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Is Nakayima real?

By Vision Reporter

Added 7th June 2001 03:00 AM

The old woman grinned, pulled the money out of the gourd and pushed it into her kaveera

The old woman grinned, pulled the money out of the gourd and pushed it into her kaveera

By Joshua Kato I SET out one day for the shrine of one of the most ancient and feared goddess of the Baganda, Nakayima. The journey from Mubende town saw me jump on to a motor-bike. It was driven by a young man called Kizito. On the way up, we had to dodge two huge snakes, one black and another dark brown. I tried to kill them, but failed. The boda boda man was saddened by my action. " These snakes are untouchable" he told me. "Why? I asked. "They are the protectors of this land," he answered rather concerned. He went at length to explain how the hill was a home to spirits, all kind of spirits, they all belong to Nakayima. The road itself is a ragged, potholed stretch with sharp corners. We finally arrived at the shrine. "That is the shrine, that is where people come to worship." Kizito told me. " You mean under that tree?" I asked. "Yes of course, Nakayima lives in that tree," he said. Before my mind finally cleared, an old woman who stood near the tree spoke out. "Tusanyuse okulaba muzzukulu, weebale okujja eri katonda wa Buganda assingayo amaanyi" (We are happy to see you grandson, welcome to the most powerful god of the Baganda.) Four other people at the tree looked at each other as I stood still. The old woman then came to us. She is the chief medium of the goddess, she loves to be refereed to as jajja. But some people call her Naluyinda. Come and receive the blessings of your god, she said in Luganda almost pulling by hand. This is your god, she added gesturing towards the tree. The tree that is believed to house one of the most feared gods of the Baganda is the largest I have ever seen, 20 feet wide at the roots, and 10 feet at the trunk. Its branches cover a space of almost 40 metres. The most unique feature on the tree is that it has two protruding roots that resemble female breasts. This part of the tree is called Nalongo. The spaces between the roots are believed to be the home of some of Buganda's gods. So, to worship these gods, one has to kneel down, remove his shoes and drop money in several old gourds. Many people ask for riches. "Gulaayo emwanyi," (Buy some coffee) she told me. As soon as she had said this, a man offered to bring me the coffee, I gave him a sh1,000 note before he rushed off, The roasted coffee beans, jajja told me, are the traditional bond between man and his god. The coffee beans were brought minus my balance and the rituals began! Being a staunch Christian, I had gone to the sight as a journalist. Should I worship or not? Why should I waste my money on a tree? I thought. Jajja went on: I call upon you the most powerful gods to come down over your grandson so that he becomes rich, so that he can fly a plane, the old woman said in a low tone. She told me to repeat after her. I somehow never repeated her words. She told me to drop some coffee and all the money I had in a gourd. I pleaded that I did not have change and she ordered that I throw in all that I had. She grinned, pulled it out and pushed it into her kaveera. I had to drop money in over 10 other holes as we moved around the huge tree. On the third move, I stopped dropping in the notes, unless I was to move back on foot to Kampala. "You have given that money to the gods, now give us some," one of the men said. The old woman told me to come and worship in June, the main worshipping season. I knew better. She explained how thousands of highly placed people in society worship the tree. ends

Is Nakayima real?

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