Return to NURELWEB or ACADEMIC ARTICLES or FRED WELBOURN'S PAPERS

THE IDEA OF A HIGH GOD IN THREE

EAST AFRICAN SOCIETIES

 

By

 

F.B. Welbourn

 

Copyright 1964

[Originally published by the Institute of African Studies, University of Ife]

 

 

Introduction

There is a story, told by the Roman Catholic missionary scholar Crazzolara,[1]  of how the first missionaries tried to discover which of the many spirits (jok, plur. jogi) of the Acholi was regarded as creator.  Unfor­tunately, the Acholi have no myth of creation ; and the question, 'Which jok created you? ' was meaningless.  Ultimately they tired of it and answered, 'Rubanga'.  This therefore became the official vernacular name for Yahweh.  It is simply unfortunate that, in his native country of Bunyoro, Rubanga is a spirit responsible for the birth of twins.  When he crosses the border into Acholi, he takes over hunchbacks and tuberculosis of the spine.  All over Afica, Yahweh has been given new names; and it has to be asked whether, in receiving them, he has changed his character - or at least the character attributed to him by his worshippers - just as, in becoming theos, he took on the 'rationality of a Greek philosopher'.[2]

            In another context, it would have to be asked also how far such changes have been, theologically, advantageous.  The purpose of this paper is to describe - so far as is possible from the limited sources available - the ideas of a creator god in Ankole, Buganda and Maasai.[3]  It will be necessary to examine their position relative both to the social structure and to the total mythology of the tribes concerned.  Finally, some attempt will be made to sketch a psycho-analytic approach to the problems involved. 

            lf western preconceptions prejudice and understanding of the mythology of others, a further bias is introduced into a comparative treatment by the necessity of describing each culture in turn.  There is a tendency to present them in what appears - without adequate criteria - to be their order of complexity or of chronological development.  I shall not, in fact, do so.  My own suggestion is that, of the three, Maasai mythology represents an early form related to a nomadic society organised around cattle.  That of Ankole shows the wealth of material introduced not only by a settled agricultureal economy but by a considerable history of kingship.  That of Buganda is a still further development imposed by a high degree of political centralisation.  But I have chosen to present first the Nkore picture, because it seems to contain all the elements needed to contrast effectively the other two.

 

Ankole

The modern kingdom of Ankole (which has a semi-federal relationship to the independent Government of Uganda) was formed by the integraffon in 1901 of a number of Hima chiefdoms in western Uganda.[4]  Information in this paper is drawn from the central chiefdom of Nkore, whose Omugabe became ruler of the new kingdom.  Its population consists of the ruling Hinda, pastoral Hima and agricultural Iru.  Hima mythology tells how Ruhanga, the Creator, made all things at once.  The first man had three sons, of whom the youngest (through a not very creditable accident) became ruler, while the others became respectively a herdsman and a tiller of the soil.  This perhaps does no more than legitimise the status of the Hinda.  In the Iru account, Ruhanga created a Woman and a Beast.  To the former he gave gourds con­taining the seeds of all natural objects.  When the two fell out, the Woman threw down one gourd after another to hinder the Beast.  She thus brought into being mountains, sand, water, forests, food, beasts and finally men who fought the beast.  The Woman became the cirrus and stratus clouds, while the Beast disappeared into the ground and became the author of death to crops, cattle and men.  Neither of these myths is in common currency today; and, apart from them, there appears to be little difference, except in detail, between the myth and ritual of the two groups.  Omugabe is said to be descended from a legendary Cwezi dynasty, common in one form or another to all the Hima chiefdoms, and themselves descended ultimately from Ruhanga.  He had special powers, as the mediator of blessings.  But, unlike Ganda and Nyoro, for whom the tombs of the kings form an integral part of the tribal cultus, Nkore traditionally left the royal corpse to decay in the forest.  The spirit eventually became a lion cub; and the new Omugabe could then be appointed as the reincarnation of the undying spirit of kingship.  The Cwezi are now recognised as the guardian spirits (emandwa) of lineage groups (ekibunu), of which at least one member must always be initiated into the cult.  Omugabe himself is thus initiated privately. 

            It seems probably that, until it was driven underground by Government and Mission alike, the emandwa cult was the most important mythological activity of the Nkore; and even members of the intensely evangelical Revival will still describe their own initiation and discuss the reality of the Cwezi.  Initiation was a terrifying and painful experience, which might be demanded of either men or women and which any would escape if he could.  The initiate was, in effect, the priest of his lineage group, responsible both for making the appropriate offering on behalf of his group and for partaking in the initiation of members either of his own group or of others. 

            Although, in theory, only one iniffate was required in each group, the emandwa not infrequently made known its requirement of others.  This might be through sudden illness such as headache or fainting; yaws and ulcers; madness and fits; accidents to members of the lineage; thinness; diseases of children; family misunderstandings; failure of crops; sterility or failure of lactaffon in cows and goats; still-births and abortions among women.  Its posiffve functions were to ensure co-operation between members of the lineage in such activities as sowing millet, to guard their llfe and well-being and to ward off other emandwa who might wish them harm.  Stenning,[5] who studied a EIima community, thought that emandwa represented the permissive, benevolent and optimistic aspect of Nkore religion, being responsible for the good things which happened to their devotees.  Each third day (mwizuzu) was dedicated to them.  Women might do pottery and weaving; but there was no work in the fields; and the men attended beer parties.  Each new moon was celebrated by offerings at emandwa shrines with prayer and choral sing­ing and followed by feasting.  Vows might be made to give a bull as reward for safety in battle or return from a journey.  At seed-time emandwa would be invited to accompany his ward to the field.  But, otherwise, he would destroy the crops; the new-moon offerings seem to have been directed pri­marily at keeping emandwa quiet; and, whatever the orthodox account of their benevolent functions and of the regularity of offerings, there is a strong impression that little attention was, in fact, paid to them until they caused trouble.  At least in the particular Iru community studied by Bemunoba, emandwa must be taken as representing not so much the benevolent aspect of experience as its essenffally arbitrary character.

     Much clearer is the malevolent character of the ancestral ghosts (emizimu).  Stenning says that they are quick to punish bad actions but do not reward good ones; and he mentions the following as especially active: father, elder brother, fatherts brother, father's mother and father's sister.  According to Bamunoba, the ghost of any member of the household (eka), who has died unattended or for whom proper funeral rites have not been completed, may cause misfortune to its living members.  This includes the ghost of a stranger who died unattended within the homestead .  A woman' s ghost may cause sterility in women of the household.  The ghost of a child, who died through its motherts carelessness, may kill her other children or cause her sterility, still-births or abortion.  Other misfortunes may follow failure to make offerings at ancestral shrines; and some ghosts may require attention for up to three generations.  ln general, it would be easy enough to relate their activities to sins of omission on the part of those whom they trouble.  But, in fact, they are regarded as wholly arbitrary in their inter­ference with the living; and their victims are treated not as those who get what they deserve but with the sympathy due to unpredictable misfortune.

            The diagnosis of trouble is made by diviners (omuraguzi), who may use material means such as a grasshopper, seeds, cowrie shells or the guts of a chicken.  Others may have been initiated, through possession', into a partic­ular type of emandwa not associated either with the Cwezi or with lineage groups.  Some, like Kahumpuri (plague), are traditionally associated with specific diseases.  Some, like Ryangombe (an emandwa of hunters) with particular professions.  Others are more recent immigrants, such as Nyabingi and Mungu.  It is probably important that, while for instance among the Nyoro and Sumbwa[6] possession forms an integral part of the group Cwezi cults, it is only feigned in the Nkore version.  But Nkore diviners, who have been initiated into their special emandwa, use dissociation as an essential part of thefr technique.

            Treatment of disease will be not only through ritual directed at mytho­logical beings, but with medicines provided by omufumu.  He is a sorcerer, in the accepted sense of one who provides material means, which sometimes have an empircal basis, for both good and evil ends.  Curses, especially those of older kin, may be very effective but must be justified.  The vio­lation of a clan totem entails inescapable death.  The breaking of taboos, which attach in different forms to men, women and children, leads to sick­ness. 

            Totem and taboo are the direct concern of Ruhanga (-hanga, create, set in order), who is above all things.  He also imposed the causes of shame (ebihemu), which are integral to all personal relationships among Nkore.[7]  He has three titles, each of which is integral to his being, though there is no suggestion that he was conceived in Trinitarian form.  He is Nyamuhanga (Creator), Rugaba (-gaba, give), Kazooba (eizooba, sun - having the qual­ities of light and heat).  He is above all things, invisible, omnipresent, moving like the sun across the whole earth.  Some say that he inhabits the sun.  He creates all things - especially life, the embryos of men and animals and the seeds of plants.  He gives new life, the blessings of worldly attain­ment, the daily needs of men.  He causes the sun to shine by day and the moon by night.  He preserves peace; and it is customary to draw his atten­tion to all important activities.  For instance, before making an offering to emandwa the officiant takes a bundle of herbs (omuhambo), dips it in beer and, waving it to all points of the compass, says:

 

            This is Veronia: let my home be as white as it

            This is Bersama: may my house be spared

            This is Cardiospermum: Keep away my enemies etc. etc.[8]

            These are yours, Creator: And yours, O Giver

            And yours, Lord of the sun: O give me life. 

            The following prayer was offered by the chief wife of the household,

early in the morning before others had risen.  Hanging over the hearth was a dry spray of the herb omwetango (prevention).  It was shaken so that pieces fell into the fire and gave a pleasant smell.  Then the woman squeezed the leaves of omuhiire (good fortune) and, sprinkling the juice into the fire, said:

 

(a)        Let me smile in good fortune         or                             (b) That is prevention

            Let my children smile in good fortune                            Prevent, prevent

            Let my home smile in good fortune                                Rescue, rescue

            I do not eat what is not mine                                         Now we go out

            I do not steal my neighbourts goods                              Keep us.

            I always wish good health to others

            I am never in debt

            He who hates is unjust

            I am always smiling in good fortune;

            Others were offered by women whose husbands were at the wars:

(a)        Let him be saved with them                                           (b)      Whether they capture them

            Let him stand firm with them                                                    Whether they bring them

            Let him struggle with them                                                            home

            Let him return with them from battle;                                        Whether they stab each

                                                                                                               other

                                                                                                           Come and see them.

            Unlike ghosts and emandwa Ruhanga is never destructive or maleficient.  He is responsible neither for misfortune nor for death, although in the last resort he has created all causes.  If all means fail of dealing with misfortune, it will be said, 'Leave it to Ruhanga'.  He will be given credit if misfortune ceases; but the normal assumption is that the situation is hopeless.  Despite the prayers which are addressed to him, he is not expected to intervene directly in human life.  He neither 'possesses' men nor expects sacrifice.  The order, which he has created, may be thrown out of balance - a totem may be violated.  But the consequences are automatic, impersonal, like the swing of a pendulum restoring equilibrium.  It is not possible to speak of offending him, or to feel guilty towards him.  He is; and he is good - the principle of order.  He is person; but he is person far more distant - perhaps, therefore, far more reliable - than Omugabe.

            In summary, Nkore mythological structure seems to symbolise an ultimate confidence in the nature of things, represented at one end by Ruhanga, at the other by the belief that just curses are effective, while unjust will turn on those who utter them.  Totems and taboos - like the tree in the midst of the garden - suggest the frontier beyond which man strays at his peril.  Ebihemu are the cautions against giving away too much in personal relationships, against the knowledge of nakedness.  The ever-present threat of an anti-social imagination in individuals - the immoderate success of Abel, the jealousy of Cain - is found in bad sorcery.  The arbitrary nature of experi­ence - the troubles and disasters and anxieties which cannot be attributed to human agency, the expulsion from Eden - are due to the demands of ghosts and emandwa, often enough demanding, like querulous old men and women, more than is justly theirs.  lt is difficult to find any sense of guilt, of the voice in the garden,[9] or - outside the impersonal action of totem and taboo - recognition of suffering as in any sense deserved.  Above all is Ruhanga.  Ultimately nothing can happen outside the order which he has created.  In some sense (which is not argued) the forces of trouble can operate only with his permission.  But he is seen only as good, reliable, the sustainer of order. 

 

Maasai

The Maasai are nomadic pastoralists, with a loose structure of exogamous clans and sub-clans but organised primarily in age-grades.  Boys, through circumcision, become moran - the fighting force.  Moran, through a further ritual, become elders - entitled to marry the girls who have just undergone clitoridectomy.  Another ritual confers on elders the right to perform domestic rites such as the naming and circumcision of children.  Yet another is required before they can administer such wider rites as the blessing of women.

            Integral to their lives are their cattle.  A Maasia lives, and wishes to die, among his cattle.  All but the bones are put to use - milk, meat, blood, hide, tail, horns, dung, urine, bone-marrow - for food, clothes, house-building, bride-wealth, rinsing, sacrifice, divination.  Along with honey - as for the Jews - milk is a symbol of beautitude.  A Maasai will die in defence of his cattle.  Almost from birth he learns to love and be with them as with his own family.  Without them he is nothing.  With them, and with his children together, he is fully man.  They were given by Enk Ai[10] to Maasinda the first man; and he in turn bequeathed them to Maasai, the founder of the tribe.  How could any other lay claim to them?

            Indeed, they lost all claim through the attitudes of their founding fathers.  In the beginning (though there is no myth of creation) Enk Ai set Maasinda on the earth, wishing him all happiness and denying none of his requests.  A leather rope stretched from sky to earth; and from its lower end Maasinda communicated with Enk Ai.  His constant desire was for cattle; and they were delivered down the rope.  Sometimes, also, Enk Ai would speak to him words of wisdom.  Maasinda became very wise; and all the proverbs of Maasai are attributed to him.  Of his four sons, Maasai alone inherited his love for cattle.  Torrobo became father of the Ndorobo, forest hunters; Meeki the father of all agriculturalists; Kunoni father of the smiths.

            In due course the Maasai migrated southwards and came to the precipi­tous escarpment of the Kerio.  After long time of waiting, and a hazardous ascent, only the strongest reached the top and lived to inhabit their new home; and Enk Ai is addressed, 'O thou who brought us up from Kerio'.  In daily prayer he is addressed also, after the first groups to be initiated as moran when the ascent was done, Enk Ai of Ilkitilik and llkuarri'.  From Kerio they moved southwards to Entorror (Kitale) and Kinopop (Kinangop).  These were fertile pastures; and in the latter area, at Enkushuai, round a tree called Ololiondo, their major sacrifices were made, their prayers offered and blessings received.  The treaty of 1911, which confined Maasai to an area further south, made specific provision for their access to Enkushuai for ritual purposes.  After two or three such visits, they learned (no doubt under administrative pressure) that Enk Ai could be worshipped at other trees in their new homeland.  It was an experience not unlike that of the Hews in Babylon.[11]

            Enk Ai is, in any case, actively involved in their lives at every point.  He preserves order and punishes injustice.  Through him a generous man becomes more wealthy, one who is mean loses his property.  From him comes the blessing which parents bestow on sons who care for them.  He ensures that the curse of a dying parent is fulfiled on the careless to the bitter end.  Because he is just, an undeserved curse takes no effect.  His chief inter­mediaries are the laibon,[12] whose powers are hereditary.  They are traced back for ten generations to the first who fell, full-grown, from the sky, married a Maasai and sent his sons to practise among other tribes.  Their numbers are so few, and travelling so difficult in Maasai, that they can be consulted only on special occasions.  Prayer direct to Enk Ai is available to everyone.  But the laibon are in direct communication with him - through dreams, through trance or through pebbles poured from a horn.  Their intercession for others may be more effective than private petition.  Laibon are credited with remarkable powers of foresight, both for indi­viduals and for the tribe as a whole.[13]  They can make and unmake rain.[14]  They are consulted about the details of each initiation and may modify decisions already reached by the elders.  They prescribe measures to be taken against individual or social troubles.  They act against sorcerers, treat disease and probably have genuine surgical skill.  Finally, they may practise sorcery against rival laibon or, in the extreme case, against indi­viduals or groups against whom they have a grudge.  But this clearly anti­social activity gives them such bad repute that it is rare. 

            It is not, however, through the laibon that the activity of Enk Ai is seen in everyday life.  Each morning, as elders leave their houses, they may pray:

 

                        O God of our fathers....continue to look after us,

                        to take care of our children,

                        and to drive away disease from men and cattle alike. 

                        Keep evil away from us.... 

                        Each morning, as a woman milks her cows:

                        O God, I pray you to give me life, children and food to support life... 

                        At the ritual naming ceremony for each child of a house:

                        May God give that name a foundation in this family Ee sere[15]

                        May God bless this house

                        May he give it laughter

                        May he give you cattle

                        May he give you his blessing

                        May he give you more children..... 

On the election of Olaiguenani, 'Chief Councillor' or a group of moran, shortly before their initiation:

 

                        May God;s wisdom be given to the clan through you

                        May the age-set which you lead always find God;s favour

                        May they follow you through the paths of good fortune

                        May you be granted patience and a long life

                        May God always give to your fellows victory

                        May God keep away all evil from your ways...... 

            Finally, at the blessing of women, a ceremony of deep emotion, in which every available woman partakes to seek the increase of the whole tribe, they sing:

 

                        Solo O God of thunder and lightning

 

                        Chorus (after each line) That thy seed may commingle with God's

                                    whose dwellings are in the springs

 

                        I will pray night and day

                        O listen to my constant plea

                        O hear that which my companions deserve

                        Their heads should be covered with hair[16]

                        They should rest while donkeys move on errands[17]

                        They deserve to move always in the coolness of the shade

                        O God, pay this debt[18]

                        This debt which our cattle cannot pay

                        This debt which cannot be paid by the labour of hands

                        O God, regard us only in ways that are proper

                        That you may give to women the gift of children

                        That you may give children to all, forgetting none

Towards the end of the ceremony:

 

                        Solo My companions, where do you drink?

 

                        Chorus I drink from the springs of my God

                                    Subsequently children become a joyful burden

                                    And thus I pray to my God whom I love

                                    O God, make us always drink thus

 

                        And finally, amid a deep silence, the officiating elder steps forward:

                        That you may beget children Ee sere

                        That your children may be a strong

                        That they may live to make a great clan

                        That through them the house of Maasai may receive strength

                        That God may give you his blessing

                        That he may guard you always

                        That he may strengthen your backs

                        That he may put seed into your wombs

                        That he may give you faces of joy

                        That he may enable you to come victorious over all trouble.....

            Alongside this deep awareness of the active benevolence of Enk Ai is the knowledge that things often enough go wrong.  This may be due to the direct intervention of Enk Ai, punishing the tribe as a whole for wrong-doing.[19]  The stars may portend that a ceremony should not take place at the suggested time; but this may be counteracted by sorcery supplied by a laibon.  Sorcery is widely used to ensure safe return from a journey, to guard homes, to protect and increase cattle.  It is also widely suspected as a cause of ill-luck and sickness, and such can be counteracted only through consultation with a laibon.  Some diseases may, however, be treated by western medicine; and laibon have been known to refer a patient to hospital.

            There are two sources of misfortune which can be attributed confidently to particular individuals: the curse and the evil eye.  The curse to be effective must always be justified.  Its operation is attributed to Enk Ai; and it is directed towards the preservation of proper relations in society.  It can be counteracted only through reconciliation followed by blessing, by the curser, of the cursed; and the curse of a man, unreconciled before death, has no remission.  It may be used against an unknown miscreant - a thief or a murderer; and the consequences for him are so severe that he will ultimate­ly make confession in order to obtain forgiveness.  It may be inflicted by an older age-grade on a junior,[20] by pater, genitor or genitrix on their children, by a husband or one of his age-peers on his wife,[21] by a laibon on consultants who disobey his instructions and, finally, by a whole society on one of its members who has become a public danger.[22]

            The evil eye, on the other hand, appears to be entirely arbitrary in its incidence.  It is hereditary; and one sub-clan is particularly notorious.  Although its possessor may use his power with deliberate evil intention, its effect is normally involuntary.  Simply to look at another may cause him to faint or, in the extreme case, to die.  The only cure is for the owner of the eye to spit on his victim; and a stranger entering a house in which he finds children, will spit on them as a prophylactic measure.  Allied to this power appear to be the dangerous possibilities of exceptional beauty, courage or wealth.  Simply to be admired and talked about may itself bring disaster.  This belief may suggest that admiration hides jealousy.  Perhaps it does no more than symbolise the conviction - which may be expressed elsewhere in accusations of sorcery - that individual excellence or success is an anti-social as acts deliberately directed at the misfortune of others.  Within these manifold possibilities of mystical intervention in human affairs, there is no ancestor-cult and no belief in spirits subordinate to Enk Ai.  Corpses are thrown into the bush to be eaten by hyenas.  Rarely, very old and rich men, or women who have had many children, are carefully buried and a mound of stones piled on the grave.  The oldest son will always try to live near to the grave; and the life of such a man may return to commingle with his cattle, causing them to increase.  Death of the old is spoken of as 'going to sleep'; and the death of young children attracts no special attenffon.  But those who die in their prime have their clothes and ornaments thrown away; and their names must never be mentioned.[23]

            Finally, the ceremony of the blessing of women is one of deep emotion.  During the reparation, as one of their songs describes, they have to 'cross lonely and arid plains unaccompanied', travelling throughout the country to beg gifts for the necessary expenditure.  During the long ceremony itself, attention is concentrated on children - on those who have not been born, on the many who died in infancy, on full-grown sons killed in battle with men and animals, on the hopes of children yet to come.  Strong men have been known to hide their faces and leave the throng for a while.  The incessant singing, with solo and chorus and rhythmic movements, in which prayer for children is directed to Enk Ai, is of the form which, in other cultures, readily leads to dissociation phenomena.  Towards the end, the women are taunted:

 

                        To whom shall honour be given, when all the

                        newly wed women have turned cold and their wombs

                        have gone to sleep; when only the uncircumcised

                        boys are worthy of praise, and they unable to

                        guard the tribe or to extend our generation... 

 

                        The barren women are pitied as

                        a heifer too short and her genitals malformed. 

                        By no means at all can the bull gain access to them

            They are reminded of the children who are dead; accused of 'eating' them - of causing their deaths by sins of omission or commission.  Cries fill the air: Oi eitu anya, Oi eitu anya, 'I protest I did not eat; I protest... '.  At one point in the particular ceremony described, more than half of the hundred and thirty-four women present were lying on the ground, over­whelmed by their tears or unconscious.  Some hours after the end of the ceremony, three of the women were still unconscious.  lt seems certain that, in Ankole or Buganda, such a condihon would be regarded as spirit-­possession.  In Maasai it is not.  The only suggestive of this type of inter­pretation is the rare occasions on which a laibon speaks the words of Enk Ai in a trance condition. 

            All the elements of human experience, which are symbolised in Nkore mythology, are found also in that of Maasai: ultimate confidence in the active benevolence of Enk Ai and his fulfilment of just curses; frontiers, which must not be transgressed, in the stars and the ambivalence of individual excel­lence; the anti-social imagination once more in sorcery; the arbitrary nature of experience in the evil eye.  I sense - though I have no adequate evidence - that there is a clearer sense of personal responsibility.  But, while Ruhanga is good without appearing to do very much about it, Enk Ai is at all points acffvely intervening.  While in Ankole the violation of totems and taboos brings automatic retribution, the stars can be circumvented by the help of Enk Ai mediated through a laibon.  The relative ease, with which spit corrects the consequences of an evil eye, suggests far less fear of the arbi­trary (perhaps, greater confidence in Enk Ai) than the elaborate rituals required to deal with ghosts and emandwa.  What is striking, in a compara­tive study, is the intense personal energy of Enk Ai and his detailed involve­ment in mundane affairs, along with the absence of inferior spirits and ghosts.  Perhaps the relative inactivity of Ruhanga leaves a gap which has to be filled by such beings.  But they also relieve him of any direct responsibil­ity for misfortunes.  Enk Ai, though he punishes justly, is still the author of evil as well as good.

 

Buganda

Ganda society differs at four important points from that of Ankole.  In the first place, there is no distinction between a Hima ruling class and subor­dinate Bantu.  Immigrants have been wholly absorbed into the indigenous Bantu stock; and this applies also to the ruling family, who may originally have been allied to the ruling Bito of the neighbouring kingdom of Bunyoro.  The Kabaka (king) marries into all the indigenous clans and himself takes the clan of his mother.  Secondly, the clan tradition is much stronger.  No Ganda is adequately described except in terms of his patrilineal descent; the head of each clan, and of minor lineage groups, claims personal identity with all his predecessors in the office; and the lineage burial grounds are of primary social and ritual importance.  Thirdly, the history of Buganda, for at least thirty-three generations of kabakas, whose tombs with the appropriate ritual are still preserved, is that of continual expansion of territory and centralisation of political power.  Finally, the consequences of contact with the outside world have, hitherto, been far more radical.  Islam, brought by Arabs, was significant in the first half of the nineteenth century.  The 'wars of religion' from 1888 to 1894 forced widescale movements of population; from 1889 the Christians were in political power and the pagans, in an important sense, detribalised; and it is difficult to determine how far not only Ganda writings, but oral tradition itself, has been influenced by western ideas and Muslim and Christian theology.

            Ancestral ghosts appear to have added occasional benevolent activities to the solely malevolent features reported from Ankole.  The place of the emandwa was taken by a large number of balubaale (sing. lubaale).  Some of these can be identified with Cwezi spirits of Ankole (Kawumpuli = Kahumpuri; Mukasa = Mugasha), although there is no Cwezi legend in Buganda.  Others are clearly nature spirits (Musoke of the rainbow, Musisi of earthquakes).  Others again are legendary heroes (Kibunka, spirit of war); and, of whatever probable origin, many of them are fitted into a genealogical table providing a human ancestry.  In addition to providing a possession-cult closely similar to that of emandwa,[24] they were widely available for consultation by all Ganda.  Their special shrines were well equipped with priests, mediums and other officers; and, at least today, they are widely used by diviners. 

            It is far less clear that there was any belief in a 'high god'.  The name adopted by the missionaries was Katonda, since -tonda means 'create'.  He was already recognised as lubaale and had three temples close together in central Buganda.  The site of each was called Butonda; but etymologically Katonda, 'the person of Butonda', is as likely a derivation as Butonda, 'the place of Katonda'.  Very little was known of him except that he was benevo­lent and concerned with conception.  The pied wagtail was his aide and, on his behalf, counted the people in each hut.  Kagway, the early Ganda Chris­tian writer, gives him one-and-a half lines compared with five pages for Kibunka.[25] Nsimbi[26] writes, 'Ganda believe that he created all things and people.  His name (unlike that of most of the balubaale) is not given to men or women'.  But in conversation Nsimbi is very doubtful whether Katonda was traditionally different from other balubaale.  In contrast with Ruhanga and Enk Ai, he causes states of 'possession'.  There is extraordinarily little evidence for the belief of some Ganda that Katonda has always been known as creator and the other balubaale as his satellites.  I have been told by a Roman Catholic, who discovered the balubaale in his old age, that 'lubaale is one.  All the balubaale (including Katonda) are particular manifestations of the essential unity'. 

            Another competitor is Muwanga, who is etymologically the same as Ruhanga and of whom Nsimbi writes that he was leader of all gods and ruler of all things.[27]  He is the lubaale by whom 'possession' is first sought by the majority of contemporary diviners.  They may have recourse to others if Muwanga is not successful in any particular instance. 

            Finally, Ggulu means 'sky'.  He is father of Walumbe and Kiwanuka (spirits of death and lightning) and of Nnambi, wife of Kintu the legendary first kabaka .  Like Katonda his name is not given to humans; and Roscoe, writing in 1911, says that he had neither shrine nor medium until 'recently' a man was possessed by him and a shrine built.[28]

            Whatever the original status of any of these three, it seems unlikely that any of them could lay claim to more than local significance.  It is surely important that, in contrast with Ruhanga, who is always distinct from emandwa, all of them were assimilated to the cult of the balubaale.  Perhaps the early clan structure was so strong that its mythological needs were met by the ancestor cult along with the high mythological character of the clan and lineage heads and the misambwa, which are spirits inherent in wild animals and other natural objects, usually ascribed to a human origin.  Leg­end may well be right in attributing the coming, at least of the most important balubaale, to the needs of the kabakas in constant warfare with the Nyoro.  The need (if there was one) for a mythological symbol of the tribe as a whole was to be met in another way. 

            For the story of Buganda, from the dawn of legend up to the middle of the nineteenth century, can be seen as a never wholly successful attempt, on the part of the kabakas, to wean their people from sectional clan loyalties to an unmediated loyalty to themselves - from the identity statement, 'I am son of Waddimba, son of Ssembajjwe, of the Monkey Clan' to 'I am Kabaka's man'.  This they did administratively by establishing at least two hierarchies directly dependent on themselves and cutting across the authority both of one another and of the traditional clan heads.  Mythologically, they became 'head of the clan heads'; they married into all clans and adopted their motherrs totem, so that all Ganda could claim kinship with kabaka.[29]  But they also developed a special cult of their own ghosts.  On the death of a kabaka, his jawbone and umbilical cord were preserved in a special shrine, where they were guarded by his official sister and a high-ranking officer of his court and were available for regular consultation by the reigning kabaka.  The bodies were buried separately and the sites carefully preserved.  Ghosts of kabakas might also possess ordinary men and women and Taylor says that they are used by contemporary diviners.[30]

            There is evidence that, by the beginning of the nineteenth century the political elite of Buganda were becoming sceptical about their traditional mythology and developing that capacity for individual responsibility which was necessary in a highly centralised administration and made them so acceptable to English missionaries and administrators.  Kabaka Ssuuna II (1836-56) was ruthless with priests and mediums who did not prophesy to his liking; and Mutesa I (1856-84) was prepared to consider the possibflities of Islam and of both catholic and protestant Christianity.  In the end, it was the radical monotheism of these three groups which was to provide (at least temporarily) an identity stronger than 'I am Kabaka's man' and to lead to the eclipse of the kabakaship by a dymanic and westward-looking oligrachy.[31]   Not till the deportation of Kabaka Mutesa II in 1952 was it realised how integral was the kabakaship to the very being of Buganda, and the old balubaale were recalled to restore what had been destroyed by those of the west.  In 1961, when Buganda was finally threatened not by western colonialism but by absorption into a unitary, independent, Buganda, 'I am Kabaka's man' became the essential statement of ultimate concern, far transcending any claims of the old clans or the new religions.  The balubaale, it was said, had put all power into his hands.         But this was no more than the development of what had been for so long the implicit (and, in the circumstances, the only possible tribal) alternative to the system of clan loyalties.  Richards[32] has vividly described the way in which each individual Ganda was not merely in a 'dyadict relationship of subordination and superordination - the peasant with his chief, the chief with the kabaka.  In an important sense each was directly dependent on the kabaka.  The latter was not a source of supernatural power.  Rather, in the absence of any one god who could claim authority over the whole tribe, he had become, as Ssuuna II boasted to the Arabs, 'the god of earth, as their Allah was Lord of Heaven'.[33]   He was not only the ruthless conqueror of all Buganda.  He was to be thanked for stealing your wife or bestowing punish­ment.  He was the source of all power, authority and glory.  He was thusband', 'father', 'the tree under whose shade we peasants sit'.  At the same time he was owned by his people and protected by them: one who, when he was deported by the British, was seen 'as an innocent and defence­less youth to be protected by the whole state and by every peasant and notable in it'.

            There is evidence that this highly ambivalent attitude was held towards the kabakaship rather than towards its particular incumbent.  The successful rebellion against Kabaka Mwanga in 1888 was not the only example of an attempt against the reigning monarch.  In 1952 it was said that, if the British had only waited a little longer, the Ganda themselves would have deposed his grandson.  In 1962 he failed to appear at an opening ceremony, at which his presence had been widely publicised.  An old man, who had been deeply involved in the agitation for the Kabaka's position in an independent Uganda, commented, 'Kabaka had promised to be there.  If Mutesa cannot keep his promise, then Kabaka must change'.  But Kabaka had become - however, rightfully, he might punish his people for their good - the symbol of all goodness, of tribal glory and the continuity of Buganda's history, the charter by which she might look forward to an independent future.  The source of evil was - not the British, for they had done, and might again do, much good, but - the local agents of British Government who had betrayed the good faith shown towards the Ganda by their predecessors.  Much more it was to become the African rulers of independent Uganda, who wished to submerge the ancient kingdom.  The balubaale were of use insofar as they protected the Kabaka with the ancient glory of Buganda.  They, with the ghosts and sorcerers, were enough to account for the arbitrary character of domestic life and the uncertainty of personal relations. 

            It is always difficult to distinguish between a 'religious' and a 'political' faith.  In time of war, or of international tension, Yahweh often enough appears to be little more than the supernatural sanction of British or American national assertion.  No doubt Enk Ai fulfils much the same function for Maasai: and Ruhanga, if he can be conceived as sufficiently active, for Nkore.  Ganda had no such supernatural focus of tribal aspirations.  They found focus, instead, in a strong political figure. 

 

Theoretical Considerations

Eddington suggested that physicists find no order in the universe which they have not first imposed upon it.  All that is necessary to discover the so-called 'laws' of physics is a thorough knowledge of human minds.  This hypothesis has not received wide support.  But it is as well to remember that it is a proposition of the same order as that made by meta-psychologists who suppose that God and the spirits are 'no more than' projections, onto a wholly material universe, of unconscious elements in the minds of men.  Psycholo­gists can make empirically-verifiable statements about human behaviour and about its conscious concomitants.  Some of them, using an apparently scientific language, can enter into clinical relationships with others, which lead to genuine therapy and self-understanding.  But they cannot, as psychologists, make any pronouncement about the reality or character of objective events to which subjective experience is believed to refer. 

            Nevertheless, it is reasonable to suppose that subjective experience is an important factor in man's interpretation of the external universe.  In the context of this seminar, 'Man makes God in his own image.  That is why there are so many gods'.  This is not to say - nor is it to deny - that there is no God.  It is simply to assert that whatever gods there will be known in as many forms as there are men to know them; and, in the twentieth century, it is necessary to ask what contribution can be made by psychoanalysis to an understanding of their appearances.

            Lienhardt[34] has pointed out that all the fores which western man includes in the idea of the individual unconscious have in other cultures been exteriorised as personal forces acting on man from without.  In Jungian terms, we introject while they projected.  Ghosts become neuroses.  But this is too easy.  If I can project my unconscious aggressiveness into a tennis ball or into writing this paper, I shall probably be better-tempered with my wife.  But it is nonetheless a projection because I know, in an intellectual sort of way, what I am doing.  If, in order to escape the intolerable feeling that I am playing badly or writing nonsense, I blame my racquet or the cook I am indulging in exactly the same sort of mental exercise as an Nkore who lays the blame on sorcery or on the ghost of his paternal aunt.  If, on the other hand, I do exceptionally well, I shall probably say, 'O, I just had a stroke of luck', because admiration is a mystically dangerous to me as to a Maasai beauty.  Western men are constantly doing this sort of thing - even those who have had a training analysis and are potentially most deeply aware of the tricks of their own unconscious.  If we accept the view of contemporary Freudians, life is made up of a continual flow of projection and introjection - ­of alternately exteriorising and interiorising our experience.  The question is not whether we project but what we project and how we project it.  French peasants, who saw a spaceman where their fathers would have seen the Virgin Mary,[35] had a culture no less mythological because it was expressed in terms of science fiction instead of traditional religion.  At the sophisticated level, scientific belief in the uniformity of nature must be regarded, psycho-analytically, as a projection of much the same 'basic trust' as is found in the theistic confidence in the reliability of God.  The question, to which there seems at present to be no adequate answer, is why one culture expresses this projection in personal, the other in impersonal, terms. 

            Freud's analysis of the concept of God, as he found it in nineteenth-century Vienna, was as the projection of an interiorised, author­itarian father-figure.  A contemporary Freudian has suggested that, while this is adequate to the experience of God as 'absolute demand', his character as 'ultimate succour' must be analysed in terms of a child's still more basic experience of his mother as the source of all infantile security.[36]  Once it is admitted that the experience of God may be determined by more than one element in the indivdual unconscious, the way is open to a more detailed analysis of different mythologies.  If I make a stumbling excursion in this direction, it is with the knowledge that I have no professional experience of analysis, either as practitioner or as patient: but in the conviction that somebody must stick his neck out to draw attention to the immense possibilities, for anthropology, religious studies and psycho-analysis itself, of cross-cultural studies which employ, at the same time, both sociological and psycho-analytic insights.[37]

            In Erikson's scheme, the basic human values of faith, will, conscience, reason are related to four crises of development, each of which must be successfully surmounted if the individual is to develop a strong ego-identity.  Faith is based in the primary experience of 'basic trust' and is always threatened by the alternative of 'basic mistrust'.  Either will affect the adult attitude to the universe as a whole.  The discovery of autonomy - of bowel­ control and learning to walk - is threatened by the shame and doubt involved in failure.  'How this doubt is met by adults determines the ability to combine will with self-discipline, rebellion with responsibility.' The stage of learning initiative involves the experience of guilt as a child's initiative conflicts with adult patterns of conduct.  Hence conscience arises.  This is the classical Oedipus stage.  Finally, a child learns simple techniques and tools, together with the beginings of reason, as the means to manipulate both the material universe and his conscious experience.  Only after this can an individual develop a clear sense of identity, in which faith, will, conscience and reason can be integrated. 

            Klein, whose formulation is earlier than Erikson's, speaks of a 'schizoid position', followed by a 'depressive position', which must be surmounted before a normal Oedipal developmental is possible.  In the former a child distinguishes clearly between the comforting and frustrating aspects of its experience of its mother.  The origins of 'good' and levil' are experienced as wholly different; and most analysts recognise the mechanism of 'splitting', by which intolerable aspects of experience are dissociated from the 'self'.  They may become the basis of paranoid phantasies or even the focus of secondary 'selves'.  In the 'depressive position' a much fuller integration takes place; the loving mother is recognised as the same as the frustrating mother, whom the child hates and wish to harm; and this coincidence of love and hate is the origin of basic guilt-feelings.  Only when this position is achieved is it possible for a baby to be related to its mother as a whole person and to lay the basis for full personal relationships with others.[38]

            Finally, psychologists of many schools agree that, in the early stages of development, children are unable to distinguish between subject and object.  Events, which to normal adult observers appear to be in the outer world, are located in the inner; and subjective wishes appear to be objectively realised.  At the same time, as the self develops, some experiences may not be fully integrated and continue to find independent expression outside conscious control.  Thumb-sucking becomes the satisfaction of a mother's breast.  Nail-biting expresses an unrecognised desire to attack.  This is 'magic'; and it extends far into adult life - not only into religious ceremonies and such popular customs as 'touching wood', but to medical prescriptions which are 'to be taken after meals with a sip of water' and university professors who spend their weekends sunbathing.  We endow outward events with a potency for which there is no empirical evidence unless it is supplied by our own creative imaginations.  Nor are we free from the power of the curse.  Men in western society may laugh at the curse of a drunkard or of a miser who loses his wealth - for such curses are unjust.  But the curse of one whom we love or respect is forbidden not only by his own conscience, but by the psychic fact which lies behind his conscience, that it breeds a remorse which has remission only in reconciliation.  This type of outlook is so universal that, in a comparative study, there is little need to draw attention to anything but the details of its variation from culture to culture.  Good sorcery in Africa becomes, in the west, patent medicines and the doctor's bedside manner.  Bad sorcery is found in defacing photographs and painting swastikas on others' property. 

      There is, however, greater difficulty about concepts of God and the spirits.  If the prophetic belief in Yahwah is taken as a yardstick, If the prophetic belief in Yahweh is taken as a yardstick, it can perhaps be seen as the projection of a strong ego-identity in which the 'depressive position' has become so firmly established that good and evil are clearly seen to derive from the same source.  At the same time, the vision of the Kingdom of God reflects the primary experience of blissful security with mother; and the recognition, that this can be gained only in responsible obedience to a strict morality, has a strong element of the Oedipus relationship with father.  In what I believe to be its biblical Christian form, there is an increased emphasis on the 'concern' which belongs to the 'depressive position', and on humility which may be related to the particular solution of the Oedipus stage which is found in submission to father.  The God of Greek, and much other western, theology represents a much stronger integration of the stage of reason into the ego-identity.  The emphasis on law, which was characteristic of the Pharisees and later of the Puritans, seems to be a departure from the pro­phetic yardstick which yields a God much more akin to Freud's analysis in terms of projection at the Oedipus level.  On the other hand, the devil, when is seen as the eternal opposite of God surely represents a regression to the 'schizoid position'.  In his classical Christian form, where he is ultimately under God's control, he symbolises mants recognition of the chaos of uncon­scious hate which, somehow, has to be integrated with love.  Finally, both the Hebrew prophets and the Puritan Empiricists of the seventeenth century in England suppressed sorcery and the cults of subordinate spirits.[39]  It looks very much like a repression of elements in the deep unconscious, felt as a threat to the new sense of identity.  The Christians of the New Testament were able to integrate these unconscious forces into the ego and see their projections as beings, like the devil himself, under the ultimate control of God . 

      In these terms, it is possible to see Enk Ai, a god of history, as a projection of very much the same character as Yahweh; and it would be revealing to discover how far the Oedipus stage is represented in individual initiative and its concomitant sense of guilt.  That he should be identified with rain is surely no more than a recognition that rain is the active element in all Maasai economy, determining not only their seasonal migrations but the very possibility of life itself.  Ruhanga, a god of nature, is primarily a projection of the mother-figure, while emandwa and ancestor~ represent a high degrees of 1 splitting' without any very successful achievements at either the 'depressive position' or the Oedipus level.  It is common practice to attribute ancestor cults to repressed guilt-feelings, and the absence of any conscious guilt in the Nkore attitude towards their ghosts does not prove its lack in the unconscious.  But it is at least as reasonable to suppose that they represent processes of ' splitting' and paranoid phantasies belonging to an earlier period of mental growth.  In that case, the mythologies of Nkore and Ganda both stem from a less integrated psyche than that of the Maasai.  (It might be possible to argue that the Maasai have a primary type of inte­gration, while Nkore and Ganda represent a stage of dissociation through which it is necessary to pass before reaching the more complex integration symbolised in the Christian myth.  This would have important implications for Christian missionaries trying to build directly on belief in Enk Ai.  On the other hand, it may be that Maasai project onto their cattle unconscious elements which elsewhere find expression in mythology).  Ganda seem to lack any mythology which may be attributed to the primary mother-figure, to the 'depressive position' or even to a satisfactory solution of the Oedipus phase.  Rather, their search for identity, caught between the rival claims of clan and Kabaka, seems to have projected itself onto a human focus, who is at the same time authoritarian father, protecting mother and child to be protected.  It suggests an unconscious confusion of introjected material which, in western man, would produce alarming clinical consequences. 

            Finally, to try and round off the picture, western man, insofar as he distrusts any belief in the supernatural, seems to project onto the universe an identity which emphasises Erikson's fourth stage of growth - that of the manipulative skills and reason.  The fact that his identity as scientist is often enough combined with a wholly unreflective type of religion suggests a funda­mental split in his personality which makes him, often enough, deeply suspi­cious of psycho-analysis. 

            I have put forward these extremely tentative proposals, knowing that they merit criticism, and indeed inviting criticism of a positive nature.  I have done so because I see no hope of understanding religion except by combining the insights of psycho-analysis with the intimate involvement of anthropologists.  The relation of personality-development to social structure and customs of child-rearing is a matter which still needs detailed investigation.  There is perhaps still too little recognition of the bearing on both of mythology and of the development of scientific thinking.  But the question remains whether contemporary western psycho-analysis, starting as it does from the standpoint of the separate individual, is in fact adequate to the task.  Lee has written of the Wintu that they regard the individual as a differentiated part of society, while the west treats society as a plurality of individuals.[40]  Is not the view of the Wintu the view of all traditional societies and is it possible for a psychology, which is adequate to an inner-directed society, to be applied with meaning to a society which is tradition-directed?[41]  If we started from society, instead of from the individual, it might be that myth was then the 'reality', while 'unconscious elements' were society's protection into the individual.  This, indeed, is a dilemma similar to that between the mathematical treatment of the universe as either expending or contracting.  It is possible to fit observed facts into one set of equations or the other.  It is not possible to accept both sets of equations; and facts may take on a very different appearance when viewed from one point of view rather than the other.  Perhaps this is what Jung was after, with his idea of the collective unconscious and his refusal to admit any ultimate distinction between subjective and objective.  One view fills the outer world with psyche, the other finds all psyche inside man.  Perhaps sociolo­gists are after the same thing when they insist on 'social fact'.  But it does not make it any easier to compare the idea of a 'high God~ in western, inner­directed, society with the many ideas which are found in traditional societies.  What has the Saviour of individual souls to do with the Sustainer of tribal customs?  Is it, indeed, possible for members of traditional societies to become Christian (at least in the western sense) until they have discovered the meaning of guilt and of the inner-directed life?  Often enough, in East Africa, Christ has been assimilated to indigenous society not so much as the incarnation of the Creator as in the guise of a new, and perhaps more powerful, emandwa or lubaale. 

            If we view them theologically, it is difficult enough to feel that Enk Ai, the active God of history, is the same being as Ruhanga, the benign God of creation.  If we analyse them in terms of western psychology, they seem to have wholly different origins.  Neither can be said to march with God as he has developed in western Christian thought.  None of them finds any ade­quate comparand among the Ganda.  Perhaps we make a mistake in supposing that the idea of a 'high God' is any more than a highly abstract concept of western thinking.  Perhaps, in any case, we ought not to study 'religion' in comparative terms, but rather as the unique attempt of each society to express the meaning of its existence.  I leave it at that. 

 

REFERENCES

 

[1].         I owe this story to Mr. Okot p'Bitek

2.         A.N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, Cambridge, 1926

3.         My knowledge of Ankole is due almost wholly to Mr. Y.K. Bamunoba.  Our joint paper 'Emandwa Initiation in Ankole' is shortly to be published in Uganda Journal.  From this paper I have quoted liberally.  For Maasai I rely entirely on Mr. B.K. Kantai .  He has collected a mass of fascinating material which, when it is eventually published, should largely change the western understanding of Maasai tradition.  My informants on Buganda are too many to name.  I have summarised the position in 'Some Aspects of Kiganda Religion', UgandaJ., 26 (1962), 171-182 and in a note at the end of 'Emandwa initiation'.  Standard summaries of existing information are to be found in the appro­priate volumes of Ethnographic Survey of Africa, International African Institute.  They are not very informative; and some details given of the Maasai are almost certainly wrong.  In particular this applies to the statement that Mbatiany (a dead laibon) is invoked in prayer.  According to my information, prayers are offered to Enk Ai 'through so-and-so (the living laibon) of the seed of Mbatiany'.  It is simply that the prayers of a living laibon are suppossed to be more effective than those of an ordinary Maasai.

4.         H.F. Morris, 'The Making of Ankole', Uganda Journal, 21 (1957), 1-15

5.         D.J. Stenning, communication to B.K. Taylor, The Western Lacustrine Bantu, Ethnographic Survey of Africa, London, 1962

6.         J.H.M. Beattie, 'Initiation into the Cwezi Spirit Possession Cult in Bunyoro', African Studies, 16 (1957 ), 150-161 H. Cory, 'The Buswezi', American Anthropologist, 57 (1955) 923-952

7.         Ebihemu seem to be in a different category from totems and taboos, the violation of which, whether or not it is made public, brings automatic retribution.  The violation of ebihemu (e.g. for a woman to eat goat's meat) brings no such automatic punishment.  What is feared is discovery, possible expulsion by her husband and being laughed at by other women.  Nobody really believes the rationalisations (e.g. that a woman who eats goat's meat will grow a beard like a goat).  But the number of ebihemu is manifold.

8.         The Nkore name for each herb comes from the root of the verb used in the second half of each verse:

                        Egi n'enyaweera:  Amaka gange geere

            Ogu n'omuhiingura: Guhiinguze egyika

            Ogu n'omuzibira:  Ozibire abangyizi

9.         Genesis 2:17; e:7; 4:1-8; 3:22; 3:8-13

[1]0.       enk ai, rain sky, God.  In prayers, na Ai, O God

[1]1.       Psalm 37

[1]2.       Strictly, oloiboni, plur. iloibonok; feminine, enkoiboni, plur.  inkoibonok (A-ibon, to make medicine)

[1]3.       Olonana, who practised from 1890 to 1911, saw 'a long snake which will cut across our country and has fire at its head.  It will be able to swallow human beings; but they will come out alive'.  He saw 'a huge water-bird from whose stomach emerged people who looked like meat'.  He saw 'uncircumcised boys beating our brave moran'.  Were these not prophecies of the railway, the aeroplane and the submission of the Maasai to the British? Similar claims are sometimes made for Nkore diviners of the nineteenth century.

[1]4.       Other members of the same sub-clan can stop rain and are skilled sorcerers .

[1]5.       A corporate 'May God bring this to pass' repeated after each petition.

[1]6.       Women leave their heads unshaven after the birth of a child or after its circumcision.  Otherwise they are shaved clean.

[1]7.       'Donkey' is a pet name given to children, since it is a helpful beast which takes burdens off women's backs.

[1]8.       The gift of children is a debt owed by Enk Ai to all women.  Otherwise the tribe would become extinct.

[1]9.       In 1960 a woman laibon travelled the Kajiado District, warning Maasai to amend their ways or expect disaster.  In 1961 femine and floods dev­astated Maasailand.  In 1963/4 the chief laibon decreed a purification ceremony for all adults to ensure the return of prosperity.  Unfortu­nately no details, either of the warnings or of the purification, are at present available.

20.       In 1963 moran were found to be sleeping with wives of the age-set whose daughters they would, in due course, marry.  A collective curse was threatened and could have been made actual by the refusal of daughters in marriage.  The moran collected blankets, sheets, honey, sugar as a gift for the elders' who then brewed beer which, with blessings, they shared with the offenders.

2[1].       Although a man is pater of all his wife's children, she can be enjoyed sexually by any member of his age-set.  In 1963 a wife, in the absence of her husband, refused hospitality to a member of his set who cursed her.  A few nights later, two other women were sleeping with her in the hut, while the husband was sleeping in a neighbouring hut.  A leopard entered the wife's hut and, out of the three possibilities, mauled her.  The husband, coming in response to their cries, was also mauled and died in hospital.  Both husband and wife fell victims to the curse on the latter, for the husband was responsible for the sins of his wife.

22.       A curse aimed at a contemporary politician, who was thought to be dividing the tribe, may be quoted at length.  A meeting, representative of several clans, was held under a tree, facing towards the sunset.  An old and respected man briefly explained the cause of the meeting.

 

            Then, facing westwards, he uttered the curse.  The offender was not named; but the words 'If he has any evil intentions', were suffixed to each clause:

 

                        That the food which he eats may be poisonous

                        That the water which he drinks may kill him

                        That the air which he breathes may take him to set with the sun

                        That his bed may be full of snakes

                        That his path may be full of thorns

                        That enemies may meet him in the way and kill him

                        That the grass on which he feeds his flocks may be bitter

                        That God may refuse to give him children

                        That he may have no friends

                        That he may have no home

                        That the milk which he has shared with the Maasai family may kill him

                        That his ways may be full of danger

                        That he may have no happiness and no good fortune

                        That he may be hated and rejected by the whole Maasai family

                        May God remove him from our community for ever

23.       The strength of this taboo is indicated by the recent death of a woman called Sidai - the common word for 'good', 'beautiful', 'healthy'.  On her death, her immediate community had to substitute, in everyday conversa­tion, the archaic word, shiati.

24.       A preliminary note appears at the end of my 'Emandwa Initiation'.  So far as I know, this is the first reference to a cult of this sort in Buganda.

25.       A. Kagwa, Ekitabo kye Mpisa za Baganda, London, 1905 (1952 edition), 226, 218-22

26.       M.B. Nsimbi, Amannya Amaganda, Kampala, 1956, 138f.

27.       Nsimbi, op.cit., 124. Cf. Nkore: -hanga, create, set in order; Ganda: -tonda, create; -wanga, set in order

28.       J. Roscoe, The Baganda, London, 1911, 317, Nsimbi, op.cit., 137

29.       The son of a Monkey Clan woman could not become kabaka.  But the head of that clan was ritual 'parent' of the reigning kabaka.

30.       The description of the sites see R. Oliver, 'The Royal Tombs of Buganda', Uganda Journal, 23 (1959), 129-1 33.  For a discussion of their contemporary significance, see J.V. Taylor, The Growth of the Church in Buganda, London, 1951, 209-212.

3[1].       The Muslim martyrs of 1875 are discussed in A. Katumba and F.B. Welbourn, 'Muslim Martyrs of Buganda' in process of publication in Uganda Journal.  The Christian martyrs of 1~5-7 are fully described in J.F. Faupel, African Holocaust, London, 1962

32.       A.I. Richards in ed. L.A. Fallers, The King's Men, London, 1964, 274-288.  See also Fallers, ibid., 73f.  I think that they underestimate the importance of clan-loyalties.

33.       Quoted R.F. Burton, The Lake Regions of Uganda, London, 1860

34.       G. Lienhardt, Divinity and Experience, Clarendon Press, 1961, Chapter 4

35.       This is based on an alleged report in The Tidles, about 1961, which I have not been able to trace.

36.       E.H. Erikson, Young Man Luther, London, 1958, 257ff.

37.       Erikson, op. cit. and Childhood and Society, New York, 1950, and G.M. Carstairs, The Twice-born, London, 1957, are psycho-analysts who have made valuable incursions into anthropology.  O. Manoni Prospero and Caliban, London, 1956, and M.J. Eield, Search for Security, London, 1960, underwent training-analyses to supplement their existing anthropological training.

38.       Melanie Klein, Contributions to Psycho-Analysis, London, 1948; D.W. Winnicott, Collected Papers, London, 1958, 262-77.  Winnicott speaks of 'the stage of concern', the point at which a child becomes capable of feeling concern for others.

39.       I have discllssed this in 'An Empirical Approach to Ghosts', First Inter-national Congress of Africanists, Accra, 1962 and 'Gods and gods', to be published in Presence Africaine

40.       Quoted H.M. Lynd, Shame and the Search for Identity, London, 1958, 81, 174

4[1].       For these terms see D. Riesman, The Lonely Crowd, London, 1950



[1].         I owe this story to Mr. Okot p'Bitek

[2].         A.N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, Cambridge, 1926

[3].         My knowledge of Ankole is due almost wholly to Mr. Y.K. Bamunoba.  Our joint paper 'Emandwa Initiation in Ankole' is shortly to be published in Uganda Journal.  From this paper I have quoted liberally.  For Maasai I rely entirely on Mr. B.K. Kantai .  He has collected a mass of fascinating material which, when it is eventually published, should largely change the western understanding of Maasai tradition.  My informants on Buganda are too many to name.  I have summarised the position in 'Some Aspects of Kiganda Religion', UgandaJ., 26 (1962), 171-182 and in a note at the end of 'Emandwa initiation'.  Standard summaries of existing information are to be found in the appro­priate volumes of Ethnographic Survey of Africa, International African Institute.  They are not very informative; and some details given of the Maasai are almost certainly wrong.  In particular this applies to the statement that Mbatiany (a dead laibon) is invoked in prayer.  According to my information, prayers are offered to Enk Ai 'through so-and-so (the living laibon) of the seed of Mbatiany'.  It is simply that the prayers of a living laibon are suppossed to be more effective than those of an ordinary Maasai.

[4].         H.F. Morris, 'The Making of Ankole', Uganda Journal, 21 (1957), 1-15

[5].         D.J. Stenning, communication to B.K. Taylor, The Western Lacustrine Bantu, Ethnographic Survey of Africa, London, 1962

[6].         J.H.M. Beattie, 'Initiation into the Cwezi Spirit Possession Cult in Bunyoro', African Studies, 16 (1957 ), 150-161 H. Cory, 'The Buswezi', American Anthropologist, 57 (1955) 923-952

[7].         Ebihemu seem to be in a different category from totems and taboos, the violation of which, whether or not it is made public, brings automatic retribution.  The violation of ebihemu (e.g. for a woman to eat goat's meat) brings no such automatic punishment.  What is feared is discovery, possible expulsion by her husband and being laughed at by other women.  Nobody really believes the rationalisations (e.g. that a woman who eats goat's meat will grow a beard like a goat).  But the number of ebihemu is manifold.

[8].         The Nkore name for each herb comes from the root of the verb used in the second half of each verse:

                        Egi n'enyaweera:  Amaka gange geere

            Ogu n'omuhiingura: Guhiinguze egyika

            Ogu n'omuzibira:  Ozibire abangyizi

[9].         Genesis 2:17; e:7; 4:1-8; 3:22; 3:8-13

[10].       enk ai, rain sky, God.  In prayers, na Ai, O God

[11].       Psalm 37

[12].       Strictly, oloiboni, plur. iloibonok; feminine, enkoiboni, plur.  inkoibonok (A-ibon, to make medicine)

[13].       Olonana, who practised from 1890 to 1911, saw 'a long snake which will cut across our country and has fire at its head.  It will be able to swallow human beings; but they will come out alive'.  He saw 'a huge water-bird from whose stomach emerged people who looked like meat'.  He saw 'uncircumcised boys beating our brave moran'.  Were these not prophecies of the railway, the aeroplane and the submission of the Maasai to the British? Similar claims are sometimes made for Nkore diviners of the nineteenth century.

[14].       Other members of the same sub-clan can stop rain and are skilled sorcerers .

[15].       A corporate 'May God bring this to pass' repeated after each petition.

[16].       Women leave their heads unshaven after the birth of a child or after its circumcision.  Otherwise they are shaved clean.

[17].       'Donkey' is a pet name given to children, since it is a helpful beast which takes burdens off women's backs.

[18].       The gift of children is a debt owed by Enk Ai to all women.  Otherwise the tribe would become extinct.

[19].       In 1960 a woman laibon travelled the Kajiado District, warning Maasai to amend their ways or expect disaster.  In 1961 femine and floods dev­astated Maasailand.  In 1963/4 the chief laibon decreed a purification ceremony for all adults to ensure the return of prosperity.  Unfortu­nately no details, either of the warnings or of the purification, are at present available.

[20].       In 1963 moran were found to be sleeping with wives of the age-set whose daughters they would, in due course, marry.  A collective curse was threatened and could have been made actual by the refusal of daughters in marriage.  The moran collected blankets, sheets, honey, sugar as a gift for the elders' who then brewed beer which, with blessings, they shared with the offenders.

[21].       Although a man is pater of all his wife's children, she can be enjoyed sexually by any member of his age-set.  In 1963 a wife, in the absence of her husband, refused hospitality to a member of his set who cursed her.  A few nights later, two other women were sleeping with her in the hut, while the husband was sleeping in a neighbouring hut.  A leopard entered the wife's hut and, out of the three possibilities, mauled her.  The husband, coming in response to their cries, was also mauled and died in hospital.  Both husband and wife fell victims to the curse on the latter, for the husband was responsible for the sins of his wife.

[22].       A curse aimed at a contemporary politician, who was thought to be dividing the tribe, may be quoted at length.  A meeting, representative of several clans, was held under a tree, facing towards the sunset.  An old and respected man briefly explained the cause of the meeting.

 

            Then, facing westwards, he uttered the curse.  The offender was not named; but the words 'If he has any evil intentions', were suffixed to each clause:

 

                        That the food which he eats may be poisonous

                        That the water which he drinks may kill him

                        That the air which he breathes may take him to set with the sun

                        That his bed may be full of snakes

                        That his path may be full of thorns

                        That enemies may meet him in the way and kill him

                        That the grass on which he feeds his flocks may be bitter

                        That God may refuse to give him children

                        That he may have no friends

                        That he may have no home

                        That the milk which he has shared with the Maasai family may kill him

                        That his ways may be full of danger

                        That he may have no happiness and no good fortune

                        That he may be hated and rejected by the whole Maasai family

                        May God remove him from our community for ever

[23].       The strength of this taboo is indicated by the recent death of a woman called Sidai - the common word for 'good', 'beautiful', 'healthy'.  On her death, her immediate community had to substitute, in everyday conversa­tion, the archaic word, shiati.

[24].       A preliminary note appears at the end of my 'Emandwa Initiation'.  So far as I know, this is the first reference to a cult of this sort in Buganda.

[25].       A. Kagwa, Ekitabo kye Mpisa za Baganda, London, 1905 (1952 edition), 226, 218-22

[26].       M.B. Nsimbi, Amannya Amaganda, Kampala, 1956, 138f.

[27].       Nsimbi, op.cit., 124. Cf. Nkore: -hanga, create, set in order; Ganda: -tonda, create; -wanga, set in order

[28].       J. Roscoe, The Baganda, London, 1911, 317, Nsimbi, op.cit., 137

[29].       The son of a Monkey Clan woman could not become kabaka.  But the head of that clan was ritual 'parent' of the reigning kabaka.

[30].       The description of the sites see R. Oliver, 'The Royal Tombs of Buganda', Uganda Journal, 23 (1959), 129-1 33.  For a discussion of their contemporary significance, see J.V. Taylor, The Growth of the Church in Buganda, London, 1951, 209-212.

[31].       The Muslim martyrs of 1875 are discussed in A. Katumba and F.B. Welbourn, 'Muslim Martyrs of Buganda' in process of publication in Uganda Journal.  The Christian martyrs of 1~5-7 are fully described in J.F. Faupel, African Holocaust, London, 1962

[32].       A.I. Richards in ed. L.A. Fallers, The King's Men, London, 1964, 274-288.  See also Fallers, ibid., 73f.  I think that they underestimate the importance of clan-loyalties.

[33].       Quoted R.F. Burton, The Lake Regions of Uganda, London, 1860

[34].       G. Lienhardt, Divinity and Experience, Clarendon Press, 1961, Chapter 4

[35].       This is based on an alleged report in The Tidles, about 1961, which I have not been able to trace.

[36].       E.H. Erikson, Young Man Luther, London, 1958, 257ff.

[37].       Erikson, op. cit. and Childhood and Society, New York, 1950, and G.M. Carstairs, The Twice-born, London, 1957, are psycho-analysts who have made valuable incursions into anthropology.  O. Manoni Prospero and Caliban, London, 1956, and M.J. Eield, Search for Security, London, 1960, underwent training-analyses to supplement their existing anthropological training.

[38].       Melanie Klein, Contributions to Psycho-Analysis, London, 1948; D.W. Winnicott, Collected Papers, London, 1958, 262-77.  Winnicott speaks of 'the stage of concern', the point at which a child becomes capable of feeling concern for others.

[39].       I have discllssed this in 'An Empirical Approach to Ghosts', First Inter-national Congress of Africanists, Accra, 1962 and 'Gods and gods', to be published in Presence Africaine

[40].       Quoted H.M. Lynd, Shame and the Search for Identity, London, 1958, 81, 174

[41].       For these terms see D. Riesman, The Lonely Crowd, London, 1950