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Ndahura and the Bird that Blazed in the Dark


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(Nyoro/Uganda)

Ndahura was a mythic hero.

When Isimbwa grew up, he married in the world of spirits and had a son called Kyomya. Unlike his father, Isimbwa could visit the world of living men, and on a hunting expedition he came to the capital, where a man named Bukuku reigned. He was unpopular, because he was a commoner and had no real right to rule, but there was no one else to do so. He had a daughter called Nyinamwiru, and when she was born diviners had told Bukuku that he would have reason to fear any child that she might bear. He therefore kept her in an enclosure that could only be entered through his own well-guarded palace. Isimbwa reached Bukuku's capital and was intrigued by this. He sent secret messages to Nyinamwiru through her maid, then climbed into her enclosure and, unknown to Bukuku, stayed there for three months. Then he left the kingdom and was not seen again for many years. In time, Nyinamwiru bore a son, to the consternation of Bukuku, who gave orders for the child to be drowned. The baby was thrown in a river, but by chance its umbilical cord caught in a bush, and the child was discovered by a potter, Rubumbi, who took it home and brought it up as a member of his family. He knew that it was Nyinamwiru's child, and he told her that it was safe. Bukuku believed it to be dead. The boy, strong and spirited, was constantly in trouble with Bukuku's herdsmen; when the king's cattle were being watered he would drive them away, so that he could water Rubumbi's cattle first. This angered Bukuku, who one day came to the drinking trough himself to punish the unruly potter's son. But before Bukuku's men could carry out his orders to seize and beat him, he rushed around to the back of Bukuku's royal stool and stabbed him mortally with his spear. He then sat down on the king's stool. The herdsmen were aghast, and ran at once to tell Nyinamwiru what had happened. She was both glad and sorry—glad because her son had taken the throne, sorry because of her father's death. So Ndahura, which is what the young man was called, came to his grandfather Isaza's throne: he is the first of the Chwezi kings.

The ancestors of the Bahweju originated from Karagwe in Tanzania, and they entered Nkore through Mpororo. As they came into the country, a bird descended from heaven and lighted on one of them. At that time, there was in the land a clan of people called Abarara, who were seers and prophets. They told the Bahweju to follow the bird wherever it would lead them, that it was a sign that a kingdom awaited them. They followed the bird then, and it led them. They followed it day and night, for it blazed in the dark. It led them from Mpororo, through Buhweju and Toro, to Bunyoro, and there it disappeared. So they went to King Ndahura of the Bachwezi. They had with them their sister, a girl of great beauty. When King Ndahura saw her, he wanted to marry her. Her brothers consented, and she was married to King Ndahura. In return, he gave them this land. See also: Chwezi, Nyamiyonga, Ruhanga, Wamara.

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Subjects: Religion.


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