A legend is told in Buganda, of Gulu, a supreme god and his children, Walumbe, Kayikuzi and Nambi who lived in heaven. One day Kintu, regarded as the first Muganda on earth, ascended to heaven in search of a companion. He met Nambi, courted her and sought for her hand in marriage. Walumbe, was not pleased with this union, vowed to wreck their relationship.
To avoid this, Gulu sent Walumbe on an exhibition just when the love birds and their children were headed for earth. But as fate would have it, Nambi realised she had forgotten to carry millet for her chicken and returned to heaven to pick it. The vicious Walumbe seized the opportunity to tag along to earth with Nambi and while there, killed her children. Furious on hearing this news, Gulu sent Kayikuzi (literally ‘digger of holes’) to hunt down Walumbe and forcefully return him to heaven. It is said that the latter hid underground.
A frantic search begun, with Kayikuzi digging the ground in search of his brother and a fight ensured. Kayikuzi failed to capture Walumbe and prints of their fight were left. The two are still believed to roam the area.
About 50 Km off Kampala-Mubende highway at Kabule, at the entrance to what is said to be the place the fight took place, stands a white signpost bearing inscriptions Ttanda archeological pits. At a distance, the lush landscape is green and hilly. The wattle and daub homesteads along the road are surrounded with coffee plantations and banana groves.
“You are most welcome to Ttanda,” a young man who later introduced himself as Jacob Tebandeke, the gatekeeper, expressed a gesture of hospitality. Inside the gate is a trail with trees on the edges and an assemblage of mud huts with grass thatching.
Approximately 300 Ttanda pits are situated in Ttanda village, in Mityana municipality. The 25 acre Site is owned by the Late Besweeri Mulondo.
“Leggings, pants and shorts are not acceptable!” Tebandeke cautioned as he briefed my collegues and I when we visited the site. He rushed inside his shelter and returned with linen wrappers popularly known as “Lesu” for some women who were not dressed appropriately for the cultural site. He also requested us to desist from taking photos at particular points. Ddamba Besweeeri,the head guide was clad in white tunic with a bucket hat. He narrated the legend of Walumbe and showed us the pits said to be as a result of the fight between the sons of Gulu.
Embracing one’s roots
One’s tourism experience, however, goes beyond viewing this site. One of the sub counties of Mityana, Ssekanyonyi sub-county has become avenue for cultural tourism, dubbed Entanda Cultural experience. The sound of African drums and mallets of xylophones can be heard from a distance as we approach the grounds. Young women dancing and ululations greet tourists.
“The Entanda Cultural experience is a community-based initiative built to conserve both unprotected wildlife and traditional culture through tourism while earning a decent living,” says Mukasa Migadde, the 70-year-old Chairman of Entanda Cultural Association who hosted us at his homestead.
Entanda is located in the local council area of Kijjude A, Bulyankuyegge Parish, Ssekanyonyi subcounty, Mityana District. The village has 400 homesteads with close to 2000 residents. Majority of them are subsistence farmers. Mukasa reveals that the area has no medical facility; however, because of the herbal medicine their bodies are immune to diseases. “If some symptoms persist, then we rush the sick to Mityana hospital which is 12 miles from the village,” he adds.
The Entanda Cultural experience began in January 2014 under the guidance of Dr Celestine Katongole, a tourism lecturer at Makerere University Business School. “We offer practical classes on traditional food preparations, traditional dressing, educative sex talk from Kojjas and Ssengas, organise soccer matches between visitors and the hosts, bow and arrow shooting competitions, among others,” explains Mukasa.
Living out the Buganda Culture
On arrival, locally grown and some wild edible fruits were served in plenty. Thereafter, we were invited to learn how to rhythmically pluck a local instrument that is symbolic of traditional courtship and bedroom practice.
One of the Kojjas recited a folk song characterised by sexual innuendos; “Ssekitulege, Ssekitulege-Amazzi g’enyamma-Gamubambula omumwa-Olumugambako-Nasongoza omumwa-Ng’atalifumbirwa-Ng’atalitwalibwa” literally translated as “ Ssekitulege, Ssekitulege- Beef soup-scalded his mouth-when someone says something to her- she sulks-As though she will never get married-As though she will never be taken”. “It is time for the men to go hunting and ladies kindly head to the Kitchen,” announced Katongole, the founder of Entanda Cultural Adventure.
Men were equipped with hunting tools such as spears, nets, sticks and rattles. The village hunters-turned-conservationists alongside four hunting dogs led the mock search for game meat. We walked for an hour through thickets and the open plains grasslands with abundance of wetland birds. Upon reaching the base of a steep hill elevated at about 2000 metres above sea level, the lead huntsman encouraged us for another one hour hike up a rocky terrain.
It then dawned upon us that the hunting grounds were at the top of the hill. We were all sweaty and exhausted, but the huntsmen barely broke a sweat. At the top, they demonstrated how hunting was done and how game meat was shared. They emphasised the “catch and release”policy for the wild animals as a mode of conservation.
Meanwhile, back home the Ssengas(traditional marriage Aunties) of Entanda who boast of over 40 years in marriage taught women how to prepare food steamed in banana leaves(Luwombo).
The Ssengas guided and counselled them on the do’s and don’ts of marriage and how to tame their men’s sexual urge. The women also received herbs to enhance their feminine appeal.
On return from the hunt, the girls had laid the mats. They hurriedly joined the Ssengas to serve boiled foods.
“The girls appear more composed than before; it seems like their first day in marriage,” exclaimed a one Kamoga in astonishment. The men later joined the Kojjas (Uncles) in the coffee plantations for bedroom tips and man talk. The 45 minute sex talk was full of tips, revelations and counselling. “Endeavor to chew raw ground nuts, raw cassava and avoid taking a hot bath!” emphasised Kojja Mukasa. He then offered a listing of herbs and activities that enhance bedroom prowess. Due to time delays, the local sports and roasting were held off. The experience however left all of us feeling closer to the Kiganda cultural heritage.