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Bukasa: Where I mingled with Buganda’s spirits

By Vision Reporter

Added 10th April 2008 03:00 AM

THE first thing that catches the eye as soon as one reaches, are the many cars parked in long lines. Then there is the patter of bare feet, for no one — rich or poor, young or old — dare enter with shoes.

THE first thing that catches the eye as soon as one reaches, are the many cars parked in long lines. Then there is the patter of bare feet, for no one — rich or poor, young or old — dare enter with shoes.

By Vision Reporter

THE first thing that catches the eye as soon as one reaches, are the many cars parked in long lines. Then there is the patter of bare feet, for no one — rich or poor, young or old — dare enter with shoes.

A child carries a bundle of wood on its back, while tagging on a big male goat.
This is Busabala, Lusiti — a village about 20km out of Kampala, deep in Wakiso district, where the hill of Mukasa’s mbuga (palace) is, right at the shores of Lake Victoria. It is known as “Mukasa Ebukasa” to many.

Mukasa is believed to be the king of all lakes. The bundles of wood are brought to light his fire and those of the other spirits that reside here. The goat is one of the many that are brought to be sacrificed, in honour of the spirits.
But why is this small hill different from any other?

“Ekiseera ekyokusoka (during the age of our ancestors), when the spirits still lived on earth (in body) and Daudi Chwa was king of Buganda, the spirits decided to sail from Ssese Island where they originate and landed here,” George William Ssemwanga, who guards the mbuga, explains.

“It is from this spot that the spirits held a meeting. Each spirit was given a hill in the city and a village from where they could rule and heal us, the grandchildren.” Ssemwanga says as he puffs at his long, black, beautifully spotted pipe, spitting into a small plastic cup cut out of a mineral water bottle.

While all the other spirits left to find hills and homes of their own, Mukasa stayed here. Thus the name Bukasa.
Ddungu was given Makindye; Nakayima Mubende; Kinene Mityana Tanda; Ssezibwa Jinja.

Wearing a dreamy, far-away look, Ssemwanga narrates: “Mukasa came with his father Wanema, his sons Kiwanuka and Musoke and his wives, Nabuzana, Nagadya, Nanseko and Nalwoga.”

“Mukasa is the one who approves of the spirits and ghosts before they can start healing. He is the leader of all ghosts and spirits.”

Nevertheless, the other spirits are not worshipped any less. Fires of spirits like Muwanga, Kinene (Walumbe), Musoke, Sselukela, Kibuuka, Namalele e zinga, Kiwanuka, Wanema, Najjemba, Nakayima, Muleguza, Ddungu and Abachwezi burn ceaselessly. Grass and barkcloth-covered caves represent the spirits that landed here with Mukasa.

“Every spirit has a house where it can rest. It is here that any argument between spirits is settled,” Ssemwanga explains.

Legend has it that a woman, Najjemba, also sailed here on a goat’s skin. She landed in Kilindo (waiting place). She seemed to be dumb.

“Out of fear, the people reported the matter to King Daudi Chwa. He sent his witchdoctors to perform rituals. A he-goat was sacrificed. After many days, she said she was waiting for the king, who gave her the shore where she landed,” Ssemwanga says.

Mukasa’s father, Wanema, fell in love with and married her. They decided to sail back to Ssese to start a family. Najjemba is the ghost said to head the Ngonge clan.

Distribution of spirit powers
Musoke was given power to give birth to those searching for it.
Kiwanuka guards land and sea and all the other spirit’s palaces.
Ddungu is the hunter for both man and the spirits. He also hunts for those who seek wealth.

Kitinda unites land and water. It is he who makes sure water stays in its place, safe and away from people.

Ndawula leads and guards the royal family.
Milimu was given powers over all workers. Those seeking jobs go to him.
Musisi is the oldest spirit. He shakes the earth whenever he is on the move to show his power.

Buganda kings came to Bukasa to get advice. When the problem for which the king sought help was too big, the spirits would sail to Ssese to seek advice from Najjemba and Wanema.

When Nakibinge was king, and went to seek advice on how to defeat the Banyoro, Wanema gave him two of his sons to help. Before leaving, Wanema asked Kayizi Namuyimba Nsamba Bikomo and Kibuuka Omumbale to swear not to fall in love with any woman before their mission ended.

However, Kibuuka saw and instantly fell in love with a beautiful Munyoro woman.
“Forgetting the oath, he told her that he was the one who killed the Banyoro,” Ssemwanga narrates sadly.

“She went and told the Banyoro warriors, who tried to kill Kibuuka. He was rescued by the Ndiga clan in Mbale,” says Ssemwanga.

Asked why it is him who guards the palace, Ssemwanga says: “I was chosen by Mukasa, through a dream. Through dreams, he tells me what I should do to help the people who come here.”

The spirits of Bukasa include; Jajja Tonda, Abalongo, Basalongo, Banalongo, Milimu, Musisi, Wanema, Muwanga, Selawanga (he is a snake), Nalwanga, Nagadya, Nanseko, Kayanja (head of the Mbogo clan), Bemba musota (he is also a snake), Kinene (walumbe), Nambi, Namalele, Sselukela, Kibuuka, Musoke, Kiwanuka, Ddungu, Ndawula, Kitinda, Wajja, Mukasa, Nakayima and amayembe.

Bukasa: Where I mingled with Buganda’s spirits

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