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Kaumpuli, the Child without Arms and Legs


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(Ganda/Uganda)

Kaumpuli was the god of plague.

Kaumpuli's father, Prince Kayemba, brother of King Juko, fell in love with a woman named Naku, and wished to marry her. But the gods objected, warning the king not to allow his brother to marry this woman. Kayemba, disregarding the warning, married Naku; she became the mother of Kaumpuli, a child without arms and legs. Because Kayemba was afraid of this child, he sent the mother and child away by canoe to Busoga. The priests of Busoga warned the chiefs not to receive Naku, and she was sent back to Uganda. Driven away from each place to which she went because of the child, she was at last allowed to settle at Bugoya. The child had a nurse, Nabuzana, who was fond of him and who tended him to the time of his death. After his death, he was declared by the gods to be the god of plague; a temple was built in Bulemezi in his honor, and the remains of Kaumpuli were placed there. The god resided in a deep hole in the temple, securely covered to prevent him from escaping and harming the country. The hole could only be covered efficiently by wildcat skins, and hundreds of these little animals were needed each year to cover it. Plantain stems were first laid over the hole, then the skins were placed on them and weighted by stones around the edges. It was believed that, but for this covering, the god would come out in a puff of smoke, and if he escaped he would destroy the country. King Juko was forbidden to look toward Bulemezi, because it was believed that he would die if he did so. For years, it was the duty of one of his wives to hold a bark cloth before him to prevent his eyes from wandering toward Bulemezi when he went out. One day, this wife was ill, and the king looked toward the hill on which Kaumpuli's temple stood, and a few days later he died.

Subjects: Religion.


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