Wednesday, October 7, 2009

ABSCONDED KEREWE BELIEF THAT CONSERVED FOREST

Bhusegena is the famous place in Ukerewe District in Mwanza region especially to people living at Nkilizya village. The area got its famous due to its fishing activities that is been conducted by most of people from Nkilizya, Bukongo, Nansio, Hamkoko, Kihungura, Malegea and Bhutiliti villages in search of earning their life. Not only is that but also the area where most of cattle keepers form Kihungura, Nkilizya, and Bhutiliti villages and their outskirt use its water's edge for the cattle to drink water from lake Victoria. I also personally in those days used to fish at the area as well as sending cattle to drink water when I was looking after cattle in my childhood. It was from the late 1980’s up to the late 1990’s.


Moving to Bhusegena we used to cross a thick forest that was famous with its name Ekibhila Cha Magafu, a kerewe language meaning a thick forest that belonged to Mr. Magafu another kerewe name that simply mean cotton. Mr. Magafu was leaving nearby that forest and he was the one who used to manage the forest. He passed away in 1999 as I can remember when I was just in form one. The forest was just one kilometre away from Bhusegena lakeshore where most fishing activities are carried out. It was believed that a big snake used to stay in that forest. Saying big snake in Ukerewe you simply mean a Python. In Kerewe tribe a python was believed to be their god and no one dared to kill it. If it could kill and swallow your goat, cattle or whatever at your home, you simply take it in the bag and send it to the forest or in the bush without harming it. And those who dared to kill it, where supposed to call their kids the python name. That is why today we have names like Nyasato, Nansato and Lusato which are all names of python. Python in Kerewe language is known as ensato. If you happened to contravene the rule, they believed that you could die or your kids could be dying if born. So they all obeyed not to kill it, respected its habitats and if it happen you have killed it you followed the rule by naming your kids the name of the python.

Since the forest was the homeland of Kerewe’s god it was highly respected and no one attempted to harm it, may it be cutting trees or putting it on fire. The forest was genuinely conserved and was a source of water to Nansyana River the river that used to pour its water in Lake Victoria at Bhusegena shore. Following conservation of Kibhila forest that thickened it, most of people were fearful to cross the forest until being in groups. I personally used to run when I was alone to cross it.


As time went and following the introduction of Christianity, belief that was held to python started to decline. This was followed with the mass killing of pythons and destruction of their habitat. Ekibhila cha magafu was also one of the python habitats that were destroyed by people by starting putting it on fire in search of killing the python that made the forest fearful. And following also population increase in Ukerewe by people migrating to the Island from other areas, the forest has now been cleared by people opening farms. More vegetable gardens have been opened in the forest as well as sugarcane farms by people who are most of them migrant from other areas. This has resulted to the dryness of Nansyana River and other small tributaries those were pouring water into the River. Even those who opened vegetable gardens are now suffering were to get water for irrigation.


As we are now in the modernised word we can think of enhancing traditional believes that conserve environments by putting in place ways that will promote them.

William Nambiza
nambizaw@yahoo.com

1 comment:

  1. I love the environmental history, my parents are from Ukerewe, my dad moved to Dar-es-Salaam in 1954 he is from Murutanga, and my mom from Ngoma village. I am still farcinating with the Island.Planning to visit one day.

    It is still very important to preserve the environment,not only for use but also for the beauty of it.

    Thanks

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