- Posted by Nelson Tumwesigye
- On May 13, 2014
- 0 Comments
Uganda has been known as a cultural melting pot with over 60 different languages and cultures. This was not by default but as a result of its historical formation where its current people trace their origins from all corners of the continent. The Bantu speaking tribes are said to have originated from Cameroon Highlands while the Luo from north Africa and the Hamitic tribes from the Horn of Africa and north East Africa as far as Ethiopia. It is upon this historical back ground and ecological position that Uganda is a summary of the continent hence offering the opportunity to traverse the continent from the same location. To0ro culture is one of the most interesting and highly enriched cultures that Uganda has.
The Batooro (people from Tooro) inhabit the District of Kabalore in Western Uganda which has a rich geography that has mythical attachments told to the residents.
A visit to the Royal palace in Fort Portal will reward you with a taste of an indeed hospitable and most peaceful tribe of Uganda. Well known for their softness in speech and actions, the Batooro dress code, traditional dance, coronation ceremony(Empaango), marriage ceremony, traditional dishes among others are amazing highlights of this fascinating culture.
Most astonishing of all is the story behind the existence of most features in the region like the famous stalagmites and stalactites commonly known as the ‘Amabeere ga Nyinamwiru’ which means the breasts of Nyinamwiru. This is because the stalactites have breast like shape and some form a structure like a cow’s udder.
It is paramount to note that Tooro region was the capital of the former Bunyoro-Kitara empire that gave birth to later kingdoms in the great lakes region of East Africa that existed before colonial era and some have survived to present day.
As history has it, that every kingdom has a beginning and probably a climax, Tooro kingdom is not different. From a kingdom too humble to be known by name through generations, a great empire of Bunyoro- Kitara rose to exist both geographically and in the minds of the great grand children of its first inhabitants.
The origin of this great empire cannot be explained by facts or science fiction but rather by a mythical legend passed on from generation to another by oral tradition.
Once upon a time, so it is said, two kingdoms existed; one on the earth’s surface and another beneath the earth(underworld). The earthly kingdom was inhabited by a tribe called ‘Batembuzi’ which means the first inhabitants and was under the rule of King Isaza. The underworld kingdom was occupied by Bachwezi who were ruled by Nyamiyonga. The Bachwezi were believed to possess supernatural powers and could appear and disappear at will.
One day, so it is said, the Underworld king proposed a blood brotherhood with the Earthly counterpart Isaza like in most African cultures by exchanging coffee beans soaked in one a nother’s blood which Isaza defied and passed the seed to his servant.
This dis respectful act by Isaza disgraced the good willed Nyamiyonga who plotted to have his dis graceful counter part pay for his ill-willed action. The legend has it that Nyamiyonga sent his most gorgeous and charmingly beautiful daughter known as Nyamata as a bride to Isaza who new less about this move. On seeing the conspicuous Nyamata, Isaza could not escape her splendid beauty and fell for her.
This however, surpassed Nyamiyonga’s expectations of attracting Isaza to his palace as a son in law since Isaza refused to accompany his wife to Pay a visit to the wife’s parents after having a son with her.
Fortunate enough for Nyamiyonga, her daughter had collected enough information about Isaza’s key interest which was found out to be cows. Nyamiyonga quickly made another trap for Isaza by sending him very beautiful cows which the later found in his kraal one early morning.
After a good period of time, so it is said, these cows were reported to have left the herd which prompted the ‘ignorant’ Isaza to set out for them. He left his gate keeper Bukuku in charge of his palace, so the legend is told, for he wasn’t sure when he would return.
Legend has it that after a long search, Isaza finally set eyes on the cows but from a far distance. He followed to stop them but it is said they went into the lake and they later sunk as he followed suit. Not long enough, so it is said, Isaza discovered the cows and himself were in Nyamiyonga’s kingdom. He was given a warm welcome of a typical African guest with plenty of drinks and eats. After introductions, Isaza was accommodated and assured of safety and departure at his own will.
Tradition has it that Isaza spent a few days and was later given his wife and son with the cows to start his journey back to his kingdom. Along the way, so it is said, Isaza lost all he had simultaneously with the family first and later the cows, a thing he couldn’t bear. Attempts to go home were futile and so was going back to his host king since all the ways were blocked and he was only left with a standing space. It is upon this untimely incident, that Isaza began his never ending effort to find the way through back to Earth by stubbing his spear into the roof like ground above his head causing earth quakes that we always feel and hear, according to the legend.
Meanwhile as the people up waited for his return in vein, the gate keeper-Bukuku assumed power and took over the throne pronouncing himself the new king. Bukuku’s era was full of mischief and fear of uncertainty which prompted him to consult a local prophet about his fate. It is said that news from the prophet were not worth hearing for the new king as it was said he would be killed by his own grandson.
In an attempt to avoid the unfortunate foretold fate, Bukuku was advised never to allow his only daughter Nyinamwiru to get married. He decided to lock her daughter up in one of the palace rooms and put a guard never to allow her meet any boy/man. As no power apart from God’s has been known to challenge nature, Nyinamwiru’s outstanding beauty and age , attracted one Isimbwa the son to Isaza and Nyamata who like other Bachwezi had super natural powers that enabled him to sneak into the palace unnoticed and impregnated Nyinamwiru who later gave birth to a baby boy.
Upon hearing the news of the birth of a grandson, Bukuku was greatly upset by his daughter and ordered the guards to cut off one of her breasts and pluck out one eye in order to distort her beauty and avert her admirers.
Like Moses of the bible, the fate of the young boy lied in the hands of those ordered to eliminate him. Lucky enough for him, he was dumped in a swamp in the neighborhood where he was later picked by a local potter who named him Ndahura.
Learning about the news of her son in the hands of a poor potter, Nyinamwiru sent a message to the potter to make a beautiful craft and present it as a present to the king which would in turn earn him an appreciation of a lactating cow which would help to provide milk to raise the child.
It was not long that Nyinamwiru’s plan worked as anticipated and the potter was given the cow. The legend has it that the cut breast of Nyinamwiru was thrown in the present day cave area where it continued to leak milk and the potter often took the boy at regular intervals for breast feeding.
Days became month and month became years and the fateful boy Ndahura reached his youthful stage and was prominent for his courage that at one time he challenged the King’s servants at the water point when he made his adopter’s cows drink before those of the king, an act that was not only unheard of but also unbearable.
When the king received this embarrassing news, he vowed to face and eliminate that disrespectful son of a potter whom he hardly knew that he was his grandson. It was not long enough before the day break and the ‘fire- spitting’ old king took his cows himself to face the young man at the water point.
As the king brought forward his cows, the stubborn Ndahura gave a challenge which prompted the King to unleash his anger impatiently by throwing his spear at the young man who dodged it. Like the Biblical story of David Vs Goliath, Ndahura never missed but only Struck the king’s heart and killed him with his own spear as the prophecy had been told.
Ndahula quickly pronounced himself king and started on the expansion of the kingdom which was later to be known as the Bunyoro-Kitara empire that spanned on the area between the Kagera and the Nile rivers. He was known as the first Chwezi ruler and founder of this great empire initiating the Chwezi dynasty that existed up to around the 15th century.
As you visit the scenic region of Tooro, with magnificent views of the glacial peaks of Rwenzori, the charming smiles of the residents, the amazing crater lakes of Wabikere and Kigere which are believed by the locals to be a result of the Bachwezi works, a lot will make you ponder like the foot marks like structures and the calderas of this area as you sit down to listen to the amazing stories explaining their existence.
Much more interesting stories than this await you as you plan your travel with us at Africa Adventure Safaris. With us you are sure that you will understand the region better than any other traveler because we know our region like our palms and it is always our sincere wish to help every traveler understand the deepest vein in our culture.
Feel free to book your safari with us as we take you through different cultures of this great nation the pearl of Africa as you listen to the charming stories that explain our origins and en rich your travel biography.