Ruhanga and the Three Seeds of Life

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(Nyankole, Nyankore/Uganda)

Ruhanga (Katonzi, Kazooba, Rugaba), who lived in the sky, was known as the creator, the powerful one.

Ruhanga created a man, Rugabe, and his wife, Nyamate, and sent them to people the earth. They had a son, Isimbwa, the first of a dynasty of kings who ruled the country and did not die but became gods of the people. The first deified kings included Isimbwa, son of Rugabe, Ndahura, and Wamara. The mother of Kyomya, another deified king, was a princess and the sister of Wamara, who married her; Kyomya was their son. Later, Wamara sent the woman away but kept the son, who became a trader and wandered to Bukoba with salt, coffee berries, cats, and other goods. When he returned to Ankole, he herded livestock for a cowman named Kyana, who also made him gather firewood. Soon, the wife of Kyana began to suspect that Kyomya was not an ordinary mortal, and she and her husband laid traps for him, but he evaded them all. One day, while he was gathering firewood, Kyomya discovered the sacred drums that his father, Wamara, had received from the moon and that Kyana had stolen. He flicked his fingers, and the drums came to him. A few days later, he left Kyana to take the drums back to his father at Ruwanda in Ankole near Kabula. After that, he left the world and became a god.

When Ruhanga created the first man and woman, he also created a peasant man and woman to be their servants, and these were the ancestors of the serfs.

In the beginning, Ruhanga put three seeds into the ground, and in one day three calabashes had grown, all on one stem. He took a man and a woman out of the first calabash, and a man and a woman out of the second, while out of the third he took a man only. The men he called, respectively, Kakama, Kahima, and Kairu. He then put them through a test to show their worth. To each he gave a milk pot full of milk, and he led them to a water hole, where they were told to remain for the night, and they were warned against going to sleep, lest they spill their milk. Ruhanga left them, saying that he would return in the morning. At midnight, Kairu went to sleep, and though the other two woke him up from time to time, he spilled his milk. It is for this reason that, by Ruhanga's command, Kairu, even now, gets his food from the ground. Later in the night, Kakama also began to doze, and Kahima woke him up; but he got so sleepy after a while that Kahima was unable to awaken him, so he spilled half his milk. In the morning, Ruhanga came and found Kahima had only half of his milk in the pot, and he inquired why. Kahima told him that Kakama had spilled half his milk and asked Kahima to fill up his pot for him. Kahima had agreed to do that and had filled Kakama's pot, so that Kahima's pot was left only half full. Ruhanga told Kakama that he would be supplied with milk forever by Kahima, who had given away his luck to the other; he would obtain food grown by Kairu, as Kakama's milk had mixed with that of Kairu when it trickled into the water hole. Kakama was the ancestor of the Kama, or rulers of Ankole; Kahima was the ancestor of the Hima, or cattlemen; while Kairu was the ancestor of the Iru, or agriculturists.


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