According to Mmandwa Waiswa Muyiri, the Katukiro, Kirunda was successfully tested for eight days as an interview. “We are still watching him and giving him more tests. He says the next test for Kirunda is not to have sex for the next four years.
ORACLE KIRUNDA BUSOGA
The people of Busoga have a new oracle to oversee the spirits of River Nile. Dhaadha Nabamba Budhagali comes from a remote village of Kiiga-Butayunjwa in Kidera sub-county, Buyende district.
The 33-year-old Hassan Yiga Kirunda was chosen by the spirits in a mysterious way that left other candidates, especially the Baswezi clique, who had hoped they would get possessed by the 350 spirits, dissatisfied. They have already protested and want Kirunda's installation halted.
However, Mmandwa Kireeba Isabirye Iyingo, the oracle of Iyingo hill in Buyende district, said the process of selecting an oracle is not like an election, where losers petition the organisers. "Spirits have their choice. You cannot simply protest just because you wished to become an oracle. Budhagali chose his successor and that is done," he said.
Dhaadha Nabamba Bujagali died of natural causes on October 26 and was buried on November 3. It was unclear who would take over the mantle of the 350 spirits as the successor and the wait was full of eagerness and anxiety. That is why the new Budhagali's popularity is soaring every passing day.
Crowds trek from morning to sundown, jostling to have a glance at the young man who scooped the prestigious title in the Misambwa fraternity in Busoga. Kirunda becomes the 40th Nabamba Budhagali of the once-mighty waterfalls.
Kirunda's wife and the children
How he was chosen
The selection of the new Budhagali was mysterious. Kirunda, vanished from his bathroom, where his wife had taken a basin of water for him to bathe. Monica Nakisekka, 33, told Saturday Vision that she waited for him to return in vain. He was later sighted seated on a lonely Island of Budhagali in the Nile, where the spirits take and keep the proposed successors of the fallen Budhagali.
While there, he did not have any meals or any drinks for seven days. He remained on the ice-cold rocks and serpent infested waters and weeds. It is said that he never eased himself during the seven days. The possessed Kirunda returned on the eighth day amid frenzy Kiswezi drumming and singing.
The deafening drumming, flute and calabash trumpets went crazy as he appeared. The Baswezi then showcased their entertainment antics of dancing while holding sharp knives and daggers without injuring themselves.
According to Mmandwa Waiswa Muyiri, the Katukiro (premier) of Obwabudhagali bwa Kiyira, Kirunda was successfully tested for eight days as an interview. "We are still watching him and giving him more tests. The first tests were cumbersome," Muyiri said. He says the next test for Kirunda is not to have sexual intercourse for the next four years.
To prove that he had travelled through the water, Muyiri told Saturday Vision that Kirunda's head and shoulders were half-covered by the water hyacinth. According to Busoga chiefdom's culture minister, Richard Mafumo, Kirunda seems to be the genuine Budhagali.
"We are still monitoring him. He has to deal with some complaints. But when no new credible claimant surfaces, we shall install him," Mafumo said during a meeting on Wednesday.
Who is Kirunda?
Kirunda was born in July 1989 to Mzee Zubairi Mugada, 61, and Florence Nanangwe Nambi Kasooone, 51. According to his parents, his childhood was characterised by peculiar behaviour, including vanishing from home for several days.
"We would search and later find him in jungles. And he also would not know how he got there," the father told Saturday Vision on Thursday. Magada added that at times Kirunda would be seated alone and drift into deep meditation and half slumber for almost half a day.
"When he grew up, he would tell me how he would see beasts, wildfires and other celestial images. To waive them off, he became Born-again, but the images did not go away," his mother, Nambi, said. He dropped out of school in Primary Six and later wedded Nakisekka, a fellow Mulokole.
After realising that the images ‘visiting him' had cultural interpretations, he abandoned Christianity and constructed shrines (amasabo) for the spirits to settle. Emma Segujja Kabenge, the mayor of Bukungu town council, said Kirunda's elevation is not surprising.
However, Kirunda's wife, Nakisekka, is worried about her future and their six children. She was told that her husband has assumed another role and would never come back home.
Wilson Koloni Masooma, a cultural journalist from Wankole in Kamuli district, likened Kirunda's elevation from a local traditional healer in a shrine to the rank of Budhagali, to the promotion of an army officer from the rank of sergeant to field marshal. "He is no longer a normal human being.
He has to surrender the old family and the spirits shall select a Muswezi wife who suits his status," Masooma said. Mzee Zubairi Magada, Kirunda's father, is also worried that his daughter-in-law will lose interest and abandon his grandchildren.
Nakisekka's plight comes at a time when the nation is observing the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence (GBV). Diana Kagere, the project coordinator of the Centre for Domestic Violence (CEDOVIP), condemned the development, saying it is a form of gender-based violence against Nakisekka and the innocent children.