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Ryangombe, Killed by an Unwed Mother


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(Nyarwanda/Rwanda)

Imana is the creator god. The visible world is set against a world populated by spirits and evil influences. Among these is Ryangombe (known as Kiranga in Burundi), a spirit, a god-king. He is an invisible spirit, generally malevolent, greatly feared, but a sort of minister of Imana, carrying out his orders. He gives good things to those who pray to him, and preserves them from evil.

The god-king Ryangombe is a prominent hunter, is close to nature, and provides benefits to his faithful followers. But his hunting activities are a threat to cultural order. He is closely linked with nature, and neglects his obligations to the society, including his relations with women. Because of his preoccupation with gaming, hunting, and sex, he overlooks these broader obligations. He is king of the Imandwa, an army of ruffians who become helpful spirits; after his tragic end, they follow him to the afterworld. Ryangombe is killed by an unwed mother without breasts who transforms into a buffalo. Dying, Ryangombe establishes his cult, promising the Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa that, if they pay him homage, they will thereby have the prosperity denied them by ancestral spirits and ineffectual rites. See also: Imana.

Subjects: Religion.


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