head attendant killed a man
in 1906; the drums were then brought by order of the District Commissioner to
Kamukuzi, near Mbarara, where the Omugabe lived, on the north of the Ruizi.
This was an unheard of thing, firstly because it was north of the Ruizi, and
secondly because they were near the Omugabe's ekikare (enclosure). Old people
Bagyendanwa was always housed in a specially made house. On the outside
it looked like any other round house of grass, but within it had a specially con-
structed ceiling of plaited reeds, which was called Kibaga. When constructing
this it was made on the floor and then pushed up into place, and the thatch was
put over it. On one side of the hut was a step, as in all Bahima houses, called
orugyegye, on which the milkpots were placed after presentation to Bagyendanwa.
A fire was always kept burning in the hut to shew that Bagyendanwa was alive;
it also gave light in the house, and was attended by a man of the Abazigaba Clan.
Bagyendanwa and spouse are made of long shells of wood, about five feet in
length, tapering at one end and covered with hide. The face of the drums are
somewhat kidney-shaped. Thongs of leather are stretched round the sides, attach-
ed to the surface hide and to the piece on the lower end of the drums. Appended
to the sides can still be seen bells and charms made of unknown materials, but pro-
bably grass, fat, cow-dung and blood. Before or after war these charms were
attached by Bagabe. No doubt gory trophies of war were sometimes added as the
Banyaruanda did to their drum, Kilinga. The drums are kept at the far side of
the hut, facing the entrance, lying on a wooden framework, called emitagara, on
which is spread first a layer of grass, then a papyrus mat (ekirago), then a bark-
The enclosure in which the house was situated consisted ofemiyenzhe trees, the
pipe-stemmed euphorbia, which is considered both royal and sacred (2). This en-
closure was called Kagondo, a name given also to the enclosure at Ishanzhe, near
lake Nakivali where the spirit huts (endaro) of each of the past Bagabe, who were
buried in the neigbouring forest, were kept. Kagondo signifies the head ekikare
of the Bahinda clan. The overgrown trees at Ishanzhe and Mabale can still be
seen to this day.
Inside the enclosure was a hut for the chief attendant, and one in which
Bagyendanwa's milkpots were kept, when not in use, and other appurtenances.
Other attendants had huts outside.
All attendants were from the Abaruru and Abasita clans; (the Abazigaba were
a sub-clan of the Abaruru). The attendants were always chosen from the agri-
cultural peasants (Abairu) and not from the Bahima, though many Bahima
women were to be found with them, and who intermarried with them.
Bagyendanwa had a herd of cattle of its own, kept in a kraal adjoining the
ekikare. The enclosures of Bagvendanwa and the cattle together were called eka.
A slaughter-place was fenced off behind Bagyendanwa's hut, while another fenced
off area was set aside for washing. Posts, called engombe, were set in the doorway
of the hut to prevent the cattle entering the hut.
The names and sexes of the various drums which were kept together were as
I. Bagyendanwa (male) beaten once only by the Omugabe.
2. Kabemburu (female) never beaten
3. Nyakashaizha (male attendant)r
4. Iguru (female) said to be the daughter.
5. Mpunde the waiting maid of Kabembura. These six drums as
6. Nzheru ya Buremu a group were called
7. Gazhu Emparo, and were
8. Tibanywana beaten by the Aba-
9. Rushekye ruru at the new moon.
to. Barihaengwe (male)
Kept with Bagyendanwa are the following regalia:-
2 In Ruanda we find the omuyenzhe tree also used for a royal enclosure, see R. P. Pages
in Un Royaume Hamite (Ruanda), p. 153,
PLAN OF BAGYENEANhWA'S
A Vask place
B SlaughtVr place
C B edan a's houde.
D Chiie tancat'nt hut.
E St. eu.t
F Attendants' hits.
G .Engon0be posts
SEJuga o cattle.
Omurusyo-an ivory drumstick, about 18 inches long, with an elongated head.
This was kept on the step in front of the drum, and was used only by the Omu-
gabe for beating Bagyendanwa. There was another stick of the same name that
used to be taken round the country when cattle were demanded for Bagvendanwa.
This has now been lost.
Nyamilinga-was a spear kept with Bagyendanwa, and was carried when the
head attendant collected a cow from the brideprice (enshugano) ofany girl of the
Abahinda clan. This is said to have originated in the time of the Omugabe Ntare-
kitabanyoro, who lived nearly two centuries ago, seven generations from the pre-
sent ruler. As stated in the Uganda Journal, Vol. IV p. 8 i, he was defeated and drlvef
to the Kagera by Chwamali of Bunyoro. While in hiding in Muzaire forest (now
in Tanganyika) he wanted an ox to sacrifice. One man had an ox and a cow, but
would only agree to give the ox on condition that Kitabanyoro would give him
something if the sacrifice was propitious The sacrifice proved a success, and the
Banyoro were defeated and driven from the country. Kitabanyoro then gave the
spear, Nyamirinya as sign that whenever a princess was married (i. e., a girl of the
Abahinda clan) the owner of the spear would collect one cow from the brideprice.
If a Muiru of the Abahinda clan married, a goat only would be given. The spear
was kept in Bagyendanwa's house, and the chief attendant became the owner on be-
half of Bagyendanwa. The practice was passed down from father to son. When
the drums were removed to Kamukuzi in 1906, owing to the trouble in which Nya-
miringa played a part, the spear, was returned to the Omugabe.
Karebe-was an ordinary stick. It was carried by the man who carried Ba-
gyendanwa when it was moved at any time. It was kept near the drum Iguru.
Mweru-was a spear kept on a post in front of Bagyendanwa.
The following also belonged to Bagyendanwa:-
Ekisoro-This was the board game (Luganda Mweso). Bagyendanwa had his
Enshegu-These were a form of whistle, about 3 inches long and 2 in. diameter,
made of omugano wood and often bound round with banana fibre. The end is
left open, so that by holding the hand over it a second note can be made. This is
a common instrument in use among Bahima and Bairu.
There used to be 60 of these belonging to Bagyendanwa, but now only three
are extant. The enshegu of Bagyendanwa were made by the Abasingo clan and
were usually kept by the head of the clan. They were blown by them at every
new moon, while the drums were beaten for about a week. It was only at the new
moon that the Omugabe sacrificed a cow. Abasingo were not allowed to eat meat
with the others at Banyendanwa's ekikare because they were a bad clan. They had
to take it home and eat it by themselves (8).
Chalk (enoni) and red earth (obulimbi) were always kept in the store, the former
for smearing Bagvendanwa and his consort, the latter for the other drums. Chalk was
always obtained from Nyamitsindo hill, South West of Mbarara. The red earth
came from Kichwamba, near Nyakayozho, in Ruampara. The face (obuso) is smear-
ed once a month.
Properties for divining (okuragura), such as shells, etc., were kept in the ekikare
and tools for repairing the drums, called emigera, such as awls, etc., were nearby.
The repair of Bagyendanwa was always done by a man called omuremi from
the Abatendi clan, now extinct. It was done at Muzaire forest, above mentioned,
near the Koki border. A kisa cow, i.e. of yellowish-dun colour, or a bihogo one, i.e.,
dark brown, was killed, and the skin softened by treading it for 12 hours before
3 See Uganda Journal, Vol. III, p. 201.
Stretching it on the drum. The cow would be eaten in the forest. A fresh skin
was only put on once every three generation or so. One was put in Kahaya I's
reign (circ. 79o) and another in Mutambukwa's time (circ.1870), which was the last
occasion on which it was done. The face of the drum was smeared with a black
concoction made from the blood of a cow, a sheep and a boy of the Abasingo clan
(who had his throat cut), omuyonga, which were ashes made from burning the mat
on which Bagyendanwa rested, and honey. When dry the chalk was smeared on
Bagyendanwa's cattle herd could be replenished in many ways:-
i. By gifts of cattle from suppliants every few days.
2. After raids all captured cattle would be divided out by the Omugabe. About
io% would be picked out by him for Bagvendanwua these were called Mpumbia.
3, If cattle were getting short men from the Abaruru and Abasita clans would
go and collect more from rich people. Nyamiringa spear was taken on these occa-
4. When Abahinda girls marry a cow is presented.
Cattle could be killed for consumption by the attendants as required without
special sanction of the Omugabe. But, if a special one was wanted at the new moon
the Omugabe would be asked. No cow would be killed in front of Bagyendanwa,
but in the enclosure at the back, unless one was promised by a suppliant as a thank
offering for a particular blessing.
An Omururu woman looked after the milk of Bagyendanwa, churning it in the
morning as in an ordinary kraal. She was called Omuranga-the usual name for a
handmaid (4). Milk was presented at any time by worshippers and placed in front
of Bagyendanwa and then on the orugyegye at the side. In a short time it would
be removed from the hut.
Bagyendanwa was used as an oracle. The old men still assert that it used to
talk, and that it ceased to do so when Christianity came into the land. As indicated
above, it had its own means of taking auguries.
Bagyendanwa's ekikare was also a place of sanctuary. If a man committed
murder he could run to Bagyendanwa if he wished. The chief attendant would
inform the Omugabe when a man sought sanctuary and he would be forgiven. If
a man, after committing an offence, ran to the North of the River Ruizi, saying "I
have come from Bagyendanwa", or ran to the South of the Ruizi, saying, "I have
run to Bagyendanwa", he would not be touched.
On entering Bagyendanwa's house, allexcept the Omugabe had always to take
off their sandals. Spears, however, were held in the hand.
Bagvendanwa is thought of as the most sacred thing in Ankole, hence the most
binding oath is Bagyendanwa's coupled with the name of the ruling Omugabe and his
father. At the present day "Kahaya ishe Bagyendanwa," (Kahaya, his father Ba-
gyendanwa) is used even in a British Court by non-Christians.
4 The last one, of 30 years ago, is still alive to-day-Ruhura by name.
Accession of a new OMUGABE
When an Omugabe dies it is said that heaven has fallen, (eiguru rigwire). The
word death is never used of the Omugabe, but the same word as is used of bringing
cattle into kraal-okutasya. Again, if the Omugabe was ill the ordinary word, oku-
rwara, would not be used, but okwesima.
The death would not be generally known for about ten days, by which time
Bairu, called Abahitsi, take the body to Ishanzhe, in Ishingiro, for "burial". The Aba-
hitsi cannot return for a fortnight (enshumi) at least until the spirit of the Omugabe
has turned into a lion. This may take a long time, in which case another enhumi or
two is spent, and a new moon is awaited. The Omugabe Mutambukwa, the grand-
parent of the present Omugabe, is said to have taken a very long time. He incidentally
was the last Omugabe to be buried at Ishanzhe. When his son, Ntare, died he was
buried where he died, at Kaigoshora, because the Banyaruanda were beginning to
overrun the country south of the Ruizi.
People only weep when the Abahitsi return. All the head bulls in every kraal
in the country are then killed, while the Bairu kill their head goats. Ifanywoman
has left her husband, and her children with him, she must return at once or she
will never be able to see them again. Three days after the return of the Abahitsi
all people shave their heads. The Bairu will not cultivate their fields again until it
is known who is to be Omugabe.
On the next day, the fourth after the return of the Abahitsi the purificatory
rite after death okuhasirira takes place.
Only once has it been known for an heir to be appointed during an Omugabe's
lifetime: Mutambukwa was appointed by his father. The heir naturally performs
the akuhasirira rites, otherwise all the sons will do it, as they each want to succeed.
It is always known that there will be a struggle for supremacy in any case, when the
ceremonies are over. On the previous night the following good herbs are collected
in the Omugabe's kraal: enywara, omukire, omurokora, eihoza, omugoshora, okanya-
shagama, enshekoy'ensi (smile of the earth), orugaga eshogvi. These are all made
up into a bunch, called omuhambo. Orushashanure (a strip of papyrus), which is
considered royal and is used when giving a girl in marriage, by the father who,
as it were, becomes Omukama for the time, is tied round the wooden water pail
(eichuba). Buro (eleusine) is also collected.
The actual ceremony is performed in the same way as all purification cere-
monies are. The pail of water is carried round the kraal, while the cattle are
sprinkled from it by the herbs which are dipped in it from time to time.
When Mutambukwa died in Kashari, as no okuhasirira after an Omugabe's
death had ever been performed north of the Ruizi River they performed the cere-
mony at Mabale, in Ishingiro, where Bagyandanwa was.
The struggle for supremacy is not always postponed until okuhasirira is over.
When Mutambukwa's okuhasirira was performed two of his sons killed each other
before the rites were finished, but Ntare, who finally succeeded, only fought against
and defeated his brother, Mukwenda, later. The struggle, when it takes place, is
for the possession of Bagyendanwa. Seizing the kingdom is synonymous with
seizing the drum (okutwara ngoma).
the inauguration of the new Omugabe cannot take place, in any case, until the
space of time has passed since the okuhasirira ceremonies equivalent to that in
which a cow can calve three times, i.e. 30 months.
The Installation of the OMUGABE.
The installation, the equivalent of the English Coronation, is carried out with
set ceremony. Just as certain officers of state have certain duties to perform at the
coronation of European monarchs in the same way certain clans have special duties.
The following send one representative:-
Abaikizi clan send a Muiru.
In building Bagyendanwa's house it is the
Abaikizi who plant the first pole.
,, ,, Muhima. The servants in the Omugabe's house are
Abaitenwa ,, ,, Muhima.
Abasingo ,, ,,,, Muiru.
Abararira clan send a Muhima.
Abaitira ,, ,,,, Muiru.
Abatsiaba ,,,, ,, Muhima.
Abanyalsiclan send a Muhima.
Abairuntu clan send a
Abasita ,, ,
Abatwa ,, ,,
When ill, the Omugabe spits into an Omu-
singo's mouth, or smells his hair, in order
to be cured. One is always near him.
This clan is called upon when various acts
of Providence affect the cattle.
Their duty is to bring chalk for Bagyenda-
Their work is to carry out any trial by
ordeal (entenyu) ordered by the Omugabe
for theft or lying. Medicine was put on
the legs of the accused and then a hot mu-
horo (something like a sickle) was applied.
The innocent man was not burnt.
Any castrators of cattle were drawn from
This clan made shoes for the Omugabe.
, ,, Muhima. Their duty was okutsindira, i.e., to make a
cow get fond of a calf which has been
given it to feed, because its own mother
has died or is not giving proper milk.
These all come the day before the ceremony.
In the morning the Omugabe is led forth from his hut, before his big chiefs in
his encosure (ekikare), while the rest of the people are outside. The Omuyangwe
then place on him a new (ekitoma) barkcloth and a new cape (oruhu) made from a
young bull. The Omuitira brings a stick (enkomi) (6), two feet long, cut from Muzaire
forest, and gives it into his hand. The Omuigara puts on his feet sandals made of
the skin of the ant-eater (enyamurimi) (e), with strips of otter skin across the top to
hold them on. The enyamurimi is a royal animal as regards the skin; no one ex-
cept the Omugabe may wear sandals made of it. The Omugabe sits on a new stool
made of omukyerengye tree, which is got from Ngarama, or of omuzhugangama tree.
The stool is placed on a leopard skin, a sign of royalty, while a lion skin with dik-
dik skins on top is placed over the stool. The dik-dik skins were obtained from
the Buhwezhu forests. All the skins are brought by the Omuyangwe. A rope
made from cow's sinews, in the same way as a bow thong, called orugarwobuta, is
brought by the Omuyangwe and placed under the Omugabe's feet, as a sign of au-
thority and that any disobedient man will be tied up A spear is given to him.which
he holds with the stick in one hand,; and a bow (obuta) is put at his side with a
quiver (omutana). The spear is brought by the smiths and the bow by the bow-
makers who lived in Ngarama.
A white cow is brought which has never suffered the loss of a calf. The
Omuitanwa brings its calf for it to suckle. The Omugabe now goes through the
ceremony of milking the cow. He never milks at any other time. The Omuirunto
gives an emboha (the thong used for tying a cow when being milked) made in the
case of the royal orushanure, (strip of papyrus), to the Omuitira, who ties the
hind legs of the cow in the usul way. The Omuirunto holds the calf in front of
the mother (okukwatira), as is usually done when milking is going on. The Omu-
gabe then holds the teats and gives one pull only. He then gives the ekyanzi
(wooden milk pot), which with its plaited cover (omuhaiha) and carrying net
(ekyiteko) has been newly made for the occasion, to the Omuitenwa, who completes
the milking. The Omuitenwa gives it to the Omusita, who passes it on to the
Omurarira, who hands it back to the Omugabe. who is now sitting down again and
who drinks a little of it. The Omugabe then gives the ekyanzi to an Omutwa boy,
saying that he milks for those who cannot. The boy finishes the remainder of the
milk. The significance of this act is that the Abatwa clan were prevented by a
curse made by an ancestor from milking, and have always got other clans to do
their milking for them (7). The Omurarira has a small calabash (kamunyonywiri)
5 Every Muhima carries a stick as well as a spear when herding cattle. This stick
would appear to be an emblem signfying that the holder was the royal herder of all cattle.
Its length, however, is interesting, and one is tempted to see in it the equivalent of the
septre, the ancient emblem of Royalty.
6 The flesh of Enyamurimi is considered a great delicacy by the Banyankole. The me-
thod of hunting is for one man to follow it down its hole with a short spear. A rope is tied
on to the man's leg so that he may not get lost, and so that he may be pulled out in the event
of the sides caving in. The animal shews no fight, and when the man feels it in the dark he
pushes the spear into it.
7 Katwa and Kami were brothers who we.r told by their father to fetch milk. Owing
to rain they delayed; their father cursed them tilling Katwa that he would never milk again.
Until a few years ago theBatwa never milked.
with two small shells tied round the neck, which he gives to the omugabe, who
puts a ring on it and hands it back. This signifies that when any strange thing
befalls the cattle the Omugabe and his people will call an Omurarira, e.g. if the
cattle are struck by lightning, or a calf is born with three heads, etc.
All sorts of new buro seed are placed in front of the omugabe, and a new hoe
laid in front of the seed (8). The omuikizi then gives him the hoe and asks him to
cultivate. The Omugabe complies by hoeing the ground for a few strokes. The
Omusita then gives him the buro seed, which he proceeds to scatter as in sowing.
The Omuikizi then gives him other seed, which he scatters also. These acts sig-
nify that the Omugabe is ruler of the agriculturists as well as the cattle keepers.
Presents are now brought (okurabuka) by the people. Any presents from neigh-
bouring independent countries would be presented at this time, such as from Bah-
wezhu, Igara, Baraga (Koki), Bwera, etc.
The Omunyatsi brings an enkone (castrated bull) to shew what his work is.
The Omwere brings good medicine and gives it to the Omugabe to make him like
his people. The Omutsiaba comes to shew himself. The Omusingo brings tobacco
and fills the Omugabe's new pipe; he then lights it and gives it him to smoke.
A second part of the inauguration was developed in later years at a pool call-
ed Kizhongo, about 5 miles east of Ibanda Hill, in Mitoma, but now usually dry.
It obviously had not always been carried out as Mitoma was not at one time under
the suzerainty of the Abagabe. The last Omugabe to perform the rites was Mu-
tambukwa, the grandfather of the present Omugabe. Ntare did not go there.
There was one omufumu of great power and renown who was responsible for
all arrangements. It was always a woman, a Munyoro of the Ababito clan, who
lived on Ibanda Hill in the forest, Kyaruhanga, which was sacred. The last occu-
pant of the office, Julia Kibubula, now a Christian, is still alive. She succeeded her
elder sister, Kishokye, who was alive when Mutambuka was there. She in her
turn had followed her mother's sister, Nyabuzana. Besides her duties at Kizho-
ngo for the new Omugabe, Kishokye was one of the abafumu who had to go twice
a year to the Omugabe's court and spend some time there. Sacred sticks from
Kizhongo and Kyaruhanga forest would be sent from time to time to the court.
It is difficult now to get any idea as to what took place at Kizhongo. It would
appear to have been more a magical rite than anything. A kraal had previously
heen built for the occasion on a site specially chosen, where Kishokye would first
of all sacrifice and worship (okubandwa). At a place, called Rwakahay nearby,
one white cow, sheep and a chicken were killed and eaten by the worshippers
(emandwa). A bunch of selected herbs and flowers, tied together with a piece of
barkcloth and called an omuhambo, was given to the Omugabe while amabona, a form
of white berries were strung round his forehead. He was smeared with white
clay at the kraal, as also Kishokye, who was dressed in a barkcloth. The Omu-
gabe then entered the Kizhongo pool. It is said that he was accompanied by a
Muiru of the Abairuntu clan. What took place was not known by the people as there
was a fence round the pool. Ordinary drums were beaten when he returned from
8 There are least twelve different kinds of Batwa seed known in Alpole,
Four days in all were spent at Kizhongo. Oh his return the Omugabe proceed-
ed to Bagyendanwa to complete the installation ceremonies.
The installation of BAGYENDANWA.
After the Omugabe comes from Kizhongo he waits for about a month and then
sends the following presents to Bagyendanwa: 200 head of cattle, a maid servant
(omuzana), usually an old one whose duty it is to sweep out Bagvendanwa's house;
one barren cow; three cows with calves; three cooking pots. (enyabia), filled with
honey ; three wooden pots (amacuba) of butter; one white female sheep; one lamb.
These latter gifts are consumed by the keepers of the Drums.
Men are ordered from Ruampera, Bukanga and Ishingiro to build a kraal for
the Omugabe near Bagyendanwa. The ceremonies are timed to take place when the
moon is about four days old, just before the big buro harvest in December. The
Omugabe then goes to his kraal with 300 head of cattle and one bull, and a cow which
is called ekimere. This animal is an uncommon type with coarse straight hair,
rather a weakling, which always seeks the shelter of a bush on a sunny day. Beer
and food are provided at the kraal.
On the next evening he goes to Bagyendanwa's ekikale with 50 head of bar-
ren cattle and ekimere. The drumstick, Omurusyo, is handed by the Abaruru to the
Omugabe, who hits Bagyendanwa once as sign that he rules the kingdom. This
takes place after dark. The Abasingo at once blow the enshegu and other drums
are beaten. The 50 head are then slaughtered, two being killed in Bagyendanwa's
kraal, the remainder outside. All people present partake of the meat roasted on
sticks. Ekimere is also killed, some of which is distributed with each cow. Much
buro and beer is also consumed. Everyone who partakes of the feast must build
a new hut for himself for the occasion: this is called okumera kimere (to grow). The
Omugabe eats of the feast while sitting near Bagyendanwa, where he plays ekishoro
(board game) with his big chiefs (abakungu) on Bagyendanwa's board. When the
Omugabe has completed his feast he retires to his own kraal.
The next night the Omugabe sleeps in Bagyendanwa's ekikare. At dawn, in
order to leave space in the kraal some of Bagyendanwa's cattle are taken out and
only a few left in. In Bagyendanwa courtyard (ekibuga)enyawera plants and eyozho
grass are spread on the ground, on the top of which mats (ebirago) are laid with
barkcloths (ebitoma) on top of them. Bagyendanwa is placed on the top of all this,
while the cattle in the kraal stand on the top of mats and barkcloths. The ceremony
of okuhasirira now takes place.
Only Abaruru are in the ekikare during this ceremony. The Omugabe and his
sister (omunynayamugabe), real or official, sit near to and in front of Bagyendanwa.
The headman in charge of Bagyendanwa does the okuhasirira. All three are dressed
in barkeloths, with one or two calf skins on top. Round the heads of each a strip
ofpapyrus (orushashanure) is bound, from which hangs one iboma fruit, like a white.
tomato. One dot of white chalk is put on the forehead of each. All this is a sign
of purity. All the people outside also put on their foreheads a white dot. After
the ceremony chalk is sent to relatives afar off to mark themselves in the same way.
This was a day of forgiveness. If a woman leaves her husband he will, in the
ordinary way go to her father who will have to compensate him; but if she comes
of her own free will to this ceremony and obtains chalk she will be taken back auto-
matically; when otherwise she will have no chance.
The following herbs are used for okuhasirira: enyawera, enshekoy'ensi, eihoza,
omuhire omugorora orugaga. Many amacuba (water pails) of water are used for the
occasion, into which the herbs are dipped in the usual way by the head Omururu
who sprinkles the Omugabe, the cattle and the kraal with the enyawera. The water
is then taken by the other Abarun and sprinkled on the crowd outside.
The head Omururu then accompanies the Omugabe to his own kraal and does
the same thing there. The cattle left in the Omugabe's kraal are given to the head
Omururu for division among those who have been helping. Bagvendanwa gives six
head of cattle to the Omugabe, who never parts with them.
The next day the Omugabe gives Bagyendanwa o head of cattle as a present
and returns to his usual place of residence. Abaruru accompany him part of the
After installation the Omugabe takes the title of Rubambansi, the King of Kings.
Among the many proverbs and riddles in use in Ankole the following refer to
what has been written above:-
Ekyebumbe kikyihamu amaisho Omukama tagagaramu.
When he who has made himself Omukama takes out your eyes the Omukama
does not put them back again.
(This refers to a punishment by a usurper.)
Omukama onywana nawe ashitamire omuguha.
You make blood-brotherhood with an Omukama and he is sitting on a rope.
(Though he is a friend it will not prevent him tying you up when necessary).
Omubi ogvenda nomurungvi.
A bad person who goes with a good one,
Answer: Nenkaito nomugabe
A sandal and the Omugabe
(Sandals are dirty and not clean).
Omukama ayetengakyi ?
What does the Omukama need ?
Answer: (i) Okubvamira embazhu ibiri
To sleep on both sides.
(The Omugabe may sleep on one side only. He may not
turn in the night or he would turn his kingdom over.)
(2) Enyanzha kugigira orurembo
A lake in which to build his headquarters.
(i.e. in the middle, so as to see all round).
(3) Enfunzha okuba amacumu
Papyrus to be spears.
(Because they are so many).
Ebyanyangvi byomumashazi ebyinvaburechu biri omumarembo ebikwanzi ebishu-
gushugu ainunu owakurebo ebinyamuhirwa.
Ebyanyangvi flowers outside the kraal, ebinyaburechu ones in the entrances,
ebishugushugu beads-oh how I want these lucky things.
Answer: Omubekazi namunyanya.
The Omugabe's sister and her brother.
(ebishugushugu are big white and black beads).
Rushoro rwa Mazima ebyama ahesindi ngundu itabyama.
Rushoro of Mazima sleeps where other head-bulls do not sleep.
Answer: Enshehera ahabuso bw'omukama nari Bagyendanwa.
A fly on the face of the Omukama or Bagyendanwa.
Omuzhwara efurere omuhuruzatunyahara omutegwa bihara abashambo bene nya-
rusiriba omukazi nkogu ashandwakyi ?
She wears a soft skin; she makes her husband answer the war alarm with small
impala skins; she has been shaved ebihara (coiffure used at time of marriage);
You Bashambo bene Nyarusiriba, what can divorce such a woman?
Answer : Ngoma yobukama Bagyendanwa.
The kingdom's drum, Bagyendanwa.
(Bashambo bene Nyarusiriba are the purest line of descent of the Bashambo
clan. The most beautiful women are Bashambo from Mpororo. The riddle
likens Bagyendanwa to that of the Bashambo women).
The Coronation of the Abakama of Koki.
By F. LUKYN WILLIAMS.
(I am indebted to S. F. Kabumbuli, Kamswaga I (1) Owesaza, Koki, for the sub-
ject matter of this article).*
The word 'coronation' may be used with exactitude when describing the installa-
tion ceremonies of the Koki Abakama, because a crown, the sign of sovereignty, is
one of the leading features of the ceremony.
When an Omukama dies a period of two days is allowed before burial. During
this time the various special craftsmen are busy preparing such of the regalia, to
be mentioned later, as have not been passed down from earlier Abakama, and which
will be required for the Coronation of the successor. The leading men carry on
the affairs of the country during the interregnum. They arrange the funeral, which
is witnessed by crowds of subjects of both sexes and all ages. The tombs of the
Abakama of Koki are all at Serinya (Musale), or in the immediate neighbourhood.
The body was wrapped in barkcloths and buried in a deep grave. When the earth
had been replaced cow-hide was spread over the top. The deceased's spears, shield,
bow and arrows were placed at the head, and a hut built over the top. No jaw-bone
was removed, as in Buganda.
The Coronation took place the following day, in the early morning. More
crowds would assemble to watch the ceremony, which took place in the open, out-
side the late Omukama's fence (2).
In common with other African communities the heir was appointed by the late
Mukama before his death. At the Coronation the other brothers would not be pre-
sent, for fear of being put to death, but presents would be sent later, unless any of
them was prepared to fight for the right to the throne, in which case fighting would
follow the coronation. The Rubuga, the official sister of the Mukama, was ap-
pointed for the new reign by the dying monarch from among his daughters. The
new ruler's own mother became Namasole, the Queen-mother.
1 Kamsswaga is now the title given to the Saza chief of Koki, which was an independ-
ent kingdom, incorporated into the Buganda kingdom by an Agreement between E.K. Nda-
wula Kamewaga, Mukama of Koki, father of the present chief, and Mwanga, Kabaka of Bu-
ganda, in 1896. The present ruler is 10th of a line extending back seven generations to Bwo-
we, the original founder of the kingdom, who broke away from Bunyoro. Each Omukama is
a member of the Ngabi (bushbuck) clan.
2 A mutuba tree Rakai, in the middle of Saza Headquarters, being an overgrown post
of the chief's fence, marks the site near which the present ruler was crowned.
KAMSWAGA sitting on throne Wearing crown.
In his hand is Miba(lambira, the rod. The milkpot is on the right
next to the spear, Katantayi. On the left can be seen the
beer calabash and the food bowl. The remaining spears are those
presented at his enthronement.
THE KOKI ROYAL DRUMS
Mtayanye and consort can be seen in the centre,
Butente is the smaller one on the right.
The two on the extreme right are the reserve drums.
Kakindo and Kaiwbembe are seen on left of Mayanye.
The abana are in front.
THE KOKI REGALIA
Only those of historical interest are shewn: the crown, spear, bow
and arrows, wooden bowl, hammer (seen below the bow). The
shield is not shewn.
iPor the Coronation ceremony there are two kinds of regalia,(i) those of historic
interest which have descended to each Mukama from the days of Bwowe, and (2)
those which are made for each coronation.
The historic regalia are as follows:-
i. The crown (engule). This consists of a ring of plaited grass, about six
inches high, overlaid with fine blue, white and red beads, with colobus
hair projecting from the top of the inner ring of the crown (a).
2. The rod of office, called Mbagambira. This consists of nine thin sticks,
bound together with bands of iron and an iron ring at the top with four
small bells attached.
3. A spear which came from Bunyoro, called Katantayi, (swallow-killer), a
name, no doubt, bearing reference to its swiftness.
4. A bow, such as is in general use among Bahima. This was made in Koki
of omulongo tree (abbizzia grandibracteata).
5. Three arrows without feathers.
6. A dagger (mpirima) Lug: (mpima). The dagger, in case, is about 12
inches long. The end of the case is shaped like a large spoon; the whole
handle and upper part of the case are bound round with coils of copper
and brass wire. This dagger was always worn in battle, and is similar in
shape to those worn by the Baganda Kabaka(s).
7. A small replica of a shield, about 9 inches long and 4J inches wide, made
of hide, with a handle of cat's skin, which is decorated with cowrie shells.
This is said to have been taken with the Omukama into battle.
8. A wooden bowl (olucuba) for food, with nine legs on a base, similar to
what is in common use in Bunyoro, and made out of omurinzi wood (ery-
9. A blacksmith's hammer, consisting of a piece of iron, seven inches long,
weighted at one end and tapering at the other, such as is in common use
among native smiths.
The other insignia of royalty which are made for the occasion are:-
a. Two drums, called Mayange, one about 2 feet 6 inches high, and the other
about 4 inches lower. The larger one was the male and was made always
with the hide of a white (kitale or enjeru) cow, stretched in the usual way
on a wooden shell, the smaller one was the female and was made with the
hide of a dappled, white or red, (engabo) cow. The drum-sticks are made
of nzo wood (teclea nobilis). As with other African tribes, the drum is
considered the outward display of sovereignty and authority.
3 We find every independent Kingdom which has at some time been associated with
Bunyoro possessing some type of crown decorated with beads and colobus monkey hair, e.g.
Toro, Buhwezhu, Koki, etc.
It may be well here to mention a number of other drums possessed by kam-
swaga which are made at this time and presented to him: Butente, a
slightly smaller drum. This name together with Mayange was brought
from Bunyore; Kakindo, decorated with bells; Kababembe; two drums
called Nzibizi-the reserve drums -for use especially when Mayange was
being repaired; twelve little drums, one foot high, called abana, the chil-
dren of Mayange; and three other drums.
b. The throne, A anulondo, an ordinary stool with seat and base, about 18 in-
ches high, made of omusisa tree albizziaa coriaria), by the chief carpenter.
c. A milkpot (ekyanzi), made of omurinzi wood. As a milkpot takes three
months to complete, it is obvious that a new one must be kept in readi-
ness against the expected demise of the Omukama. It is an extra large
one-larger than those in general use. After the ceremony the milkpot is
looked after by the Omukama's wives and kept polished with the aid of
white chalk. It stands on a black ring of wood, which is called ekijoka
The stand is placed on a small reed mat, called obusunga, while a similar
one is stood on end encircling the milkpot.
d. A drinking calabash (engunda), with a beer tube (oluseke) in the mouth.
This is also kept polished.
e. A rope made of sisal.
f. Trumpets made of calabash ends, covered with leather, and called mako-
The place of enthronement is prepared first by spreading on the ground a
carpet (ekiwu) of barkcloths, on which lion skins are placed, then hyena skins
lastly leopard skins. On top on these Namulondo is placed, on which is put a
white sheep skin, then a leopard skin, thus completing the throne. This is all
done by a man with the title of Kibale, of the Mpologoma (lion) clan (4).
New spears for the Omukama are stuck in the ground in front of the throne.
The new Omukama stands before the throne while Kibale robes him in a
barkcloth, tying it from the right shoulder. The Omukama then takes his seat on
the throne while Kibale places the crown on his head.
After this all the insignia of royalty are brought in turn, beginning with
Mayange, the drums, which have been brought to the place by their maker, a
man of the Amazi (water) clan, He also brings awls and spare thongs for lacing
on the hides. He hands them all over to the chief drummer, who has the title of
Kawula of the Ngonge (otter clan).
4. The names of clans mentioned in this article are given by their toboos, which in
Buganda are the only clan names used. In Koki, however, as in neighboring Bantu tribes,
each clan has its own name, apart from the taboo; but since the Buganda-Koki Agreement
those Baganda clans with the same taboos absorbed the equivalent Koki clans. Each Koki
clan then became a group, or siya, of the Buganda clans, while the clan head became the
head of the siga.
Kawula is an important official of the royal household, whose title passes
on from father to son. He is the keeper of the Mayange and the royal stools of
past reigns. All those of the Bakama from Bwowe to the present day are kept by
him in the village of Kakumbiro.
Kawula hands Mayange to the Omukama, who proceeds to beat the royal
drum-beat (omubala) on it and hands it back. This beat is ; Ekigambo kyange kye
njogera kve kiranda okutuka ensi yona-"The word I speak spreads throughout the
land." Each Omukama has the same drum-beat.
The Kalikiro (chief minister) now hands the rod, Mbagambira, to the Omukama
with the words: "This stick you will use as Omukama."
A man of the Mpewo (oribi) clan, with the title of Kawuta, then hands over the
spear, Katantayi, the bow and arrows, the shield and the dagger. The spear is
stuck in the ground; the other articles are laid at the Omukama's feet.
The hammer is presented by the chief blacksmith, a man from the Ngabi (bush-
buck) clan. Other hammers, made by smiths of the Ente (cow) clan for the occasion
are brought at this time, also a knife (kayo) and hook and awl (lugobya), for skin-
ning animals. The skinning implements of the present Kamswaga are of brass.
The head herdsman of the Omukama's cattle, who is of the Mutima (heart) clan
milks from a white cow into the special kyanzi, which he brings to the Omukama,
who drinks a little and then hands it back.
Kawuta then presents the wooden food bowl.
The calabash of beer is now brought by a virign of the Kasimba (genet) clan,
who has the title of Omusenero, the brewer. She is specially chosen for this cere-
mony, and is taken into the Omukama's household afterwards as a wife. He tastes
the beer through the beer tube and hands the calabash back to the girl.
The chief executioner, whose title is Mukona, and who is of the IVgabi (bush-
buck) clan, now presents the rope with which prisoners are tied up, as a symbol of
power over life and death.
The head trumpeter, whose clan is Ente (cow), presents his trumpet.
After this, all the trumpets are blown as a sign to the people that the ceremony
of installing the new ruler has been completed, and he has been crowned as
Omukama of the kingdom. He then orders the executioner to put some people to
death, in order to shew his authority. This is done in the place of execution, called
Mpalakalemba, (a spot close to the camp at Rakai).
After nine days have been allowed to elapse the Omukama's brothers bring
presents to him in order to shew their friendly intentions and allegiance.
A further four days are spent, and then the Omukama sallies forth to war
against some other King of similar independence, e.g., Kiziba, Buganda, Ankole,
etc., to shew his subjects his bravery.
The Anointing of Clan Heads Among
(Contributed by ERIMAYO OLYECH).
In Lango, every clan had one leader who was known as Adit (Chief) and whose
duty was to lead his people in war. When such a chief died, his most popular son
usually took his place. The son's seniority was not of importance but he was elected
by the people's judgment, no matter how young the son might be. The successor
was bound to be a man who could lead his clan's team of warriors against other
chiefs. The heir had also to be a man who had a real sense of responsibility and
who was adept at using both his spears and shield in fight. Beside being a war
leader he also had to settle such matters as might arise in his village. These chiefs
were first anointed before taking up their chieftainships. The anointing was carried
out by the old men as follows:-
The day of anointment was made known to the people about three or four days
beforehand and all the elder people of that clan had to prepare native beer and food
as a feast for the occasion. The news was sent round to everybody in the mean-
time and every one was expected to be present on the day. When the day had come
all the people gathered outside the house of the heir. A bowl of oil was put ready
in a clay pot. His father's stool was also placed near his evening sitting-out place
by the fire. When all were present the heir was called from the house where he was
seated on a dressed skin of either a lion or a leopard. He was accompanied by his
most popular and best known wife who, with him, was also anointed.
When the heir and his wife were seated in the centre of the people, the eldest
and most respected man of the clan came forward and anointed them with the oil
which was in the bowl, and then all the men and women present were expected to
anoint them one by one in turn.
The successor was then instructed in the art of ruling his people well; some
of the admonitions being:-
(a) En dong ileo kom a papi ni ikwijo lwaro.
Now you are in your father's place, never forget your people in future.
(b) En dong ileo tyen papi ni ibin idag odonge.
Now you are in your father's place, never hate old men.
(c) En dong ileo tyen papi ni ibin ikulli jo wangi piny.
Now you are in your father's place, never cast your eyes down upon your
(d) En dong ileo tyen papi ni ibin ibed Iwor.
Now you are in your father's place, never be a coward.
(e) En dong ileo ka papi nu ibin i ngakijo kop.
Now you are in your father's place, never speak harshly to your people.
(f) En dong ileo tyen papi nu ibin ikwer gwokwa aber.
Now you are in your father's place, look after us well.
These words were said by only the old men as they anointed him (the heir)
with oil and every one was expected to say two or three words or passages only.
The old women who anointed him say the following:-
(a) Aaa, ogin, en dong ileo tyen papi ni da, ibin ikwi imaki.
Now, boy, you are in your father's place, remember old women.
(b) Ogin, an ileo tyan papi a ibin idag imaki, ida kedgi.
Now, boy, you are in your father's place, never hate old women and quarrel
(c) Ogin en dong ileo tyen papi ni ibin ikwer winyo dog imaki.
Now, boy, you are in your father's place, never refuse old women's advice.
When all these words had been spoken, the people left him with four or five
old men with whom he had to converse. If the heir's father was rich, the heir
would prepare a feast for the people who attended the ceremony. A week or two
later, the chief would call his team of warriors to practice native war drill (Ngatte).
He (the new chief) would be expected to show his powers as being the best of
them all at drilling with his spears and shield The new chief would then kill a bull
for his warriors and those who excelled at the drill, and they would pick the meat
from the fire place with their teeth and not using their hands. This was usually
done, as a method of swearing an oath before his chief, and to prove he was speak-
ing the truth, a young man would take a red hot charcoal into his mouth.
A Guide to the Snakes of Uganda.
By C. R. S. PITMAN.
Genus DISPHOLIDUS Duvernoy.
This is an African genus containing a single representative which is one of the
most widely distributed snakes in the Continent. It is one of the four African
genera, the others being Thelotornis, Chilorhinophis and Miodon, in which the short
maxillary articulates with the forked ectopterygoid.
There are seven or eight small teeth followed by three very large grooved
fangs situated below the eye.
Other prominent characters include: the head distinct from neck: extremely
large eye with round pupil: slightly compressed body: very narrow, oblique
scales, more or less strongly keeled with apical pits : rounded ventrals, or obtusely
angulate laterally: long tail and subcaudals in 2 rows.
DISPHOLIDUS TYPUS (Smith).
Boomslang (South Africa), Large Green Tree Snake, Large Brown Tree Snake,
Black Tree Snake, or Tree Snake.
(Plate XI, Fig. 6 : Coloured Plate (L), Fig. 4).
Native names-The Boomslang is evidently confused by natives with certain
somewhat similar species, in consequence of which it has not been possible so far
to ascertain any names applied to it exclusively. The brown and black forms are
usually referred to as "Nchuweira ", (the cobra), particularly as the Boomslang when
irritated or on the defensive conspicuously inflates its throat; the black form is
sometimes distinguished as "Temankima" in mistake for Boiga bhmdingii; and the
green form is confused with Jameson's Mamba and called "Bukizi."
Distribution-Specimens obtained by the American Museum Congo Expedi-
tion indicate that Dispholidus typus does not occur in the Rain Forest, though reach-
ing its borders, but in Eastern Africa it now seems to have penetrated completely
the forest 'islands' which remain. It is a highly arboreal, savanna species which
UGANDA SNAKES (L)
1. Rhamphiophis rostratus.
2. Rhamphiophis oxyrhynchus.
3. Thelotornis kirk/andii
4. Dispholidus typus.
(vivid green form)
la. Lateral Section.
2a. Lateral Section.
3a. Lateral Section.
4a Lateral Section
Ib. Ventral Section.
2b Ventral Section.
3b. Ventral Section.
4b. Ventral Section.
Presented by Capt.C.R.S. Pitman.
ranges from the Southern and Eastern Sudan to the Cape Peninsula in South Africa,
and from Senegal to Eritrea. Its distribution in West Africa, the Belgian Congo
and Angola is such that its range completely circumscribes the Rain Forest. It is
found at varying altitudes from sea level to 7,000 feet, but above 5,000 feet is usually
Occurrence in Uganda-This large species is believed to be widespread through-
out the greater part of the Protectorate, but so far there is insufficient material
available to indicate precisely the local limits of its range. It will not be found in
areas of partial aridity such as Karamoja and parts of Chua, and it is absent from
S. W. Kigezi. It has penetrated far into papyrus swamps which adjoin the type of
savanna it is accustomed to frequent. In suitable localities such as the Budongo
Forest, and along the northern shore of the Victoria Nyanza, it is plentiful; at
Entebbe it used to be common until much of the peninsula was cleared of scrub and
light forest. Other recorded localities include Kampala, Mabira Forest, Jinja, Bu-
soga, Mbale, Mt. Elgon and Serere. It is likely to occur in the Upper Nile Valley,
as extralimitally it has been obtained at Gondokoro in the Southern Sudan, and at
Faradje in the N. E. Belgian Congo.
Description-This is a big, but rather slender, snake characterized by relatively
large eyes and a markedly convex head, though in these respects it resembles
certain other species. The variation, in coloration, to be detailed in due course, is
bewildering. Boulenger's limit of recorded length is 1500 mm. (approximately 59
inches), the tail, 380 mm., constituting about one quarter of the total, but there
are many examples known in excess of 5 feet, and a few over 51 feet, so that it is
possible that a maximum of 6 feet may be attained. Loveridge in The Snakes of
Tanganyika Territory mentions:- "The largest I have killed was three inches short
of six feet and was the best of eleven taken at Morogoro."
Twenty-three adults of both sexes personally examined in Northern Rhodesia
averaged 4 feet 8 inches; individual measurements in inches from that territory
include 64 (tail 17) (vivid blue-enamel green), 61 (tail 1r6), 59 (tail 16), 55 (tail 15j)
(grass-green), 50(tail 14), 48 (tail 12) (brown), and a female 472 (tail 12) (brownish-
grey); two half-grown examples each measuring 36 inches were bright green. Unfor-
tunately no record of the sex was kept.
According to Schmidt (1923, p. 115) in a Congo series of eight specimens:-
"The largest male measures 1221 mm., the largest female 1292 mm. The tail length
varies from .26 to .27 of the total in males, .24 to .26 in females."
Loveridge collected a specimen of 681 inches in Mozambique, and also men-
tions from Tanganyika (1928):- 'largest male, 1652 (2oo +452)mm.; largest female
1775 (1320+455, tip of tail missing) mm.", which undamaged cannot have been far
short of 6 feet; and (1929):- a specimen from Kenya Colony "measures 1295 (979+
316) mm."; and (1933):- "a male from Mangasini (Tanganyika Territory) which
measures 1495 (12zo+285+tip) mm.; at least a hundred millimetres of its tail are
Sternfeld (1910) gives 150 cm. as the length of a Bukoba specimen; and accord-
ing to Flower (P.Z.S., 1933) a live example, bright grass-green in colour, originat-
ing on the Blue Nile in the Southern Sudan, which lived for several months in
captivity, measured 1720 mm. (approx. 5 feet 71 inches), the tail being 420 mm.
Uganda material personally examined includes a male, (black) 65 (tail 19j
inches; a female 50 (tail I I, tip damaged) inches (green); over 5 feet (green); over
4 feet 6 inches (light green); and a female 45 (tail io ) inches (brownish grey).
Plenty of large South African examples are known, and so it will be realized
that this snake is liable to attain the suggested maximum anywhere throughout its
range, and, from the evidence available, equally so in any of its numerous adult
colour variations. The long tail is contained in the body length from three-and-a-
half to four-and-one-tenth times; any with a ratio of four times and over probably
Prominent characters are detailed comprehensively in-the descriptive note on
the genus; in addition the diameter of the large bright brown eye nearly or quite
equals the length of the snout, and the anal is divided. Midbody scales in 19 or.z2
rows: ventrals 161-201: subcaudals 91-131.
In the Congo series described by Schmidt (19.23):- "Ventral plates 181-185 in
males, 186-191 in females; subcaudals I08-I21, 101-107 respectively."
In some Uganda material, scale counts, etc., are as below:-
Locality. Sex. Scale-rows. Ventrals. Subcaudals.
Serere (Teso) Half-grown ? 183 113+
Mabira Forest Female ? 194 102
Jinja Female 19 193 103
Serere Male 19 183 111
Serere Male 19 182 105
Serere Male 19 181 113
Kampala Female 19 192 104
Sternfeld (1907) records from Gondokoro four males with 182-190 ventrals,
109-113 subcaudals, and a female with 186 ventrals and o05 subcaudals.
It has been previously mentioned that the colour variations of this species are
"bewildering" and as a basis Boulenger's varieties will be quoted first:-
"Coloration very variable.
A. Brown above, upper lip and lower parts yellowish or greyish; young with
darker and lighter spots, and the belly speckled with brown. (B. typus,
B. Olive-brown above, yellowish beneath, scales and shields edged with black-
ish. (B.jardinii, Smith).
C. Green above, uniform or scales narrowly edged with black. (B. viridis,
D. Green or olive above, all the scales and shields edged with black; head often
much spotted with black.
B. Black above, each scale with a yellowish or greenish spot; head spotted
or marked with black; ventrals and subcaudals yellowish, edged with
black. (B. bellii, Smith).
F. Uniform black above, blackish grey beneath."
In amplification, the following are the descriptions of three Northern Rhodesia
forms personally examined:-
(i) Light brownish-olive with greenish-blue belly.
(ii) Vivid grass-green with black between the scales, and a slight bluish tinge
to the green belly.
(iii) Bright bluish (enamel) green with pale enamel-blue and black between
scales, and bluish belly.
Juveniles obtained, about 18 inches in length, were wholly unlike the
adults, and of a rich pinkish brown, purplish-brown or light chocolate brown,
peppered darker, and generally not unlike the coloration predominating in
dark specimens (particularly the belly) of Thelotornis kirtlandii."
According to Schmidt (1923, p. 116):- "Three types of coloration are repre-
sented in the present small series," (eight from the Congo). "Two adult specimens
are uniform brown, two are uniform green, and two are greenish or brownish, the
scales black-edged and the head shields heavily vermiculated with black. The
spotted specimens have a shorter snout and higher loreal, but are otherwise indis-
tinguishable from the uniformly colored forms. The two small specimens are of
especial interest, for they evidently represent the juvenile coloration of the brown
form. The upper surface of the head is uniform brown; the dorsal scales are
spotted with white and edged at the base with black; the tips of the ventrals are
black: there is a series of more or less vertical black spots on the sides of the neck,
and a concealed black spot between the posterior chin shields. On distension of
the neck these black marks become much more vivid, since the color extends to
the skin between the scales, as in Thelotornis. In the adult brown specimens the
black neck marks are still visible, though ill-defined, and the black spot between
the chin shields is also present."
Some of the juveniles, about 18 inches in length, examined in Northern
Rhodesia were sparingly, but handsomely, spotted with white and pale blue: it is
believed that all juveniles of this species are generally brownish in colour, and that
by the time they are half-grown they have assumed whichever adult coloration they
are going to follow. So far the writer has not come across tiny juveniles other
In Tanganyika Territory, Loveridge has found the Boomslang "in a bewilder-
ing number of colours and mixtures thereof, may be a vinous brown, grass-green,
all-black or some intermediate blending of these colours," and (1928) he obtained
a fine series of variously coloured Boomslangs from the Yala River district near
Mt. Elgon, which'is not far from the Uganda border. The same author (1928, No.
:378, Proc. U.S.N.M.) refers to "a fine series of color forms from Shinyahgk
(Tanganyika), including a salmon red, one that I do not recollect having seen be-
fore," and mentions that the Wanyamwezi have different names for the various
colored varieties which they consider distinct species, and that this is a clear
indication of the unreliability of native identifications of snakes. In 1929,
referring to Uganda and Kenya material, Loveridge records:- "Three types
of coloration are represented by three examples of each.(i) Uniformly green from
Logor (Lobor ?) Uganda, Kenya Colony, and Mazeras, K. C. (2) Green with black
markings from Uganda, Kenya Colony, and Guaso Nyiro, K. C. (3) Uniformly
brown, except for a few black markings on the neck of young snakes from Kenya
Colony and Kaimosi, K. C." Again (1933) the same author mentions "green;"
"green with black markings," including one from Kampala: "olive-color and extra-
ordinarily like a Mamba (Dendraspis angusticeps,";) and a medium sized one "vinous
with white labials and sufficiently like a Bird Snake (Thelotorniskirtlandii) for me
to mistake it for that species in the field": two young snakes were noted in life as:-
"Above, dark brown with pale blue speckling particularly conspicuous on the neck
which is otherwise black; the skin in this region, which is shown when the neck
is inflated, is of the same shade of pale blue; upper labials and throat white with a
patch of pale yellow at the base of the jaws; the rest of the lower surface brownish
grey with dark brown mottlings."
Uganda material personally examined includes:- "black all over, the belly
slightly paler with a satiny sheen", from the Mabira Forest: "green with black mark-
ings, closely resembling Jameson's Mamba (Dendraspis jamesonii), from Busoga,
Mabira Forest, Kampala, Entebbe and the Budongo Forest; and "brownish" from
Kampala and the Budongo Forest-the former in greater detail being "dull to dark
brown above, pinkish-brown on flanks: buffy with pinkish tinge anteriorly, below."
Examples quoted by Werner (1907) from Gondokoro are:- a red-brown female;
a green male; and three green males with the scales and shields edged black.
With the exception of the all-black form, which appears to be uncommon, and
which may possibly be associated with regions of considerable humidity (there is
a Zanzibar record), the colour variations of the adults bear relation neither to
locality nor sex, and all seem to be equally widely distributed and both sexes are
represented in the various color forms. There appear to be no records available as
to whether or no mating takes place between two of a kind or between different
Attention has been previously directed to the similarity of this species to the
deadly Mamba, the resemblance being particularly striking in the green forms to
the green phase of the Common Mamba (Dendraspis angusticeps) and to the com-
mon Green Mamba of Uganda (Dendraspis jamesonii kaimose), so it is as well to
endeavour to give a few diagnostic characters of the green mambas to enable them
to be readily distinguished, where both they and the Boomslang are likely to occur,
Superficially the resemblance is remarkable, and in the field even the expert would
hesitate to give a verdict; so unless one is duly qualified to meddle where most
would follow a policy of safety first, it is best to leave well alone or, if the circum-
stances warrant, destroy without mercy.
In the hand, provided the fangs are intact, it is impossible to fail to identify
the mamba at once owing to the large isolated poison fangs (one each side) set so
far forward in the maxillary as to be almost under the nose; also, there is a large,
fang-like anterior mandibular tooth, followed by a considerable toothless space.
The number of ventral plates in the mamba is usually considerably greater than in
the Boomslang. In the mamba although the scales are narrow and very oblique,
they are smooth and not strongly keeled as in the Boomslang. In the mamba
the frontal is as long as broad or a little broader than long, in the Boomslang it is
appreciably longer than broad; nevertheless the former snake has a conspicuously
narrow, elongate head.
Habits--The Boomslang is a highly arboreal species, and, in consequence, its
habitat is restricted to regions in which there is a sufficiency of suitable trees.
When disturbed on the ground by the approach of intruders it makes for the nearest
tree or bush which it ascends with agility.
In Northern Rhodesia, where this species is plentiful, it was observed that it
was particularly in evidence at the time of the grass-burning, and in parts of
Broken Hill at this season the trees, especially evergreens and those with thick
foliage, and dense creepers were full of these snakes.
In the water, to which it takes readily, the Boomslang is a powerful, graceful
swimmer. When swimming the head is raised slightly and the snake glides smooth-
ly over the water at a tremendous rate. In captivity it is fond of bathing.
This is another species, which when frightened or annoyed resorts to the
conspicuous demonstration of distending or inflating its neck, an interesting dis-
cription of which is given by Schmidt (1923, p.i i6):- "The species also distends its
neck when excited or disturbed, but the distension is cylindrical instead of laterally
compressed, as in Thelotornis (Werner, 1913, p. 402). The correlation of a vivid
neck pattern, in this species as well as in Thelotornis, with the habit of distending
the neck when disturbed, adds to the evidence that it is a 'frightening' coloration
(distinguished from 'warning' coloration). The distension of the neck in various
forms, with various structural modifications, associated with a frightening or
warning posture, is an extraordinarily widespread characteristic of snakes." This
subject is comprehensively discussed in Noble, 1921, Natural History, XXI, pp.
166-17 1. On the first few occasions on which one is subjected to this curious de-
monstration of puffing out the throat, often accompanied by deliberate menacing
with open jaws, the experience is apt to be truly terrifying, but one soon gets ac-
customed to it and ignores it. Incidentally, it is a good diagnostic character, for
the mamba does not indulge in so conspicuous a demonstration, but it is not exactly
advisable to tease a suspected mamba in order to study its reaction!
Specimens which are killed while demonstrating are unmistakable as the throat
retains its puffiness in death, and in the relevant field notes several Northern Rho-
desia examples are described as "puff-throated."
In The Nigerian Field, Vol. V, No i, January 1936, p. 44, there is an amazing
statement, "Dispholidus typus, an opisthoglyph, is a good spitter," a bare state-
ment, unsupported by any evidence, which is contrary to the experience of those
familiar with the handling of this species. It is concluded that either there has been
a mistake in identity, or the conspicuous demonstration of neck-distension has
been assumed to be a preliminary, or an accompaniment, to "spitting."
Records of this species in captivity indicate that it is placid and amiable in
disposition, and Fitzsimons (1932) says that they "become so tame that you may
allow them to creep, climb and slither round your neck and inside your garments"!
It is not aggressive and rarely attempts to bite unless roughly handled: even
a wild one which Loveridge seized by the tail and pulled out of a hedge made no
attempt to bite. Ditmars, in The Snakes of the World (pp. 174-175), has a most
entertaining description of the unboxing of a consignment of Boomslangs and mam-
bas at the New York Reptile Park, the Boomslangs putting up a big bluff and be-
having in a most terrifying manner.
The Boomslang evidently preys largely on chameleons where these curious
creatures are plentiful, and in this connection Loveridge has recorded that "he has
considerable difficulty in mastering his prey seeing that no less than three fell from
trees when attempting to do so." The same author also "introduced a chameleon
into the cage of a very large and black Boomslang. The snake immediately ap-
proached the chameleon, sliding silently towards it with raised head; the chameleon
thereupon raised its occipital flaps, inflated its throat, and swayed about from side
to side suddenly lunging forward with widely gaping mouth and uttering a hiss;"
it was then removed from the cage.
In Northern Rhodesia the stomachs of any specimens of D. typus which had
recently fed invariably contained on examination the remains of chameleons. Also
included in its natural diet are frogs, birds and birds' eggs: in captivity it will eat
other snakes, and, according to Fitzsimons (1932), when on hunger strike can be
artificially fed on egg-flip and meat.
When kept in captivity it has been preyed upon by the cobra, and Loveridge
thus graphically describes the symptoms resulting when a brown Boomslang was
bitten by a puff adder:- "It died very quickly and on eviscerating it, the heart was
found to be still beating quite ten minutes after it had been bitten; the site of the
bite, some three inches anterior to the vent, was in a fearful state, and had one not
known the circumstances it might well have been thought that the creature was in
the last stages of putrefaction. The scales were loose and falling off, pinkish blood
oozed from between them and from the vent, the fatty deposits were speckled with
blood, and the intestines were full and oozing with the same. The whole region
was blown up as if with gas and had the puffy appearance of decomposition." On
the other hand Fitzsimons (1932) has recorded that Boomslang poison speedily kills
the puff adder, so that an encounter between the two species would produce
mutually fatal results if each got a bite home.
Eggs were forming in the ovaries of a female obtained in Northern Rhodesia
on the 12th March at the end of the rains. Loveridge caught a female at Kikuyu
in Kenya Colony, which next day, 28th August, "laid a single egg measuring 40
mm. in length." The same author (1928) found eggs measuring 43 x i7mm. in a
Tanganyika snake during the last days of December.
Special reference has been made in the general note on the Boigince to the
high toxicity of the venom of Dispholidus typus, the only snake of this family
which is lethal to man. According to Loveridge (in lit.):- "Its gape is actually
wide enough to bring the fangs into play and though this is of such rare occur-
rence that only one instance (of a man being bitten, C. R. S. P.) has been placed
on record, yet the symptoms were of such a serious nature as to make it advisable
to exercise caution when handling adult boomslangs." According to Corkill (1935,
p. 22):- "It is said to be of placid disposition, but none the less achieved an evil
reputation by reason of the very serious results following a bite in a negro atten-
dant at Port Elizabeth snake park some years ago. This man strangely enough
exhibited the haemorrhagic symptoms and signs which are usually associated
with the viperine type of poisoning". Fitzsimons' (1932) claim can here be conven-
iently repeated, that, "weight for weight, the venom of the Boomslang was equal in
its toxic or poisonous power to that of the Cobra," although it is believed that more
recent research does not uphold his contention.
The Boomslang is another snake sufficiently large to have attracted the atten-
tion of the leather trade as a possible commercial proposition, though at present it
is not yet exploited for this purpose.
Legend-Vide the note following the description and habits of Philothamnus
nitidus it is possible that the sacred green (golden-bellied) tree snakes of the Bakitara
were Boomslangs, though from the description it is more likely that they were
snakes of the genera Cholorophis and Philothamnus.
Genus CALAMELAPS Gunther.
This is a tropical African genus, of small, dark, uniformly-coloured snakes
which attain a maximum length of about 28 inches; its few representatives have a
remarkable superficial similarity to the deadly little species of the the genus Atrac-
The maxillary teeth, successively increasing in size, are followed, after an in-
terspace, by the usual large grooved fang situated below the eye: the anterior man-
dibul'ar teeth are enlarged. Other prominent characters include:- small head, not
distinct from neck; minute eye, with rounded pupil; cylindrical body; smooth scales
without pits; rounded ventrals; very short, obtuse tail; and subcaudals in 2 rows.
Scales in 13-21 rows.
CALAMELAPS UNICOLOR (Reinhardt).'
(Plate XII, Fig. 2: Coloured Plate (M), Fig. 2).
Native names-None known, and it is unlikely that so small and inconspicuous
a species is recognized by a special name.
There appear to be no "popular",names,
Distribution-West Africa-in Sierra Leone, Gold Coast, Togo and Nigeria,
easterly to N.E. Belgian Congo (Faradje): Eastern and South-central Africa-from
Uganda and Kenya Colony (recorded localities include Lamu and Mombasa) to
Tanganyika Territory, Lake Nyasa and Northern Rhodesia.
According to Schmidt (1923, p. 116):- "Well known from Togo and Uganda;
the occurrence of Calamelaps unicolor at Faradje establishes the fact of a Sudanese
distribution for this species. It is another illustration of the obvious rule that
members of the Togo-Niger fauna have reached Uganda via the plains, while
species from the Gaboon-Cameroon area reaching Uganda have spread through the
Occurrence in Uganda-This insignificant little species has been collected at
Kampala (by Ansorge) and at Bussu, not far east of Jinja (by Bayon). Although
likely to occur throughout most of the Protectorate it is a snake which can be easily
overlooked, sufficient reason for its apparent scarcity. Sir H.H. Johnston includes
it in his Uganda List but omits the precise locality.
Description-This small species normally is unlikely to attain to a length in
excess of 18 inches, though Schmidt (1923, p. 17) records a Faradje specimen "of
extraordinary size, measuring 722 mm. (approx. 28.4 inches), in which the tail, 50
mm., constitutes o07 of the total Boulenger quotes 365 (tail 27) mm., the total length
being thirteen-and-a-half times that of the tail. Sternfeld (910o) gives a measure-
ment of 37 cm. According to Loveridge 1928) the largest(a male) of five collected
in the Uluguru and Usambara Mountains region of Tanganyika Territory measured
472 (430+42) mm., the total length being eleven-and-a-quarter times that of the tail.
The same author (1933) records a specimen from Mwaya, Lake Nyasa, measur-
ing 475 (430+45) mm.
Prominent characters are detailed comprehensively in the note on the genus:
in addition, the anal is divided, and the rostral, large. Scales in 19 rows: ventrals
167-208: subcaudals 21-38. The Kampala example, a male, has 180 ventrals and
34 subcaudals: the Bussu snake, a female, 206 ventrals and 22 subcaudals. The
unusually large specimen from Faradje, previously mentioned, is also abnormal in
having 17 rows of scales; the ventrals number 202 and the subcaudals 23.
The number of scale rows, according to Loveridge (1933), may vary from 17 to
21, and he suggests "that snakes with 17 midbody scale rows may be restricted to the
tropical or mountain rain forest areas while those with 19 or 21 scale rows occur only
in hot country at lower altitudes. In the main this is supported by the records but
is negatived by Sternfeld's Bagamoyo specimen and some others. More material
of this rare species is required before a mature decision can be reached."
This is a uniformly coloured species the description of the coloration differing
slightly according to the various authors, though it would appear that the differen-
ces are due mainly to the age of the skin in individuals. Boulenger gives, "Uni-
form blackish brown": Schmidt (1923), "Uniformly colored above and below, a
very dark grayish brown": and Loveridge (1928), "In life, uniformly iridiscent black;
some opaque grey, the latter presumably about to slough." Eye, dark,
UGANDA SNAKES (M)
I. X Chilorhinophis butler
2. Ca/ame/aps unico/or
3. Miodon christyi.
4. XA Miodon graueri.
5. Apara//actus concolor.
X Not from actual specimens, but composite
la. Lateral Section.
2a. Lateral Section.
3a. Lateral Section.
4a. Lateral Section.
5a. Lateral Section.
JlhnBtal Son tanw.I LLondon
Ib. Ventral Section.
2b. Ventral Section.
3b. Ventral Section.
4b. Ventral Section.
5b. Ventral Section.
both Schmidt (1923) and Loveridge (1928) draw attention to the extraordinary
superficial likeness of Calamelaps unicolor to snakes of the genus Atractaspis. The
former records that the collectors with the American Museum Congo Expedition
supposed "that the fangs had been removed by the natives who brought the spe-
cimen"; while the latter mentions that Tornier placed Atractaspis hildebrandtiin the
synonymy of C. unicolor and that Boulenger referred a specimen of C. unicolor to
Habits -It is not easy to describe the habits of a species with which one is
unfamiliar in its natural state, and the notes by the several authors do not afford
much assistance, but there is little doubt that C. unicoloris mainly a burrowing snake.
Loveridge (1928) records one being hoed up in a garden, and that others were
found during the clearing of land. The same authority also mentions that its diet
includes tiny skinks, caecilians and lizards, and on occasion very small snakes as
he recovered a specimen of Aparallactus werneri from a stomach he examined.
Genus CHILORHINOPHIS Werner.
This is probably the most remarkable of all the African genera. Its members
are highly specialised burrowing snakes of conspicuous black and yellow coloration
with exceedingly slender attenuated bodies, and in consequence should be unmis-
takable. Boulenger (1913) in describing Apostolepis (now Chilorhinophis) gerardi
referred this Central African snake (from Kikondja, Belgian Congo) to a similar
burrowing South American genus, Apostolepis, a somewhat curious identification.
Werner (1907) had previously described Chilorhinophis butler from Mongalla in
the Southern Sudan, at the same time creating a new genus, Chilorhinophis. Bar-
bour and Amaral (1927) placed gerardi in a new genus, Parkerophis, which, how-
ever, is a synonym of Chilorhinophis.
The nostril is situated in a single shield, which reaches the labial border (i.e.
the nasal and the first upper labial are fused) and is widely separated from the mi-
nute praocular: in Werner's description of his new genus (translation):- No nasal,
nostrils in the first supralabial, internasal and prefrontal coalesce." And refer-
ring in particular to the new species, C. butler, the first of the genus to be describ-
ed, he records:- "In regard to the position of the nostrils this species has no equal."
The genus has a very short maxillary with three or four small teeth followed
after a brief interspace by a pair of large grooved fangs, situated below the anterior
border of the eye. As is the case in Thelotornis, Dispholidus and Miodon the ectop-
terygoid bone is forked, the two branches articulating with the maxillary.
Other prominent characters include:- the small head not distinct from neck;
small eye with vertically elliptic or round pupil; no loreal; no anterior temporal;
cylindrical body; smooth scales without apical pits; rounded ventrals; very short,
stumpy tail, rounded off at the end; and subcaudals in 2 rows.
In the representatives of this genus the tail is coloured to resemble the head
and when alarmed they move with the tail held high simulating a head-an extra-
ordinary characteristic unique amongst African snakes.
The range so far known includes the Southern Sudan, Tanganyika Territoiry,
Portuguese East Africa, Northern Rhodesia, S. E. Belgian Congo and Southern
Rhodesia. It is apparently a savanna genus.
Of the three described species C. butler, C. gerardi, and C. carpenter very few
examples are known:-i.e..two of the first, one of which is apparently lost, five of
gerardi, and a single only of the last named (from Portuguese East Africa).
As it seems probable from the distribution outlined that specimens of a species
of Chilorhinophis will in due course be found in both Uganda and Kenya Colony,
the attributes of these remarkable snakes have been detailed particularly compre-
hensively in the hope that examples which may turn up casually will be at once
recognized, for as many as can be procured are required for comparative study.
These snakes are most likely to be found during and soon after rainy weather,
especially in the course of cleaning and cultivating weedy land and areas of rank
vegetation: superficially they might be said to resemble slightly the pallid, attenuat-
ed lizards of the genus Chamcesaura.
CHILORHINOPHIS BUTLER Werner.
Butler's Black-and-Yellow Burrowing Snake.
(Plate XII, Fig. 1: Coloured Plate (M), Fig. 1).
Native names-None known, though no doubt so distinctive and remarkable a
species is likely to be distinguished by a special name wherever it occurs.
Distribution-The only two recorded examples were obtained respectively at
Mongalla(the type) in the Southern Sudan, and at Amani, in Tanganyika Territory.
The latter, however, is no longer to be found in the Berlin Museum.
Occurrence in Uganda-See preceding note on "Distribution." This species is in-
cluded provisionally in the Uganda List in order to draw attention to a remarkable
species, readily recognisable, which is likely to occur.
Description-As there is no specimen available for examination in any British
scientific institution it is necessary to quote extensively from Werner's (type) and
Sternfeld's descriptions. Werner gives a length of 315 (tail 20)mm., the total be-
ing fifteen-and-three-quarters times that of the tail: diameter of body, 4 mm.:
Sternfeld's Amani specimen is 32 cm.
In addition to the prominent characters detailed in the comprehensive note on
the genus, diagnostic features according to Werner (translation) are :- "Rostral
triangular much higher than broad, plainly visible from above. Praefrontal longer
'than the frontal, which is hexagon-shaped with obtuse front and acute back angle.
Supraoculars small, parietals longer than the frontal. Supralabials four, the third
'at the eye, the fourth in contact with the parietal; a praeocular, a postocular (the
latter may be missing). Three sublabials in contact with the chin shields, after
which follow no second pair but only scales." The anal is divided.
Scales in 15 rows: ventrals 256: subcaudals 33. (A specimen of C. gerard frohi
Sinoia (R. Zambezi), Southern Rhodesia has:- scales in 15 rows: ventrals 288:
subcaudals 20; and another example of the same species from Nyamkolo (Lake
Tanganyika), Northern Rhodesia, has:- scale-rows 15: ventrals 308; subcaudals 26:
anal divided: and length 445 (420+25) mm. There is also a specimen of C.
gerardi in the Bulawayo Museum in Southern Rhodesia the precise locality not
being recorded. Single specimens have also been collected by de Witte respectively
at Lukafu and Elisabethville, both of which localities are in the S.E. Belgian Congo.
Boulenger's type of C. gerardi has 276 ventrals and 28 subcaudals. The type and
sole specimen of C. carpenter has:- scale rows 15: ventrals 265: subcaudals 20: total
length 280 mm., tail 16 mm., and maximum diameter of body 3 mm.).
The coloration of Werner's type is:- "Head and neck black, upper lip yellow;
behind the corners of the mouth extends the black of the upper side in triangular shape
down to the sides of neck. Upper part yellow with three black longitudinal lines,
which occupy the middle line and the fifth bilateral rows of scales and disappear
shortly before the end of the tail. On the underside uniform bright yellow; at the
end of the second third of the tail a black cross band, and behind it scanty white
spots on the subcaudals." This description was taken from a dead specimen
brought in by natives. Sternfeld's description (translation) of the Amani specimen
is:- "Above yellow, with three black longitudinal lines terminating at the end of the
tail. Head and neck black, -with black triangle at back of head. Below, light
yellow; tip of the tail whitish with black spots."
Loveridge's (1933) remarks concerning the coloration of the Nyamkolo spe-
cimen are worth quoting:- "The original description based on a preserved specimen
gives one little idea of the beautiful appearance of the living reptile. Above, crown
of head black flecked with yellow on the prefrontals, supraoculars and parietals; it
is also black for six scale-rows behind the head except for a pair of yellow flecks
just posterior to the parietals; three black bands (a vertebral flanked by dorso-
laterals) proceed from the black patch on the neck and are continued along the
body and tail until they merge into the black tip of the tail; this black tip is flecked
with yellow like the head; between the bands, and on the flanks, the body color is
chrome yellow. Below, the throat is china-white extending upwards to some of the
upper labials; the ventrals and a half scale-row on either side are orange as are
also the anterior subcaudals followed by two pairs of black subcaudals, then ten
pairs of white subcaudals with grey blue centres some of which are flecked with
black; the terminal scute of the tail is black."
Parker's (1927) description of the colouring of C. carpenter from a spirit speci-
men, is also included for purposes of comparison :- "Yellowish white above, with a
ladder-like dark brown mid-dorsal stripe; a simple dark dorso-lateral stripe on the
adjacent halves of the fifth and sixth scale-rows and a narrow brown lateral streak
between the third and fourth scale-rows; lower lateral scales faintly edged with
brown. Immaculate yellowish white beneath. Head and neck black above, the
colour extending downwards on the sides of the neck and suggesting a collar; upper
labials yellow; two small white spots on the occiput. Posterior half of the tail
black, above and beneath, with a light area on the under surface near the tip."
As in the case of C. gerardi and C. butler the tail is coloured to resemble the
According to Hale Carpenter (Jour. E.A. and Uganda Nat. His. Soc., XV, 191 ,
p. 496):- "In August 1918, when on the Port Amelia line of communications at An-
quabe, about forty miles west of Port Amelia, I found in the camp a curious little
reptile which I sent home, thinking it would be of interest, as it was obviously of
subterranean habits. About ten inches long, and no thicker than a stout steel
knitting-needle, it had such minute smooth scales that the skin had a soapy feeling
as in the 'blind-worm'. Its anterior extremity tapered to a very minute head, in
which a tiny mouth and eyes could just be discovered. The head, and about one-
eighth of an inch of body immediately behind, was jet-black, as also was the post-
erior extremity, which so closely resembled the head that anyone might conclude
he had found a 'two-headed snake.' The body was brown, with a black line on each
side of the mid-dorsal line, which was composed of a series of pairs of dark dots.
The extraordinary likeness of the posterior extremity to a head had resulted in
the snake receiving a disabling blow at that end, for I found it lying dead with a
large abrasion a little way from the tip of the body.
Such a condition of colouration is of interest to the student of animal colours,
being known as a 'directive mark' whose object is-to induce an enemy to deliver
its expected attack at some point where vital injury will not result, or to anticipate
movement in a direction opposite to that which the creature will take."
Habits-There appears to be little on record concerning the habits of C. butler,
which, however, are unlikely to differ from those of the two allied species, and that
it is a burrowing snake has already been mentioned. Hale Carpenter in A Natu-
ralist in East Africa (1925, pp. 132-133) and in the Journal of the East Africa and
Uganda Natural History Society (XV, 1919, p. 499), refers to the circumstances
concerning his acquisition of the only known specimen of C. carpenter.
Loveridge (1933, p. 263) referring to C.gerardi notes:- "I saw the reptile wrig-
gling along with its tail held high simulating a head as described and figured by
Carpenter for the allied form." According to the same author, where this snake
occurs it is fairly well known and probably not uncommon. "This snake was taken
on the road leading up to the London Missionary Society's station on the bluff
overlooking the bay at Nyamkolo, by men engaged in cleaning weeds off the road.
The rains had ceased a month before and the country was already very dry. The vil-
lagers stated that the species was not rare at certain seasons but all my efforts to
obtain others during the three days we camped at Nyamkolo failed. Curiously
enough the veteran missionary Mr. White described this snake to me within an
hour or so of my arrival saying that he had seen several twenty-five years ago
but none in recent times." Loveridge also mentions:- "I have little doubt that C.
gerardi will be found near Kasanga in Tanganyika Territory (at the south-east
extremity of Lake Tanganyika) for the natives at Kasanga profess to know it."
Illustrations--No specimen being available for reproduction the line drawing
(Plate XII, Fig. i) has been copied from Werner's illustrations of the type, with the
usual acknowledgments ; similarly the coloured drawing (Coloured Plate (M), Fig. i)
is a composite production based on his delineations and his description, as well as to
a certain exent on specimens of C. gerardi and C. carpenter in the British Museum
Genus MIODON Dumeril.
This is a Western Forest, mainly Rain Forest, genus of small dark coloured
snakes, uniform, or lined, spotted or otherwise marked, darker or paler. The maxi-
mum length is about 29 inches, attained by a male; females reach nearly 27 inches,
and there are several records of representatives of this sex which are over 24 inches.
All these snakes are conspicuously slender.
They resemble Calamelaps in the very short maxillary but differ in having
two or three small teeth followed after an interspace by a very large grooved fang
situated in advance ofthe eye. The second and third or third and fourth mandibular
teeth are large and fang-like. Other prominent characters include:- the small head
not distinct from neck; very small, almost minute, eye with round pupil; nostril in a
single or divided nasal, which does not touch the rostral, the internasal forming a
suture with the first labial; cylindrical body; smooth scales, without pits; rounded
ventrals; extremely short tail; and subcaudals in 2 rows.
This is one of the four African genera, the others being Thelotornis, Dispholidus
and Chilorhinophis, in which the short maxillary articulates with the forked ectop-
MIODON CHRISTYI Boulenger.
(Plate XII, Fig. 3: Coloured Plate (M), Fig. 3).
Native names-None known, and so inconspicuous a species is unlikely to be
recognized by a special name.
Distribution-As far as is known at present this little species is restricted to
Rain Forest localities within the Uganda Protectorate.
Occurrence in Uganda --The type, a female, and two other specimens were collect-
ed in the Mabira Forest by Dr. Christy. A juvenile was obtained in 1933 by the
writer at Mubango, in the Mabira Forest. Another example was found by a British
Museum expedition at Kilembe (4,500 feet) on the lower eastern slopes of the Ru-
wenzori Range, early in 1935; while still more recently, at the end of 1935, Mr. W.
J. Eggeling procured a female in the Budongo Forest in Bunyoro. So it would ap-
pear that this species is probably widely distributed and possibly not uncommon
wherever conditions are suitable, and its apparent rarity is due no doubt to its
insignificance. The six examples cited are all that are to be found in British collec-
tions, actually all are at the British Museum (Natural Hisory), and, in addition, few
other specimens are known,
Description-Boulenger's measurement of the type, a female, is 430 (tail 28)
mm., the total length being about fifteen-and-a-third times that of the tail. A ju-
venile collected personally measures 94 (tail 1) inches. The measurements in both
these specimens emphasise the extreme stubbiness of the tail. The writer's field
notes record:- "Possibly Atractaspis sp.; very slender; half as thick as an ordinary
pencil. Sternfeld (19 o) refers to a Uganda specimen 43 cm. in length.
In amplification of the prominent characters detailed in the descriptive note on
the genus, the anal is divided, and the rostral, which is broader than deep, is just
visible from above. The tiny eye is almost black. Scales in 15 rows: ventrals 202-
241: subcaudals 15-22. In the type there are 209 ventrals and 20 subcaudals. In
other examples the counts are as follows:-
Sex. Locality. Scale rows. Ventrals. Subcaudals
Female Mabira Forest 15 221 15
Juvenile do 15 202 19
Mabira Forest 15 202o 22
Female Kilembe (4500 ft),
Eastern Ruwenzori 15 241 18
Female Budongo Forest,
Bunyoro 15 231 16
With reference to the Kilembe specimen, according to Parker (in lit.):- "Though
this specimen has a considerably higher number of ventrals than has previously
been reported, it agrees well with the types in other respects." It will also be
observed that the Budongo example has a relatively high ventral count. (A British
Museum (Natural History) specimen of Miodon gabonensis from the Ituri region of
the Belgian Congo has 241 ventrals and 21 subcaudals).
Boulenger gives the coloration of the type as:- "Black above and on the lower
surface of the head, ventrals and subcaudals white, broadly margined with black."
In the writer's field notes he records:- "Black, glossed iridiscent blue almost as deep
as indigo; below dull creamy or dirty whitish, each ventral and subcaudal shield
broadly edged (laterally) with black." According to Sternfeld (1910) (translation),
the colour is:- "Above and also below head, black. Belly white, broad black
border" (to shields). Eye, dark.
Miodon is a difficult genus, and its species not easy to determine satisfactorily.
The group is in need of revision, but in the absence of the necessary comparative
material this is at present impossible. It is hoped to be able in due course to col-
lect a sufficiently large series of Uganda specimens to enable this revision to be
Habits--With the exception of a few notes on diet, there is practically nothing
on record concerning the habits of the various species of this interesting genus.
The writer's Mubango (Mabira) example was obtained by natives while clearing
dense thickets of "lantana" out of an abandoned rubber plantation. It is possibly
to a certain extent a burrower, though its rostral is scarcely developed sufficient-
ly for such aipurpose.
In spite of their diminutive size and slender form, it would appear that the
members of this genus feed somewhat freely on other small snakes, for Loveridge
( 933) referring to M. gabonensis records:- "What is unmistakably the tip of the
tail of a blind snake (Typhlops or Leptotyphlops) was present in the stomach;" and
according to Schmidt (1923) in connection with an example of M. collaris:- "This small
specimen, measuring 230 mm., contained-a snake 180 mm. in length, its head, un-
MIODON GRAUERI Sternfeld.
(Plate XII, Fig. 4: Coloured Plate (M), Fig. 4).
Native names-None known, and, as mentioned in connection with the preced-
ing species, it is unlikely to be distinguished by a special name.
Distribution and Occurrence in Uganda-The only known specimen was col-
lected at "Entetbe" (sic) (Uganda) by Grauer.
Description-The type (and only known example) is unsexed. According to
Sternfeld (1908), who described this species, the length is 27 (tail 1.5) cm., the total
being eighteen times that of the tail, which is extremely short, just a stub.
Prominent characters are detailed in the descriptive note on the genus. In
addition, Sternfeld gives the following distinguishing characteristics (translation):-
"Frontal as long as broad, twice as long as the supraoculars. Internasals nearly as
long as the pre-frontals. Seven upper labials, the third and fourth touching the eye.
Temporals 1 + r. Four lower labials in contact with the anterior chin-shields
which are longer than the posterior. Eye two-thirds its distance from the edge of
the lip." He does not state whether the anal is entire or divided, though in most
species of Miodon it is the latter.
Scales in 15 rows: ventrals 238: subcaudals 18. The coloration is given as:-
"Upper surfaces blue-black, the outermost scale row light-edged. A broad white band
on the hinder part of the head and neck, reaching anteriorly to the middle of the
Habits-This rare species is unlikely to differ appreciably in habits from other
members of the genus and, vide the notes on M. christyi, so far there is very little
known about the mode of life of any of its representatives.
M. graueri being unique, it is essential to endeavour to procure further speci-
mens. In view of the rapidity with which reclamation is taking place in its forest
haunts this should not be difficult.
Illustrations-No specimen being available for reproduction the line drawing
(Plate XII, Fig. 4) has been copied from Sternfeld's illustrations of the type, with
the usual acknowledgments: similarly the coloured drawing (Coloured Plate (M),
Fig. 4) is a composite production based on his delineations and his description, as
well as to a certain extent on specimens of Miodon christyi in the British Museum
Genus APARALLACTUS Smith.
This is a Tropical and South African genus containing more than a dozen
species with mainly a savanna habitat. As will be explained later there is evidently
considerable confusion of identity in the species some of which have been based on
immature and half-grown specimens of Elapops modestus, and Schmidt (1923) "is
convinced that the species of Aparallactus require revision."
The range of this interesting genus of small snakes, many of which measure
less than a foot in length, includes the Gold Coast, Northern Nigeria, Guinea,
French Congo, Southern and North-eastern Sudan, Eritrea, Abyssinia, Somaliland,
Kenya Colony, Zanzibar, Tanganyika Territory, Nyasaland, Portuguese East
Africa, Northern Rhodesia, Angola, Belgian Congo, Caffraria and Transvaal, i.e.
mainly around the Western Forest. The maximum length is about 18 inches, and
in form they are generally slender. The coloration above is sometimes black or
blackish, but more usually varying shades of brown-occasionally uniform, though
normally neatly lined or spotted darker: a conspicuous feature of most species is a
broad black nuchal collar edged anteriorly or posteriorly, or both, paler: the top
of the head is often black. Below, the coloration varies from yellowish and whitish
to darker, usually immaculate, but sometimes speckled with brown or grey.
Prominent characters include:- short maxillary with six to nine small teeth
followed by a large grooved fang situated below the eye; anterior mandibular
teeth longest; small head not distinct from neck; small eye with round pupil;
cylindrical body; smooth scales without pits, in 15 rows; rounded ventrals; moderate
or short tail; and single subcaudals.
Representatives of this genus, though likely to occur, are not yet known from
within the limits of present-day Uganda, and specimens are urgently required;
they are however unlikely to be found in forest localities.
APARALLACTUS CONCOLOR (Fischer). *
(Plate XII, Fig. 5: Coloured Plate (M), Fig. 5).
Native names-None known, and it is unlikely that this small, inconspicuous
species will be distinguished in the vernacular by a special name.
As most species of Aparallactus on account of their distinctive marking are referred
to popularly as "black-headed" snakes, this uniformly coloured (dark brown or black)
member cannot be so distinguished, and in consequence does not appear to have received a
bistribution-Eastern Africa; from the Southern Sudan and Southern Abys-
sinia through the more arid regions of Kenya Colony (east of the western scarp
of the Great Rift Valley) as far south as Voi and Taru, and to Arusha (type locality),
Kilimanjaro and Usambara in Tanganyika Territory.
Occurrence in Uganda-This species is included provisionally in the Uganda
List as it is almost certain to turn up in due course in the drier, low-lying northern
and eastern regions of the Protectorate. Extralimitally it is known from Lado
in the Southern Sudan, and from Turkana (adjacent to, but considerably lower
than, Karamoja) in Kenya Colony where it is possibly not uncommon. On account
of its sombre coloration it is a species easy to overlook.
Description-Boulenger's greatest measurement is 460 (tail o) mm., approx.
18 inches., the total being a little more than four times the length of the tail, which
is moderately long. Sternfeld (1910) gives a length of 46 cm., and an East African
specimen recorded is i8l (tail 4|) inches. In addition to the prominent features
described in the detail of the species, the anal is entire. Scales in 15 rows: vent-
rals 145-166; subcaudals 50-71. A male from Lodwar (Turkana) has 158 ventrals;
and a female, from Turkana, 158 ventrals and 62 subcaudals.
Loveridge (1929) refers to examples from Kenya Colony which have respect-
ively 154 and 155 ventrals, and 45 and 59 subcaudals.
Werner's (1907) identification with A. concolor of Emin Pasha's specimen
from the Lado agrees infew respects with the data previously given: the ventral
count is as low as 135, me anal is divided, and the subcaudals which are in two
rows 18, indicating an extremely short tail, though the fifteen scale-rows do agree.
Also, his coloration, "grey-violet with lighter (pale blue-grey) edge to the scales
and belly shields," though it may be from a specimen nearly ready to slough, does
not exactly tally with Boulenger's "uniform dark brown or black, somewhat lighter
beneath." Loveridge (in lit.) suggests:- "Werner's Lado record undoubtedly refers
to a juvenile Prosymna before the snout becomes shovel-shaped, but Werner states
'internasals' not internasall'; otherwise it agrees with ambigua." Eye, dark. *
Habits-Beyond the fact that this is a savanna species which frequents the drier
low-lying regions, there appears to be nothing on record about its mode of life, so
that any specimens accompanied by field notes are urgently needed. Loveridge
(1928) in a general note refers to eight species in East Africa, which he describes as
little, khaki-coloured snakes with black heads harmless to man: two to four eggs,
the largest 29 x 6 mm.: and their diet, which includes snails, mainly centipedes.
It is possible that A. lunulatus may eventually be found in the northern or
eastern regions of the Protectorate as it has been collected by Schouteden in the
N. E. Belgian Congo, although most of its recorded range-from Kassala Province
in the North-eastern Sudan to the Tanganyika littoral, Lake Nyasaand Lake Tanga-
nyika is mainly much farther east.
Genus ELAPOPS Gunther.
This is a West African forest genus represented by a single species the juve-
niles and half-grown of which are so different from the adults that they have been
erroneously described as species of Aparallactus. If in the first instance it had been
i'ealised that Elapops and Aparallactus are respectively exclusively forest and mainly
savanna forms, some alleged species of Aparallactus originating from typical Rain
Forest localities would not have been wrongly identified.
There are eleven or twelve maxillary teeth, the last two a little enlarged and
feebly grooved on the inner side; the anterior mandibular teeth arelongest. Other
prominent characters include:- the small head not distinct from neck: small eye
with round pupil: cylindrical body: smooth scales without pits: rounded ventrals:
moderately short tail: and single subcaudals.
ELAPOPS MODESTUS Gunther.
Grey Forest Snake or Blue-grey Forest Snake.
(Plate XII, Fig. 6: Coloured Plate (N), Figs. 1-2).
Native names-None known, but, as this is a somewhat conspicuous species,
it is probable that it will be recognized by special names in the forests of Buganda
and Bunyoro where it occurs. a
Distribution-West Africa, from Liberia easterly to the Ituri (Belgian Congo)
and Uganda; also recorded from Kasai and near Leopoldville, both in the Belgian
Occurrence in Uganda-Evidently fairly common in the Mabira Forest (Buganda)
and the Budongo Forest (Bunyoro); and is likely to be found in all the sub-montane
rain forests and forest "islands."
Description- Boulenger's greatest measurement is 540 (tail 75) mm., the total
length being a little more than seven times that of the tail. The American Museum
Congo Expedition obtained a fine series of nineteen examples, and according to
Schmidt (1923, p. 122):- "The largest male measures 442 mm., the largest female
540 mm. The tail length in males is *x8-'I9 of the total, in the females *13-'16."
Two males collected personally in the Mabira Forest measure respectively 18,
(tail 3-) and i7a (tail 2|) inches.
A female obtained by Mr. W. J. Eggeling in the Budongo Forest is 478 mm.
and a juvenile from the same locality 9 inches, the tail being only an inch.
Loveridge (1928) mentions a snake in the United States National Museum
from "between Abyssinia and Kenya Colony", identified with Aparallactus christyi,
which measures 424 (350+74) mm,; and has 172 ventrals and 39 subcaudals, which
might be E. modestus, though both the ventral and subcaudal counts are higher
than any of the records of E. modestus examined, and the locality seems to be
unlikely. The same author (1936) refers to a Cameroon example.
Prominent features are detailed in the descriptive note on the genus, in
addition the anal is entire. A good distinguishing character, though shared. by
snakes of the genus Aparallactus, is the single row of subcaudals. The eye is
brown. Scales in 15 rows; ventrals 138-169: subcaudals 32-47. The juvenile fe-
male, the type of Aparallactus christyi, from the Mabira Forest has 163 ventrals and
34 subcaudals: in length it is 270 (235+35) mm. A male collected personally in
the Mabira Forest has 144 ventrals and 45 subcaudals: a female obtained by Mr.
W. J. Eggeling in the Budongo Forest has 157 ventrals and 41 subcaudals, the tail
being broken in two. An example from the Ituri Forest has 145 ventrals and 32
subcaudals; and two others from Beni (Ituri Forest) 154 ventrals and 37 subcau-
dals (a female)and 147 and 37 (a juvenile). According to Schmidt (1923):- "The
sexes are sharply distinguished by the number of ventrals, 139-144 in males, 154-
164 in females; subcaudals 43-47 in males, 37-44 in females."
Boulenger's description of the coloration is:- "Dark olive-grey above, the
scales more or less distinctly edged with black; ventrals and subcaudals yellowish,
olive-grey, or yellowish dotted or spotted with grey, the spots sometimes forming
a median series."
Uganda material personally examined is variously described. Adults from the
Mabira Forest are a handsome blue-grey suffused brownish dorsally, the scales
conspicuously edged blackish, below pale; an adult from the Budongo Forest is
grey with a satiny bluish lustre and white below; juveniles from the Budongo Forest
are slate above, white below, and have a whitish nuchal collar. It is the conspicuous
nuchal marking of the juveniles and their neatly slender form which are so sugges-
tive of a species of Aparallactus. Eye, dark.
It was as recently as the end of 1935 that Mr. H. W. Parker (in lit.) referring
to specimens of Elapops modestus sent to the British Museum (Natural History) in
a collection from the Budongo Forest wrote:- "This is the first record of the species
from Uganda under this name. But Aparallactus christyi Boulenger is really a
young E. modestus and a specimen you sent from the Mabira Forest (R. 435) which
I identified as Aparallactus flavitorques is also an E. modestus," and :- "These are the
young, collared, phase like the type of Aparallactus christyi."
It has been previously mentioned that Schmidt "is convinced that the species
of Aparallactus require revision", and, further, this author in connection with the
long series of E. modestus from the Congo remarks :- "Although far from satisfied
with the present reference of an apparently heterogeneous series of specimens, it
appears undesirable to add to the number of named forms without reference to
comparison material and to types."
Quoting in extenso from Schmidt (1923, p. 122):- "The present series (of r9)
exhibits a considerable range of variation in dentition, scale characters, and color-
ation. The preliminary identification was far from satisfactory, as a considerable
number of maxillae were examined before finding grooved teeth; three out of eight
specimens had faint grooves while the other five had solid posterior teeth. The
specific identification offered still greater difficulties, for the coloration of many
specimens is exactly that of Aparallactus ubangensis and A. flavitorques (Bouleng-
er, g19o, Ann. Mus. Congo, (i) II, p. 1 P1. IV., figs. 2-3), one of which-at least
donles from the Rain Forest and specimens of Elapops modestus from Camero6ii
appear to represent a larger form. The feeble enlargement of the posterior teeth and
the faintness of the grooves when these are present at all preclude the possibility
of identifying them as Aparallactus. Elapops modestus is not described as collared,
but in the present series there is a complete transition from the collared juvenile
and half-grown specimens to the uniformly colored adults".
Further, according to Schmidt:- "Aside from the presence or absence of a light
brown nuchal collar already mentioned, the coloration varies in shade of gray, two
specimens being much lighter bluish gray, and the venter may be immaculate yel-
low or heavily mottled with dark gray."
It will be realized that this is a particularly interesting species, and a long se-
ries of Uganda specimens, which should not be difficult to procure, might provide
a useful basis on which to attempt a revision of the closely allied genus Aparallactus.
It is a handsome snake, particularly when adult, and inoffensive in appearance.
Habits-In spite of the fine series collected by the American Museum Congo
Expedition, and a total of eight either personally collected or examined in Uganda,
there is, unfortunately, practically nothing on record concerning the habits of
Elapops modestus. It is a forest species which was obtained from natives who
were cultivating coffee plantations in the Mabira Forest: Budongo material was
collected mainly in the course of forestry operations, though a couple of examples
were caught in the labour lines situated in a. clearing in the forest. Stomachs
were not examined, so that no detail of diet is available. In disposition thi* snake
appears to be extremely placid and makes no attempt to bite when handled. It
should not be difficult to acquire locally much knowledge concerning its mode of life.
NOTE-From what has been recorded it will be understood that considerable
confusion exists in the identification of the small snakes of the genera Calamelaps,
Miodon, Aparallactus and Elapops, though the two rows of subcaudals in the first two
readily distinguish them from the last two which have a single row only. Long
series of these snakes, usually overlooked on account of their insignificance, are
required in order to clarify the existing obscurity.
Most of them, however, are species likely to be obtained only by systematic
search, and are unlikely to turn up casually.
Though they are considered by many authorities to be a sub-family-Elapinae
of the world-wide family Colubridae, it seems preferable for the purposes of this
"Guide" to emphasize the arrangement and development of the fangs of the Pro-
teroglyphous snakes (See "A Guide to the Snakes of Uganda", Uganda Journal,
Vol. III, July, 1935, No. i., p.48) by following recent scientific workers (including
Ditmars and Corkill) and according them full family recognition.
This deadly family has representatives in all continents except Europe and
in addition to the venomous sea snakes, embraces all land snakes which are charac-
terised by short, rigid (actually comparatively immovable) and permanently erect
fangs in the forward portion of the upper jaw. These snakes are often referred to
as the front-fanged venomous snakes or Proteroglypha: and this family, in the de-
velopment of the poison fangs as an inoculatory mechanism, represents a stage
further than the back-fanged Opisthoglypha.
The venom is conveyed through the anterior maxillary teeth, which are so
folded as to appear hollow or perforated : the groove in the fangs is much deeper
than in the opisthoglyphous snakes, and the edges of the groove exhibit a tendency
to close in as a roof over the canal to form a tube.
Externally the members of this family, which in Africa includes the cobras,
tree cobras or mambas, African garter (or coral) snakes, and sea snakes of the sub-
family Hydrophidae, resemble the typical Colubrine, though they are among the most
deadly of all serpents. Africa has a fine variety of these snakes of all sizes from
the elongated, 'racing' mamba known to attain a length of 14 feet to the small viper-
like garter snake usually measuring less than 2 feet.
According to Ditmars (1931):- "If Australia (where the Elapines predominate)
were eliminated, Africa could properly be called the headquarters of the Elapidae."
The poison, a neurotoxin or nerve destroyer, of these snakes affects chiefly the
nervous system and produces paralysis of various muscles, staggering gait or inco-
ordination of speech followed by respiratory paralysis, convulsions and death by
Though by no means the rule the normal prey of these snakes is naturally to
a great extent cold-blooded, and the powerful neurotoxin secreted in large species
such as the cobras is almost immediately effective against active and dangerous
warm-blooded prey like large rats, for a cobra will hang on and "chew" its victim
injecting successively and rapidly several doses of its potent venom.
Doses of alcohol taken in moderation, in the absence of the appropriate, expert
treatment, are not unduly harmful in the case of proteroglyph (elapine) poisoning:
on the other hand as a remedy in cases of solenoglyph or viperine bite alcohol is
These snakes are mostly oviparous: i.e. they lay eggs.
Prominent characteristics are in due course detailed comprehensively in the
descriptive note on the several genera, and further in the exhaustive narrative on
each species. Owing to the importance of these snakes by reason of their deadly
attributes every endeavour has been made to make the description of each species
as comprehensive and complete as possible.
The reader should not permit himself (or herself) to be scared unduly by the
description of venoms or by some of the horrors portrayed, for it must be remembered
thlt poisonous snakes do not roam the countryside with the set purpose of killing
human beings; their lethal properties are primarily for obtaining food, and secondly
for the purpose of defence. Also, in the everyday life of the European under
normal conditions snakes are rarely encountered. If one requires proof of the
statements in the two preceding paragraphs one will find plenty in the rarity of cases
of snake-bite in Uganda.
Genus BOULENGERINA Dollo.
This is a remarkable Tropical African genus of aquatic Elapids or "Water
Cobras" of large size which are found in Lake Tanganyika, Nyasaland and in
certain rivers of the Congo system from the Cameroons to Leopoldville.
Although no representative of this extraordinarily interesting genus is yet
known to occur in Uganda there is just the possibility that one may turn up, and
consequently it is included provisionally in the Uganda list and a detailed descrip-
tion given of the species in the hope that if specimens are obtained casually they
will be easily recognisable. Accurate identification should not be difficult owing to
the conspicuous and characteristic black annulations which encircle the body,
imparting a most handsome appearance, combined with aquatic habits and the
presence of poison fangs.
Situated fairly well forward on the maxillary bone are a pair of large, grooved
poison-fangs followed by three or four small teeth. As in the case of cobras, the
mandibular teeth are fairly large, anterior being longest; the necessity for an effective
set of teeth in a fish-eating species can be readily understood.
The head is not distinct from the neck; the eye is small with a round pupil; the
body cylindrical; and the scales, in 21-23 rows, smooth and without pits. The
ventrals are rounded, tail moderate and subcaudals in 2 rows.
These snakes owing to their aquatic mode of life have acquired a glossy
appearance: they are known to attain a length of 8 feet, and possibly grow a good
deal larger as according to native accounts, they reach io feet, which latter figure
Loveridge (1933) does not consider improbable.
The general coloration is represented by varying shades of brown with con-
spicuous, fairly broad, black rings or annulations completely encircling the body,
in the typical race annulata, numerous (twenty or more), but in storms restricted
to two (rarely three or none). Annulata is the Western, and stormsi the Eastern,
The similarity of the characteristic annulations of members of the genus
Boulengerina with the conspicuous banding of so many of the sea snakes suggests
an association between this type of colour pattern and an aquatic existence: con-
spicuous barring on the flanks is an outstanding feature, also, in the coloration of
many species of freshwater fishes.
If the handsome annulations in the species annulata have been acquired as a
result of the development of aquatic habits, then it would appear that the typical
race annulata must be far more ancient than the less conspicuously marked storms,
while the somewhat sombre-hued genus Limnonaja will be of comparatively recent
Age, however, reckoned from the aspect of evolution, is youthful where the
species of Boulengerina are concerned, as these snakes so far have shown no ten-
dency to develop the laterally compressed, oar-like tail, which is typical of the sea
In view of the fact that as far back as 1926 it was reported that storms was
becoming increasingly scarce in Lake Tanganyika, it is disquieting to learn that
the rare snakes of this interesting genus have attracted the attention of the fancy
leather industry, and in the Report by the Advisory Committee on Hides and Skins,
Imperial Institute, (1933) are listed as "worthy of consideration".
BOULENGERINA ANNULATA STORMS Dollo.
Storms' Water Cobra.
(Plate XIII, Fig. 2: Coloured Plate (P), Fig. 1).
Native names- None known.
Distribution-Lake Tanganyika and Nyasaland. Also, in 1919, Boulenger
referred a specimen from the Ituri, Belgian Congo, to storms.
Occurrence in Uganda-See remarks in the note on the genus. It appears
definite that no species of Boulengerina occurs in the Victoria Nyanza, though
from the Ituri record in the Section on "Distribution" there is a remote possibility
that a representative may be found in rivers in the extreme west. It is however
unlikely for if present in any river the species would most certainly be found either
in Lake Edward or Lake Albert, or in both. Stormsi therefore can only be included
provisionally in the Uganda list, in reality for purposes of identification on the
off-chance that it might turn up unexpectedly and be recognized.
Description -This is a large species, but the only specimen listed by Boulen-
ger (from Lake Tanganyika) in the Catalogue of Snakes is small, measuring only
240 (tail 85) mm., the tail being contained in the total length about two-and-three-
quarters times. Loveridge (1929) records another small specimen, length of head
and body only 334 mm. and end of tail missing, which was collected in Lake Tan-
ganyika in 1920. The same author (1933) quotes, also from this lake, a male mea-
suring 1385 ( 1115+270) mm., the total being approximately five times that of the
tail, and mentions other specimens, captured and observed, varying from nearly 6
feet (a female) to 8 feet in length.
Of the typical race annulata Schmidt (1923) records five specimens collected
by the American Museum Congo Expedition, viz:- three males-1385 (tail 275), 865
(tail 204), and 1900 (tail 365) mm., and two unsexed--760 (tail 360) and 1870 mm.,
a range of length varying from 2 feet io inches to nearly 6 feet 3 inches.
In these Congo specimens :- "The mean proportion of tail length to total is
'20", and according to Loveridge (1933):- "Obviously there is nothing distinctive
in the relative tail length of the two races".
Midbody scale-rows 21-23: ventrals 192-211: subcaudals 67-78. (In annulata
scales in 21-23 rows: ventrals 201-227: subcaudals 70-77). The anal is entire.
See the detailed note on the genus for other prominent characteristics,
According to Boulenger the coloration is:- "Brown above; four black cross- bars
on the nape and neck, the second and third forming complete rings, followed by
five irregular black spots; further back, the body darker brown with the scales
black-edged; belly white anteriorly, brown further back, with the shields black-
edged, blackish brown towards the tail".
Annulata is an exceedingly handsome snake having twenty or more complete
black rings or annuli encircling the body.
According to Loveridge (1933) "supposed differences in scale-rows and tail
length" do not constitute reliable characters on which to separate the two races,
and in consequence there is left only as a basis for separation "a color difference,
well-marked in the extreme West and East of the range but intergrading in the
Belgian Congo". A comprehensive detail of coloration in relation to range will be
found on pages 264 and 265 of the Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology,
Vol. LXXIV, No. 7, October, 1933, by Arthur Loveridge.
The American Museum's Congo specimens of annulata are thus described by
Schmidt (1923):- "In all of the specimens the ground colour is much darker posteri-
orly, and in two, the posterior rings are entirely obscured."
Habits-According to Schmidt (1923), referring to annulata:- "its range co-
extensive with the eastern division of the Rain Forest, from Cameroon to the Ta-
riganyika. The fact that it is a water snake, confused in the field with the cross-
barred Grayia, is of interest in connection with its range, which is determined not
by the Congo but by the Rain Forest."
As these aquatic cobras are not yet known from within Protectorate limits it
is necessary to refer to the descriptions of other authors for the details of habitat
and habits. On pages 266-270 of the Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zo6logy,
Vol. LXXIV, No. 7, October, 1933, will be found a comprehensive and most
Interesting narrative by Arthur Loveridge on his quest for these cobras along the
rocky eastern, south-eastern and southern shores of Lake Tanganyika from which
salient features will be quoted.
"According to native reports, which my own experience confirmed in some points
and contradicted in none, when the sun rises and strikes the rocks the cobras emerge
from their retreats beneath them and bask for a short time on the tops of the rocks.
Shortly afterwards, and I found none on the rocks an hour and a half after sun-up
they take to the water in search of fish. I was told that on a calm day one might
see as many as ten in the course of a morning's fishing; we saw four in a little
over three hours. The rocks slope precipitously beneath the water so that it is of-
ten ten feet deep within ten feet of the shore. I hired a boat and cruised very
quietly along shore peering through the clear waters at the jumbled boulders, in
and out from among which brilliantly coloured small fish in great variety, darted or
hovered. At last we saw a great head come out from beneath a rock followed by
the handsomely barred neck and body of a large cobra..."..."saw a young three-foot
cobra dart through the water with all the agility of an eel and disappear into a cre-
vice among the submerged rocks." ......... "Everywhere I had been told that these
snakes dislike a 'rough sea' and leave the water when the wind rises. This is pro-
baby correct but at the same time it might be observed that when it is rough it is
next to impossible to see down through the water to where the snakes might be ...
..." "...... I had pinned the snake about midbody ...... but it held its jaws wide
open...... It distended its neck as it reared up, but the spread was only half as broad
as that of a cobra of the same size." ..... "...... the head and six inches of a
cobra's body appeared above the waves about five feet off shore."......."...... despite
the fact that its back had been broken by the dustshot, no sooner did the poor
beast's head come into view than it menaced us with open jaws after the manner of
the Kasanga cobra, then it buried its fangs in its own body several times, holding
on after each bite with the tenacity typical of the cobra."...... "According to the
local fishermen, these cobras are rarely seen out in the lake and are only to be en-
countered in the vicinity of rocks; the same opinion was prevalent in each of the
localities I visited. It seems probable that at times they do so venture, otherwise
they could scarcely have attained their present wide distribution in the lake".
Conclusive evidence of the occurrence of this aquatic cobra in deep, open water
was obtained from the officer in charge of the salvage operations undertaken in
1924-25 to raise the "von Goetzen" (now the S.S. "Liemba") from its resting place in
70 feet of water in Kigoma bay, Lake Tanganyika. He informed me that croco-
diles, which were plentiful not far away, were never seen by the divers, who
however frequently reported the presence of large water snakes. Loveridge (1933)
also mentions:- "I came to the conclusion, that out of their element, they are not
aggressive nor to be feared as much as the true cobras. Possibly their sight is
not so good on land as under water; it would appear likely that it has undergone
modifications to enable them to see clearly the fish on which they subsist." Accord-
ing to the same authority (1933):- "Strangely enough, three ticks were found about
the head of one of these aquatic snakes." This snake is believed to feed exclusively
Venom-There seems to be nothing definite on record concerning the toxicity
of the venom of species of Boulengerina, though it is believed to be highly lethal
to mankind. The venom is, of course, neurotoxic or nerve-destroying in action to
enable these snakes to deal expeditiously with their active, cold-blooded prey, i. e.
fish, on which they subsist. Loveridge (933) records an interesting native belief
from Lake Tanganyika which is here quoted in toto:- "There is a widespread
superstition prevalent among the fishermen that if a man is bitten in the water he
should remain there until treatment in the shape of a water weed is brought to him.
If he leaves the water he will rapidly succumb to the effects of the poison though
if returned to the water for treatment hopes for his recovery may be entertained"!
NOTE-The following briefly is the narrative of the writer's quest of the water
cobra in the Victoria Nyanza during the past twelve years.
Mr. C. W. Chorley, a keen naturalist and a reliable observer, frequently told
me when I first came to Uganda in I925 of the existence of a species of water snake
which haunted rocky localities on the shores of the Victoria Nyanza and its islands.
The snake was described as fairly large, of a general dark brownish colour and
yellow below. It was stated that it was fond of basking on the rocks in the sun-
shine, and when disturbed took refuge in the water. Definite evidence as to the
identity of this alleged water snake was not forthcoming as specimens could not be
obtained in spite of the claim that in suitable localities it was not scarce.
In 1928, Dr. E. B. Worthington in the course of fishery investigations in the
Nile and at the Ripon Falls at Jinja has recorded:- "Just below the Owen Falls on
the Victoria Nile, a large dark-coloured snake, about 7 feet long, was observed in
the water with a fish in its mouth. The glimpse caught of the snake was not
sufficient for identification, but the fish was recovered and subsequently identified
as a half-grown specimen ofBagrus docmac; it had evidently only just been caught".
This episode has always suggested to me an association with a species of Boulenge-
rina, a snake which so far has not been recorded from the Victoria Nyanza nor
from any other locality in Uganda.
In 1933, on my return to Uganda after an absence of three years, Mr. A. W.
Groves, the Post Master at Entebbe, who used to spend much of his spare time
shooting crocodiles around the rocky headlands in the neighbourhood, told me that
he occasionally saw swimming in the lake examples of a large snake which from
its habits and evident ease in the water was definitely an aquatic species. He had
in his possession the skin of a large specimen which he had shot and which super-
ficially suggested a species of Boulengerina, the snake was about 6 feet in length.
Further reports received from time to time from the same source in Entebbe indicat-
ed convincingly that a large aquatic species of snake, possibly a type of cobra, did
occur, but no more specimens were obtained.
In 1934, Mr. P. H Burnell, of the Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbours
service, drew my attention to the occurrence, at Mjanji Port on the north east shore
of the Victoria Nyanza, in the vicinity of the Kenya border, of a large species of water
cobra which frequents the rock-built embankment leading to the pier. The pier is
connected to the shore by a causeway about seven hundred yards long built up on
each side with murram blocks amongst which the snakes live. The local natives state
that they seldom see one of these snakes on shore. A specimen killed, which was
admitted by the natives to be about the maximum, measured 8 feet 71 inches, with
a girth of 7 inches around the thickest part of the body. The colour was described
as :- "on back of head and body bright black; throat and neck bright yellow. Very
vicious, more inclined to attack than retreat if come upon suddenly. The natives say
will sometimes enter the wickerwork fish-traps after fish." The Mjanji specimen
had a large silurid fish of about two pounds weight in its stomach.
In 1935, Mr. Groves again told me that he not infrequently observed specimens
in the vicinity of Entebbe, but had been unable to secure any: he also said that
several frequented the rock-built causeway leading to Entebbe Pier. On 26th
October, however, he brought me a fine specimen 4 feet 4 inches in length which he
had shot amongst the murram blocks of the Entebbe causeway, and mentioned
that he had seen plenty of far larger examples. In fact the one collected is distinctly
small. The tip of the tail is missing, and 61 inches from the end it had at some
time sustained further injury, a bite apparently, whereby it had nearly lost a large
portion of the tail. It is a male.
On opening its mouth, however, it was realized immediately that here was no
venomous elapid but only a solid-toothed, harmless opisthoglyph. It is the Entebbe
adult Grayia smithii described in detail on p. 58, Uganda Journal, Vol. IV, No. i,
July, 1936 (p. 11i of the complete volume).
UGANDA SNAKES XIII.
I. Elapsoidea guntherii
2. Boulengerina annulata storms.
3. Naja haie.
4. Naja melanoleuca.
5. Naja nigricollis nigricollis.
but, in addition to harmless snakes of the aquatic genus Grayia which in
many parts of the Victoria Nyanza are abundant and grow to a fairly large size,
there is apparently also a very large cobra, Naja melanoleuca, of decidently aquatic
tendencies which catches fish. I have little doubt that Dr. Worthington's and Mr.
Burnell's records respectively refer to this species, though it is curious that in the
case of the latter the specimen he personally examined from a locality in which
large examples of Grayia smithii literally swarm should have happened to be a
species of Naja. At Entebbe, also, certain references to aquatic snakes undoubtedly
concern large examples of reputed Naja melanoleuca, and I have examined the
skin of a specimen believed to be referable to this species which was killed there
while evidently fishing. As about 5 feet 6 inches appears to be a maximum
measurement for Grayia smithii it is not unreasonable to assume that any large, dark-
coloured snakes of 6 feet and upwards exhibiting definite aquatic and fish-catching
tendencies can be referable to Naja melanoleuca, that is if it is indeed this species.
Its habits are somewhat similar to those of the water cobra, though in the Victoria
Nyanza equally so are those of the numerous relatively large Grayia smithii.
This is a Tropical and South African genus containing a few species of small,
short-tailed, viperolike snakes, only one being found in Uganda, which average less
than 24 inches in length.
On the maxillary bone there is a pair of large, grooved poison-fangs followed
by two to four small teeth: the mandibular teeth are fairly large, the anterior being
the longest. The head is not distinct from the neck: the eye is small with a round
pupil: the body cylindrical: and the scales, in 13 or 15 rows, oblique, smooth and
without pits. The ventrals are rounded, tail very short, and subcaudals all or most
in 2 rows.
The coloration is dark generally with conspicuous markings usually in the
form of cross-bands, of white, pink, red or yellow, sometimes black.
Although in Africa more usually referred to popularly as "garter" snakes, they
are sometimes styled, in their more brilliantly coloured forms, "coral" snakes.
ELAPSOIDEA GUNTHERII Bocage.
Gunther's Garter Snake, African Garter Snake or Black Garter Snake.
(Plate XIII, Fig. I : Coloured Plate (N), Fig. 3).
Native names-So far I have been unable to ascertain any vernacular names
applicable exclusively to this small species.
Distribution-This is a Western, Central and Eastern African species which
appears to have a distribution around the Rain Forest from the Gold Coast, North-
ern Nigeria and Gaboon through N.E. Belgian Congo and Uganda to Kenya Col-
ony, Zanzibar, Tanganyika Territory and Northern Rhodesia and thence westerly
to Angola, the lower Congo and the extreme South-Western Belgian Congo. In the
north it has been recorded from the Southern Sudan: in the south it does not ap-
pear to have been found south of the River Zambezi. It is known from various
altitudes varying from sea level to 7,ooo feet.
Occurrence in Uganda-In Uganda this somewhat insignificant species isevi-
dently widely distributed, and known localities in which it occurs include Serere
(Teso), western slopes of Mt. Elgon, Mabira Forest, Sese Islands, the eastern foot
of the Ruwenzori range (in the Lake George region), outskirts of the Budongo
Forest (Bunyoro), Kaiso-Tonya plain (about 2, oo feet on the eastern shore of Lake
Albert), and Mahagi Port (on the north-west Belgian shore of Lake Albert, ad-
joining the West Nile District).
Description-The Black Garter Snake formerly separated under the name of
Elapsoidea nigra is only a colour variant of Giinther's Garter Snake (E. gantherid).
References accordingly will include those previously allotted to both these species.
I have no hesitation in following Loveridge (1936) in his rendering of the
specific name guntherii instead of perpetuating the incorrect guenlheria lapsus calami
on a par with Gorilla g. beringeri beringeii being correct).
About 2 feet would appear to be a maximum length. Boulenger's greatest
measurement is 520 (tail 50) mm., the tail being contained in the total length ten-
and-two fifths times: another example, from Zanzibar, is 420 (tail 30) mm., the
total being fourteen times that of the tail. BarbourandLoveridge(1928)referring
to Tanganyika material quote largest male, 544 (507+37) mm.; largest female, 569
(530+39) mm.; and smallest, a male, 264 (245 + 9) mm.-the tail being contained in
the total respectively fourteen-and-three-quarters, thirteen-and-two-thirds, and
fourteen times. The latter author (1936) also mentions a measurement, 217 (195 +
22) mm., and (1928) refers to a Nairobi specimen "a quarter-of-an-inch under two
feet". Examples personally collected in Northern Rhodesia measured 24- (tail I1)
and 21 (tail t 1) inches, both females: another, unsexed, was 161 (tail 1i inches).
Scales in 13 rows: ventrals 138-167: subcaudals 13-26.
Most of the prominent characters are enumerated in the detailed note on the
genus, but it can be conveniently mentioned that the snout is rounded, the anal
entire, the tail extremely short and stubby, and the subcaudals all or most in 2
rows. In general appearance this snake is slim with glossy scales, and wholly black
specimens with their small heads, scarcely wider than the body, are easily mistaken
for an Atractaspis viper.
Ventral and subcaudal counts of some Uganda specimens are as follows:-
Locality. Sex. Ventrals. Subcaudals.
Uganda half-grown 160 20
Mabira male 162 25
Mabira juvenile 155 17
Sese juvenile 165 19
Sese juvenile 165 20
Sese juvenile 156 20
Serere (Teso) half-grown 153 25
Bisu (Budongo) female 156 19
According to Loveridge ( 936):- "Undoubtedly east and central African speci-
mens average a higher ventral count than some Angolan snakes. In fifty east and
central African records the ventrals range from 153 to 163. Two Angolan snakes
available are 138 and 143 but the types of guntherii had 153 and 155, while its
synonym, semiannulata Bocage, had 143 and a second specimen recorded later by
Bocage had 145."
Quoting from the same author (1928):- "The typical form of Gtnther's Garter
snake is beautifully banded in coral-pink and white and is locally often spoken of
as 'coral snake'". Reference to the designation "Coral Snake" has been avoided
purposely in the list of "popular" names, for as far as the writer is aware it is only
the sombre-hued black variety which is found in the Protectorate. Reference how-
ever will be made to the known colour variations.
Again referring to Loveridge (1928):- "A Nairobi specimen in general color
was grey but the twenty bands--not rings as would appear at first sight-were white
with red centres".
Boulenger's description, evidently taken from faded spirit material or from
specimens about to slough, of E. gfntherii is:- "Whitish or grey above, with black,
white-edged cross-bands, or blackish with whitish cross-bars or lines formed by the
edges of some of the scales; lower parts dirty white or brownish, grey or blackish",
and of E. nigra:- "Black above and below; lower surface of head and anterior ven-
trals whitish. Young with transverse series of white dots."
Numerous Uganda and Northern Rhodesia specimens collected personally
provide a uniform series, in colour black, with fine bands, often scarcely percept-
ible, of white speckling. It must be realized that these snakes are actually banded
and not ringed, as the markings do not encircle the body. Loveridge (in lit.) de-
scribes the form from the western slopes of Mt. Elgon as "black above with faintly
white crossbars along the back." Other descriptions from the same author(1928)
are:- "The black garter snake is found on the Uasin Gishu Plateau (Kenya Colony):
it usually shows numerous narrow white bands along the whole length of body and
tail. In some the coloring appears uniformly black until the creature is annoyed
when by inflating itself, the white bands show up with startling suddenness:" and,
also:- "Below, usually uniformly iridiscent black, paler or even whiteupon the throat;
very rarely there are a few white patches in the middle of the ventrals." A live
specimen collected one morning on the Kaiso plain on the eastern shore of Lake
Albert exhibited its annoyance by demonstrating most effectively in the manner
just described. After sloughing it is highly polished, iridiscent black, with or with-
out white transverse bars.
Personal field notes, referring to a specimen from Bisu (Budongo Forest),
Bunyoro, mention "a few double lines or fine bands of white spots;" and describe a
Northern Rhodesia example as:- "Small, lead-grey, shiny viper: about to change
its skin, new skin shiny black with a few broken white cross-bars across the back."
Northern Rhodesia field notes also refer to specimens by the terms "black viper"
and "black burrowing viper."
Habits- Where it occurs this species is apt to be plentiful or even abundant.
In Broken Hill, in Northern Rhodesia, under conditions of savanna and light wood-
land, it is common during the rainy season (December to March), although a female
was obtained there at the end of October, 1932, nearly a month before the rains
According to Barbour and Loveridge (1928):- "Found in clearing land or amongst
heaps of rubbish within or without forest. Several encountered moving along the
paths in rain-forest between noon and 3.0 p.m." (Tanganyika Territory).
The Bisu (Bunyoro) specimen was obtained in grassland in the course of forestry
clearing operations; the example from the Kaiso plain (Lake Albert) was lying in
the open on a newly-planted cotton patch by a native path at 8.0 o'clock in the
morning and at first was typically sluggish.
Having handled several living specimens, it is possible for the writer to
corroborate from personal experience records which claim that this is neither a
vicious species nor one which is inclined to bite unless restrained or injured. It is
normally peaceable and inoffensive, and even when handled I have only once seen
it demonstrate by inflating its lungs and swelling the anterior portion of its body.
Also, it has an inclination to burrow, thereby still further resembling the small
glossy black vipers of the genus Atractaspis.
In the Kaiso specimen, collected on loth September, small eggs were forming
in the ovary. A Broken Hill example obtained on 19th January in the middle of
the rainy season contained ten large very elongate eggs, which is exactly double
the maximum number Loveridge records. This author and Barbour (1928) referring
to Tanganyika material mention a female which had two enormously elongated
eggs, 40 by Io mm., in the oviducts; they also, refer to four examples obtained on
29th/3oth November which contained respectively two, three, four, and four eggs,
the largest measuring 27 by to mm., and on I6th December two others containing
four and five eggs, the latter measuring 37 by 12 mm. Loveridge is of opinion that
in Tanganyika Territory the eggs are probably deposited between November and
Stomachs examined of specimens personally collected both in Uganda and
Northern Rhodesia provided no definite data, but according to Barbour and Love-
ridge (1928) at Amani (Tanganyika Territory) where this snake is abundant it
appears "to feed freely on caecilians" (Boulengerula boulengeri), no less than five
being found in one stomach.
The same authors also draw attention to frequent heavy infection with tape
worms, more rarely so with thread worms: in one example they found mites beneath
the ventral shields.
Venom-There appears to be nothing definite on record in connection with the
toxicity of the venom of E. giintherii, though of course it does not differ in general
attributes from others of the elapine group, and is neurotoxic in action. Besides
the fact that it is not an aggressive species, which indicates that there is little to
fear from it, it is probable that it is not normally lethal to mankind.
(To BE CONTINUED).
The Dry Crossing of the Nile near Nimule.
By N. B. WATNEY, EsQ.
I have twice visited the crossing since Mr. E. J. Wayland's article was published
in Vol. i, No. i, of the Journal.
I am able to say quite definitely that between the time of my first visit in April
1934, and my second in February 1936, a very considerable disintegration of the
crossing has taken place.
I took the enclosed photograph No. I on my first visit. It appears that dis-
integration had already started since there were then three patches of open water,
whereas Mr. Wayland mentions two only.
The largest patch must, I think, be that first mentioned by Mr. Wayland, and
from his description, had considerably increased in size. A small patch of open
water hid also appeared near the up-stream end, but the other patch had not when
last seen, altered in size.
On my second visit the whole of the block from the top end had disintegrated
as far down as the large open patch. In place of the solid mass there was then a
floating covering of Nile cabbage mixed with dead papyrus stems and small islets
of reeds which were circulating slowly through it. The general appearance of
this part of the blockage can be seen in photos Nos. 2 and 3, whilst No. 4 gives an
idea of the composition.
Since the break up of the top end, the tree trunks shown in Mr. Wayland's
photograph have gone, and there is no apparent downward rush of water at the pre-
sent top edge.
In the letter to the Journal by Mr. P.J. Birch on pages 156--158. Vol. i, No. 2,
lie quotes Sir Samuel Baker's description of a blockage, similar to the one under
discussion. It is interesting to note that although there is large mass of floating
vegetation immediately above the obstruction, the same phenomenon is found here,
as in the case which Baker describes, i.e., there is no floating vegetation on the
lower side of the blockage, where the water comes swirling to the surface.
We are indebted to Mr. N.B. Watney of Arua, West Nile, for this interesting note. The
photographs Nos. 2, 3, 4, are reproduced with this note by kind permission of Mrs. B. T. Watts
who took them-Ed.
In the fitst photograph there is seen a well defined line up the middle of the
obstruction. This was a path which joined the left (near) bank at the top end. It
was, however, even then unuseable, as the first Io or 12 yards from the bank
were flooded, though it still appeared quite firm. The path joined the bank just
below an out-crop ofrocks which can be seen in photograph No. 2 on the left of the
The easiest approach to the crossing is from the Nimule-Juba road by a foot
path which strikes off just south of the Assua River Bridge. It takes iI hours
to walk there over very rough undulating country.
The ruins of the old Belgian fort of Yamba can still be seen on the West bank
standing a mile or so back from the river, on high ground almost opposite the
The present path is direct from bank to bank passing just above the open
patch of water (on the left of photograph No. i) and joins the right bank twenty
yards from the point where the water comes to the surface, at the lower end
of the blockage.