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Mukasa and His Place on a Rock


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(Ganda/Uganda)

Mukasa, a god of the Ganda, sought to heal the bodies and minds of men. A god of plenty, he gave the people food, cattle, and children. He was a human being who, because of his benevolence, came to be regarded as a god. Mukasa was the son of Wanema (Mairwa), a god; his mother's name was Nambubi. His younger brother was Kibuka (Kyobe), a war god.

Before his birth, Mukasa's mother, Nambubi, refused to touch any food except a kind of ripe plantain; she would not eat cooked food. When the boy was born, she named him Selwanga. He declined to eat ordinary food, but ate the heart and liver of animals and drank their blood. While still a child, he disappeared from home, leaving no trace. He was subsequently found on the island Bubembe, sitting under a large tree near the lake. Some people saw him as they passed the place, and told the elders of the village, who went to see him and to find out who he was. They concluded that he had come from Bukasa, and called him a Mukasa (that is, a person from the island of Bukasa); this name attached itself to him from that time. One of the men who went to see him, Semagumba, told his companions that he could not leave the boy on the shore all night, so he carried him up to a garden and placed him on a rock, until they could decide where he was to go. The people were afraid to take him into their homes, saying that he must be superhuman to have come to their island. So it was decided that a house should be built for him near the rock on which he was seated, and that Semagumba should take care of him. They were at a loss as to what to give him to eat, because he refused all things that they brought to him. Finally, they happened to kill an ox, and he asked for the blood, the liver, and the heart, though he refused any of the meat they offered him. This confirmed the people in their opinion that he was a god, and they consulted him about any illness, and sought his advice when they were in trouble. Semagumba became chief priest. For many years, Mukasa lived in the house that they had built for him, and the priests cared for him. He married three wives, Nalwanga, Najembe, and Naku. Some say that Mukasa died and was buried on the island, in the forest near the temple, and others affirm that he disappeared as suddenly as he had come. See also: Kibuka.

Subjects: Religion.


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