The Legend of the Chwezi

African story telling

The Chwezi commonly referred to as the “Bachwezi” according to African oral tradition and Ugandan Folktale are believed to have reigned sometime leading up to 1500AD, at a place called Bigo bya Mugenyi in Uganda. The Bachwezi were the founders of the ancient Kitara Empire. An area that covers parts of Uganda, Eastern DRC, Northern Tanzania and Western Kenya.

The “Bahima” of Ankole, “Kikuyu” of Kenya, and the “Tutsi” of Rwanda are strongly associated with the Bachwezi as well as certain groups in south Sudan given their similar resemblance in physiology, language and norms.

Often times you will hear elders in local communities of African countries say, “The gods are angry, a sacrifice of this nature & proportion needs to be made to appease the Gods or else we will continue suffering.” And climate change, diseases, poverty among other calamities are often attributed to the gods not being pleased. And so was the Chwezi whose own calamities started shortly after the death of their darling cow called Bihogo.

Because of their demigods status, the “Bachwezi” were worshipped by local residents and believed to have been the first inhabitants of “Bigo Bya Mugenyi” and the surrounding areas. And like all other tales, all supporting information to the “Bachwezi” and “Bigo” is rich with exciting details that can also better be appreciated by visiting these historical sites.

Sights and sounds of Bigo bya Mugenyi. Source: New Vision

Nonetheless, Bigo Bya Mugenyi is a significant place in Uganda’s history. According to a piece by Cultural Safaris in Uganda, Bogo “remains hidden and abandoned a treasure. This archaeological place was dug out to offer the Bachwezi Empire protection from intruders especially the Luo from South Sudan.

The Chwezi have no clear historical background and to date, the details of their identity are still a mystery. It is not exactly clear what became of the “Bachwezi”.

But several stories told about their mysterious disappearance indicate the once-powerful “Chwezi” empire of “demi-gods” worshipped by the locals collapsed following a prophecy that revealed how a powerful Luo leader, known as “Isingoma Rukiidi” would overpower the Bachwezi.

The Chwezi gatherings suffered calamities like famine and diseases in the period leading up to the empire’s demise. This led to the Bachwezi splitting up into independent kingdoms of Bunyoro, Buganda, Busoga and Ankole. As years passed most of the “Chwezi” dissolved into the indigenous tribes of Uganda.

Also Read: The Legend Of The Spear And The Bead: LABONGO AND GIPIR’S STORY

Nonetheless, Some Ugandans still believe that the Bachwezi still exists in the underworld. In fact, on the outskirts of the western regions of Uganda like in “Mbarara” were burning fires on hills are often said to be the Bachwezi reconvening.

The Chwezi Dynasty is as rich as it is exciting to research or read about, just like Egyptian mythology, Rwandan History, West African folklore (e.g Dahomey Mythology, Fon Mythology), Japanese history, and Celt or ancient Britain history to mention but a few.

Also Read: Origins Of The Batembuzi and the Bachwezi Dynasty (AD 1100 TO 1500)

Before TVs, Phones and video games became popular, Africans took great pride in engaging their children in poems, folklore, idioms and riddles rich in educational life lessons.

In secondary school, I never failed questions regarding the “Bachwezi”. History fascinated me so much and as such, I was always eager to absorb as much information as possible.

Names like “Ndahura”, Kintu, “Nambi”, “Walumbe”, “Kaikuzi/kayikuuzi”, “Bukuku”, “Nyinamwiru”, will instantly come up when you start digging into Ugandan folklore.

For the most part of my childhood, it was one or the other. Over time, I learned to greatly appreciate the wealth of knowledge books & literature contributed to my curiosity.

African Storytelling and narrating. Source: Bwindi Uganda Gorilla Trekking

The modern generation of young people is growing up with little African history to ground their roots back home.

To this effect, I will be writing about all good African stories I can find or remember. I will also share stories from other prominent writers and historians. I also want to share stories from other African countries and some from all over the world. This obviously means if anyone has a better source then I’m open to collaborations and sharing.

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