A long time ago, within the captivating embrace of Uganda’s lush landscapes, I, Nambi, was a witness to the profound solitude of Kintu, the solitary soul who walked the fertile earth, accompanied only by his beloved prized cow. Above us, the expanse of heaven hosted Ggulu, my Father, the master creator of all things, alongside his celestial offspring- my siblings and I and divine treasures. Occasionally, we as Ggulu’s children were allowed to descend from the heavens to Earth, seeking adventure and amusement. It was amidst these rolling hills and breathtaking vistas that a pivotal story of my husband and I, Kintu and Nambi unfolded.
On that momentous day, in the heart of the Buganda region, when I, alongside a handful of my brothers, crossed paths with the solitary figure of Kintu. As I observed him from a distance, my heart danced with warmth. Kintu, a towering, dark-skinned human, stood 6 feet tall before me in the radiant fields, tending to his cherished cow. His ebony skin seemed to glow under the African sky, a testament to the sun’s affectionate embrace. The way he tenderly caressed his beloved cows sleek, white coat and whispered affectionate words cast a mesmerizing spell upon my soul. In his devoted care, the cow thrived, radiating vitality and grace. I couldn’t resist being drawn to Kintu’s unwavering compassion for this magnificent creature, a reflection of the love he held within his heart. In that precious moment, amidst Uganda’s breathtaking landscapes, I didn’t just see a man and his cow; I beheld the embodiment of tenderness and the promise of an extraordinary love.
My notorious brothers decided to bully Kintu and stole his cow and hid it back in heaven. Kintu became so sad that his only companion had been taken. I couldn’t take his misery and reported my borthers to Ggulu.
“Ill give his beloved cow back. First, he has to perform three tasks for me” my father stated. He was bored and needed entertainment from the little human he thought to himself.
In the first task, Kintu was led to a hut. Inside was a table of the most delicious and aromatic food Kintu had ever seen.
“This is enough food to feed me for weeks,” my husband thought to himself.
Father gave him the night to finish all the food and locked him in the room. Kintu tried to eat the delicious food but try as he may, he couldn’t finish it. Luckily for him, there was a giant anthill nearby and ants were attracted to the delicious food. one by one they collected all the food until by sunlight the table was cleared! Kintu was very happy to show the empty table to Ggulu.
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Surprised by his success, Father gave him a harder task. He was given a pile of stones and was told to light them on fire. Kintu was perplexed on how to do this, he sat with the rocks pondering how to light them on fire. He kept on throwing the smalled ones against each other. Suddenly he noticed a spark! An idea sparked into his mind as well. He gathered some dry hay and cracked the stones against each other creating a fire! He piled the rocks ontop of more hay and happily called Father. I was ecstatic to see Kintu outsmart my Father and brothers.
His third task was to collect dew water for my dad to drink. Kintu was very intelligent. He got the pot and strategically put big leaves around it. By morning dew had collected and filled the pot! My father was impressed with Kintu’s intelligence. But had one more task for him. To identify his cow among a herd of hundreds of Ggulu’s own cattle. A little bee kept buzzing around Kintu, and it would land on the horns of a particular cow. Kintu observed this flight of the bee several times and finally chose the cow. To his surprise it was his beloved cow!
Father had no option to give Kintu his cow and send him peacefully back to earth. All this while i was entranced by Kintu’s stunning physique and i came to learn of his great intelligence. His isolation tugged at my heartstrings, and a deep sense of compassion welled up within me. I gazed upon him with fascination, feeling an overwhelming urge to alleviate his loneliness. Despite the well-intentioned objections of my brothers, I made a resolute decision—to marry Kintu and share his world, bridging the celestial and earthly realms.
However, my journey was not one of haste. In deference to my familial ties, I knew I must seek my father Ggulu’s blessing for our union. His initial reluctance to allow his beloved precious daughter’s union with a human and residence on Earth was palpable, but my persistence eventually swayed him. With his reluctant approval, he imparted essential advice for our earthly voyage. We were to depart quietly, at the break fo dawn the next day, travel light, and above all, never contemplate returning to heaven. Ggulu’s stern warning was driven by the fear that my brother, Walumbe, known as the harbinger of sickness and death, might insist on joining us, thereby sowing sorrow in our path. Among my precious belongings, I took along my cherished chicken, a symbol of the life we were forging together.
The following morning, as we descended towards Earth, my heart was filled with hope and anticipation. Yet, in the midst of our descent, a sudden realization struck me—I had forgotten to bring millet to nourish my dear chicken. An urgent plea escaped my lips as I turned to Kintu:
“I have left my chicken’s millet behind! I must return and fetch it!.” I gasped.
To my dismay, Kintu, wary of my brother’s interference, sternly declined, uttering words that would soon become the heartache of our tale:
“Don’t go back. If you do, you will meet Walumbe, and he will surely insist on coming with you.”
But my yearning for my beloved chicken and the millet that sustained it overcame my better judgment. Ignoring my husband’s counsel, I left him on our descent and retraced my steps. In my haste to retrieve the millet, I never could have anticipated the fateful encounter awaiting me.
As I approached our dwelling, my heart raced, and my footsteps faltered, for there, standing before me, was Walumbe—my brother.
“Good Morning Nambi. What is a lazy girl like you doing up this early?” he inquired, blocking my way.
His inquisitive gaze bore through me, and with a quiver in my voice, I stammered out uncertain words as I pushed past him and rushed to the store to collect the millet. He followed me intently watching me, blocking my way.
“You are up to no good”, he said as he forcefully grabbed the millet from me.
“Tell me now where you are going. Are you leaving with your new husband Kintu the first man?”, Walumbe insisted shaking me violently. The weight of my secret bore down on me, and I was left with no choice but to reveal my intentions to him.
Filled with insatiable curiosity, Walumbe insisted on accompanying me on my journey back to Earth. With no other option, Kintu and I were compelled to accept our fate, bound by the threads of destiny, and together, we ventured onward, now joined by Walumbe.
Our descent was not without its challenges, but it was amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Uganda that we made our earthly abode. As time flowed gently by, Kintu and I embraced our newfound life together, and it wasn’t long before our love bore fruit, bringing forth generations to inhabit this enchanting land.
One day, Walumbe approached our humble dwelling, his request simple—to have a child to assist him with the chores in his own abode. The audacity of him to ask for my child! More to this, echoing my dad’s earlier warning, we, guarding the future of his offspring, vehemently declined Walumbe’s odd request. It was a decision that would set in motion a tragic turn of events. Walumbe’s anger simmered, and that very night, he perpetrated an act of unspeakable sorrow, taking the life of our son.
A chasm of grief and anger now separated my family and Walumbe, leading my dear husband, Kintu to embark on a journey back to the heavenly realm to report Walumbe’s actions to Ggulu. Ggulu, in turn, offered stern admonishment, reminding Kintu of the solemn warning he had disregarded. In his desperation, Kintu shifted the blame to me, citing my return for the forgotten millet as the catalyst for our misfortune.
With a heavy heart, Ggulu made a decision—to dispatch yet another of his sons, my brother, the digger of holes Kayikuuzi, to Earth. Walumbe had stolen the child’s soul and decended into the underground to hind. Kayikuuzi’s mission was to persuade Walumbe to return to the celestial realm or, if necessary, to bring him back by force. Thus, another chapter of our saga unfolded on the fertile plains of Buganda.
Upon reaching Earth, Kayikuuzi extended his persuasive hand to Walumbe, but the sturbbon and resolute spirit of my brother could not be swayed. “I have found my home here on Earth, and I shall not return with you,” he declared firmly. Unwilling to relent, Kayikuuzi opted for a more forceful approach, and a mighty battle erupted between the two brothers. In their struggle, they unearthed the very essence of Uganda itself, carving out the majestic hills that grace the land even today.
The earth shook beneath their tumultuous clash, and the battle raged for days on end. As fatigue gradually overcame Kayikuuzi, he sought refuge in the presence of Kintu and me. Exhausted and weary, he shared his intention to make one final attempt to capture Walumbe, the harbinger of sickness and death.
“Stay inside your dwelling,” Kayikuuzi instructed us, “and command your children not to utter a sound if they happen to see Walumbe. He, too, grows weary, and I shall seize him when he surfaces.”
Kintu and I retreated into our humble abode, but some of our children, emboldened by curiosity, remained outside.
Kayikuuzi descended into the earth once more, grappling with Walumbe in a fierce struggle for supremacy. As the moment of reckoning drew near, our children, who were still outside, suddenly glimpsed Walumbe’s form and let out a collective scream of terror.
Startled by their cries, Walumbe swiftly retreated into the depths of the earth once more, narrowly evading capture. Kayikuuzi, now incensed by our failure to heed his instructions, turned to us, rebuking our inability to follow his simple command.
In the midst of his frustration, he declared his intention to abandon the fight. Kintu, humbled and remorseful, had no retort but to beseech Kayikuuzi to return to heaven, leaving us to contend with our fateful existence.
“You may return to the celestial realm,” Kintu conceded, “If Walumbe wishes to take my children, let him. For each child he claims, more shall come into this world. He shall never succeed in extinguishing the lives of my offspring.”
Ttanda, the very location where the epic struggle between Walumbe and Kayikuuzi purportedly unfolded, was figuratively referred to as the “place of death”—a place where the seeds of human mortality were sewn into the fabric of existence. Deep holes in the earth are the testament to this epic fight between good and evil.
Agiire Travels invites you to come with us on a discovery tour In Nambi’s Footsteps, a modern cultural tour taking you to the heart of Buganda at the Lubiri Palace and to the amazing Etanda Cultural Centre where you can witness the story as told by the local natives and bear witness of the massive pits of Tanda that scar the battleground between the two brothers.
And thus, dear reader, you have journeyed with your mind through the legendary Ugandan folktale, the creation tale of the Baganda people—a story deeply rooted in the enchanting landscapes of Uganda. This is a land where the verdant hills stretch as far as the eye can see, where emerald forests teem with life, and where the majestic holes of Ttanda stand as silent witnesses to the epic battles of gods and men. As this tale unfolds, remember that Kintu’s descendants, the Baganda, will forever flourish on this beautiful land—a testament to the enduring spirit of humanity in the heart of Uganda.
We invite you to Join Kintu and Nambi ‘s Footsteps Cultural Tour and learn so much more about Buganda Culture and Mythology.
© Written by Carolyne Mutesi