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Literally, ‘creator’. The Ganda, an East African tribe with a strong monarchical tradition, conceive of their supreme deity's authority in ancestral terms. He is the father of the gods living in heaven, just as the first king is the father of the men living on earth. The Ganda believe in the profound influence of the dead on the living. Great care is taken to ensure that the ghosts of sorcerers, suicides, and abnormal births cannot return to cause trouble. Ghosts of past rulers and outstanding men, sometimes considered to be incarnate in certain animals, are looked upon as guardian spirits. Elaborate rituals surround the cult of dead kings, while ordinary ancestors are offered beer and warmth.

Katonda is Lissoddene, ‘the big eye’ in the sky. He is Kagingo, ‘master of life’; Ssewannaku, ‘the eternal’; Lugaba, ‘giver’; Ssebintu, ‘master of all things’; Nnyiniggulu, ‘lord of heaven’; Namuginga, ‘he who shapes’; Ssewaunaku, ‘the compassionate’, Gguluddene, ‘the gigantic one’; and Namugereka, ‘he who apportions’.

The Ganda say that Katonda ‘saves the afflicted according to his will’. He is the final judge, though he may express his will through the actions of gods and men. So Katonda exercises his control over the natural world by means of nature spirits, balubaale. There are over fifty balubaale, some of whom are deified heroes, others simply personifications of natural phenomena and human activities. Walumbe is death and Kibuka, war. At death each ghost visits the underworld of Walumbe, and then returns to the tribal burial ground, where the corpse is interred. Until recent times the Ganda had a highly developed priesthood for their gods, and at many temples they maintained oracles. If a woman medium were employed as the mouthpiece of the divinity, she was regarded as a holy bride and remained chaste all her life.

Subjects: Religion.

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