The old Bakiga Tale of "Ruhondeza Mwene Busaasi"

African storytelling in New England

Ruhondeza Mwene Busasi is an old tale among the Bakiga of South Western Uganda.

According to the tale, Ruhondeza, was a mature man who loved to sleep a lot. He could use any opportunity to sleep, even if there was work to do, *Ruhondeza* would look for a hidden place and sleep.

One time Ruhondeza found a hidden place and slept, just like he had done many times. However, nobody woke him up.

The hills of Kigezi, the land of the Bakiga People
The sun set, rose and set again, the rains (Katumba) came and went, the dry season (ekyanda) came  and went, the grasshopper season came and went  and so many moons (months)  passed and Ruhondeza still slept. At the  place where he slept, the grass grew between his fingers and around him.

Apparently, Ruhondeza slept for 2 over years.

When he finally woke up, he could not see, because sleepy seeds were so large that they had sealed off his entire eyes. In Rukiga, sleepy seeds are called ebihonzi. His beard and hair had grown so long that his beard was touching his chest. The finger nails were too long. In short, Ruhondeza looked like a wild animal. Remember,  he could not see.

Due to his absence, his wife had gotten inherited by another man as was the culture among the bakiga. If a man died, his immediate brother or whoever the family of the man chose, would inherit the wife of the man who had passed on. So Ruhondeza's wife was inherited too.

So here was "Ruhondeza," homeless, blind, and helpless all because he preferred sleeping to working. It was from his name Ruhondeza that the word Okuhondeza meaning "to sleep soundly without the ability to know what is happening around you, was derived."

When you Kuhondeeza, You can be carried off your bed, put in water, and you still would not wake up*. A person who can Kuhondeza sleeps soundly and for long hours,  waking up normally to eat, due to hunger , and return to sleep.

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Ruhondeza, however, had managed to survive in his sleep mode without food for many years. (In science, this type of sleeping is called hibernation)
People from many villages heard  about a blind, homeless man, and how his life was full of pain. (Obusasi). Many came to see for themselves and behold, there he was , Ruhondeza looking and smelling like a wild beast. Stories about him spread far and wide among the Bakiga and beyond into Bufumbira and Ankole. The stories were about a man, Ruhondeza, who was living a life of suffering, (Obusasi), simply because he loved to sleep too much. People referred to him as Ruhondeza Mwene Busasi which means "Ruhondeza was an offspring of suffering".

This basically meant that the offspring of sleeping too much (as was the case with Ruhondeza), is pain and suffering, and this was the story that was passed on from generation to generation. Parents advised their children to learn to wake up early, start work early and avoid sleeping during working hours or hiding in the granary or anywhere else to sleep, lest they end up *blind, homeless and in pain like Ruhondeza Mwene Busasi

And that is the long story that my people (the Bakiga) used to tell, about a man, we now know as Ruhondeza Mwene Busasi

Note: This tale was originally compiled by:  Kazooba Ka' Nyamuhanga, Omukiga omuruganda rwa Basigyi,  omuzooba omu Bazooba  ba Mparo, abatanywa maizi kandi aba tanyata,  edited and adapted by Vivian Birchall for an Africa2U episode, on Acton TV

Acknowledgment:- Scovia Kyarisiima                        

Dancing Kizino with Anne Kansiime, a Ugandan Comedian  


1 comment:

  1. This is good. I didn't know how he slept for 2 years straight.


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