Ghost Tales | Abasezzi

Mythical creatures and ghosts are probably a part of many more childhoods than adulthood. Nonetheless, we have all heard, and at best experienced them.
In Uganda, it’s probably the famous Bukalabanda or perhaps the Basezzi commonly referred to as night-dancers. Whatever your encounter with Mystical creatures, you have one! Let’s explore some of these stories here.
Buckle up! These stories have made grown men wet their pants.

Abasezzi;

“I come from central Uganda, Buganda in particular and those that hail from the same are no strangers to the fantasy or reality of Abasezzi, the night-dancers, not crawlers, these guys actually dance around at night.

The most fascinating technicality to their dance is the that they do this stack-naked, Adam’s suit. Oh! And often in graveyards. Which is where they’re said to take their next meal from. Aren’t we glad they’re not killing and eating? hehehe…at least they’re only taking the dead. Still, these guys are said to be cannibals. Truth be told, many villagers have found their loved ones’ recently dug graves turned inside out only days after their funerals” Joanne Nvannungi narrates.

These night-dancers are thought to be demon-possessed, or as my people say “balina ekitambo” (they’re under a spell). In their element, they appear taller than usual, very swift & posses charms and powers.The demon that possesses these abasezzi is said to be contagious, and can possess another person especially if you in the vicinity.

“I first came to hear about the basezzi when I was 6 years old, visiting my grandparents deep down in Bukomansibi (now a district, yaaay), then a part of Masaka district. Yoh, the stories left you numb & a tad curious, but you know we are not cats, we only got one life.
If you think I’m lying, wait out by the banana plantation in the night & maybe you’ll hear the rustling of dried banana fiber. Next you’ll see the fire. When they clap their hands, fire comes out. And then they’ll merge, dark shapes of naked grown-a** men & women. Yoh! And if you stick around and let them touch you, you’ll become one of them. You’ll catch ekitambo! By the way, you can’t outrun them. They’ll catch you and maybe even just appear in front of you as you scatter.” She added.

Do you have any basezzi tales? Share with us.

Ghost Tales | Obukalabanda

Mythical creatures and ghosts are probably a part of many more childhoods than adulthood. Nonetheless, we have all heard, and at best experienced them.  In Uganda, it’s probably the famous Bukalabanda or perhaps the Basezzi commonly referred to as night-dancers. Whatever your encounter with Mystical creatures, you have one! Let’s explore some of these stories here.
Buckle up!These stories have made grown men wet their pants.

 

Bukalabanda;
“Kaka-kaka-kaka-kakalabanda . . . Kaka-kaka-kaka-kalabanda…”
That is the sound you will hear shortly after the lights go out.
Students who attended boarding school, especially the ‘traditional’ ones, are no strangers to the tale of the Kakalabanda. A ghost that visits students’ dormitories in the dead of night, to ‘put in line’ students who were naughty or disrespectful or in some circles students who had a distinct spiritual attachment.

At the peak of the night, 3 am to be exact, many of these ghosts surface and walk among the living; attacking, disturbing and oppressing them.
Intense winds, rustling, and falling leaves rattling on the dormitory roofs and the clack of bones like sounds against the floor was the signal to shut your eyes tight and not peek. You then started to pray that you weren’t the target of the Kakalabanda that night.

“The clacking sound made by the Obukalabanda as they walked the halls of dormitories are similar to the sound made by famous shoes in the 1880’s called Kalabanda, hence the name. – Kakalabanda”Bukalanda are said to attack certain schools, apparently schools on the hills are said to be prime. Hills for generations and in different locations seem to be the best gathering places for spirits and ghosts.

Bukalanda are said to attack certain schools, apparently, schools on the hills are said to be prime. Hills for generations and in different locations seem to be the best gathering places for spirits and ghosts.

However, this led some people to believe that these were just urban legends, created by bullies to terrorize and steal from unsuspecting newer students.

What have you heard about the Kakalabanda?

UNDERSTANDING THE SEBEI CULTURE

The most spread notion of the Sebei people who occupy and live in Kapchorwa, Uganda is FGM (Female Genital Mutilation). This is not the only story from Kapchorwa, there are other untold stories. To understand the people of Kapchorwa, you need to know the origin, the organization; social, economic and political.

The origin;

Sebei also known as the Sabiny are part of the Kalenjin people, who migrated from Mount Ararat in Turkey. They moved and first settled in Egypt. Moses of the Bible is said to be one of the great descendants of the Kalenjin, his name is recorded in their oral history as “Moss”. The Kalenjin were Pharaoh’s personal guard and worked in the palace. Some later gave in to the nomadic nature of their ancestors and moved down to Ethiopia . Although some decided to settle there, a big number continued moving to Khartoum, Sudan.

In Sudan, only nine tribes decided to continue southwards to northern Uganda and into the rift valley in Kenya. Seven tribes moved to Uganda and two into present day Kenya. Among the seven was included; Turgen, Marakwet, Kipsigis, Sabats, Nandi, Pokwet and Sabiny. Though most of these continued to move to different parts of Uganda, most settled in the Kapchorwa region of Eastern Uganda – on the escarpment of the Eastern Rift Valley, Bugiri, Tororo and others continued to Congo and Tanzania.

Spirituality:

It is said there are only three large societies that are still said and believed to prophesy in this world, the Jews, the Russians and the Kalenjin. One Kalenjin prophecy said; a boy will be born, he will be a cattle keeper, uncircumcised and he will rule this country Uganda.

Economic organization;

The Kalenjin are pastoralists. Cattle keeping is their main economic activity although many are longer nomads. Besides cattle keeping, the Kalenjin are farmers  although because of economic concerns they are now majorly focus on perennial crops like coffee among others.

They used to raid cattle from the neighboring villages. It is said and known that the Kalenjin are the only tribe in Uganda that can raid the Karamojong. To put it in perspective, if the Karamojong raid 50 cows of the Kalenjin, the retaliation bring back 500 cows and other possessions. The going theory is because the Kalenjin are able to mobilize all their fellow tribes to make larger raiding posses.

Socially;

They lived in caves and small huts and live close to each other in groups of 5 huts in a locality – something of an evolutionary instinct

They circumcised their people, male and female. You were only considered an adult after circumcision, otherwise all uncircumcised people irrespective of age and structure were considered young and immature.

In the current age, the circumcision of women/ female is lessening though it is a must for all Kalenjin boys to be circumcised as a right of passage otherwise you won’t marry, conduct any business or share opinions in the elders’ meetings and take part in such meetings. You also cannot be buried unless you are circumcised.

Kalenjin men wore beads to meetings and on important occasions as part of their attire, though the women could wear beads only and only when they were getting married customarily.

The Kalenjin are very friendly people and well known for their hospitality to this day and age.

Political;

They have no kingdoms, rather they have chiefdoms. The chief is the most prestigious person in the chiefdom, he owns a lot and chairs most community meetings.

Chief titles weren’t hereditary, the chief is chosen based on his great wealth in earthly possessions, age, wisdom and counsel,

They had a chiefdom army with local weaponry of spears, shield, arrows and bows. They are not used anymore and are just kept in the Sebei cultural center for historical purposes.

The boys were supposed to either rear cattle or join the army for security reason. All chiefdoms had boys in charge of security and cattle and the woman in charge of farming and home economics and management.

This a koikoiUg story from Eastern Uganda, Kapchorwa from the people.

About the Author

Relentless, persistent, resilient and full of joie de vivre Joel Jemba‘s demeanor does not betray his Land Survey degree. Joel is a digital enthusiast, blogger, photographer and a lover of food. He loves to travel is always up for an expedition at a moments notice. He is passionate about Uganda and her story and has been a part of #KoiKoiUg since its inception.