Kintu is a mythological figure who appears in a creation myth of the Buganda people of Uganda.[1] 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.[2]

Kintu in mythologyEdit

In the creation myth recorded by Harry Johnston, Kintu appears on the plains of Buganda with a cow which was his only possession and he fed on its milk and cow dung before being rewarded bananas and millet from the sky god, Ggulu. Before his encounter with Ggulu, Kintu meets a woman named Nambi and her sister who had come from the sky. They first take his beloved cow to Ggulu to prove his humanness and to seek Ggulu's permission of his admission into the sky. Once arriving in the sky, Kintu's humanness is tested by Ggulu through five consecutive trials, each one trickier and more difficult than the last. However, Kintu is able to come out of each trial victorious with the assistance of an unidentified divine power. Ggulu is impressed with Kintu's wit and resilience, rewarding his efforts with his daughter Nambi and many agricultural gifts as dowry which included: bananas, potatoes, beans, maize corn, ground-nuts, and a hen. From this point, Kintu was given the basic materials to be able to create life in Uganda. However, before leaving the sky, Kintu and Nambi were warned by Ggulu not to come back for any reason as they made their journey back to Earth for fear that Nambi's brother, Warumbe or Walumbe (meaning "disease" and "death" in Bantu), would follow them back to Earth and cause them great trouble. Kintu and Nambi disregarded Ggulu's warning and Kintu returned to the sky to fetch the millet the hen had to feel on while on earth that Nambi had left behind and in his short time there, Warumbe had figured Nambi's whereabouts and convinced Kintu to allow him to live with them on Earth. Upon seeing Warumbe accompanying Kintu on their way down from the sky, Nambi at first denied her brother but Warumbe eventually persuaded her into allowing him to stay with them.[3]

The three of them first settled in Magongo in Buganda where they rested and planted the first crops on earth: banana, maize corn, beans, and groundnuts. During this time, Kintu and Nambi had three children and Warumbe insisted on claiming one as his own. Kintu denied his request, promising him one of his future children; however, Kintu and Nambi proceeded to have many more children and denied Warumbe with each child causing him to lash out and declare to kill each and every one of Kintu's children and claim them in that sense. Each day for three days, one of Kintu's children died by the hands of Warumbe until Kintu returned to the sky and told Ggulu of the killings.[4] Ggulu expected the actions of Warumbe and sent Kaikuzi (meaning "digger" in Bantu), his son, to Earth to attempt to capture and bring Warumbe back to the sky. Kintu and Kaikuzi descended to Earth and were notified by Nambi that a few more of their children had died during Kintu's trip to the sky. In response to this, Kaikuzi called upon Warumbe and the two met and fought. During the fight, Warumbe was able to slip away into a hole in the ground and continued to dig deeper as Kaikuzi tried to retrieve him. These gigantic holes are believed to be in the present day Ntinda. After relentlessly digging, Kaikuzi tired out and took a break from chasing Warumbe. Kaikuzi remained on earth for two more days and ordered silence among all things on Earth during that time (before sunrise) in an attempt to lure Warumbe out of the ground. However, just as Warumbe started to get curious and came out from under the ground, some of Kintu's children spotted him and screamed out, scaring Warumbe back into the Earth. Tired and frustrated with his wasted efforts and broken orders, Kaikuzi returned to the sky without capturing Warumbe, who stayed on earth and is responsible for the misery and suffering of Kintu's children today. However, Kaikuzi is still chasing Warumbe and every time earthquakes and tsunamis strike, it is Kaikuzi is almost catching Warumbe.

Kintu in The Quest for Kintu and the Search for PeaceEdit

In the early 1900s, two similar oral traditions of the Kintu creation myth were recorded and published. One oral tradition recorded by John Roscoe differs from other myths in that Kintu was said to have been seduced by Nambi into going with her to the sky.[5] In addition, after completing the trials Ggulu tasked him with, he was given permission to marry Nambi and returned to Uganda with various livestock and one plantation stalk to begin life on Earth.[5] Furthermore, in this version Kintu was the one to try to capture Warumbe, not Kaikuzi.

The other oral tradition recorded by Sir Apolo Kaggwa differed from other Kintu creation myths in that it focused more on the contributions that Kintu had on the political aspects of Buganda. According to this oral tradition, Kintu formed the political and geographical foundations of the nation by setting the physical boundaries of the nation, founding the capital, and creating the first form of politics in Baganda society through royal hierarchy.[5]

Kintu in The Oral Tradition of Baganda of UgandaEdit

Kintu is also present in The Oral Tradition of Baganda of Uganda.[6] However, in this version of the Kintu creation myth, the importance of the story is placed upon Nambi; in the beginning of the myth, it is Nambi who falls in love with Kintu upon their first meeting in Baganda and convinces Kintu to seek approval from her father in order to get her hand in marriage.[6] For this reason, Kintu's worthiness was tested by Nambi's father Ggulu through a series of trials over the course of four days. From this point, this version of the oral tradition differs from others in that Ggulu instructed Nambi to take one female and one male of each living thing in order to begin life on Earth.[6] Ggulu also warned her not to forget anything while packing because she would never be able to return to the sky in fear that her mischievous brother Warumbe would follow them to Earth and bring hardships upon them.[6]

Kintu as a historical figureEdit

The name Kintu, meaning "thing" in Bantu, is commonly attached to the name Muntu who was the legendary figure who founded the Gisu and Vukusu tribes.[2] Kintu is believed to originate from the east, west, and north bringing with him the first materials to begin life on earth. These materials consisted of millet, cattle, and bananas.[2]


  1. ^ Ray, B. C. (1970). African Religions: Symbol, Ritual, and Community. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. pp. 10–120.
  2. ^ a b c David William Cohen, The Historical Tradition of Busoga:Mukama and Kintu. Oxford/New York: Oxford UP 1972.
  3. ^ Johnston, Harry (1902). The Uganda Protectorate. 2. London. pp. 700–705.
  4. ^ Thury, Eva M. and Margaret K. Devinney, Introduction to Mythology: Contemporary approaches to Classical and World Myths. 4thed. Oxford/New York: Oxford UP 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Yoder, John (1988). "The Quest for Kintu and the Search for Peace: Mythology and Morality in Nineteenth-Century Buganda". History in Africa. 15: 365. doi:10.2307/3171868. ISSN 0361-5413. JSTOR 3171868.
  6. ^ a b c d Kizza, Immaculate N. (2011). The Oral Tradition of the Baganda of Uganda: A Study and Anthology of Legends, Myths, Epigrams and Folktales. McFarland & Co. pp. 38–44. ISBN 978-0786440153. OCLC 802652607.