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Front Cover 1
Front Cover 2
Front Matter 1
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Front Matter 18
Front Matter 19
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Front Matter 23
Front Matter 24
Front Matter 25
Front Matter 26
Front Matter 27
Table of Contents
Hima Cattle (Part 2)
The Witch Tree
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Back Cover 1
Back Cover 2
VOL. VI. TO ER,1938. NO. 2.
M ap ................... .. ...... ............... .... FRONTIBPIECE.
Nyabilngi ................................ M J. BEsSELL.
Himna attle (Part 2).............. F. LUKYN WILLIAMS.
The Witoh Tree, Eto............ ........ 8ILLA WOOD.
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THE ORGAN OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY.
Vol. VI. OCTOBER, 1938. No. 2.
Hima Cattle (Part 2).
The Witch Tree...
... ... ... ... ... by M. J. BESSELL.
... ... ... ... ... by F. LUKYN WILLIAMS.
... ... ... ... ... by STELLA WOOD.
Migration Movements of the Madi, with some tentative Conclusions. by J. P. BIRCH.
Old Azigara of the West Nile. ... ... ... ... by R. W. MALING.
THE UGANDA SOCIETY.
HIs EXCELLENCY SIR PHILIP E. MITCHELL, K.C.M.G., M.C.
JOHN SYKES, ESQ., M.A.
CAPTAIN C. A. PITMAN, D.S.O., M.C.
SIR ALBERT R. COOK, KT., C.M.G.
H. R. HONE, ESQ., M.C., K.C., LL.B.
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H. JOWITT, ESQ., B.A., M.ED.
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S. R. HOOPER, ESQ.
It is indeed gratifying to be able to record such a tremendous increase in
enthusiasm and membership as has taken place since the last editorial was written
and the Annual General Meeting was possibly the most successful of its kind in
the history of the society. For this most satisfactory state of affairs we must
largely thank our retired President, Mr. H. R. Hone, whose enthusiasm was
infectious and whose efforts on the Society's behalf were untiring.
Readers may remember that in the last editorial mention was made of the
progress evident in the adaptation and repair of the premises which were given
to the Society by Government and we were even hopeful that we might be able to
report that these premises had been occupied by the time we went to print again.
We are indeed glad to be able to state that the last three committee meetings have
taken place in our own rooms and that already a certain amount of the Society's
property has found storage room in these same premises. Of course at present the
rooms are rather devoid of furniture but in this respect it is possible to report the
most generous offer of Mr. Norman Godinho to furnish the new premises com-
pletely, and perhaps hardly necessary to add that the Committee have lost no time
in appointing a special Sub-Committee to go into the whole matter of furnishing
the new quarters and to cooperate with Mr. Godinho in the realisation of his
most generous promise.
We also gratefully acknowledge a considerable amount of material received
in the form of contributions to the Journal, a most pleasing response to the
requests for contributions which have lately been a feature of our editorials. Since
the Journal must be kept down to certain proportions it may occur that some of
our most welcome contributors may think that there is considerable delay in the
publishing of their contributions, and we must ask them to possess themselves in
patience and to accept our assurance that their contributions have been most
gratefully received and that it is essential that the Editor should have a stock of
material available and be relieved from the anxiety of a mere hand to mouth
In connection with the Journal we must draw attention to the great increase
in advertisement revenue which has resulted from the efforts of Mr. R. C. D.
Cooper, our new Business Manager and Honorary Secretary, and we hope that
it will soon be possible to report that the income from advertisements suffices to
pay for the cost of printing, an ideal which every editor has had before his eyes
but which hitherto has been far from realisation.
However we must guard against over optimism although the sun does seem
to be shining rather brightly at present, and must be constantly reminding our-
selves that a membership of 1,000 is the ideal at which we aim and that no member
should feel content until he has obtained at least one other member.
We hope that the innovation of printing a map once per volume in the
Journal will be welcomed and in order that the map may serve as many purposes
as possible at one and the same time, one showing the main language divisions
of the Protectorate seemed the most comprehensive.
Finally we would once again draw the attention of our readers to the address
of all the Society's officers which is:-
C/o The Uganda Society,
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.J.C^^^^ 'NaastEBBE <=
By M. J. BESSELL
The term "Nyabingi" is generally used to denote a certain pagan and
politically subversive secret cult in the old Kingdom of Ruanda, more particularly
in that part which now lies within the Kigezi District of the Western Province of
Uganda. It has chiefly been brought into prominence through the rebellious
activities of the sorceress "Muhumusa", now a political deportee living in Kampala
and is often loosely termed her secret society. Whether Nyabingi was an organised
secret society or whether it was merely a local superstitious cult used by Muhumusa
for her own political ends, an account of its history may help to decide.
At the start I wish to record my gratitude to the Reverend Father Nicolet of
the White Fathers' Mission, Superior of Mutolere Mission, Bufumbira, Kigezi,
certainly the greatest living authority in Uganda on Nyabingi affairs, who has
generously given me permission to make use of his notes on the subject. Amongst
my other sources of information all of which are quoted in the foonotes I should
particularly like to mention the Reverend Father Dufays, of the White Fathers'
Mission, one of the founders of Rwaza Mission, Mulera, Ruanda, whose book
"Jours Troubl6s" has greatly helped me with the earlier details of Muhumusa's
life: and also Captain J. E. T. Philips, formerly of the Uganda Administration,
whose very interesting and detailed article published in "Congo, Revue G6ndrale
de la Colonie Belge" gives a very full and vivid account of Nyabingi activities and
contains much information unobtainable elsewhere, especially of the rebellious
outbreaks between 1913 and 1928.
Literally "Nyabingi" is said to mean "one who possesses great riches" and
originally was probably the title of a Queen reigning over Karagwe (the area
now comprised by north-west Tanganyika Territory) about the year 1700.
By custom she could have no official husband. Then a certain Ruhinda, a
Hamitic chief who ruled Mpororo (roughly the area now comprised by south-east
Kigezi and south-west Ankole), returning with his army from an expedition to
the south, came through her kingdom. z Being a powerful and respected man he
was granted an audience with the Queen. Each attracted the other and they
became very friendly. In the end he broke local tradition to the extent of officially
I Possibly this Queen was the "Kitami" mentioned by the Reverend Father Gorju of
the White Fathers' Mission, on page 153 of his book "Entre le Victoria, l'Albert et
l'Edouard". If this is so the invading Hamitic chief would be Ishebugabo, the father of
Kahaya aka Mpororo and granduncle of Ruhinda Iwa Nzunaki I, who, according to some
authorities, was the first Mugabe of Ankole.
marrying her, but for the sake of her subjects' susceptibilities she continued to
govern as Queen while he remained a "Prince-Consort". Eventually he tired of this
inferior role and engineered a "coup d'dtat", cutting off his spouse's head and,
with the backing of his army, seizing the throne. He was accepted by the majority
but every subsequent public disaster was not unnaturally attributed by her friends
to their late Queen's spirit enacting vengeance both on her murderers and on those
of her fickle subjects who had allowed him to treat thus their Mugole (Lady).
Self-styled vehicles of her spirit arose and spoke in the name of the Queen. They
were readily accepted and propitiatory offerings were made to them. As the
kingdom of Ruhinda was extended so also was the cult of the Mugole.
Time passed and with it the kingdom of Ruhinda suffered various changes.
One, geographical, was the annexation of Norwa, 2 a sub-district of Mpororo, by
the Batusi sovereigns of Ruanda. 3
About the beginning of the nineteenth century we hear of the first appearance
of the Nyabingi cult in Ruanda 4. Two natives of Ruanda went on a cattle-trading
expedition to Uzinza, an area on the south-western shores of Lake Victoria, which
had no doubt at one time formed part of the Karagwe kingdom of Ruhinda or
his successors. Nine months after their return to their home in Kisaka, Ruanda,
one of them professed himself to be possessed of the spirit of Nyabingi, "a
powerful 'mandwa' s of Uzinza". The people of the district brought him so many
presents and fees that the "Kubandwa" collections and the royal tribute were
affected. The local "mandwa" complained to Mwami 6 Lwogera who marched on
Kisaka and after a certain amount of resistance, captured and killed the Nyabingi
Round the year 1860, occurred a further re-incarnation or personification of
the Nyabingi spirit, the account of which is far more detailed. This took place
during the reign of the celebrated Mwami Lwabugiri, Kigeri IV, and happened in
the following way.
One of Lwabugiri's sub-chiefs, Kahaya of Mulali, called his sons to him to
hear his will. When they were gathered in his hut together with other relatives,
he said:-"I wish to tell my sons of my last wishes. Let the rest of you go out-
side." All except his daughter "Kanzanira" went out but she remained hiding
2 Ndorwa is now both the name of a county in Kigezi and of a sub-district in Ruanda.
Both have contiguous boundaries from Ankole to just south of Lake Bunyonyi. I use the
name to describe all the mountainous country between Lutobo, Kabale, Lake Bunyonyi,
Lake Mulera (Ruanda) and Kamwezi (a gombolola headquarters lying near the conjunction
of the present boundaries of Kigezi, Ankole and Ruanda).
3 For a comprehensive list of the Batusi sovereigns of Ruanda reference should be made
to "Un Royaume Hamite au Centre de l'Afrique" by the Reverend Father Pages of the
White Fathers' Mission, Superior of Nyundo Mission near Lake Kivu.
4 Vide "The Nabingi, an anti-European Secret Society in Africa, in British Ruanda,
Ndorwa, and the Congo (Kivu)" by Captain J. E. T. Philipps, published in pages 310-321
in the 1928 Volume of "Congo, Revue G6n6rale de la Colonie Belge".
5 "Mandwa" means a high-priest of "kubandwa" the word which denotes the form of
state religion widely spread over the areas west of Lake Victoria. For further details of
the "kubandwa" of Ruanda and its relation to the sovereign, reference should be made to
the article quoted above in footnote No. 4.
6 The title "Mwami", in Ruanda, is reserved to the sovereign alone,
behind a screen and listened. She was discovered however and her father after
cursing her ordered that she should be slain. His retainers took her into the
forest, tied her hand and foot to a tree and left her to die of hunger or to be eaten
by the wild beasts. But she managed to free herself and returned home. Kahaya
then ordered his Batwa subjects to take her to their forests and to burn her
alive and they did so. This time it was her spirit that returned home and it kept
crying out day and night in her father's house asking why he had treated her thus.
In despair her father asked what she wanted that she might leave him in peace
and she replied:--"A country to live in". So he gave her Ndorwa.
Now the spirit which had appeared and spoken with the voice of Kanzanira
was none other than that of the ancient Nyabingi Queen.
Satisfied with this gift, the spirit set off for Ndorwa. On the way she met
a woman named Rutajira Kijuna with two children, the elder of whom was called
Rutajira Kijuna heard the voice of Kanzanira asking:-"What is it that
troubles you?". She replied:-"My husband has thrown me out of his house
and when I went back to my father's house he refused to take me in." The voice
then asked if she were hungry and when she admitted it she immediately found a
basket of cooked peas and a gourd of beer at her feet. After Rutajira Kijuna
and the children had made their meal the voice commanded her to return to her
father's house saying that it would protect her, and at that moment the spirit of
Nyabingi entered into her.
On her return to her father's house she sat down beside one of his granaries
and proclaimed herself as the Nyabingi. Soon all the people round about brought
her gifts of food and beer. Seeing this her father hastened to build her a hut and
to set aside provisions for her. He also provided several large baskets for the
reception of the offerings. Eventually he found it necessary to build her many large
The news of the Nyabingi personification spread rapidly and Rutajira Kijuna
achieved amongst the credulous population an almost royal power. She began
to tour around the country, 'curing the sick' 7 and was always received with the
acclamation due to royalty, the royal greeting "Kasinje!" accompanied by the
clapping of hands being everywhere accorded her. Residences were built for her at
Kagarama, the headquarters of the "Basigi" clan on the mountain opposite Kabale
Station, at Rwamiringa, and at Kikore kya Balihira in Mpororo. Her name Ruta-
jira Kijuna which means "She who lacks support" was changed to that of "Ruta-
tangirwa omu Muhanda", "She who cannot be stopped on her way", i.e., "the
Her growing renown in time came to the ears of Mwami Lwabugiri who
ordered Sekaryango, Chief of Ndorwa, to bring before him the so-called Queen of
Ndorwa. Sekaryango called his warriors and Bayibayi, Runiga Nkiko and
Ruyogoza, the sons of his brother Buki, Chief of Bufumbira 8 to help him. After
7 Vide the explanatory footnote No. 36 below under "Notes on the 'Cult' of Nyabingi."
8 Bufumbira comprises that portion of the Lakes Edward-Kivu rift valley lying
between Lake Mulera, the Mufumbiro Volcanoes, the Zomba sub-district of the Belgian
Congo and the eastern escarpment. It is now a county of the same name in Kigezi.
a long night march from Mulera they arrived at dawn before the Nyabingl temple
on top of Mabungo Hill while rites were in progress, and captured several young
girls who were devoted to the service of the Nyabingi in the person of Ruta-
tangirwa omu Muhanda. They then set fire to the temple and when it had burnt
down to the ground they found her sitting on her throne, alive and quite unharmed
by the flames. Bayibayi then chopped off her head and the party took it in
triumph to the capital. Being placed before Lwabugiri the head began to speak
and demanded why it had been separated from its body. The Mwami replied
that he had only given orders that Rutatangirwa omu Muhanda be brought before
him, not that she be killed, and advised the spirit to return to Ndorwa and to
revenge itself upon the sons of Buki.
When the news of this affair got around the Nyabingi stock soared sky-high,
and more offerings than ever were received by Katondwe who had succeeded to
his mother's position at Kyante Rutaja, the headquarters of the cult, a mountainous
and rather inaccessible salient lying on the present Kigezi-Ruanda border, some
fifteen miles south-west of Kabale.
The next record of Nyabingi is that of the "Njavingi" mentioned by Emin
Pasha 9 as the Queen of Mpororo. This person was very probably one of Katon-
dwe's successors. It has been suggested that she may have been Muhumusa but
this is improbable. At the date of Emin's passage through Mpororo, i.e., April
1891, Mwami Lwabugiri was still alive and since Muhumusa was one of his wives
she was not likely by that time to have attained to a ruling position in a cult
which had given a great deal of trouble both to her husband and to his father,
2. The Story of Muhumusa:-
Amongst the many wives of Mwami Lwabugiri were two Batusi women, each
of whom had borne him a male child. One known as Nyirayuhi o of the powerful
"Bega" (Toad) clan had a son called Musinga": the other known at first as
Muserekande, 2 and later as Muhumusa, '3 had a son known by the name of
Lwabugiri died in 1894, leaving the throne to the young Bulegeya, still a babe
in arms. During his minority an elder son, Mibamge, was to act as regent. But
the intrigues of the "Bega" clan, a clan that had already provided at least nine
Baami of Ruanda and wished for yet another in the person of Musinga, brought
on civil war. In the end the legitimist forces were completely routed at Ruchumbu
in Marangara, Ruanda; the regent in despair forestalled his enemies by burning
himself alive; while Muhumusa on her own for the first time in her life and
9 Vide "The Life and Work of Emin Pasha" by G. Schweitzer (London 1898), Vol. II,
pages 177 "et seq.", quoted at Pages 202 and 203, Volume II, Uganda Journal, "Early
Explorers in Ankole" by F. Lukyn Williams.
10 Vide "Jours Troubles" by Father Dufays. Also called "Kanzogera" by Father
Pages in "Un Royaume Hamite au Centre de 1'Afrique."
ii Later known as Mwami Yuhi IV. Recently deposed by the Belgian Administration
12 Vide "Jours Troubles" by Father Dufays.
13 Also called "Nyira-Gahumuza" by Father Nicolet and "Mamusa" in "Uganda" by
Thomas and Scott, page 461 following H. R. Wallis "Handbook of Uganda" (1920). The
name "Muhumusa" means "Who giveth rest" i.e., from tyranny and privilege.
knowing well the fate in store for her and her son if she did not act at once, took
Bulegeya from the palace and with the remnants of the royal bodyguard fled to
the Mpororo mountains where she found a refuge near Mount Lutobo 4 in the
north-east corner of Ndorwa.
Now Muhumusa was a full-blooded Mutusi of the Hamitic race which was
paramount in Ruanda; a race the men of which looked on all work save the
tending and herding of cattle as most degrading and to be left to be done by the
Bahutu, the lower servile race, the original inhabitants of the country. All over
the kingdom the chiefs were Batusi and the peasants were Bahutu, except in
Ndorwa, which was no cattle country such as the Batusi loved. Cattle could and
did thrive there but not in the numbers and with the ease with which they lived
in the temperate and wide rolling plains of Ruanda. As a result there were very
few Batusi in Ndorwa and the Mwami's authority was non-existent: in fact
Ndorwa was more or less a rebellious fief and the people, hardier and sturdier,
owing to the greater cold and higher altitude of their valleys and mountains were
to all intents independent. They, the Bakiga had the same clans and totems as
the Bahutu of Ruanda proper but their spirit was very different.
Here then Muhumusa was reasonably safe from Musinga, but as the wife of
Lwabugiri, the greatest by far of all the long line of Baami of Ruanda, and even as
the mother of the rightful heir to the throne, she had no standing in Ndorwa
which time and again had served as a sort of Sherwood Forest for political outlaws
from the court of the Mwami and for bandits flying from justice. And if she were
to prosecute and achieve her abiding desire, that of restoring Bulegeya to the
throne of his fathers, she had to have authority in Ndorwa. In order to keep in
touch with the legitimist elements in Ruanda her messengers and any visitors from
Ruanda must be able to move freely in Ndorwa while her enemies must have
to move very circumspectly. This could only be achieved by one who either held
an important chieftainship or some other awe-inspiring authority. Also, for the
start of her eventual march into Ruanda she would need a nucleus of armed men
in order to draw in the loyal but none the less timorous supporters of her son.
This again could only be attained by one who wielded some solid power and
authority in Ndorwa.
Muhumusa therefore had to achieve authority, having to start with none of
any import in Ndorwa; and this she did through the medium of the cult of the
Mugole, the worship of the old Nyabingi spirit. Herself an outstanding personality,
possessing great powers of leadership and organisation, and far more brains than
14 This is the hill which marks the boundary between Ankole and Kigezi to-day and is
climbed by the motor-road from Mbarara to Kabale. In Muhumusa's time the Kigezi Dis-
trict had not been defined, nor had the international boundaries between Ruanda (then part
of German East Africa), the Belgian Congo and Uganda. The original route to Bufumbira,
as used by the Kivu Military Mission, lay from Mbarara to just south of Lwasamaire in
Ankole and thence into Ruzumbura along a track north of Nyalusanje Hill: thence through
Nyakishenyi and Buchundura to Kumba, the headquarters of the Political Officer: thence
through the Rubanda Arena, past the north end of Lake Bunyonyi and over the Muko and
Kanaba Escarpments to Kigezi Post. Thus it ran many miles to the north and west of
Lutobo and Muhumusa was able to move freely in Ndorwa, a country unexplored by
Europeans. In fact it was purposely left alone as no one at that time knew to which
European Power it would eventually be subject-Germany, Belgium or Great Britain.
probably any Mutusi woman before or since, she was in intelligence quite up to the
standard of her late husband, and realized at once that, in her control, the Nyabingi
cult would be a weapon with which she might bend to her own will all but the
most courageous and independent characters amongst the Bakiga. Obviously she
had heard the account of Lwabugiri's interview with the head of Rutatangirwa omu
Muhanda and its sequel, his implied confirmation of the gift to her of Ndorwa
by her father Kahaya; and this association of Nyabingi with sovereignty in
Ndorwa, if allied to her cause, would give her the power she needed so urgently.
Bulegeya as the young dispossessed heir to a Mutusi throne meant nothing to the
Bakiga; but the fortunes of a son of a Nyabingi personification might unite in
his favour the various clans which were alternately at peace and at war with each
other. On this hope then Muhumusa staked her lot.
So the next few years passed in her gradual achievement of control over the
cult. Starting as a "Mugirwa", X5 by her force of character, she in time obtained
the leadership amongst the various Bagirwa. Later she proclaimed herself as
the full personification of the Nyabingi-she became the Nyabingi. Then came the
organisation of the various Bagirwa and their adherents into a politico-religious
society owing complete obedience to her, in all matters, as the Nyabingi. For to
her initiation ceremonies came not only the members of the cult and initiates
but also old friends and adherents of Bulegeya whose adherence certainly had
nothing to do with the cult but who had to be introduced to the Bagirwa on some
basis of common interest.
But all this took time and it is improbable that Muhumusa ever realized the
importance of this factor. If she did, then no doubt, it was taking her longer than
she had anticipated to obtain control in Ndorwa. The fact was that the outside
world was changing and the Europeans, who up till now had left Mpororo severely
alone, were moving towards it and its destiny was falling out of the hands of its
natives into those of foreign Powers.
At the end of 1903, three White Fathers, among them Father Dufays passed
near Lutobo on their way to found the Mission of Rwaza in south Ndorwa.
Muhumusa interviewed their leader and was very affable, and curious as to their
intentions; but since she caused difficulties over food supplies for their porters she
did not get a further interview. Hence she lost a chance of realising that the
i 'ation nf Mission in southern Ndorwa would militate against civil strife and
revolt. Moreover the Germans were pushing on with the organisation of an
administration in Ruanda, and Musinga, the established occupant of the throne,
was being viewed as the basis of a future Native Government to be run in'conjunc-
tion with their own Administration. Musinga however had not as yet been fully
accepted by them and had Muhumusa struck in 1906, it is very probable that she
would have gained her object; for in native opinion Musinga was only a lowly-
reared interloper whose claim was based on might alone. For one reason or
another however she delayed, and in 1908, occurred what was to her a tragedy in
that it took her away from the scene for two years. On a visit for purposes of
propaganda to the home of Kisiribombo, an influential adherent living to the
15 "Mugirwa" means an agent or apostle of the Nyabingi personification, whose duty
it is to represent, and proclaim the edicts of, the Nyabingi in outlying areas.
south-east of Kamwezi, she was arrested by the German Authorities. Probably
she was holding an initiation ceremony of the cult and was convicted of witchcraft.
At any rate she was incarcerated at Bukoba for two years.
On her release, in 1910, she at once returned to Bulegeya at Lutobo but the
whole aspect of the situation had changed. She was no longer the dominant perso-
nality in Ndorwa. Captain Reid had been appointed to act as Political Officer
and had settled in at Kumba. An elementary administration had been started:
the Kivu Military Mission was dug-in at Kigezi, i6 below the Escarpment: and the
Germans had recognized Musinga and a start had been made with a Native Ad-
ministration in Ruanda.
In the face of these new and unrealised factors, Muhumusa, driven by her
long-nurtured desire to undo the injustice done to her son, launched her campaign.
With a handful of adherents she and Bulegeya invaded southern Ndorwa and there
joined forces with Lukara lwa Bishingwa and Basebya 17. They proclaimed
Bulegeya to be the rightful Mwami of Ruanda and installed themselves in the
Buberuka to organise the revolt.
Now the name of Bulegeya was still well-remembered in Rua. Ua. Mot
the kingdom had remained at heart attached to him, not merely because Musinga
had imposed new and heavy taxes unknown in Lwabugiri's reign and had revoked
the right to private tenure of land and cattle, but because Musinga himself as a
c -ild had been disinherited by his father and had been brought up by a peasant
woman on the boundaries of Urundi. I8 Both Batusi and Bahutu were therefore
predisposed in favour of his rival and together they joined to acclaim Bulegeya.
All Ruanda except the far south proclaimed him Mwami. Musinga saw half his
council desert him and he could no longer trust those that remained. Muhumusa
and Bulegeya began their advance peacefully and diplomatically. They sent pre-
sents to the Missions assuring them of their support and when the Fathers at
Rwaza Mission replied that their chief ally Lukara had killed a White Father,
they gave an earnest of their good faith by seizing Lukara and delivering him up
to the German Resident at Kigali.
x6 The name of the old military post lying south of Kanaba Gap, where the motor-road
from Kabale to Rutshuru descends the escarpment. It means in Lunyaruanda "the place
of the little lake", there being a tarn close by. From it the present District derives its
17 Lukara lwa Bishingwa was an independent Muhutu chieftain and a famous bandit.
His grandfather had been mutilated by Lwabugiri and his father had been shot by an
askarii" of the Congo State. Lukara had therefore sworn a blood-feud against all Batusi
authority and against all Europeans. On April ist, 1910, he treacherously murdered Father
Loupias of Rwaza Mission. As is related below, he was later delivered to the German
Resident at Kigali by Bulegeya. He was tried and convicted and condemned to death,
but on his way to execution he seized the bayonet of the Sergeant in front of him and was
shot dead trying to get away.
Basebya, an independent Mutwa chieftain, was a well-known brigand and had his lair
in the swamps at the south-eastern end of Lake Bunyonyi. After Muhumusa's revolt he
became an outlaw and was eventually caught by the Germans in an ambush in May, 1912,
and was tried, convicted and executed on the spot.
8S Vide "Jours Troubl6s" by Father Dufays.
But all Muhumusa's efforts were doomed from the start. The Germans had
found Musinga in occupation of the throne: they had recognized him and their
recognition had recently been confirmed by presents from the Kaiser through the
Duke of Mecklenburg's expedition in 1907. Whatever the rights or wrongs of the
dispute they were not going to have the country upset. Furthermore Muhumusa's
prison record at Bukoba, and the presence in her ranks of Basebya who had been
in constant conflict with the Batusi Administration told against her. With
Ruanda in her grasp she at length encountered European troops and she and
Bulegeya had to leave their adherents and fly back to Lutobo with those of their
followers who had come into Ruanda with them.
So complete a failure would have been enough for most men or women but
Muhumusa, though she now realized that Ruanda was lost, did not give up hope
of gaining a throne for her son.
She immediately turned to carving out a new kingdom for her son in Ndorwa.
Her absence of two years at Bukoba and the installation of the Political Officer
at Kumba having lost her a great deal of her influence amongst the Bakiga, she:
determined as a first step to retrieve it.
As the Nyabingi she raised a large following both of Bakiga and Banyaruanda.
Proclaiming herself the Queen of Ndorwa and liberator of it from the Europeans,
in the course of 1911, she swept through the country, raiding, looting and burning.
Hundreds of Bakiga who had accepted British rule fled in distress to Kumba.
Muhumusa had now an added cause for definite anti-European action, for
the Anglo-German-Belgian Boundary Commission had assembled early in 1911,
and, between May and October of that year, was cutting its line and erecting
boundary pillars from Mount Muhavura 19 to Kamwezi, right through the centre
Pending the completion of this international boundary settlement, the British
Government's Muganda Agent, Y. S. Sebalijja, was ordered not to engage her in
battle at Mwisi, 2 and so she made her way unmolested to Ihanga Hill, 2i which
was clearly within British territory. Here on the 29th September, 1911, she was
surrounded by a force commanded by Captain Reid, consisting of 4th King's
African Rifles under Murjan Effendi Bakhit, Uganda Police, and native levies
The battle that ensued was short and sharp as Muhumusa was surprised by the
suddenness of the attack while her men who had trusted to her to turn aside the
enemy bullets, quickly gave in when they found their faith misplaced. About forty
men were killed and Muhumusa herself received a bullet through her foot before
19 Mount Muhavura (13,547 feet) is the most easterly of the Mufumbiro Volcanoes.
Its name means "that which shews the way" i.e. the beacon.
20 A long hill-face lying opposite Rushoroza, the present White Fathers' Mission Station
21 This hill lies between Lake Bunyonyi and the motor-road from Kabale to Kumba.
Muhumusa is said to have been captured actually at Mukyahi, a steep little valley to the left"
of the road at about Mile 7 from Kabale.,
she was captured. Nothing was seen of Bulegeya and it is possible that he
was not present.22 Another son of Muhumusa, named "Ndungutsi"23, however,
So ended the active career of Muhumusa. An extraordinary woman in the
literal sense of the adjective, and fighting a just cause with very little more than
necessary violence, she deserved to attain her object and certainly would have
done so but for European intervention.
To-day she lives, passing her twenty-seventh year of exile as a political
deportee in the environs of Kampala where she is commonly known by the name
"Nabere". She has her retinue of men and women attendants and a herd of
cattle from the sale of whose milk she gets the major portion of her income. She
is over sixty years of age but still has all her wits about her and is a lively talker.
Fate has certainly dealt hardly with her, for the success which she missed by a
short interval of three years, would have made her a very much honoured Queen-
Mother with far more than the usual measure of influence and authority at the
court of the Mwami of Ruanda.
Of Bulegeya her son it is related that after the return from Ruanda he joined
forces with Basebya and from the vicinity of Kyante Rutajja spent his time raiding
Butasi cattle and homesteads in German territory. Of what eventually happened
to him nothing is known. It is probable that he died before the War for he is
never mentioned as being concerned in any of the Nyabingi outbreaks after 1914.
3. Later History:-
After Muhumusa's arrest and deportation there was peace in Ndorwa for
about a year. The young Ndungutsi had disappeared, probably to Kyante Rutajja
to lie up for the time being, since all Bagirwa and suspected Nyabingi leaders were
being rounded up and deported.
During 1912, a chief-priest of Nyabingi, named "Mafene", and known as the
King of Ndorwa, was captured and killed by a German Officer, Major Godowius,
in German territory. He was known to have resided at Kyante Rutajja.
22 For an account of the fight reference should be made to "Ky'Ebyafayo by'e Rukiga
n'Awalala" by Y. S. Sebalijja, a pamphlet published serially as an annexe to the 1935
Volume of "Munno".
23 A certain amount of confusion has arisen over the names and identities of the two
sons of Muhumusa. Some authorities have considered them to be one and the same person,
known at first as Bulegeya and later as Ndungutsi, but it would appear that they are two
distinct personages. Bulegeya was certainly the son of Mwami Lwabugiri and Muhumusa,
and as Lwabugiri died in 1894 while Bulegeya was still a babe in arms, Bulegeya must have
been at least sixteen years of age in 1911. Yet eye-witnesses of Ndungutsi during 1911 in
Mpororo, speak of him as a little boy who sat between his mother's feet when she was
being carried round in her travelling litter during her campaign. The Batusi being a very
tall race, the children of which like most other tribes in Africa, develop physically very
early, it is hardly possible that Bulegeya can have been the same person as the little boy
known as Ndungutsi. It is uncertain who was the father of Ndungutsi, but he was certainly
In 1913, Ndungutsi was arrested at Mbarara while on his way to visit his
mother secretly at Mengo but details are lacking and it is not known whether or
when he was released. 24
On the outbreak of the war the members of the Society under various leaders
carried out raids on the military posts and lines of communication of the British,
Belgian and German forces indiscriminately. The chief Nyabingi fighting leader
at this time was an epileptic native of the "Hunde" tribe of the Belgian Congo.
His name was "Bichu Birenga", i.e. "The clouds roll by", but he was commonly
called "Ndochibiri" (from Ntoki Mbili, i.e. two-fingers) since one of his hands had
only two fingers. 25
Early in 1915, the strong Anglo-Belgian post at Chahafi in Bufumbira -was
attacked by Ndochibiri with a force of two thousand natives. For five hours the
post was assailed and it is recounted though all the actual rushes were made up a
fairly open slope in the face of heavy machine-gun fire, the "sacred white sheep" 26
of Ndochibiri was untouched even at comparatively close quarters. In the end the
attackers were driven off after having captured three rifles and some ammunition.
The next figure to appear on the scene was the witch-doctress Kaigirirwa, 27
the wife of a Mukiga named Luhemba. In August 1917, she and her husband
and Ndochibiri met at Kisalu near Munt Nkabwa, 28 on the Belgian Congo side
of the international frontier, and organised the Nyakishenyi 29 revolt, which started
with the massacre at dawn on August 12th, of the Native Political Agent, a
Muganda, and sixty-three of his followers. Most of the murdered men had Bakiga
wives and boys, yet so well was the secret kept and such was the influence of the
Nyabingi that not a word of their plans had leaked out. Following on this there
were active signs of sympathy shewn towards the Nyabingi leaders in the south
and south-east of the Kigezi District. For the moment however little could be
done to check the Nyabingi influence owing to the very primitive state of the
Kigezi Native Administration, 30 the greater need of troops in the War areas and
the very hilly and thickly forested nature of the country between Nyakishenyi and
the international frontier overlooking Lake Edward, to which Kaigirirwa and
Ndochibiri confined themselves after the massacre.
24 Vide "Uganda" by Thomas and Scott, page 461, following H. R. Wallis "Handbook
of Uganda" (1920).
25 Vide Captain Philipps' article quoted above at footnote No. 4.
26 Ibid. A white sheep was the emblem or badge of rank of a Nyabingi Mugirwa.
27 The name Kaigirirwa is said to mean "Borne on the Wind".
28 A hilly salient lying on the edge of the escarpment south of Lake Edward. The
Anglo-Belgian boundary runs across its summit.
Most of the Nyabingi leaders have realized and taken advantage of the fact of the inter-
national boundary. Knowing that the news of a Nyabingi war-council in Belgian territory
normally takes an appreciable time to reach the ears of the British District Commissioner
at Kabale and vice versa that the Belgian authorities will not become aware immediately of
Nyabingi activities in Uganda, most of the outbreaks in Kigezi have been organised on
the far side of the frontier.
29 Nyakishenyii, now a gombolola headquarters in Rukiga County, lies two days march
north of Kabale.
30 At the time of this outbreak only one of the local Bakiga chiefs was considered
sufficiently loyal and trustworthy to be allowed to carry a firearm.
It was not until 1919 that the effect of this blow to the Government's prestige
was wiped out and vengeance exacted. In April of that year a Nyabingi Mugirwa
established himself on the northern (Kigezi) slopes of Muhavura and with three
hundred followers unsuccessfully attacked the road-labour near Chahafi. This
little effort resulted in his capture and imprisonment three days after.
During the next seven weeks no further incidents occurred. Then a report
came in that on the 5th June, Ndochibiri had held a meeting at Kisalu with
Kaigirirwa, Luhema and some local chieftains. It was further related that twenty-
five rifles had been produced and that ceremonies had been performed in which
the Nyabingi spirit was invoked for support.
After that information suddenly became very difficult to obtain and not a
word was forthcoming as to the movements of Ndochibiri and Kaigirirwa who
had disappeared from the immediate vicinity of Kisalu, after their meeting.
The Kayonsa Forest 3' was therefore patrolled along the western edge by the
Belgian authorities and closely guarded on its north, east and south borders by a
cordon of pickets staffed by the followers of the Native Political Agent and some
forty ranks of the Uganda Police.
On June 20th, Ndochibiri entered British territory with a force of six hundred
followers and coming through the forest halted opposite Kumba 3 in the south-
eastern corner. Leaving Kaigirirwa with the main party within the forest, he and
Luhemba with ten companions, passed secretly through Kumba and went ten miles
further south to organise the attack on Kabale. This attack was to be the signal
for a general rising all over the District. Blood brotherwood ceremonies were
performed with leading Bakiga in the name of the Nyabingi and messengers were
sent out in all directions to prepare the various localities for the rebellion.
One of these messengers was captured however and it was such information
as was elicited from him, coupled with the presence in an uninhabited and usually
deserted spot of the camp-fires of Ndochibiri's party that led to the latter's
discovery. An immediate attack by night was made and the whole party was
wiped out. Ndochibiri and his companions fought to the last man and as they
died they deliberately broke their rifles crying out:-"We will not look upon a
white man: He shall not have our iron but a curse". 33
Ndochibiri's sacred white sheep was captured and it was later during July,
publicly burnt at Kabale, care being taken to see that every scrap of the animal,
skin, bones and flesh, was consumed. The head of Ndochibiri was sent to England
and may now be seen at the British Museum. The two-fingered hand was also
cut off and for a time publicly exposed in Kabale to shew all and sundry that the
famous Nyabingi fighting leader was well and truly dead. Kaigirirwa who had
been left in the forest with the main party was eventually rounded up during the
same year and she was killed resisting capture.
31 This forest lies on the eastern side of the Kigezi District and extends up to and over
the international frontier. It is extremely thick and hilly and up to 1930 was commonly
known as the "Impenetrable Forest".
32 Kumba has already been alluded to as the headquarters of the Political Officer
administering the Kigezi District but in 1913, a District Headquarters had been opened at
Kabale and at the period under review Kumba was merely the headquarters of a sub-chief.
33 Vide Captain Philipps' article quoted above at footnote No. 4.
These effective measures resulting in the deaths, both of the Nyabingi personi-
fication and of its chief fighting leader, broke up the central organisation of the
Society for many years and it was not until 1928 that serious trouble again broke
During that year a badly organised scheme to seize Kabale Station and the
Missions' headquarters came to a head. For some days beforehand the Nyabingi
war-anthem, "The Queen has come to her country" was continually sung by a man
from the tops of the hill facing the Station. The rebels killed a Muluka and two
Batongole Chiefs before being dispersed. 34 A man known as Ndungutsi and
another, Ndemere, with his father Bitwa, and some eighteen other ring-leaders were
subsequently arrested and imprisoned. This attempt was undoubtedly planned in
Belgian territory, most likely at Kyante Rutaja.
The "Ndungutsi" of this episode was never definitely identified with Muhu-
musa's son and it is possible that he was an impostor. He himself stated that he
had never known either his father or his mother, but few people in Kigezi since
1911, have cared to admit any connection with Muhumusa, so this statement cannot
be reckoned conclusive.
It is very doubtful whether the original Ndungutsi is still alive. If one can
persuade people in Kigezi that one is Ndungutsi the profits in the shape of gifts of
cattle are considerable and so it is not surprising that people appear from time
to time calling themselves Ndungutsi. These recurring appearances of impostors
no doubt are in themselves largely responsible for the fairly wide-spread opinion
throughout Kigezi that Ndungutsi still lives.
Since 1928, several Bagirwa have from time to time appeared on the scene
practising sorcery and obtaining money and goods on false pretences. However
the progress of Christianity and education, and the quickening up of means of
communication have so strengthened the hands of the Kigezi chiefs that most
Bagirwa now end up in court before their influence has become great enough
to cause serious trouble.
4. Notes on the "Cult" of Nyabingi:-
The cult of the Mugole is not one in which ritual sacrifices are made. It
merely acts the r61e of a protecting authority and claims a mysterious and awe-
inspiring power. The King (or Queen) of Ndorwa, i.e., the person for the time
being possessed by the Nyabingi spirit has throughout Ndorwa a number of agents
or apostles called Bagirwa or Bagaragu. These speak in the name of the Nyabingi
and proclaim its edicts. One of their duties also is the collection of tribute for
the King of Ndorwa and this has often led to exactions of money from friends
and relatives of adherents who though they do not practise the cult are too afraid
of the power of the Society to resist openly or to seek the protection of the
The Mukiga or Munyaruanda peasant under the pretext of assuring himself
against a certain danger, or often, at the instigation of the local "medicine-man,
goes to a Mugirwa to ask for the protection of the Nyabingi. He takes with him
34 Papers were found which shewed that the houses both in the Station and at the
Missions' headquarters had already been allocated to the various ringleaders.
a sheep and a basket of provisions. Sometimes these do not suffice and then he
has to bring one of his daughters and dedicate her to the service of the Nyabingi.
The Mugirwa then prays for him to the Queen, and goes behind the sacred veil,
usually a curtain of bark-cloth. A dialogue is then heard between her and a voice
which speaks in the phraseology 35 of the cult, with a special intonation to add
to the effect of the general deception:-
"Nyakugir' Imama, ngwin'ukiz' abantu bawe.........etc., etc."
"Lady of the Great Spirit, come, save, cure your people.........................
Save us from evil, from sickness, from the Europeans, from the Batusi.
My children, I will cure you......but your Lady is not satisfied with your
gifts...... You must return and bring others...... Then I will intercede for
you again before her...... It is in the name of the Nyabingi that I have
spoken to you...... It is she who has spoken with my voice.........etc., etc."
Since the time of Rutajira Kijuna, the Nyabingi medium for the time being, looks
on itself in its fief, Ndorwa, as being the sole authority. All other power is inimical,
especially the Batusi ruling power, and, since the time of Muhumusa, the European
power. The country must be delivered from such foreign powers and their
demands, especially taxes and communal labour. The primitive populace which
looks little further than to the attainment of these simple human hopes, falls easily
into the snare. It only needs a Nyabingi medium to agitate for the expulsion of the
Europeans on these grounds and she or he is bound to be heard. For this reason
the established authorities have always been ranged against the Nyabingi cult as
being an active agent for the spread of subversive and revolutionary ideas.
5. Conclusion: -
The foregoing historical account though admittedly incomplete, 37 leaves little
doubt but that the Nyabingi cult exercised a tremendous influence in all affairs in
Kigezi and the adjacent areas in Ruanda and the Belgian Congo until very recent
Even before Muhumusa's time Emin Pasha found that the Nyabingi medium
was the ultimate source of authority in part of Mpororo and Muhumusa's organisa-
tion of the cult as a revolutionary society had the effect, later, of turning it into a
very active secret society whose aim was the overthrow of the foreign colonising
35 The "phraseology" of the cult consists of alterations to existing words of the verna-
cular tongue. It is not a different language. Vide Captain Philipps' article quoted above
at footnote No. 4.
36 "Curing the sick"-The Nyabingi personification since the time of Rutatangirwa omu
Muhanda has always claimed to be able to cure illness.
Since 1918, Nyabingi has absorbed the minor cult of "Biheko" or child-bearing, which
professes to cure sterility. Vide Captain Philipps' article quoted above at footnote No. 4.
37 A further study of the literature connected with Nyabingi activities, especially that
of Belgian and German sources, is certain to disclose more information as to the development
of the cult and the unrest which it occasioned. In particular it would probably solve the
mystery of Bulegeya's disappearance and establish the fact or not, as the case may be,
of Ndungutsi's continued existence. Any such information would be most welcome.
Christianity, the growing tradition of the Kigezi Native Administration, the
spread of education, the speeding-up of communications, peace and improved
agricultural economy-all those factors which we imply when we speak of the
progress of Western Civilisation, will gradually lessen the influence of the Society.
But though dormant at the moment, many years must elapse before its organisation
will be completely broken and many more still before its influence will cease to
have effect. 3s
38. In addition to the authorities quoted above, the following contain references of
"Handbook of Uganda" 1913, by H. R. Wallis. (The information regarding the
Kigezi District was furnished by Captain E. R. Critcheley-Salmonson, 4th K.A.R.; it is
reprinted verbatim in the 1920 edition).
"Official Report of the British Section of the Uganda-Congo Boundary Commission,
"Report of the Work of the British Section of the Anglo-German-Belgian Boundary
"On the Congo Frontier" by Major Jack, R.E."
By F. LUKYN WILLIAMS
Sickness among cattle.-If there is sickness in the herd, such as the calves
dying, an omufumu will be sent for and one cow will have a bunch of herbs, called
an omuhambo, placed round its neck and it will be killed in the entrance of the
kraal, while the herd is in the kraal. The method of killing would be to drive a
spear into the spinal column just behind the horns. The whole herd are then made
to jump over the dead animal and go out of the kraal. In this way death is left
with the dead cow.
Many cattle diseases are known to the Bahima, all of which, with the excep-
tion of two, are said to respond to treatment, either magical or medical. It is
admitted, however, nowadays that the treatment of some diseases by Europeans is
superior to that of the Bahima.
A common cure for a sore is to put leaves, previously chewed, from the
omutungu tree on the sore.
Special abafumu exist for cattle, who are called upon in certain circumstances
by an owner. An omufumu may live in the same kraal as the cattle he is treating
or be called from another kraal. He learns his trade from his father and passes
it on in the family. On occasions a man interested in the art may learn it from the
old men. The omufumu's work is not only curative, but preventive; okutsirika*
means to prevent the diseases spreading. The omufumu in this case is the
omutsirikyi, the preventer, who gets paid for his work in butter, or by a heifer
Many diseases which have a name are known only to have occurred once,
but act as a landmark in recent history.
Diseases.-The following are known diseases with the old Hima treatment:-
1. Obuzimba-Anthrax.-If a cow dies and it is not realized till after it is
eaten that it had died of anthrax, or if it was eaten when it was suspected that it
had died of anthrax, or if the milk had been drunk while the animal had been
sick, a purgative would at once be taken by all who had partaken. Only certain
bafumu know what the medicine is. When drinking it is diluted. No cow after
this first one would be consumed. The first cow to die of anthrax which is not
eaten is burned and not given to the Bairu, lest they put salt in it, and so make
ineffective the medicine which the mufumu will use (okubuganisa embazi). 'o They
therefore put the sap of the euphorbia tree (amate g'enkuru = milk of euphorbia)
on the carcase to prevent the hyenas eating the ashes and then drinking the water
at the water holes, and so spreading the disease.
The mufumu would not drink milk for the first night, but confine his attention
to giving medicine for anthrax to the cattle, and if necessary to the people.
The following medicines are crushed up and given to the cattle by mixing
them in the water in the drinking trough.
Efa y'embuzi-dung of a dead goat
Root of the omuhore plant
Root of the eishongonzyo plant
Root of the omuchuchukye plant
Root of the omweya plant
Root of the omuhanza plant
Omugusha gw'enkukuru-flower of the euphorbia tree (lit. sorgum millet of
euphorbia, so called because the flower resembles millet.)
A leaf of the mubuza plant
A leaf of the mwetango plant
A leaf of the green parts of the orienzhe tree
A leaf of the omutanga (round marrow)
The whole of a busha plant
The whole of a chameleon (enyaruzhu)
The whole of a tortoise (akanyankogote)
Ekikoba ky'oruziramire-a small piece of python skin.
If the above medicines do not prove effective in stopping the spread of the
disease some amazi ga empitsi-hyena dung-is mixed with them, but it is not
often used, and a man will go as long as four days before drinking milk from cattle
that have taken this medicine, as it is considered a bad one.
After okutsirika has taken place four days are spent before the teats of the
cattle are cleaned again (okukiinga); neither are the fires ht (okuhembera) at the
wells, nor visitors allowed in the kraals for four days. Butter is not taken from
any churn for four days, at the end of which time the omufumu takes it all. If
there are no more cases by this time the disease is thought to have been arrested,
and the purification rite is begun (okuhasirira). If, however, another case occurs
the omufumu would not get his reward, and another one would be called in.
io The word okubugana is an intransitive verb, and is used of eating one's totem, and
of seeing a medicine made which would make it ineffective; for the man seeing it might
be taboo, e.g. sleeping with a woman the night before. Therefore all medicines are made
zi The ceremony of okuhasirira is performed throughout every phase of Hima life. It
marks the raising of the sanction which has resulted from a particular act, and has thereby
caused a taboo to be effective. It is really a rite of purification, and is performed in very
much the same way, with a change of sacred herbs. After the birth of a child, at marriage,
at death, after sickness, etc. The word is used of purification of an individual or of
Okuhasirira. This is done in the early morning, about 5-0 a.m. before milking
is begun. The women stay in their huts while the men are outside. The following
herbs are used: enyawera, omuhiri, omurokora, also ensheko y'ensi and the leaves
of the omurinzi tree. They are all put in an eichuba of water and the mufumu
goes all round the kraal, splashing the cattle. This is done four times. Chalk
is put in the water as well as the herbs; and the mufumu declares that the cattle
are washed free from anthrax and are as white as chalk.
The mufumu takes the eichuba for his own, and he gets butter and milk from
each house in the kraal. In six months time he takes a heifer or bullock.
The okutsirika medicine is kept by the nyineka in case of another outbreak.
This is kept in a horn, about 9 inches long, which is called orugisha rwa buzimba-
anthrax charm-and is stuck in the bottom of the water trough, when required.
The nyineka would use it himself, but if not effective he would call the mufumu
again, and he would try with it, or possibly make new medicine. He would not
get any more pay for his efforts, but would only take butter. (See Proverb No. 25).
Anthrax nowadays is treated by the Government Veterinary Officer.
2. Ezshwa-Foot and mouth disease.-When this disease breaks out any
woman who is pregnant, from one to four months, and any menstruating woman
is at once sent out of the kraal to stay in the villages of the Bairu. They cannot
go to another kraal for fear of infecting the cattle there. So dangerous is the effect
of their contact with anything in the vicinity of the cattle that they must not touch
the ground of the kraal with their bare feet, but must put on sandals of their own,
or of a neighbour's, to cross the space between their houses and the exits.
All cattle are at once bled by their owners, either in or outside the kraal, or in
the pasture as soon as possible. Enzhuba y'omukomi (described above) is made
of the blood. The remains of the outside crust (ebikoko) are kept and burnt after
the okuhasirira rites. The enzhuba y'omukomi is eaten at any time, but what
cannot be eaten is burnt so that it will not decay. As with anthrax, the teats of
the cattle are not smeared with ash, nor the fires lit for four days. It is said that
if the fires were to be lit the ezhwa would see the cattle, and if the teats were
smeared, make the medicine ineffective for okutsirika. Visitors are not allowed to
sleep in the kraal.
The medicines used to okutsirika this disease are:-
1. Engama y'akanyankogote-tortoise-shell, with which the mouths and
hooves of all the cattle in the kraal are touched.
2. Round the neck of a black cow (kyozi) is tied a blackened barkcloth (ekyi-
bugo kizigiri) containing:
eitiziza-charcoal from a blacksmith. (That taken from a hearth is called
ekisirira-charcoal obtained anywhere other than from a blacksmith or a
hearth. In this case it must be obtained from the Basingo clan.
obwoya bwa entama enzheru-wool from a white sheep
obwoya bwa embwakazi-hair from a female dog
nine ebye birezi strips hanging down from the enkanda-the garment made
of dressed skins, sewn together and worn, by women.
3. The cattle are given water to drink in which leaves of the herbs, omu-
tungu, eshagamanungyi, omuhoko (Philtolacca Dodecandra) and omuzigangore
have been crushed.
4. Branches of the omuhiri bush and omurinzi tree are placed on the ground
across the entrance (eirembo) of the kraal, over which the cattle are
made to jump.
5. Omwonyo-salt. None is eaten by the people, nor brought into the
An omufumu may be called in for all this, or the nyineka, if he is certain that he
is not likely to make a mistake, can do it himself. If he was in any doubt he
would call an omufumu. If, however, he had had recent intercourse with women
he would spoil the medicine, and he would have to call an omufumu, who "would
be more careful".
Hooves.-To improve the hooves children chew the herbs, obugando and
obushabashabe, and then plater them with the mixture. The herb enyasi may
also be applied, after putting it in hot ashes to soften it. The hooves are also
washed in cold water and the cattle passed through water to cure their sores.
Banana skins are also rubbed on the hooves.
It usually takes three enshumi (weeks) to cure the cattle; and any that die
usually do so in the first four days, after which time they are not expected to do
so. The dead cattle are eaten.
Okuhasirira is done after four days, which is similar to that done for anthrax,
and is done by an omufumu. He would be drinking beer all that time he remains
in the kraal, and he would be paid in things other than cattle, e.g., milkpots or
Menstruating women return to the kraal at the completion of okuhasirira, on
the fourth day. Pregnant women wait until the disease has completely finished,
and even then would not drink the milk of any cow that had had ezhwa. They
would keep their sandals on their feet, when in the ekibuga (space in front of the
huts) until they were delivered.
Ezhwa used to be common, but nowadays is replaced by other diseases,
though it occurs from time to time, in which case it is dealt with by a Government
3. Omuzhuzhu.-Cattle die at once. The mouth and anus swell and death
takes place within the hour. It only attacks one animal at the time and is not
infectious. The cow is eaten when dead. There is no treatment for this.
4. Eshagama ( = blood). This name is applied when the animal is suffering
from too much blood.
The treatment is to bleed it.
5. Kabohe (from okuhoha = to tie).-A paralysis of the legs, and constipa-
Treatment: The animal is bled and not allowed to lie down. Each time it
lies down it is beaten. Oruhungyi fibre, like bast, is tied round the waist of a girl
in the owner's clan, to which a sandal is attached; it is then hung round the neck
of the diseased cow. Grasshoppers (ensenene) are boiled, and the water in which
they are boiled, when cold, is given to the cow to drink. The ensenene are then
kept hanging up in the house for use in another case. When the cow begins to
walk lamely it is a sign of recovery.
6. Okuizhura Enda-Constipation. It is said to be caused probably from
eating dry salt, when not mixed with water, and if not treated may cause barrenness.
The constipation cures itself, but treatment is carried out to prevent barrenness
Treatment: Omuhoko is squeezed into women's urine and given to the
animal to drink.
When watering cattle the sick animal drinks alone for four days, at the end of
which time okuhasirira is done to that cow only. Only milch cattle are affected,
and if not treated their milk will dry up.
7. Nyakabera-an ear disease.
Treatment: The ear is cut and the sore removed. The leaf of the omusheka
(Arundinaria Alpina--Gramin) tree is chewed and placed on the sore place. If
it is unobtainable a dry enkukuru tree is burnt and the ashes applied instead.
8. Omuhindu.-A swelling of the skin, like after an insect bite.
9. Ruhindu.-An eye disease. The eye gets inflamed and a red spot appears
which is called ruhindu.
Treatment: The flowers of a murinzi tree, called endabaraba, and the plants
omwenyimusaizha and akaihabukuru are crushed together and put in hot ashes;
then the milk of the cow is milked on to it and it is squeezed into the eye.
10. Ekyatsi.-A swelling of the hoof.
Treatment: A fibre (omushinya) is put on the hoof. After the animal is bled
some of the blood is put on also.
11. Ameshuyo.-East Coast fever. A swelling of the glands on the side
of the neck of calves.
Treatment: The calf is allowed to suckle a little, but not much. Omubuza
is squeezed into water, and the nostrils washed with it. The roots of bwome are
then squeezed into the water which is put into the ears.
12. Kahano.-A tongue and lung disease among calves.
Treatment: Obutuzi (mushrooms) are boiled and the water given to the
calves to drink. A small piece of leopard skin and the root of omuzira kironda
is worn round the neck of the calf. While the calf has this complaint the owner
gets another calf from a neighbour's kihongore and puts it in his own, at the same
time releasing his own calf. This is to prevent any other unknown calf entering,
and so spoiling the medicine.
If this cure is not satisfactory all the calves are killed; and all the enkuyu
fibres used for grooming cattle, the emboha (thongs), and any hides of calves
which have died of the disease, are burnt. The kraal is then moved elsewhere.
13. Amakonagira.-Rheumatism of calves.
Treatment: was unknown. It only took place once and did not return. It
is hung from the ear.
14. Rwakipumpuri.-Trypanosomiasis. No cure is known, except to move
the kraal from that area.
15. Rukoko.-Had very much the same symptoms as rwakipumpuri. It
occurred once only and lasted a short time, over 40 years ago. It occurred in
Bwera, and after it was finished kyiha came.
16. Kyiha.-A swelling of the lungs.
Treatment: was unknown. It only took place once and did not return. It
lasted a long time, and when it was finished the rinderpest came, for the first time.
17. Omubyama.-Rinderpest. There is no cure known. It occurred first
18. Obushegu-Poison. If a hyena dies and the cattle come near it and lick
it they would be poisoned, because hyenas are said to eat snakes. For this reason
Bahima always kill and bury a snake, when seen, to prevent hyenas eating it.
Treatment: Efa y'embuzi (dung of a dead goat) is mixed with the water at
the water trough.
19. Okusinda Omwonyo-To be drunk from salt.
Treatment: The animal is bled and milk given to it.
Lightning (enkuba).-Fork lightning, as opposed to sheet lightning (omurabyo),
is considered to be of two kinds:
(1) Enkuba ya enyonyi-bird lightning. This is said to be caused by a large
bird as big as a sheep, with wings about 50 feet long. When it raises its wings
the fire of the lightning comes from under them. This name is used of all lightning
which flashes or comes down in such a way as to frighten people, or strike houses
(2) Enkuba ya enyondo-hammer lightning. It is said to be caused by a
large hammer, and is applied to lightning that strikes trees or buildings, or makes
a hole in the ground, or runs along the ground and cuts a trench; at the same time
there is a crack of thunder. It is said to be found sometimes in the ground in the
form of a dove.
Watering cattle (i). Filling the trough.
Enshato is a cloud-burst, or a sudden and violent rain or hurricane. It would
also be used of a thunderbolt, and is said to be nganzi, or chief minister, of the
A charm against lightning (orugisha rw'enkuba) is kept in Bahima houses.
It consists of a tube about two feet long, containing various unknown medicines.
This is obtained from the Bairu who make them.
Cattle struck by lightning.-If a cow is struck in the kraal nothing would be
done. But if it is struck when the cattle are at pasture the rest of the cattle are
kept on the spot until the nearest man, who was born in the neighbourhood, can be
found-he may be a Muhima, or a Muiru from the villages. He is called omutaka
w'ensi omuzarwa; he is also omuganguhuzi (the waker), because he wakens the
cattle and people. The man must stay there with the cattle and spend the night.
There is no smoking, eating, drinking, talking or milking until omuganguhuzi
arrives. A cow is then bled and butter is churned. He then purifies (okuhasirira)
the rest of the cattle by waving his hand without any medicine, and sends them
away. The owner of the dead cow must now go to a friend and obtain another
cow to replace the dead one. If more than one animal is killed the owner, or
owners, must obtain the same number in the same way to replace them, and they
will not return to the kraal until they have done so. The omuganguhuzi receives
the dead cow, or cows, as his payment.
If a child is born in the kraal before the owner of the dead cow returns with
the replacement it would be called Nkuba. (See Proverb No. 15).
Watering Cattle.-Cattle are usually watered only once a day, as indicated
above, between midday and 4-0 p.m. If there is a lot of dew or moisture from rain
they often are not watered that day. Men and boys take it in turn each day to go
and prepare the water. This is called okweshera. Cattle always drink from a
trough made of mud, called obwato. It has mud walls, about 12 inches high, and
is usually round or oval in shape, so that all sides may be used at once by the
cattle. In Mpororo the trough is always a long, narrow one, and the cattle drink
from one side only.
Cattle never drink from a pool or stream, so that the water will not be
polluted by the feet of man or beast. It is always said that the cattle will refuse
to drink from dirty water in this way; certain it is that they are used to drinking
from a trough. The abeshezi (waterers) replaster the obwato each day afresh,
and then fill it from the stream or water holes (amaziba) with the aid of the
wooden pail (eichuba). It is often necessary for the full eichuba to be thrown
from hand to hand along a line till the trough is reached. Any leaves or grass
which are in the water are carefully removed; then all is ready.
While plastering the obwato, very often a man will plaster himself all over as
well, leaving the mud to dry and be rubbed off later, sometimes days later. This
is not an invariable rule. It has been said by various writers that the Bahima
do not wash themselves with water, and therefore use mud. This, however, is not
strictly accurate, for water certainly is used. There seems, however, no doubt
that a dry bath of mud is considered a good method of cleaning the skin, especially
if butter is rubbed in afterwards. (There is not, after all, much difference from
the mud-pack in the beauty parlours of Europe).
As regards the origin of this practice is it possible that we may have here
the remnant of an ancient effort to imitate a sacred animal, with whom there was
a very intimate connexion? We are told of Central Australian tribes, some of
whose members imitate their totems in order to make them more abundant as
food. The colour of the mud more nearly resembles the colour of cattle than
the skins of the owners do. On the other hand, the custom may have some
connexion with hiding the person from gazing on the sacred animals.
Two fires are always lit while watering is in progress, one near the obwato,
and another further off for the cattle to stand near after they have finished
watering (okukuka). The Bahima of Eastern Ankole, called Karo K(arungyi,
explain these fires as being lit to keep off flies. This, no doubt, is correct as far
as it goes. It is said that the cattle like them and will not drink if they are not lit.
The explanation, however, given by the Bahima of Mpororo that the fires are a
sign of peace for all to see, and that the men are not raiders, in which case no
fires would be lit, seems a possible explanation. The Bashambo clan in Mpororo
also claim that this custom belongs originally to the Bashambo, and that it was
taken up by the Bahinda and Baitera clans out of respect for the customs of the
Bashambo, because there has been so much intermarrying between them, and it
has now become general among all clans. I doubt this explanation, as we find
the Bahima of Toro and Bunyoro doing the same; unless we contend that this is
one more link in the evidence-which is extremely feeble-that the Bahima
originated in the south and not in the north).
The herds in the meanwhile are being gathered together (okutega ente) on
the neighboring hills. Men can be heard shouting (okuamira) at the cattle as
they draw near. When all is ready the men at the wells call out (okutera omuku),
and the cattle come running down (okutsyora) at great speed, with the herdsmen
running in front. At a given spot all cattle are stopped (okuhinda), and one
group, which varies in size according to the watering facilities, is allowed at a
time to proceed to water. (See Riddle No. 16). This usually numbers about 20
and is called esiba. Each esiba runs at full speed, again headed by the herdsman.
(See Proverb No. 37).
Calves are not watered at the same time as the herds, as they would walk in
and break down the obwato. (See Proverb No. 2).
When all the cattle are watered they move off to graze till it is time to return
to the kraal.
Salt.-Salt is given to the cattle, either every month, or every other month,
in one of three ways:-
(1) Salt may be brought to the kraal and given to the cattle in a trough, which
is made by scooping out the top of an old ant hill, and called ekigungiro. In
Ankole this salt is obtained from Katwe salt lake, and used to be brought by
head porterage, but in these days of motor transport it can be obtained from the
nearest Indian shop. To salt cattle is okwengera.
(2) There are a certain number of salt licks in Ankole--called engugo-to
which cattle are taken. These are commonest in the Eastern areas, and in western
Masaka. Their salt content is low, but they are resorted to also by game.
Watering cattle (ii). The herdsman standing in the trough to see that his herd behave themselves.
(3) Salt pools and saline springs, called embuga ya amaziba, exist near the
Katonga and Koga rivers,-and between Mburo and Kakyera lakes. The hot springs
m different parts, notably at Kitagata, used also at one time to be used for cattle
drinking. ,(See Riddle No. 25) .
Bells on Cattle.-A bell (omurebe), which is roughly made of iron, with a
4 to 5 inch clapper, is tied round the neck of a cow for one of the following
(1) If a cow is a faster mover than the others; it will then go ahead and the
rest will follow.
(2) If a cow is apparently barren and is not calving; it is thought that perhaps
the bull has missed it, and it will now attract his attention and he will follow it.
(3) It is put on a cow that has apparently stopped bearing, so that the bull
may follow it in case there is hope of further calves.
Ticks.-Bahima cattle suffer as much as any others from ticks. The small
cattle tick is called engoha, and the large, soft one is enchunzhu. Every herd is
seen with many small, brown tick birds (ensasi), which are chiefly responsible
for keeping the ticks down, though they are often responsible for picking at and
opening up old wounds. The white ibis (enyangyi) is also the constant companion
Cows' Urine (amaganga).-There are many uses that cows' urine is put to:-
(1) Men rinse out their mouths with it each morning, and then wash out with
(2) Those who clean out the kraal (abashumba) each day with their hands
wash afterwards in maganga, and then in water.
(3) The sleeping skin (ekyahi) is cleansed with maganga only.
(4) Nowadays clothes (emiyenda) are washed in it.
(5) Milkpots are rinsed in it if they have been unused for some days.
(6) If children have a spleen they are given a little maganga with milk to
(7) As a help for pregnancy pregnant women drink a small quantity with
clotted milk (amakamo).
(8) If women have been left with Bairu for shelter and food, while their hus-
-bands have gone with the cattle looking for new pastures, in order to get the smell
of Bairu away from them they will wash their bodies in maganga and then water.
Afterwards butter, scented with empere herb, will be smeared on.
Loans and gifts of cattle.-It has been explained how the Bahima group
themselves together for the purpose of protection, and how a man will place
himself and his cattle under the direction of a master (nyineka). It is now neces-
sary to explain the customs with regard to the loan and transfer of cattle, both of
which are extremely common,
Loans: Omukwato.-If a man wants a bull to pay a debt, or for slaughter,
and has no suitable one he may borrow from a friend, and offers as security a
heifer of his own. Every bull-calf that the heifer bears, whether dead or alive,
belongs to the original owner, but as soon as a young heifer is born it is kept as
payment for the debt of the bull and the mother is returned to the original owner.
The transaction is called omukwato. (See Proverb No. 31).
Mpano.-This is merely a loan between friends for no particular purpose.
The progeny of the animal loaned belongs to the person to whom the loan is made.
After three births the heifer is returned to the owner. The transaction is called
Gifts that are irrevocable: Okuhonga.-When a man has a grievance for some
wrong done him by another the latter may make recompense by the gift of a cow.
Engabirano.-This is a free gift of cattle to people by their friends, or by their
master as a reward for good service, e.g., when a nyineka gives a mushumba cattle.
Obuzaire.-A gift by a father-in-law to his son-in-law on the birth of a child.
Marriage: Nkwata Orugo.-When a man has been bethrothed to a girl his
father sends cattle to the girl's family to be milked for her special use to fatten
her up for marriage. These are called nkwata orugo, and are returnable as soon
as the bride-price has been paid.
Nzhugano.-The bride-price paid by the man, or his father, to the girl's
parents. In the usual way the number would not be more than ten, except with a
very rich man. The paternal uncle (ishento) and the maternal uncle (nyinarimi)
each receive one of these cattle for their own. If, soon after marriage, the girl
leaves her husband and returns to her father's house, for any reason, the nzhugano
cattle would be returned, but one or two would be retained as compensation.
Nshagarirano.-The dowry sent by the father of the bride when he gives his
daughter in marriage, consisting of cattle which are not returnable. When the
Mugabe's daughter married the Nganzi's son some years ago the nzhugano paid
was 450 head of cattle, and the nshagarirano was 750 head.
Exchange.-A cow may be exchanged for another without any of the debt
being left outstanding. This is called okushundura.
Ente y'empereka.-A man may get a friend to look after a cow for some reason,
without any payment either way. This is called okuhereka, and the animal is
Tribute.-Various forms of tribute used to exist in the old days, which have
now been superseded. These were all paid to-the Mugabe. The two kinds affect-
ing the Bahima were:-
Akariro.-This was a call once a year on all who had at least two or three
Ekitoro.-This was paid once a month by a different clan each time, and
each man in the clan pays in turn,
Although these tribute cattle were paid to the Mugabe, the chief (omukungu)
of the area (ekyanga) was entitled to a certain rake off.
Numbering cattle.-Much has been written about primitive peoples being
averse to counting men, or cattle, or possessions. The Masai, Gallas, Arabs all
hold with superstitious dread the counting of their cattle. Sir J. G. Frazer tells
us that even in our own country this is not unknown, 12 in the highlands of Scotland,
and in Shetland.
Again among certain peoples certain numbers are held to be unlucky and
are avoided as far as possible. Among the Bahima all odd numbers (ebihera)
from 3 to 19 are avoided in reference to cattle, as being unlucky. If a man had 9
head of cattle he would say he had 10. The number 9, however, as was first point-
ed out by Johnston, is a sacred number for magical purposes-I have already
mentioned one or two instances. '3 No Muhima will ever admit how many cattle
he has: if he has 400 he will say he has a few, or possibly about a hundred.
Great prestige is attached to the attainment of a herd of one hundred head.
Whatever numbers are unlucky the 100 are carefully counted, and when a man
obtains exactly 100 for the first time a special ceremony is performed.
Feast of a hundred (okutambira eigana or okubagira eigana).-A barren cow
with no defect must be obtained, also a new bark cloth, a new water vessel
(eichuba), which must have no defect in it, a strip of papyrus (orushashanure)
which is tied round the eichuba, eihoza and enyawera herbs, chalk and a churn
made from omwongo (sweet pumpkin).
12 Folklore in the Old Testament, Part III, cap. V.
13 The number 9 appears to have been thought of as having magico-religious power by
all Bantu Lacustrine Races. We find it in Toro, Buganda, Ruanda and elsewhere. In
Buganda it may be seen exemplified in the tombs of the Basekabaka. The spear, Nlogolo,
with nine blades, may be seen in Kikulwe's tomb at Kiliti; a similar one, Namabere, in
Kigala's at Dambwe; another in Sekamanya's tomb at Kongoje; while in Juko's tomb at
Bujuka Kibumbutsire has one central blade with nine smaller ones surrounding it. In
Junju's tomb at Luwunga there is a shield, Enjeje, on which are nine bosses, called makundi
in Luganda. A similar shield, Kamanyi, can be seen in Mutesa's tomb at Kasubi. In
"Engero za Baganda" references are made to 9 days, a snake with 9 heads, 9 men.
For further instances of the importance which has been attached to the number 9
by ancient and modern nations, cf. Amulets and Superstitions-Sir E. A. Wallis Budge.
It may be well here to be more explicit than A.V.O. in Vol. IV, No. I of Uganda
Journal on counting by indicating with the fingers:-
I. The first finger extended, the other three fingers closed.
2. First and second fingers extended, while the other two are held down by the thumb.
3. Second, third and fourth fingers extended, while the thumb holds down the first
4. First finger is flicked by the thumb, against the inside of the second finger.
5. All fingers closed over the thumb, the first finger on the first joint of the thumb.
6. First three fingers extended, while thumb holds down the fourth finger.
7. Second finger bent in and held by thumb, other fingers extended.
8. First finger is flicked by third finger against second.
9. Second finger is bent in and made to vibrate.
io. One fist is shewn (often with a turning movement) with the thumb outside.
Water is brought in the eichuba with omurokora leaves put in to keep it
from splashing. An akaterero or akachuba (a small butter vessel) has chalk and
water mixed in it. The owner collects all the people that he can from his own
clan to be present.
In the morning milk is put into the churn, and when not sour by the evening
more is added. This must be obtained from a cow that has no defect and which,
it is said, has never spilled milk (etakataga), i.e., which never had any misfortune
when calving, no trouble with teats, etc.
The owner and his wife sit together in the house on stools of omurinzi wood,
with one new barkcloth (ekibugo) wrapped round them both at the same time.
When the cattle return in the evening the wife begins churning the milk gently, so
that it will not curdle quickly, and continues to do so throughout the night, and
in the morning the milk is poured out without it having curdled. While this is
proceeding milking is also done and continues through the night. All the cattle are
milked in turn by two people with two helpers. There must be no noise, spilling
of milk, abuse of cattle in the yard, nor the breaking of a pipe; neither is beer
allowed to be drunk.
The next morning the barren cow, with eihoza tied round its head, is slaughter-
ed in the middle of the kraal at about 5-0 a.m. The owner of the cattle now comes
out of his house wearing a ekitoma barkcloth, i.e. made from the omutoma tree,
accompanied by his wife dressed in another, and ties eihoza on his own head
and that of his wife, and puts a small white dot of chalk on his own forehead.
(If the man has two wives the ceremony is performed with the older one).
While the cow is being skinned the cattle are still being milked, but at the
ordinary speed, and again care must be exercised that no milk is spilt or pipe
A boy and girl whose father and mother are still alive now hold the eichuba
of water at the entrance of the kraal, while the man and his wife perform the
purificatory rite (okuhasirira) by dipping the enyawera into the water and splash-
ing the cattle as they leave the kraal.
After the man and wife have tasted some of the meat taken from the slaught-
ered cow the right foreleg is removed without any bone being broken or the hoof
separated from it, and is roasted on two bars of omurinzi tree over a fire especially
made in the kraal. The meat from this leg and from the rest of the cow is then
eaten only by members of the owner's clan. His sisters, however, if married, may
not eat of it, nor any of his daughters, whether married or not. The whole bone of
the foreleg is then hung over the inside part of the entrance of the owner's house.
The skin of the slaughtered cow is made into sleeping skin (ekyahi) for the
man and his wife; and later, when it gets old it is made into sandals for the owner
himself until it is all used up, or if it gets too old it is burnt with fire. The other
bones are all collected and burnt with fire. The efa (intestine dung) is also burnt.
The horns are placed on one side of the house,
The butter which was being churned during the night is smeared on the bark-
cloth which was worn by the man and his wife during the night of the ceremony,
and is afterwards worn only by the woman until worn out, when it is burnt. The
cow from which the milk that was churned came is respected in future and consi-
dered holy, so that it cannot supply milk to any other clan.
On the same day on which the ceremony takes place a small water trough
(obwato) is made at the drinking place and a calf is made to spoil it a little by
walking through it, after which the calf is also treated as holy and cannot supply
milk to any other clan.
Lions.-A reference to lions have already been made, so it will now be well
to explain what this source of danger really is and how it is combatted. In these
days of peace, when raids from other tribes no longer take place, the chief danger
to cattle, other than disease, is from lions. The Muhima displays his inherent
bravery and fighting spirit in face of these beasts. He will protect his cattle at
His first concern, as already pointed out, is to build a lion-proof fence round
his kraal, but in spite of this a lion often succeeds in taking his cattle; also lions
not uncommonly hang round when the animals are at pasture on the off chance of
making a kill in the semi-light while they are returning to the kraal. For this
reason, if the cattle enter when it is nearly dark, they are checked one by one to
make certain that none is missing.
All cattle owners rely on the magic of charms in the first place to keep off
lions. The orugisha rwa bichunchu, or charm against lions, which is found in
every kraal, consists of a special wood about four inches long, which is wrapped
up in a piece of barkcloth. It is always kept by the women in their treasure bags,
and when lions are about it is carried round the kraal.
Lions may be troublesome at all times of the year, but they are especially
so in the rainy seasons. On a moonless rainy night a Muhima is always on his
guard for these marauders. As has already been mentioned, a man's spear is kept
outside the doorway of his hut, and his stick on the floor with the handle pointing
inwards, so that he may be armed at a moment's notice. When any man goes out
of his hut at any hour of the night and finds it drizzling he will at once give the
warning cry obushume! so that all who hear will know that the weather is suitable
Lions often will attack a kraal in pairs. If they can, they will stampede the
cattle to the side of the kraal where the fence is weakest, or where another lion
may easily jump over and leap back with his kill. The side nearest the dung
heap is a favourite place for this manoeuvre. A lion has often been known to
leap the fence on to the heap, make his kill and, with one toss of his massive
neck, fling the victim over the fence and make off with it.
Before making an attack lions will often circle round the kraal making the
cattle restive and full of fear. The Bahima say that lions frighten the cattle by
switching their urine over the fence with their tails. Capt. Pitman, however, states
on page 165 of Vol. III Uganda Journal that lions exude a pungent glandular
Secretion and that this is probably what is smelled by the cattle. When a lion has
decided to attack he is so quick in his movement that he has often killed and is
away before the men have a chance of attacking him. If opportunity occurs a
Muhima will attack a lion single handed, if need be, rather than lose his cattle.
On occasions, the men in the kraal are up all night for many nights in succession
when lions are about. 14
No use is made of the dead lion by Bahima. The fat is not used, nor is the
meat eaten for magical purposes. Only a charm is made sometimes out of a lion
rib. It is hung by a string of bast (oruhungyi) from the left shoulder as a cure
for a form of general debility, called kyemerera.
Leopards constitute a danger to the calves, if the cattle are kraaled for the
night in the open, as occurs when on the move between pastures. It is possible in
these circumstances for them to stampede the cattle.
If fire is being made in the pasture with fire sticks, and after many efforts at
rubbing the sticks no success is met with, it is thought that a lion must be about.
If, on the other hand, lions or other wild beasts are known to be about no attempt
will be made to make fire in this way, lest the men be attacked while so doing.
Fire making.-Fire making is called okuzhuguta and is done by rubbing two
sticks together. These are called oburindi. Any of the following woods can be
used, two of a kind, or two of a different kind: omuzhuma, omutete '5 omutoma 6
omurinzi, omuburizi, omukoraizho. The top stick, called orusaizha-the male-
is twirled in the two hands backwards and forwards, beginning at the top of the
stick and working down, so that the pointed end sets up a friction in the other piece,
held flat, called orukazi-the female. When there is a glow of sparks these are
blown on to the dust from the dry wood and then transferred to the pipe for
lighting. The top stick often has a small piece of wood inserted into the hollow
core of the wood so that more friction may result. It is thought of and called
the male organ. It is often dried in the fire the night before and then taken when
the cattle go to pasture. If they try to make fire and fail another piece of wood
often has to be cut for the orukazi and a further hole made in it for the orusaizha.
In these modern days okuzhuguta is not done so much by Bahima as they
often have matches.
Rain making and prevention.-Rain making (okuiga) is not practised by the
Bahima at all. Rain falls in its due season, and even if there is no rain after the
grass has been burnt the fresh grass will grow in due course. Grass burning is
annually performed by Bahima a little at a time so there may never be a lack of
fresh grass. The Bairu, however, practise rain making.
If there is too much rain it is a serious thing for the cattle; the milk deterio-
rates and kraals become unpleasant for man and beast. Rain stopping (okwamira)
is therefore practised by the Bahima.
14 In Bwera sticks are apparently relied on more than spears by Bahima when dealing
with lions, because certain leg bones are said to be easily broken.
15 Omutete (allophyllus subcoriaceus-Sapind).
z6 Omutoma (Ficus sycarnorus-Morac).
The rite of rain stopping is called nyamusaitaka-the grinding to dust.
One of three methods may be used: -
(1) A curling centipede (akachwabazaire) is put into the wooden stem of a
pipe. These stems are about 9 inches long and are thicker at one end than the
other. The thick end is blocked with red mud from an anthill, and a shell is tied
on the thin end. The stem is then stuck into the ant hill from which the red earth
came and a fire made at the side. The pipe stem is then waved in the direction
from which rain comes by a man who says: Nakusa itaka-I have ground you
(2) A form of lichen growing on rocks, called ikomba, is bound, together with
the root of omutete grass, by.means of a fibre of the omusharo plant. The bundle
is then tied to a spear and pointed in the direction of the rain, as before. A fire
must be lit nearby at the time.
(3) A root of enkukuru tree is tied with the bark of the omugando tree, which
latter must be sliced off at a single blow. It is then pointed towards the rain, as
before, while the following words are used: Nakutemera enkukuru-I have cut a
euphorbia tree for you.
Cattle Recitations, Speeches, Songs and Dances.-The Bahima never tire of
singing the praises of their cattle. A favourite pastime in the evenings after milking
is done-especially on moonlight nights-is to sit round in a semicircle, while one
of their number gives a recitation about his cattle. He must have a stick or spear
in his hand, which he twirls or waves as he struts round. He must rattle his words
out as fast as he can and only pauses as he makes a point, which is received with
approval by all the assembly grunting together. As each point is made the spokes-
man emphasises it by a sudden movement, a turn of the body or foot, a gesture
with the stick or spear. This form of entertainment is called okwevuga, and it is
no uncommon thing for the recitation to continue at full speed for fifteen or twenty
minutes. Besides describing the good points of their cattle descriptions of recent
local events are often heard, such as what a Veterinary Officer (who would be
described by some nickname) said and did when Rinderpest broke out, and how
they did not believe him, but went to ask someone else, etc.
There is also a form of recitation on cattle (okurahira) which is extempore.
Songs are only sung as a rule by the older women, who are proficient on the
harp (enanga). This is a trough zither composed of 8 to 13 strings stretched over
a hollowed-out trough of euphorbia wood, on each corner of which are protu-
berances shaped like cows' horns. When played it is rested in the mouth of the
wooden eichuba, so that the sound shall be more resonant; this vessel is held by
another woman. The song is delivered in a penetrative nasal and mysterious
monotone. Her subjects range from tribal history, referring to certain raids and
battles, to praises for pasture lands and cattle. Each song has its own name,
and they are all called songs of Karo Karungyi. A typical example of one of
these songs is a song of the Abasasire clan, which describes how the Mugabe
told the Bahima to bring in cattle as a tax, but instead they fled to Bwera. Then
follows the description of a big fire-this is said to have been in 1900 A.D.-the
burning of the grass, the drying of the wells, and finally the coming of the rain,
the springing up of the new grass and the return of those who had fled.
dancing (okutagurura), except ritual dancing previously described, may be
done by women or men in a sitting posture. If women do it it is accompanied by
the harp, if men do it they may be accompanied by one of their number singing,
or by women who sit at the back and hum a tune. The men sit facing each other,
usually with one leg interlocked. The arms are extended above the head to
represent cows' horns. As the dancer sways and twists his body from the hips
the arms are moved up and down and round the head in graceful curves, while a
sort of hissing noise i.e. emitted from the mouth, representing the movement of
cattle in the grass. The sinuous movements of the arms and hands are graceful
and fascinating to watch.
Pastimes when herding cattle.-After watering cattle in the evening the follow-
ing are sometimes indulged in:-
(1) Two men face each other, each with a spear in the right hand. They take
two or three strides forward and then leap in the air with the legs extended, pass
each other, cross over and do it again.
(2) High jumping over a spear or stick.
(3) Dancing as described above.
(4) Spear throwing contests of skill, either at a mark, or distance throwing.
(5) Arrow shooting contests.
(7) Okuchumita enzigo.-A ring of wood 18 inches in diameter is thrown
in the air, or bounced along the ground, while the others try and throw their spears
or sticks through it. Old men near the kraal also practise this.
(8) Okusinga entobo.-Spinning an entobo fruit on a rock and trying to
knock off that of the opponent.
(9) Entobo emwe okuteza ezinde-a form of nine pins. Entobo are stood
in a row one behind another, at which a stone is thrown.
(10) Okukoma mwendo nari ruhu omumareka-Tying a cloth or skin round
the neck. A man kneels on one knee with the sole of the other foot placed on the
leg above the knee. He must then stoop down and pick up the cloth or skin, which
is spread flat in front of him, and tie it round his neck without losing his balance.
These recreations some times take place when the cattle are at pasture in the
heat of the day.
It is well to remark that while tending cattle no food is eaten except the roots
of a small plant called endeizi, which can be found all over the pasture lands.
Women.-No picture of Hima cattle and their environment can be complete
without a few words about the women. Women in the Kraal are accessible to
all males who are friends of the husband. This applies to a very large part of the
kraal, but not all. Hence the proverb "Those living together bear children that
are alike." (See Proverb No. 76). Before marriage, however, the girls are kept
with the strictest care.
Every woman or girl keeps her face covered before strangers and even, very
often, before those they know, when outside their huts. The unmarried girl wears
a light mat, called enyagamu, on her head: it may be over the face so that she
may see through without being seen, or turned round so that it hangs on either
side of the head. The women cover their heads (okwetwekerera) with barkcloth,
which nowadays has been replaced by a cloth. It is considered shameful to be
seen by men. Old women are not so careful to cover their heads, though if their
men folk were near they would not fail to do so.
Taboos for women.-
(1) A young married woman is not allowed to smoke; if she did she would be
smacked by her husband. Old women, however, doso.
(2) A woman may not abuse (okuhema) a man by using the word aima to
him, but she may do so to women. She would be divorced if she did so to a man.
(3) She may not raise the alarm.
(4) She may not whistle.
(5) She may not milk cattle, (except on the one ceremonial occasion at the
time of marriage).
(6) She may not kill a hen or dog.
(7) She may not imitate in play the crow of a cock or the cry of a hyena.
(8) She may not fall off her bed, i.e., the platform, called ekyitabo. If she did
the bed would be said to have vomited her, and she is not then considered fit to
be a wife. If she belonged to the Abararira or Abanzira clans she would be given
a purgative and sent away to her father's home.
(9) She may not fall into the water. The women draw water for washing pots,
etc. If she fell in she would be sent away to her father as being unfit to be a wife.
(10) She may not shave a man. She may shave a woman or child, and a man
may shave a woman.
(11) She may not climb the dung heap. Whether the reason is because she
might fall off, or whether it is because it is the graveyard is uncertain.
(12) She may not climb on to the house.
(13) She may not kick her husband, nor may he kick her.
(14) She may not pronounce her husband's name, nor that of her father-in-law
(ishezara), nor mother-in-law (nyinazara).
(15) She may not step over her child (okutambuka). Sometimes, after a quar-
rel, a woman will say that she will leave her husband and go away. The only way
then to stop her is to put the child on the ground across the doorway: she will
never step over it.
(16) She may not drink milk when menstruating.
(17) She may not fight with another woman. If it occurred they would be
separated by being beaten hard,
(18) She may not break through the kraal fence (okufumura orugo).
(19) She may not swear by the Mukama (or Mugabe), (okurahira mukama),
but only by her husband. The commonest form of oath, which is entirely binding
on Bahima, and has now been introduced into Native and British Courts, is
Kahaya, ishe, Bagendanwa, meaning: By Kahaya (the Mugabe), his father, and
Bagendanwa (the Royal Drums).
(20) She may not cross the kraal while the cattle are in it.
Taboos for the rich cattle owner (nyineka mutungyi).
(1) He may not put logs into the kraal gateway (okuigura or okukiinga
(2) He may not milk the cattle.
(3) He may not okukiinga, i.e., put ashes and water on the teats of the cattle.
(4) He may not make a fire in the ekibuga or ishazi, i.e., inside or outside
(5) He may not raise the alarm.
(6) He may not gather wood (okushenya enku).
(7) He may not draw water.
(8) He may not fall into a water-hole (eiziba).
(9) He may not slaughter an ox (okubaga), i.e., like a greedy man (omushuma).
(10) He may not go by himself anywhere. It would be quite good enough for
a small child to go with him. If he was found walking by himself he would be
taken back and the finder would say "I have found nyineka lost", and he would
then be given a cow.
Bagyendanwa cattle.-Before closing this account of Hima cattle mention
should be made of the cattle dedicated to Bagyendanwa, the Royal Drum. This
drum with its consort and attendant drums have been held in great respect by the
Bahima of Ankole for generations. The possessor of the drum was the possessor
of the kingdom. The drum embodied, as it were, the spirit of the country. It is
at the present time the symbol of kingship. In the past it was almost worshipped
as a god, it possessed a spirit of its own and was consulted as an oracle. It was
housed in a home of its own, and had a kraal containing its own cattle. These
cattle were replenished in three ways:
1. By gifts of cattle by suppliants every few days,
2. After a battle or raid some were always presented. These were called
Mpumbia, and were demanded by the Mugabe; about 10% of the captured cattle
would be chosen thus.
3. If cattle were getting short, men of the Abaruru and Abasita clans would
go and collect cattle from rich people. A man or woman of the Abahinda clan
was expected to present a cow to Bagyendanwa when either of them married,
Space does not admit of further description of the customs and ceremonies
connected with Bagyendanwa. The accession ceremony of the Mugabe was always
followed by a similar ceremony with Bagyendanwa, in which the gifts of cattle
between each other took an important place.
In the above descriptions we have touched on many details of the life of the
Bahima in order to get the right setting for the cattle that we set out to describe,
It has not been possible more than to touch on birth, marriage and death customs,
but enough has been said to shew that the whole social structure of the Hima
people is interwoven with the life of their cattle.
Okuito ekito is to tell or explain a riddle. Riddle telling is a very
popular pastime in the evenings after milking is done. The propounder of the
riddle throws out a challenge to those around him, with the words shakushaku.
Another takes this up with the reply: shamba igira, but if he cannot answer the
riddle he pays the challenger a calf, saying: nyana wawe. The propounder must
then tell the answer. If he cannot he will then reply: nyana nagigarura-I have
given back the calf-in which case he will receive the well deserved.ridicule of
those present, and probably be turned out.
Most riddles have stock answers which are well known, and many sugges-
tions are made until the correct answer is given.
Riddles shewn below are only those that refer to cattle, or are in any way
illustrative of what has been already written.
(1) Akangampanga kayayaya ninkaitwe enzhara ikagenzire nako bane akati.
The akangampanga bird of Yayaya says I am dead with hunger which goes
with it. Oh! a stick.
A new-born calf.
(When a cow gives birth to a bull calf it is eaten before the mother sees it.
It is put on one side and killed with a stick, and makes a noise at death like the
call of the akangampanga bird.)
(2) Entungisa magana eita nekiza.
That which brings hundreds kills and cures.
Answer: Ekirasho kyente.
The cattle-bleeding arrow.
(If a cow does not bear, because of fat, etc., and has to be bled it may bear
later or it may die.)
(3) Orunanyo rwamukaishaza kurushoba terushoborika.
When the conjuring trick of your mother-in-law goes wrong it cannot be
Answer: Eshagama okugishwanzya omumate.
Blood mixed with milk.
(Orumanyo is a trick which each youth likes to learn and shew off as his
particular trick. This is common among Bahima and Bairu alike. Each one tries
to devise something different from his neighbour. These may be feats of skill,
juggling, slight of hand, or puzzles. I have seen such tricks as laying a wand on
the ground, inserting it between the toes, and then with a fall of the body and a
flick of the leg behind, flinging the stick for an incredible distance over the should-
er; making small articles out of reeds, such as two boys strung together in such
a way that they cannot be separated without breaking; manipulation with fibre;
keeping a pea in the air, as on a fountain jet, by blowing through a grass; having a
pea in each hand, and by various evolutions driving the pea from one hand to
join its fellow ih the other; tricks with stones, such as catching a certain number
on the knuckles of a hand after tossing them up from the palm; taking stones from
one pile and enlarging another, rather a trick shewn by "Gilly-gilly" men in
Port Said; an ingenious method of counting stones into three piles three times and
ending up with all stones in one heap.)
(4) Ihuri rya nyamurunga riketikira ahagati yengazhu enganda zayetonda zona.
The egg of the nyamurunga bird is broken in the midst of the gazhu cattle and
all clans are made known.
Answer: Okuzhumera kw'ente.
The short low of cattle at milking.
(Okwetonda means to make one's clan known to another. There is a slight
variation of this riddle with the same answer.)
(5) Ngira ente yangye kyasha rukamwa ekamwa nkwatsi ekyiteko enzhara
yangye ntemba nayo.
I have my cow, kyasha rukamwa. It gives milk which I hang in the net.
Hunger sleeps with me.
Answer: Omuishiki namunyanya.
A girl with her brother.
(Though good to look at he cannot marry her, but he will leave her and marry
a wife who very likely is not so good.)
(6) Kasha eti po kagazhu eti reka.
A kyasha calf says po, a gazhu one reka.
(One calf bumps you and another bumps it away.)
Answer: Ihwa okuihwa erindi.
One extracts another.
(If a man has a thorn in the foot he will take another large one, as a needle,
to extract it.)
(7) Nyabwengye n'obwengyebwe.
A man's wisdom is his own.
(This is used in an exclamatory way, at the same time it is a thing to be
Answer: (a) Ente kutwara amate omumabere gatatikyire haza amabere gachu-
A cow having milk in its teats that does not pour out, although the teats hang
(b) Ente kyozi kukamwa amate garukwera.
A black cow giving black milk.
(c) Enyonyi kuguruka etakwatirire.
A bird flying without support.
(d) Enzhoka kutemba etaine maguru.
A snake climbing without legs.
(8) Obuturi aha tuzhunzire ebibunu.
Even if we are here we have rotten buttocks.
Answer: Emiganda y'enzhu.
The poles of a house.
(9) Obuyayo bwarabaha.
Withies have passed this way.
(Obuyayo are withies used for burning. They have no support in themselves,
and are generally tied up with thick sticks in the bundle to support them.)
Answer: (a) Abashaiza abataine mukama.
Men without a master.
(b) Engoma itaine mukama.
A country without a king.
(c) Ente ezitaine nimi.
Cattle without a bull.
(10) Zasetuka zatsiga omubisha omuka.
Cattle go to pasture and leave an enemy at home.
Answer: Ekirasho omuzhu.
The bleeding-arrow in the house.
(11) Kafura nyanzha kari kakye.
What disturbs water is small.
Answer: Ekamyo omumate.
Yesterday's milk in to-day's.
(Ekamyo is the small quantity of yesterday's milk put into fresh milk to make
it go sour.)
(12) Ekyitsigira omukama.
What leaves its master waiting?
A young calf.
(No man may feed before his master does, but a calf is put to suckle before
the master's milk is drawn).
(13) Kataha nikashengeya tikarya tikabyama.
It enters, it is thin, it does not eat, it does not sleep.
Answer: Ihembe ry'ente.
A cow's horn.
(14) Omugufu omunteze.
A short man among his cattle.
Answer: Empikye omurufunzhu.
A small ant-hill among papyrus.
(15) Eky'omuntu atamanya ahanteye.
What a man does not know about his cattle.
Answer: Okuzhwa kw'ente.
The menses of a cow.
(The Bahima think a cow should have menses like a woman).
(16) Kyasha tehindwa.
A kyasha cow cannot be stopped from drinking.
(This means the arrow drinks blood by nature just as a cow drinks water).
(17) Nyarwezingazinga omukarugu.
One who rolls himself up in the sides of the entrance to a house.
(18) Kyozi ekamwa kyitare eizha egyichwaho.
Kyozi cow is milked; kyitare cow comes and drives it away.
Answer: N'omuntu kubanzha ishokye ririkuiragura byanima akamera eriruk-
At first a man has black hair and afterwards grows it white.
(Kyitare is the old word for ekisa, but after the Mugabe Ntare's death in 1898
it was no longer used.)
(19) Kankukunda konkunda nkushabira kyi okanyima?
I love you and you love me: why do I ask you for a thing and you refuse?
Answer: Nshugyi temanya eibanga ryemandwa eribagyihongyeire.
The enshugyi cow does not know the secret rite of the worship to which they
are giving it.
(An enshugyi must of course know, it is thought, the rites of the Muchwezi to
whom it is dedicated. Eibanga is the crowning mystery in Wamara worship.
Emandwa is used in this case to mean the act of worshipping Bachwezi.)
(20) Rushoro rwa Mazima ebyama ahezindi 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 Mukama or Bagendanwa.
(Bagyendanwa is the name of the sacred drum of Ankole, which is a sign and
emblem of authority in the country. Indwelling in the drum is the spirit of the
country. The ruling prince (Mugabe) has possession of the drum with its fellows,
which were housed in a kraal of their own, with their own keepers and their own
(21) Ensi yona ekasya baitu yatsiga orukoba rwa ngoma.
All the land was burnt, but it left a belt of the country.
(A footpath stands out against a black patch of burnt grass.)
(22) Ruhanga agenzire n'engoma kuarukuizha nitumuramya twena.
Ruhanga has gone with a drum: when he returns we will all worship him.
(The new moon was always greeted with arm extended, one eye shut and a
prayer. Many rites and ceremonies were performed at the new moon.)
(23) Waruga eihanga ndangaire nahika engoma aha kibunu.
You came from the wilderness, I gape open, I reach the country at the end.
(It gapes open when stretched.)
(24) Ebyanyangyi byomumashazi ebinyaburechu biri omumarembo ebikwanzi
ebishugushugu ainunu owakureba ebinyamuhirwa. Ebyanyangyi flowers in the
outside of the kraal, ebinyaburechu flowers are in the entrances, ebishugushugu
beads-oh! how I want to see those lucky things.
Answer: Omugabekazi nomunyanya.
The Mugabe's sister and her brother.
(Ebishugushugu are big white or black beads, at one time much sought after.
Ainunu is an exclamation of sudden appeal to the eyes).
(25) Togotogo akazarwa nabandi abana yabakizaho kimwe.
Bubble was born with other children, it excelled them in one thing.
(It was hot and other springs were not.)
Out of many hundreds of proverbs the few I have chosen only refer to cattle
or subjects discussed above.
(1) Ikumi ritaha rikira eigana riragurwa.
Ten cattle in the kraal are better than a hundred prophesied.
(A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.)
(2) Enyanya tinywa mwonyo.
A calf does not drink salt.
(It will walk in it and spoil the Bwato-A child must be treated as a child.)
(3) Entama yakatambira owubagichwera kashwa owagyemirira.
A mouthful helped him into whose mouth they spit; How much more for
one who swallows it himself?
(This refers to milk being put in the mouth to test if he is dead.)
(4) Omwana ashukyira enkongoro tashukyirwa mugisha.
You can only pour out milk for your child, not luck.
(5) Omwana otari wawe takukunkumurira ente muhako.
The child who is not yours does not shake the cow's udder for you.
(You cannot send someone else in time of famine to get food for you, or he
will make excuses and be tired and not look after you well.)
(6) Okwanga akuhereka omwana okukunda akuhereka ente.
He who dislikes you gives you a child to look after, he who likes you, a cow.
(The child is a trouble to look after, and if you treat him badly he will report
it, whereas with a cow you have the advantage of its milk).
(7) Amahembe garira ahante kwefa gachweka ebirumiko.
Horns cry on the cow: when it dies they turn into cupping horns.
(While a man's master is alive he may be treated as a brave man and a
favourite, but when the master dies he becomes nothing.)
(8) Kwoza kushaba engiri amazhita ogagireba aha murundi.
When you are going to ask for a pig you see the butter on its shin.
(A cow is kept so clean that it is said that butter is put on its legs. A pig
living in the ground always has dirty legs.
When you ask for a thing make certain that the man has the thing that you
ask for, i.e. see the butter, as it were, on its legs.)
(9) Enimi etakabonaga erigatsa empango.
The bull which never saw a wonder licks the axe.
(In his innocence he did not know that it was to kill him).
(10) Rwamukuru wawe tekuteka aha musozi.
The bull of your elder brother does not put up you in a new kraal.
(If you are looking after the cow you are not given the right thereby to launch
out on your own.)
(11) Ekyituraine kyiteza engundu oruhi.
Staying together causes the head bull to be slapped.
(Familiarity breeds contempt.)
(12) Obuhwa matsiko bugomara eza Bairu.
The finish of hope makes the cows of the Bairu fat.
(Although there is no hope of salt or good living, yet in spite of it they do
well. They make the best of a bad job.)
(13) Kugaruga ahanzaire gaza ahamuguta.
When hope leaves the cow that has calved it goes to the skin.
(When the calf dies all hope of a full grown heifer disappears, and the owner
has only the skin left to him, which he can sell. Another explanation is that the
cow has lost the hope and it only has the skin left to lick.)
(14) Otamanya kwashumbire ati natural omuzamarumi.
He that does not know that he is mushumba (cattle servant) says: I stay
among the cattle of my father's brother.
(He has nothing and should realise that he is a mushumba. Beggars cannot
(15) Ezirumu mbamba titerwa enkuba.
Cattle with a spotted one in their midst are not struck by lightning.
(So men without a master are not left without attention.)
(16) Empazi emwe teiha nyana mukyihongore.
One soldier ant does not move the calf from its calf house.
(17) Kyiburante nuwe kyibura mukazi.
He who has lost cows is he who has lost a wife.
(i.e. the means of obtaining one).
(18) Egakamirwe egachwerwa.
What is milked from it is spat at it.
(A cow with a broken leg cannot reach the water, so milk is taken from its
kyanzi and spat into its mouth. In the same way with an old man, you kelp him
when old with the things you have inherited.)
(19) Kwoshanga ezawe ninyagwa toyechwa mugenzi,
When you find your cattle being taken away you don't make yourself into a
(A stranger witnessing your cattle being seized would just pass on, but you
would fight for your own.)
(20) Etakutera mugyere togyogoshera mboha.
Yon don't make a thong for that which does not kick you.
(e.g. you don't lock up your things if you know your servants don't steal. To
be forewarned is to be forearmed.)
(21) Watogana neishazi ente isetukyire.
You grumble at the pasture when the cattle have left for grazing.
(Said of a man who continues to quarrel and mumble after the other has
(23) Nyowe ndyeichuba bataireho omushara.
I am in the watering pail with a good barkcloth on top.
(I am in complete ignorance. I am in a quandary.)
(23) Owaragaza emw;e agyihonora obwoya.
He who rubs one cow (only) rubs off its hair.
(Okuhonora to remove skin or hair by rubbing. This refers to the grooming
done each day. A man who constantly asks his friend for things will finish all
that friend's goods.)
(24) Omukama rwakunyaga oti kanywe enungyi.
When the mukama takes your cattle you say: Drink from good cattle.
(You have no complaint against him as you won't be called to fight for him.)
(25) Obwengye kububurira nyinente omufumu aragurira busha.
When the owner of the cattle is lacking in intelligence the doctor performs
his divination rites for nothing.
(e.g. if called for Anthrax when there is none, or the owner does not take
the advice given.)
(26) Ezhigyizha nengabo yamazhugu ogyiragwa sho.
A full grown cow is a shield adorned with bells; your father leaves it you by
(Only a shield so adorned would be passed on to the son. A man cannot ask
for a full grown cow of a friend, but only a calf. Only the Mugabe would give a
full grown cow to a man for the asking.)
(27) Empima echumitira eyetegyeize.
Bahima cattle pierce a man according to the shape of their horns.
(Okutegyeiza=to be shaped, of horns only.)
(28) Ezhigyizha ebuturwa owagyirorize.
A full grown cow is helped along by him who first milked it.
(Okubuturwa=to help along by holding.
Okuroza= to milk a cow for the first time after its first calf.
It is the man who would see its capabilities and how much milk it gives;
others would not be interested. In the same way a man helps one he has known,
but others that he gets to know later, i.e. the younger men, he would help in the
(29) Ente nenio ekoramu nyinayo.
The cow is an anus; it is touched only by its owner.
(30) Enyana nebikumba byanyekyiro eyiwabanda otwara.
A calf is a head of sorghum millet at night. What you chance upon you take.
(You decide to take a calf and you catch the first you can out of a bunch,
without knowing anything about it. If you pluck a head of millet at night you
take the first you can as you cannot see. To buy a pig in a poke.)
(31) Kyasha komukwato ezhuga nereba owayo.
The kyasha-coloured omukwato cow lows and faces its home.
(It has hope of return when it has given birth to a calf. While there is life
there is hope.)
(32) Akanyana kokuihura okareba omuzananka.
The calf to be paid you see among another's cattle.
(No man likes parting with his cattle, whether for a debt or gift. He sees a
small one amongst his neighbour's and he thinks: "That is the one I should have
paid had it been mine." Meaning: Jealousy.)
(33) Ente kuishaya zona oshayura kyasha kyonywa.
When all the cattle fall in the mud you take out kyasha which is drunk.
(You save the most valuable and beloved to obtain milk for yourself.)
(34) Bihembe byenyana tomanya eyibitegeize.
You do not know how the horns of cows will shape.
(35) Akanyana kobukama tokaima maizi.
(This is done in self interest, as the Mukama might give you the one to which
you refused water, or it might die and you would get none.)
(36) Ente kuikukanga okufa ozikanga okuzorora.
When cattle frighten you by dying you frighten them by looking after him.
(37) Eyagyira eiruho eyendera zona.
A thirsty cow wants water for all the cattle.
(i.e. it drinks so much. The same is applied to men in time of famine.)
(38) Entama yakatambira owubagichwera kashwa owagyemirira?
A mouthful helped him into whose mouth they spit, how much more for one
who swallows it himself?
(This refers to milk put into a man's mouth to test whether he is dead.)
(39) Abana baizhurira baribwa engwe.
Children drink milk to make room for more in the kyanzi; they are eaten by
(Okuizhurira is to lessen milk in a kyanzi which is full, when the cow is giving
more than a kyanzi full of milk. When there is more space in the kyanzi more
milk will be milked into it.
This signifies that a child has its uses, even though it is so helpless that it
can be taken by a leopard.)
(40) Oine ebyokushuka nuwe achuragura ebirire.
She who has something to pour in is she who washes the calabash.
(This refers to the washing of milkpots and vessels by women.)
(41) Orugyegye rwenzhara rwarika empangare yomushumu.
The milk platform of famine hides a fullgrown greedy girl.
(okwarika= to hide in the women's inner room. In time of famine or shortage
of milk a girl might steal the milk and hide in the inner room, so that no one would
(42) Omukazi mpugukye ashekyera ekyibu.
A woman accustomed to much milk laughs at the kyibu.
(Ekyibu is milk from one milking of the cow, if through lack of milk it is
necessary to milk it once a day only. If the woman is newly married she might
not realise that on the morrow there would be no milk in the morning if she drank
it all now, and did not keep some for to-morrow.)
(43) Ahantu enfura etungyire nuho enywera omurara.
Where a fellow becomes rich there he drinks omurara.
(omurara= the milk drunk at 4-0 a.m. by rich men. A man is wakened by his
wife to drink and then goes to sleep again. In the case of the Mugabe, it was the
work of a boy of 15 to give him the milk. If the cock had crowed at 3-0 a.m. or
4-0 a.m. the milk could not be given. It would then be given to children to drink.)
(44) Gareba omunyi gachwa ekyitebo?
Can milk see the one who drinks it and break the carrying net?
(Ekyitebo is the net made of fibre in which a milkpot is carried suspended
from a pole on the shoulder, and in which milk, kept overnight for drinking in the
morning, often is hung up in the hut. If the man drinks there will be little left
of the milk to break the net with its weight. The meaning is: If things are done
in the right way there is little to fear.)
(45) Ekyiteko kyenfuzi nomumiro.
The milkpot net of the orphan is his throat.
(He has no mother to put into his kyiteko the remainder of what he does not
drink, and therefore is compelled to drink it all.)
(46) Owasho kwaba atakukamire akureguriza,
Making milk-pots. Various stages from the block to the finished article.
If your brother clansman does not milk for you he will milk a little with the
(okuregura=to milk for dogs, etc., after the milking is finished. The meaning
is: If he does not give you many things he will at least give you a little thing.)
(47) Owasho kwakuturanira akukamira ekyibu.
When your brother clansman neglects to milk for you he milks for you a
(When he does remember you he gives you a big thing like a kyibu.)
(48) Ehwairwe abakuru egyendwa bwira.
The land without old men is gone through by night.
(A land without old men is not worth having. If an old man comes along
he is always put up at night, but not so the young man. If a young man asks
for lodging and there are not old men present he may not be let in; but if old men
are present he will be. A land without old men has no tolerance and no one to
warn people. Old men are kind and hospitable, and if not there one might as well
travel by night.)
(49) Kwoshanga nyineka nafungura oirira omugera.
When you find a nyineka diluting his milk you move to the well.
(i.e., if the host is in such straits, through lack of milk, that he has to water it
to get enough for a guest, then the latter should go to the well and drink water
(50) Omugyenyi akomerwa ebikwato takomerwa erisho.
The spears and sticks of a visitor are kept, not his eyes.
(Ebikwato are the things taken from a visitor as security, and kept by women
in the inner room. The guest still has his eyes, so that no lies may be told later
by the owner of the house about anything in the kraal or house.)
(51) Omugyenyi nenfuzi ohungurwa nyineka.
A visitor is an orphan who is inherited by the householder.
(The only one who would take any interest or know about an orphan in such
a case would be he who inherits the duty of looking after him. In the same way
it is only the nyineka who knows the visitor, and no one else.)
(52) Omugyenyi ofubire afunzha nyineka.
A fastidious (or overbearing) visitor makes the house narrow for the nyineka.
(He wants everything just so. He wants all the room, but does not want any-
thing to be put outside.)
(53) Omugyenyi tayegyenya.
A visitor cannot make himself a visitor.
(He is still one, whatever he does, and must remember it.)
(54) Kwoza uburya nshehera ozirya.
When you go and live with fly eaters you eat flies.
(When in Rome do as Rome does.)
(55) Omugyenyi kwarara abakyasha kwayosha abarwasha.
When the visitor sleeps the night he is like a kyasha heifer, when he has spent
a day he is like a rwasha bull.
(i.e., You are beginning to get tired of him on the second day.)
(56) Kyiri mugyisha ashangwa omuzamunywaniwe.
A lucky man is found among his friend's cows.
(Because they are well cared for.)
(57) Omugyenyi agaya nyineka emigaburire nyineka omugaya emirire.
A visitor despises the way in which the nyineka distributes the food, the
nyineka despises the way the visitor eats it.
(Do not find fault with others when you have plenty of faults yourself. People
in glass houses, etc. The pot calling the kettle black.)
(58) Abagyenyi nekyibunda kubarara bararuka.
Visitors are a cloudy day; when they have slept they go.
(They are here to-day and gone to-morrow.)
(59) Ente inywebwa abagyenyi abana bakuzibwa obunaku.
Cattle are drunk by visitors: children grow up by time.
(This refers to visitors coming and drinking the milk which children would
have had and so have to go short. The children will grow in time anyway and
will always be there, but the visitors will go on the morrow.)
(60) Omugyenyi tareba okwezi.
A visitor does not see the moon.
(Anything that the visitor notices he would not draw attention to, whether
it is something strange and unusual or so common a thing as the moon rising. It
would be considered rude. The nyineka alone would do this.)
(61) Binshobeire arya nabagyenyi.
'I am defeated' eats with visitors.
(The man has nothing of his own.)
(62) Omushaizha obeiha ashendekyereza mugyenyi otamurarire.
A man who lies accompanies a visitor who has not slept at his place.
(Every visitor, when leaving, is accompanied part of the way by his host.
Accompanying a man who has not slept with you is like lying to the world that
he has done so.)
(6) Omushaizha otazinduka tachwa.
A man who does not visit does not disinherit (a wife or son).
(By visiting he is said to learn bad habits elsewhere.)
(64) Obunuzi butsiga obusharizi.
Sweetness leaves bitterness.
(After a man has visited the contrast of not having him is like bitterness.)
(65) Abantu bafa noruzinduko.
People die with visiting.
(Even when visiting they may die suddenly. It is used of a man who dies
before doing what he intends to.)
(66) Omukama tabura habura sho.
One does not lose a master, one loses a father.
(If a master dies you get another.)
(67) Omukama ohirirwe anyaga ezirimu empereka.
A master who is lucky takes a man who has empereka into his kraal.
(empereka are cattle being looked after by another. A master gains materially,
as well as prestige, by having a man with many cattle of his own.)
(68) Garuka aha ogyihabwa nyineka.
'Come here' is given you by the nyineka.
(He is the authority who must be obeyed.)
(69) Owayanga nyineka amwanga nashorora.
He who hates the nyineka hates him and goes away.
(It would not be safe to stay.)
(70) Torasha kichunchu ruhoiho.
You do not shoot the lion slowly.
(A dangerous animal or man must be dealt with quickly before it has time
to do any damage.)
(71) Otamukwaitse ate mwaikarire tugende.
He who is not wrestling says "Throw him and let's go."
(No one knows what another's troubles are. The onlooker at a wrestling
match does not know the difficulty.)
(72) Ekitwara muhimakazi mpora n'emirembe.
What takes the Muhima woman slowly is peace.
(It is only when there is peace and contentment and no worry that the cattle
increase and there is plenty of milk. The milk diet fattens the women to such an
extent that no other gait than a slow waddle is possible. It is possible that the
Luganda proverb, quoted on page 253, Vol. III, Uganda Journal, is a mutilation of
(73) Otaine embwa ayebweigorera.
He who has no dog barks for himself.
(With no one to help he would have to do his own work.)
(74) Owabura ekyiyagamba aburiza enshekuro obuhima.
He who has nothing to say asks for a grain-mortar in a kraal.
(This, of course, would be silly, as it would be non-existent.)
(75) Omwonyo gubunga guba eizhu.
Salt moves about and becomes dust.
(This refers to the salt dealer moving about and trying to sell it. The prospec-
tive buyer calls it dust in order to get the price lowered. This is quoted when
exchanging or selling cattle.)
(76) Abaturaine bazara abana barukushishana.
Those living together bear children that are alike.
(This refers to women in a kraal being accessible to all.)
THE WITCH TREE.
By STELLA WOOD
The trees march up
yet never still;
silent, inch by inch
climbing the green
and grassy steep.
Ah, what is their
intention when *
they reach the boma
built by men
upon the top?
Only the Hell-
born Witch Tree knows,
and will not tell.
What evil saturnalia
take place that night
upon the Hill?
The Witch Tree waits
in silent glee
holding her councils
THE OLD LADY.
By STELLA WOOD
The little, fragile, white-haired lady
Stepped outside in the English moon,
And she thought of her long-lost African moonlight,
So taken for granted, and gone so soon.
She peered at her small, trim English garden,
She smelt the jasmine above the door,
But the sleeping shrubs, the lawns and lupins,
It wasn't these that her dim eyes saw;
She saw the plumes of the jacaranda
Softly against the pale sky laid,
The amethyst fountain of bougainvillea,
The ebony depths of the mango's shade,
The clustering hills, and the mist-filled valleys,
The cypress rising like a shout
Of joy to the moon-drowned stars.
She shivered, turned, and shut the moonlight out.
Migration Movements of the Madi, with some tentative Conclusions.
By J. P. BIRCH
The following notes give what is believed to be the prevailing theory among
the Madi concerning the routes by which they reached their present homes.
As at present constituted, the Madi tribe is composed of a number of small
Sub-Tribes. The term 'Clan' is hardly applicable to these small divisions, some of
which contain only about a dozen males. They do not appear to have any clan
taboos or totems, but in almost every Sub-Tribe there is a Rainmaker, who is the
accepted leader of the people and whose office is hereditary. Occasionally, even
before the days of Administration, a small Sub-Tribe might throw in its lot with
another in return for assistance in the struggle to exist. In this case, it would
probably delegate its Rain ceremonies to its fellow, though to some extent retaining
its individuality. In such a case, I have heard members of the subordinate section
say "We are the wives of the Chief", wedded but subordinate to the Rainmaking
family of their adopted protector.
The impression gained is that, though now speaking a language with little
variation, and considering themselves as one tribe, the Madi are not completely
homogeneous, being derived from a collection of similar, but not identical stocks,
which have been induced by circumstances common to them all to adopt one
language and to consider themselves one tribe.
An enquirer will be told that all the present inhabitants of the Madi district,
excluding for the present the Kakwa and Fajulu, came "from the Bari", vaguely
indicated as lying North-West. There is, however, one curious exception, due
to a lack of legend rather to any positive belief. There is a small Sub-Tribe in
East Madi, whose home used to be near Ogbworo Hill near Liri. These people
do not appear to have any tradition of migration to this place. The legends of
other Sub-Tribes recall finding these people already living in the land when they
reached it, and say that it was from them that they acquired their language. It is
significant that this Sub-Tribe alone is called Madi, and by no other name.
In giving what has been learnt of their movements, the Sub-Tribes will be
taken as far as possible in the order in which they reached the District. No chro-
nological accuracy is possible, nor is strict accuracy of fact, since the accounts
vary with the origin of the teller. The intention is to give an idea of the tradition,
which is held in the main throughout the tribe.
The present "Tribe" is referred to as Madi. The names used for the Sub-
Tribes are in some cases those retained by them during later movement, in others
those of the sites where they are now settled. It is difficult to disentangle these,
especially as Sub-Tribes join forces and migrate together,
Moyo.-Little has been learnt about Moyo, and it seems that they were among
the first to reach their present home. They came 'from the Bari' and settled in and
around the present site of Moyo station. This is one of the first places they would
reach on passing through the Kuku country, if their present boundaries were the
same. They were numerous and powerful and established themselves firmly, so
that subsequent flow was diverted round them. Others, who settled near them,
were soon hurried into moving further off.
Metu.-These may have arrived about the same time as the Moyo, but by
a more Northern route. They settled at Nyeri, East of the Aiyu river, the present
Sudan boundary. At first they occupied the valleys and Western hills of the Otze
massif. Gradually they spread East into the higher hills. One day a fugitive
Kakwa arrived from the West. He had stolen the Rainstones of his Chief and
tied them round his legs. The festering wounds caused by the ties made him un-
pleasant company to the Metu who received him. They took him to their Chief
who made him his servant. The Rainstones were untied and' given to the Chief
and the sores presumably healed. The tendency of the Metu to spread to the hills
as they increased necessitated journeys among them for tribal affairs. As this
burden grew, the Chief took to sending his Kakwa henchman as his deputy to
deal with minor matters. In time this man spent more and more time in the hills
and dealt with more important matters. He took the stolen Rainstones and even-
tually became the Chief, in all essentials, of the hill dwellers. The separation was
marked by the use of the term Metuli for those who had remained in the valleys,
while those in the hills called themselves Metuoru. Possibly the incomparably
better climate and scenery in Metu has produced a race with more vigorous charac-
teristics. This enterprising Kakwa fugitive is the forbear of Lukere, present Chief
of Meturu (Metuoru) and senior Chief in. Madi, whose family has held the Rain
ceremonies since it established itself. Moreover the Metu as a whole retain many
individual characteristics and customs, some of them related to those of the Kuku,
with whom, prior to Sleeping Sickness restrictions, they still had considerable
Atyak.-In the front of the Easterly migration, were the people of Atyak.
They came from the Bari country and settled near Ilwo hill across the Nile from
Nimule, more correctly, Lumule. One day they noticed bands of white in the
country across the Nile, which they took to be herds of cattle. They crossed, only
to find that it was the white flowers of the Yabi or sword-grass which had misled
them, and that there were no people there. They stayed for a time at Eligu,
between Nimule and Gwere, and then moved up to the Unyama river, North of
their present home in Acholi.
Adzugopi.-Followed Atyak and settled at Ara near Ilwo. They quarrelled
with the people at Dufile and crossed the Nile to Onigo. The Nile was then very
narrow and, as they were without canoes, they swam holding the tails of their cattle.
From Onigo they moved to Adzugopi.
Laropi and Aliba.-Came together past the Moyo and settled at Eyile on the
Amua river. From there the Moyo drove them out and they went to Aliba hill,
North of Obongi. Later they separated, the Laropi moving North to their state
on the Nile under Otze.
Zaipi.-Came hard on the heels of Laropi and Aliba and stayed for a time
near them at Eyile. They left before them and crossed the Nile to Gwere. Here
they stayed for many years later moving East to their present site. They still
retained a Rudu or Grove at Gwere and it is here that Liri, a near forefather of the
present Chief is buried. This Rudu is still sometimes used for Rain ceremonies.
Dufile.-The legend of Dufile is more detailed. A tribe in the country of the
Sudan Muru had two sections. The country was hot and one demanded that the
other move to provide more shade for them under the trees. This was refused, so
the first party moved South-East. As the sun came round those who had stayed
behind came in turn and demanded shade from those who had moved. The
request was again refused and the two leaders fought with spears and arrows.
Kuyu, leader of those who had first moved, was driven out and went to live alone
West of Jalei hill, between Aringa and the Kuku. From there he moved to the
Nile where he saw smoke on the East bank. Some people crossed to him but
he could not understand their language. They brought him to where they lived
at Olikwe, where he settled down as a servant, married and became a great fisher-
man. He was made Chief by the people, who may have been the 'Madi'. Kuyu
had three sons, Tonyidra, Odru and Pele. Pele quarrelled with his father who
drove him out. Seeing some floating sudd, he thought he would go away and die,
so, taking a sister and food for a few days, he mounted the sudd and was carried
away. After some days, he reached a place near the present Dufile ferry crossing.
Here the smoke from his fire on the sudd was seen by the people of Boko, the
Chief. Having no canoes, they swam out on ambatch floats and brought Pele
and his sister ashore. Boko gave Pele a wife and made him keeper of his rain-
stones. On Boko's death, Pele became Rainmaker. Pele was now speaking a
different language from that of the Madi where he was born. He sent for news
as to whether his family were alive and his brother Tonyidra came to him. Seeing
that his brother was a Chief, Tonyidra returned to Onikwe and brought many
people who settled under Pele. They stayed there and multiplied, until Boko's
people, who had taken Pele in, were driven out to Lukai near Nimule. After the
death of their father Kuyu at Onikwe, the third brother, Odru, came as an old
man to live with Pele. Their two names became the name of the place, Odrupele,
which has been corrupted by strangers to Dufile, though the old form is still
always used by the inhabitants. Pele had a son Otu who had Chua, who had
Kinya, father of Matteo Katekiza, the present Chief, though there are probably
gaps in this succession.
Gwere.-Is comprised mostly of Dufile people who crossed the Nile to escape
the rigours "of Belgian Administration. The remainder are Arinyapi, a mixed
lot whose Chief was formerly a deputy Rainmaker appointed from Dufile.
The people of East Madi proper mostly reached their country by a different
Adropi, Pachara and Palore.-Seem to have come from the Bari country by
the North through Lukai.
Odrunipi were the descendants of Kuyu, who remained at Onikwe.
Palaro, Oyuwi and Pakelli.-Were moved in comparatively recent times as a
Sleeping Sickness measure. They formerly lived in and around the Zoka Forest
and opposite Rhino Camp. With them also were the Madi Aiivu of the West
Nile. They had all come from the Bari country, probably by a Southern route.
Later the Madi Aiivu moved back to the West Bank,
Between the Madi of Moyo and the Lugbara and Madi Aiivu is a wedge of
Bari-related tribes, stretching from Yei and Koboko to the Nile. Some are
Kakwa. Others, of Rigbo and Relli, are Fajulu, from between Juba and Yei. The
Rigbo moved South to obtain grazing for their cattle. The remainder went across
the Nile to Ogbworo. Some, the Lowi, joined up with the Pakelli and Oyuwi and
have become nearly assimilated. Others returned West of the Nile and inland to
Kali, where the Chiefs are buried, but were driven down to the Nile again by the
Lugbara. The migration of these Kakwa and Fajulu was probably later than
most of the others.
The Madi of Lukai in the Sudan are portions of the people of Pele from Dufile
and of their neighbours the Pakarokwe.
The Madi of Madi Opei and Palabek may have come East with the Adropi
and others, and continued East when they turned South. Their numbers have
been increased by migrations from Madi which have continued up to the present
As far as has been possible to discover, all the migrations described began near
the Bari country, North of Loka on the Juba to Yei road. The line of this road
is occupied by tribes with similar language and characteristics, Bari, Fajulu,
Kuku and Kakwa. The Madi legend is that they came from the Muru country
North of this line and adopted a new language in their new home. Whether they
were forced to move by the insertion of a wedge of Bari is uncertain, but all their
legends say that they were at one time near neighbours.
The tribes North of the present Bari line, Muru, Makaraka and Amadi, are
akin. A Madi told me that, when visiting Juba, he was surprised to hear that he
could partly understand their speech, which was as like to his as that of the
Lugbara. Stigand traces affinities with these tribes, through the Azande, to the
Bantu. Sir Harry Johnston also considers there are affinities. These tribes, like the
Madi, remove four lower incisors instead of two, as is more usual with the Acholi.
The name Amadi is significant. Possibly this tribe is the parent stock of the
Madi. Possibly the 'Madi' sub-tribe of East Madi were pioneers in the migration.
They could hardly have had sufficient influence on the Moyo to give them their
name and language, since they appear to have settled once and for all on the
Western fringe of the area now occupied.
Many names of places and groups of people are prefixed by the particle Pa-.
This suggests Acholi influence. The prefix, however, is found all over the area
where the language is totally unlike Acholi, and not, as might be supposed, only
near the Acholi border, where there has been a blending of stocks and where both
languages are spoken with ease. Pa- has much the same meaning as in Acholi,
denoting usually 'son of', followed by the name of a Chief or place.
Another particle, even more widely used, is -pi, a suffix. This has much the
It appears safe to draw one main conclusion, that the Madi occupied their
present areas by an Easterly or South-Easterly movement, possibly being checked
by a Westward thrust of the Acholi.
OLD AZIGARA OF THE WEST NILE,
By R. W. MAILING
In the neighbourhood of the Kaia River which divides the Uganda Protecto-
rate and the Sudan there roams an elephant known to the Loga Tribe by the name
of Azigara. It is only a very large and solitary elephant which is honoured by the
natives with a title. The previous generation of these people had known him and
one presumes, therefore, that he must have been a tusker of conspicuous value
at least fifty years ago. He is a monstrous bull elephant, standing some twelve feet
at the shoulder, and he carries magnificent ivory, weighing at least 100 lbs. each
tusk. The grey hairs on trunk and chest betoken extreme old age and it must be
many years since the younger bulls drove him from the herd to wander alone,
until the bullet, the spear, or the sextons of the bush, eventually should claim
As a marauder on native cultivation Azigara is preeminent. At dead of night,
he will regale himself with sweet potatoes, the succulent banana stem and the bark
of the fig tree as though the domicile were his own. There are ill gleanings for the
unfortunate owner after this unwelcome visitor. Occasionally a native, roused
by the uprooting of a fig tree, will on seeing the enormous shadow, try conclusions
with a spear. Azigara hates to be interrupted at meals and is inclined to become
a little petulant, some would say nasty.
Having little fear of man by night, it is follow-up at day-break which
Azigara has to guard against. Some two hours after sunrise we can find the old
bull resting under an acacia tree, having put some ten miles between himself and
the previous night's raid. He is still cautious; and facing up wind, just off the
track, the trunk is automatically raised and lowered in order to detect the scent of
his only enemy,-man. The constant flap-flap of the gigantic ears ceases momen-
tarily so that he may listen for any untoward sound, but the swish of the tail is
mechanical, for the flies swarm around a maggotty sore on the rump, a reminder
of a spear wound received on a nocturnal foraging raid some years before. Can it
be wondered that old Azigara is somewhat peppery and cunning withal at this
His ire is roused, for the approach of some heavy animal through the high
grass can be heard. A few strides expose a white rhino who respectfully makes
way for the big tusker's departure. (The explanation for this remarkable elephant's
longevity is partly due to the fact that he never dallies long in the day and thus
keeps ahead of any tracker with an intense ivory urge.) He continues his trek,
snatching some sustenance from tree or bush and stopping occasionally to follow
the procedure of leaving the track and turning about to take a suck at the wind.
And so on, year after year, one long round of continuous travel.
A hunter above five miles behind has observed the huge spoor and, in joyous
anticipation, thinks that in all likelihood he can by settling accounts with Azigara,
also settle those rendered to him by unsympathetic tradespeople. But there is no
cause for concern. The old bull has two hours law and can walk twice as fast
as his pursuer. Such itineraries have occurred before with him. He strides
majestically along; until, at sunset, the Kaia River is forded. Azigara is in the
Sudan Elephant Sanctuary and safety.
It is probable that the demise is fast approaching. It is sad to relate that
guns and elephant licences are now within the rights of many unskilled Native
hunters who may riddle him with misplaced bullets, only the vultures seeing where
he dies. If it must be, let us hope old Azigara receives his quietus from a skilled
hunter,-a bullet in the brain and oblivion.
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