The Ganda oral tradition is rich with great folktale and the tale of Kintu and the Fairy Bee and the great tasks is one of such many. Believed to have been the first person on earth, and the father of all people. The land Kintu settled on with his prized cow was Buganda.
This is the tale of Kintu. The fairy bee that helped him accomplish the great tasks of Ggulu, and how he succeeded as told by Ganda oral tradition.
Following an encounter with Nnambi, Daughter of Ggulu, the great King of the Heavens. The two fell in love and as fate would have it, Kintu did not win the favour of Nnambi’s brother or the approval of her father.
Nambi’s brothers became very suspicious of the Kintu and feared he had bewitched their sister. They thought him to be a magician or an animal in disguise. Nnambi‘s father didn’t think a low life earth dweller was worthy of his beloved daughter. All in all, Nnambi’s family considered Kintu too poor and ignorant to marry her.
Nonetheless, after considerable persuasion from Nnambi, Ggulu agreed to give his blessing only after Kintu perform a series of tasks to prove his worth. Nnambi’s father needless to say didn’t expect a mere low life earth dweller who did even know how to farm to pass the tasks.
Also, Read; The Tale of Kintu: The First Ganda King.
Long before Nnambi came to live on the Earth, when Kintu was quite alone, he made friends with a bumblebee. There had been a great rainstorm, and the poor bee fell to the ground on his back and could not get up again, and the heavy raindrops beat on him and very soon he would have died of cold.
But Kintu came to his rescue, picked him up, took him to his hut and held him in his warm hand. Very soon the bumblebee regained his strength and said to Kintu, “You have saved my life; I will always be your friend and help you when you are in trouble.“
It didn’t take long for trouble to come knocking at Kintu door. You see, Ggulu, Nnambi’s father was not pleased with Kintu and Nnambi romance, and therefore instructed his sons to secretly return to Earth and carry away Kintu’s cow. They thought that if Kintu lost his cow, he would die of starvation but Kintu instead feasted on leaves and berries.
Nnambi, couldn’t bear seeing her beloved suffer so she told Kintu of his cow’s whereabouts and so the great Kintu took his stick and set out on his long journey to heaven to retrieve it. His loyal friend, the Bumblebee went along with him. The bumblebee had come earlier to him and said: “I will help you find your cow; it has been taken by the sons of Ggulu, the father of your lover.“
The bumblebee flew ahead of him to show him the way. And on they went, day after day, through dark forests and over wide rivers, and by narrow paths through the jungle grass, until finally, they saw the great magnificent gates of the heaven lands in the far distance.
When they arrived in heaven and the great mountains were towering above them, Kintu couldn’t believe his eyes. Kintu saw what a rich dwelling it was–beautiful gardens, and many people were living in beautiful huts of golden grass. Herds of cattle roamed the green fields, Goats and Sheep and Chickens ran through groves of plantain trees.
The Great Tasks
Soon the news of Kintu’s arrival in heaven in search of his beloved cow reached the great king of the heavens. Ggulu instructed his guards to imprison Kintu in a hut and await his fate. Then the bumblebee said: “Do everything that I tell you, for you will never be able to outwit the old wise Ggulu and his people by yourself, and if you do not prove yourself cleverer than they are, they will never give you back your cow.“
Ggulu soon sent for Kintu and said: “Are you really Kintu, the man who lives all alone with a cow?” And Kintu said: “Yes, I am, and your people have stolen my cow, and I have come to find it.” Then Ggulu wondered very much and said to his people: “I will put this earth dweller to a test and we will see what marvels he can do. How did he find his way to my land, and how did he know who stole his cow while he was asleep, for there was no one to tell him? We will test him and see if he is really a wise man.” So they gave him a house to rest in and said they would bring him some supper.
The task of the great feast.
Kintu rested a little while, and then to his surprise, people arrived, each carrying a basket of cooked food enough food for one hundred people and forced him to eat it. “The King has sent you your supper,” they said, and put down the ten thousand baskets.
“Thank them very much,” whispered the bee in Kintu’s ear, “and tell them to come back in a little while and fetch their baskets when you have finished your supper.” So the people went away wondering. “Is it possible for one man to eat so much?“
Then the bee called all the ants in the country, that dug a big hole in Kintu’s hut. Millions, and millions, of ants, came and carried away the food until all the baskets were all empty except one, which Kintu ate for his supper. After Kintu had finished eating, he covered up the hole in the floor of his hut. He summoned the servants to remove the empty baskets.
Then the people came back, and they shouted when they saw the empty baskets piled up together. “Can one man eat so much? This man is surely a wizard.” When the old wise Ggulu heard of it he said: “Let him sleep, tomorrow I will give him another task.“
The impossible task of collecting dew in a basket.
Early in the morning they brought him a basket and said: “Our King does not drink water, he only drinks dew. Go and fill this basket with dew in the forest.” So Kintu with his friend the bumblebee set out into the mountains, and this time the journey was very long; seven peaks they climbed and then they came to the great forest. The bumblebee flew before him and cheered him on and told the spiders of the great forest who Kintu was, and as he walked the Spiders whispered: “This is Kintu, let us help him; this is Kintu.” The spiders weaved a strong web into the basket to cover all the holes, and Kintu filled his basket with so much dew and returned. And all the people wondered very much, and said: “This must be Kintu, the wise earth dweller.“
The great task of splitting rocks for firewood with an old copper axe.
When the sun was up above in the sky, the people then brought Kintu an old rusted copper axe and said: “Our great King likes rocks for his fire; go and cut rocks for firewood from the forest and bring it tied up in bundles.” The sun was hot and with an old axe, Ggulu was certain it would be an impossible task for Kintu.
Kintu set out and the bumblebee flew ahead of him as he climbed up the mountainside into the forest and brought him to a rock that had been struck all into splinters by lightning. He was overjoyed and he tied the splinters together with grass and returned to Ggulu.
The great old king of the heavens laughed and said: “You are a very resourceful man, please rest; and if tomorrow you can recognize your cow in my herd, you shall take it and go home with my daughter as your wife“.
The Trick task of picking out his cow from the great herd.
The next day, all the herds were collected, and Kintu was told to find his cow. The bumblebee flew and sat on his shoulder and whispered: “Only select the Cow and calves on which I rest on. By this time Kintu’s cow had given birth to many calves.
The Bumblebee them set out before him as he made his way between the cows–thousands and thousands of cows, with long horns all standing upright. Then the bumblebee rested on the horn of a cow, and Kintu saw it was his old friend, and he drove it out of the herd and showed it to Ggulu and his people and said: “This is my cow that they stole from me while I slept.” He also went ahead and selected a number of calves and Ggulu along with his people were marvelled.
Ggulu blessed the marriage and advised Kintu and Nnambi to leave heaven secretly, so that Walumbe, one of Nnambi’s brothers would not find out about the marriage until they had left. Ggulu feared that if Walumbe followed them to earth, he would bring them great sickness and death to the couple and their offspring.
Kintu he said good-bye to them, and the bumble-bee showed him and his wife the way home back to earth.