Kintu – the first human in Buganda

Kintu and Nambi. Stretched Canvas Print / Canvas Art by Gloria Ssali

Once upon a time, there were no people in Buganda except one man called Kintu. He had one cow, which was his great friend and the only source of his food.

Up in the sky there was a lovely kingdom whose King was called Gulu. He had many sons and daughters. These children used to wait for a rainbow to touch the Earth, and then they would slide down it and stay a little while below, playing among the trees. However, they couldn’t stay long, because a rainbow very soon melts away in the hot Sun. If that happened, then they could not have climbed back home.

One day two of Gulu’s sons saw a rainbow touching the Earth, and they called to their sister Nambi to come with them. Nambi was a very beautiful girl, and King Gulu loved her very much. She went quickly with her brothers and slid down to the Earth.

The part of the Earth the rainbow touched was Buganda, where they saw Kintu sitting alone watching his cow graze. At first they were rather frightened, for they had never seen a man before. But they soon made friends with Kintu, and they stayed a long time talking to him.

Kintu told them how lonely he was. Nambi was very fascinated with Kintu and she felt pity for him because he was living alone. She promised to come back again and marry him so that he wouldn’t be lonely any more.

On their way back Nambi’s brothers reproved her. ‘Why did you say that? You know our father Gulu will never allow you to go away and marry Kintu, they said. Nambi’s brothers objected to the marriage because they said that the man did not know of any food except that which the cow yielded, and they despised him.

However, when they told their father Gulu, he suggested that they had better test Kintu before he consented to the marriage. Gulu then sent someone to rob Kintu of his cow.

For a time Kintu was at a loss what to eat. But he managed to find different kinds of herbs and leaves which he cooked and ate. Nambi happened to see the cow grazing and recognized it. She thought that her brothers wished to kill the man she loved, and decided to go to the earth and inform Kintu where his cow was.

She arrived on Earth and invited him to return with her to take his cow away. Kintu had no option but go to Gulu to demand his cow back. When he reached the sky he was greatly surprised to see how many people there were with houses and with cows, goats, sheep, and fowls running about.

When Nambi’s brothers saw Kintu sitting with their sister at her house, they went and told their father, who ordered them to build a house for Kintu. Gulu promised to give Kintu’s cow back and to consider consenting to the marriage of his daughter after Kintu performed certain tasks.

The first task was giving Kintu a lot of food which he had to eat and finish alone in a locked hut. An enormous meal was cooked, enough food for a hundred people, and brought to Kintu, who was told that unless he ate it all he would be killed as an impostor. Failure to eat it, they said, would be proof that he was not the great Kintu. He was then shut up in a house and left alone.

After he had eaten and drunk as much as he could, he was at a loss to know what to do with the rest of the food. Fortunately, he discovered a deep hole in the floor of the house, so he turned all the food and beer into it and covered it over so that no one could detect the place. He then called the people outside to come and take away the baskets.

The sons of Gulu came in, but would not believe that he had eaten all the food. They, therefore, searched the house but failed to find it. They went to their father and told him that Kintu had eaten all the food. He was incredulous, and said that Kintu must be further tested.

A copper axe was sent to Kintu by Gulu, who ordered him to go and cut firewood from the rock, because he did not use ordinary firewood. When Kintu went with the axe, he, ‘What am I to do? If I strike the rock, the axe will only turn its edge or rebound’.

However, after he had examined the rock, he discovered that there were cracks in it. When he hit the axe between the cracks, fire sparks feel out and lit the dry grass around. Kintu returned with the fire and clearly impressed Gulu.

Nevertheless, Gulu said that Kintu must be further tried before they could give their consent to the marriage. Kintu was next sent to fetch water and was told that he must bring only dew, because Gulu did not drink water from wells.

Kintu played a trick by making a pot which appeared not to be having water though it had. He then left it out on grass up side down and the next morning water passed as dew, and he carried it back to Gulu.

Gulu was most surprised and said, ‘This man is a wonderful being; he shall have his cow back and marry my daughter.’

Kintu was asked to pick his cow from the herd. This was a more difficult task than the others, because there were so many cows like his that he feared he would mistake it and take the wrong one. While he was perplexed a bee came and said, ‘Take the one upon whose horns I shall alight; it is yours.’

The next morning Kintu went to the appointed place and stood and watched the bee, which was resting on a tree near him. A large herd of cows was brought before him, and he pretended to look for his cow, but in reality he was watching the bee which did not move. After a time, Kintu said, ‘My cow is not there.’

A second herd was brought and, again, he said, ‘My cow is not there.’ A third, much larger herd was brought, and the bee at once flew away and rested upon a cow which was a very large one, and Kintu said, ‘This is my cow.’ The bee then flew to another cow, and Kintu said, ‘This is one of the calves from my cow,’ and the bee went on to a second and a third cow which Kintu claimed as the calves which had been born during the cow’s stay with Gulu.

Gulu was delighted with Kintu and said, ‘You are truly Kintu, take your cows. No one can deceive or rob you. You are too clever for that.’ He called Nambi and said to Kintu, ‘Take my daughter who loves you, marry her, and go back to your home.’ Gulu further said, ‘You must hurry and go back before Walumbe (Death), comes, because he will want to go with you and you must not take him. He will only cause you trouble and unhappiness.

He advised them to pack lightly and that on no condition were they to return to heaven even if they forgot anything.

This admonition was so that Walumbe, one of Nambi’s brothers who had gone hunting should not find out about the marriage until they had left. Otherwise he would insist on going with them and bring them misery (walumbe means that which causes sickness and death).

Kintu was very pleased to have been given a wife and together they followed Gulu’s instructions. Among the few things that Nambi packed, was her chicken. They set out for earth early the next morning.

But while they were descending, Nambi remembered that she had forgotten to bring the millet that her chicken would feed on. ‘I have left my chickens’ millet on the porch, let me return and fetch it,’ she begged Kintu.

But Kintu refused and said, ‘Don’t go back. If you do, you will meet Walumbe and he will surely insist on coming with you.’ Nambi, however, did not listen to her husband, and leaving him on the way she returned to fetch the millet.

When she reached the house, she took the millet from the porch. On her way back, she suddenly met Walumbe who asked: ‘My sister, where are you going so early in the morning? Nambi did not know what to say. Filled with curiosity, Walumbe insisted on going with her. Therefore Kintu and Nambi were forced to go to earth together with Walumbe.

It did not take long for Kintu and Nambi to get children. One day, Walumbe went to Kintu’s home and asked his brother-in-law to give him a child to help him with the chores in his (Walumbe’s) house. But remembering Gulu’s warning, Kintu would not hear of it.

Walumbe became very angry with Kintu for refusing him the simple favour he had asked. That very night, he went and killed Kintu’s son. Naturally, this caused a deep rift between them. Kintu went back to heaven to report Walumbe’s actions to Gulu. Gulu rebuked Kintu, reminding him of the original warning he had disregarded. Kintu blamed Nambi for returning to get the millet. Gulu then sent another of his sons, Kayikuuzi, to go back to earth with Kintu and try to persuade Walumbe to return to heaven or if necessary return him by force.

On reaching earth, Kayikuuzi tried to persuade Walumbe to go back to heaven but Walumbe would not hear of it. ‘I like it here on earth and I am not coming back with you’ he said. Kayikuuzi decided to capture Walumbe by force, and a great fight broke out between them. But as Walumbe was about to be overpowered, he escaped and disappeared into the ground. Kayikuuzi went after him, digging huge holes in the ground to try and find his brother.

When Kayikuuzi (Kayikuuzi means he who digs holes) got to where he was hiding, Walumbe run back out to the earth. Further struggle between the brothers ensued but once again Walumbe escaped into the ground. Walumbe opted to make his home underground in a place called Tanda.[1]

The struggle went on for several days and by now, Kayikuuzi was close to exhaustion. So he went and talked to Kintu and Nambi as follows: ‘I am going back into the ground one more time to get Walumbe. You and your children must stay indoors. You must strictly enjoin your children not to make a sound if they see Walumbe. I know he is also getting tired so when he comes out of the ground, I will come upon him secretly and grab him.’

Kintu and Nambi went into their house, but some of the kids did not go in. Kayikuuzi once again went underground to find Walumbe. After a struggle, Walumbe came back out to the surface with Kayikuuzi in pursuit. Kintu’s children who were outside at the time saw Walumbe coming and screamed in terror.

On hearing the screams, Walumbe went underground once again. Kayikuuzi was furious with Kintu and Nambi for not having followed his instructions. He told them that if they did not care to do the simple thing he had asked of them, he was also giving up the fight.

Kintu in his embarrassment had nothing more to say. So he told Kayikuuzi ‘You return to heaven. If Walumbe wants to kill my children, let him do so, I will keep having more. The more he kills, the more I will get and he will never be able to kill off all my children’.

After Kayikuuzi’s failure Kintu decided to make an agreement with Walumbe, to only take half of his children but not all. Because the children had disobeyed Kayikuuzi, Walumbe remained on Earth to share 50% of Mans off-springs.

So that is the legend of creation, and how sickness and death started. Nonetheless, Kintu’s descendants will always remain as Kintu said in his last words to Kayikuuzi. Hence the Kiganda saying ‘Abaana ba Kintu tebalifa kuggwaawo’. Which means that Kintu’s children will never be wiped off the face of the earth.

Some parts of this story were adopted from

[1] Ttanda, where the fight between Walumbe and Kayikuuzi allegedly took place is figuratively referred to as the place of death (i.e. Walumbe’s place). The famous caves that are found today at Ttanda in Ssingo are said to be the ones that were dug by Kayikuuzi in the fight with his brother Walumbe This place is found on Mityana road 34km – but the most interesting thing with it however much it is constructed, within a few days, the road is damaged, and it is one of the worst roads in the Uganda.


34 responses to “Kintu – the first human in Buganda

  1. Musisi Ssentongo Reagan baana bakintu.

    January 14, 2018 at 12:23 am

    That’s why we are not all sons of Adam and Eva as Europeans said it in their bible.

  2. Ssentongo Eriab

    January 14, 2018 at 12:18 am

    That’s why we are not all the sons of Adam and Eva as Europeans said in their bible

  3. Djemmy pro

    May 22, 2017 at 10:17 am

    i’ve read this story to my son martine and his very happy and asking for more

    • bedsidereadings

      May 28, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      Djemmy – feel free to share the contents with other parents

  4. Jim

    March 10, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Thats not accurate.

    • bedsidereadings

      March 15, 2017 at 8:18 am

      Jim, we shall be delighted to post an accurate version from you. Please feel free to write, post and we shall publish. Thanks

  5. jiji masanyalaze

    March 2, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    so good n interesting

    • bedsidereadings

      March 15, 2017 at 8:08 am

      You are welcome! Please share link with people in you network.

  6. Nsubuga Jacob

    July 24, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    hello good evening my friends am very humble in the text messages

  7. irene Namuwonge

    July 5, 2016 at 11:23 am

    it was sooo fantamaglorious…..

  8. Muganga JohnRonald

    June 10, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    Kissuffu nnyo! Webale!

  9. kabunga david

    May 26, 2016 at 12:09 am

    nambi was the wife of kintu, how about the wives kintu’ son married

    • bedsidereadings

      June 26, 2016 at 8:09 am


      That is a good idea. Please write about them and I post it for you here. Thanks

  10. Nsubuga jacob

    March 2, 2016 at 6:48 am

    Thanks Passy. Please share your folk tales with us. Write and we post them for you here. Also encourage your friends to do the same.

  11. alfizoh

    February 25, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Thanks a lot for this amazing story. I’ve just read this story to my little girl Graicy who really loved it and was demanding for another story. She’s now gone to bed and has promised never to forget this nice story. Thank you so much for this legendary piece.

    • bedsidereadings

      March 1, 2016 at 10:12 pm

      Alfizoh, please pass on the link to your network

  12. Alfizoh

    February 25, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    Thanks a lot for this story. I’ve just read this story to my little girl Graicy who really loved it. She’s now gone to bed and has promised never to forget this nice story. Thanks.

    • bedsidereadings

      March 1, 2016 at 10:14 pm

      Alfizoh, sorry for the delayed response. Please inform friends and relations about these resources

  13. Fantastic

    October 17, 2015 at 3:38 am

    its great guys

    • bedsidereadings

      October 17, 2015 at 5:29 am

      Thanks. Please share the link with your network!

  14. Kaliika Alex

    September 16, 2015 at 10:39 am

    it is a nice story, i have liked it and more so it gives a clear view about “The origin of man in Buganda Kingdom” so it is good and thanks for the work

    • bedsidereadings

      September 17, 2015 at 9:50 pm

      Alex, please share the story and website link with your friends and extended networks.

  15. katumba jude Arnold

    August 14, 2015 at 4:18 am

    thanks for that folktale .
    we have known much more about the origin of death and sickness

    • bedsidereadings

      August 18, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      Arnold, thank you for appreciating. Feel free to make your contribution by writing a story and we post it here for you

  16. Rakesh Maharaj

    May 11, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    I couldn’t believe when I found this tale, when I googled it, I read it it my grade school and now I want to pass it on to my grand kids. I feel so blessed.

    • bedsidereadings

      May 11, 2015 at 3:44 pm

      Rakesh, Thanks for your compliments. Please feel free to share the links with your wider networks.

  17. Passy Kwagala

    October 16, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    thank you for sharing our legend. i come from Mubende so i use Mityana road on my way to the city Kampala but the road has been reconstructed and is no longer damaged. i grew up listening to this folk tale when i was young. thanks again

    • bedsidereadings

      October 17, 2014 at 7:14 am

      Thanks Passy. Please share your folk tales with us. Write and we post them for you here. Also encourage your friends to do the same.


    September 28, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    well done,m gona pass my course work

  19. Isaac

    November 13, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    The folktale was great!!

  20. bedsidereadings

    October 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Dr. AB,thanks for the “Kintu” story; at first I did not think too much about the “Folk Tales” page, but then all of a sudden the light came on.

    Last summer, my son – who was seven years old at the time and I, spent 4 days and 3 nights tent camping in the mountains. As soon as I turned off the touch light and we were comfortable in our sleeping bags, he would eagerly repeat his nightly request of another Folk Tale. I can still hear him saying: “Daddy tell me another story, and not the ones you told me last night”. It was then that I realized, that the hardest part of this camping did not lie in maneuvering the ups and downs of the trails during the day, but in the night – making sure that my son would not suspect that his father was running low on his folk tales arsenal, before he dozed off!

    Go ahead, I am not too proud to borrow yours for the next camping trip; I won’t go into details of my sources!

    Soon, I’ll post mine to share.



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