Kintu: “mythical father of Ugandans & first person on earth” later married girl from sky
According to this legend, Kintu was the first person on earth and the first man to wander the plains of Uganda alone. He is also known as God or the father of all people who created the first kingdoms.
LONG ago, a great man known as Kintu traveled with his prize cow from northern Africa to the land called Uganda. There he lived for many years on the milk his cow gave him. He built a grass hut and lived in peace.
One day the sons and daughter of Gulu, King of the Heavens, came to Earth. When Nambi, Gulu’s daughter, met Kintu, she fell instantly in love with him. “Kintu is kind and generous,” she told her brothers. “I wish to marry him. He is the finest man I’ve known. ” “You do not even know if he is the great Kintu,” her brothers said. They were suspicious of the man and feared he had bewitched their sister. “He may be a magician or a sorcerer. He may be an animal in disguise,” they said.
“But he has built himself a house,” Nambi said. “Animals do not live as Kintu lives. ” Nambi returned to the sky to ask her father’s permission to marry Kintu. Gulu listened to Nambi’s pleas, but Nambi’s brothers shook their heads. “You must not let her marry this creature,” the elder brother said to his father. “We do not know if he is Kintu at all. He does not eat ordinary food. ” “He drinks only milk from a cow,” the second brother said.
“I must think over the matter,” Gulu told his children.
Meanwhile, the brothers secretly returned to Earth and carried away Kintu’s cow. They thought that if Kintu lost his cow, he would die of starvation.
When Kintu saw his cow was gone, he knew what he must do. He began to gather leaves and fruits of the earth. These he ate. He grew stronger still.
When Nambi spied Kintu’s cow idling in the fields with her father’s herd, she was alarmed. “My beloved will starve,” she cried. She returned to Earth to see what had happened to Kintu. When she found him eating berries, she sat down beside him.
“Kintu,” she said softly, “please come back with me to the sky.
Your cow is there. We will steal it and return to Earth together. I love you, Kintu. I wish you every happiness. ” Kintu was so moved by Nambi’s generosity and gentleness that he agreed to travel with her to the sky.
When they arrived, he stared in disbelief. People were living in beautiful huts of golden grass. Herds of cattle roamed the blue-green fields. Goats and sheep and chickens ran through groves of plantain trees. Kintu had never seen such bounty.
“It is wonderful here,” he said. “I will stay here with you, Nambi. ” They sat down together beside her house, talking of their future together.
Nambi’s brothers saw this and ran to their father. “Your daughter has brought this creature with her to our heaven. ” “I will test this being,” Gulu said. “I will find out if he is truly the great Kintu. ” He snapped his fingers and ordered his servants to prepare a meal large enough for hundreds. Then Gulu ordered Kintu to come to his palace.
Kintu stood solemnly before the king.
“I command you to eat every bit of this meal,” Gulu said. “If you cannot, I will know you are an impostor, and you shall not marry my daughter. ” Kintu sat down alone before the feast. He ate and drank as much as he could. Before long he was full, though dozens of baskets remained. He despaired, but suddenly a great hole opened in the floor of the palace. Kintu quickly tipped all of the food into the hole, and the hole closed.
“Come take away the baskets,” Kintu called. When the servants and the brothers saw the baskets were all empty, they searched everywhere, but they could find no food.
Still Gulu was not satisfied. He handed Kintu a copper ax. “I need kindling for my fire. Go and cut some kindling from rocks.
Plain firewood is no use to me. ” Kintu went outside, wondering what to do. “If I strike rock with this ax it will break,” he thought. Bending down to look closely at the rocks, he saw tiny cracks running through each one. With his fingers, he pried off pieces of rock and took them to Gulu.
Still the King of Heaven was not satisfied. “Go and fill this pot with dew,” Gulu ordered.
Kintu set out for the open grassland. That night, he sat upon the dry land, wondering how he would collect enough dew to satisfy the King of Heaven. At dawn he woke from a fitful sleep. He could not believe his eyes. Everywhere he looked the blades of grass glittered with dew. And more astonishing still, the water pot was full to its brim. He took the pot to Gulu.
“Father,” Nambi said, “you must see now that the man I love is Kintu. Allow me to marry him. ” “One more test,” Gulu said. “Kintu must choose his cow from among the royal herd. If he can find his own cow, I will know he is Kintu and I will bless your marriage. ” Gulu’s herd was huge. Kintu stared out at it, wondering what to do, when a bee settled on his shoulder.
“Take the cow upon whose back I settle,” the bee buzzed in Kintu’s ear.
The next morning Kintu went to the royal fields to examine the vast herd. He saw the bee hovering nearby. Kintu pretended to search for his own cow, but all the while he kept careful watch on the bee. At last the bee flew straight to one of the larger creatures and settled upon her horn.
“That is my cow,” Kintu called out. He touched his stick upon the cow’s hide, and as he did, the bee flew to a young heifer. “And there,” Kintu cried, “that is one of her calves. ” Gulu was amazed. “You are truly Kintu the Great,” he said. “And you will marry my daughter, Nambi. ” So Kintu and Nambi married. Gulu gave them a sheep, a goat, a chicken, a plantain tree and seeds for every edible plant. “Hurry now to Earth,” Gulu commanded. “You must leave before your brother Walumbe returns. He will want to travel with you to Earth, and if he sees you, he must go along with you. ” Kintu and Nambi began their journey, but halfway home, Nambi said, “Dear Kintu, I have forgotten grain for the chicken. I must return to the sky. I will hurry. ” Off she ran.
As Nambi was collecting grain from the fields of the sky, Gulu found her. “I told you not to return,” he scolded.
Ashamed, Nambi turned to leave. As she was descending, Walumbe saw her. “I am coming with you,” he told his sister.
And so together they traveled to Earth. There Nambi planted her garden with seeds and plantain trees. She and Kintu lived together happily, and she gave birth to many children.
For years Walumbe did not trouble them. But Walumbe is Death, and Death cannot be avoided forever. After some time he took one child, and then another. And since then, no matter how the people try to avoid Walumbe, he takes people away.
Still, the family grew and prospered, and their descendants live to this day. The people say Walumbe did not take the great Kintu.
He left him on Earth to spread his goodness forever.