Colonialism at the time became one of the viruses that ate deep into Africa. depriving its citizens and people of their rights, as well as oppressing them and exploring whatever was left in Africa.
Though most of us were not there to witness the unfair and brutal treatment meted out to Africans, history has sure done a good job of letting us in on events that took place during that time, and with this, we are able to understand that there were people who gave in and sacrificed their all to ensure that Africans were saved and liberated.
We have heard of the likes of Martin Luther King, Mandela, and so many more people who are mostly men, but today we will be taking a look at a great woman who history says fought her own share of the good fight to ensure that the case of Colonialism was defeated and treated in East Africa.
In the decades preceding independence, African opposition to colonial control in East Africa was a prevalent subject, with many African societies wanting to break free from its oppression.
In Southwestern Uganda, northern Rwanda, and northern Tanzania, a movement against colonialism erupted at the turn of the twentieth century, with its leader as Muhumuza, a Ugandan warrior queen. Let’ s read. The Nyabingi movement, or cult, became renowned as a result of this. But first let’ s have a look at who she is and how she fought the good fight.
Who Was The Ugandan Queen?
Muhumuza, also known as Queen Muhumuza or Muhumuza the woman, was a fierce leader who was married to Kigeri Rwabugiri, the King of Rwanda from 1867 to 1895, and they had a son named Biregeya. Rwandan history further tells us that from 1850 to 1950, Queen Muhumuza was the dreaded leader of the east African Nyabingi spiritual discipline, which was influential in Rwanda and Uganda. Muhumusa is supposed to have been a medium for the ghost of Nyabinghi, a legendary African woman also spelled Nyabingi and Nyabyinshi.
Muhumuza is now widely considered as one of Africa’ s most powerful warrior queens. She was, however, one of the king’ s wives at the Rwandan royal court before leading the Nyabingi movement. She was left widowed after King Rwabugiri died in 1895, and a succession fight erupted when Rwabugiri’ s favorite wife, Kanjora, deposed the selected heir, Rutarindwa, and enthroned her son, Musinga.
Muhumuza and her son Biregeya escaped north to Mpororo to avoid the killing. While in the north, she learned Nyabingi and became a well- known umugirwa, or Nyabingi medium.
The Struggle Against Colonialism
In order to stop and eradicate colonialism in East Africa, Queen Muhumuza created the Nyabingi cult. In pre- colonial Africa, it was one of numerous significant religions in Uganda’ s Kigezi area.
Despite the fact that there are various oral tales concerning the Nyabingi deity’ s origins, it is largely acknowledged that Nyabingi was the soul of a mythical Rwandan/Ugandan/Tanzanian woman whose name is said to signify ” the one who possesses many things. “
Muhumuza was regarded as a powerful force in everyday life, linked to fertility, health, and farm output production. Nyabingi was also known as Rutatiina- Mireego, ” one who never fears bows and arrows” — one who never fears bows and arrows— because of her doctrine of action, militancy, and courage. Because of its spiritual and temporal aspirations, the cult grew in popularity. Long before colonialism, the Nyabingi religion was used as a resistance philosophy. The anti- monarchical principles of this divinity enraged Rwandan kings.
Queen Muhumuza And Nyabingi Resistance
Muhumuza was able to gather the Abakiga people of Southern Uganda behind her in order to contest Musinga’ s claim to the throne by claiming spiritual authority through Nyabingi. In response, Musinga requested assistance from the German colonizers in suppressing the Muhumuza Movement.
However, not all Bakiga, for example, paid tribute to her. Given their history, which had been marked by Rwabugiri’ s raids, Basigi of Kagarama had little affection for any Rwandan nobility. They enlisted the help of the British in their fight against her.
As a result, Muhumuza’ s Nyabingi movement became an anti- colonial crusade against monarchical collaborators and colonialists as well. The German and British armies realized that her influence in the region was becoming increasingly dangerous.
Muhumuza was known as ” Queen Nyabingi, ” and she ruled the pastoralist realm of Mpororo. She talked with her subjects through a barrier of bark cloth, and had never been seen by anyone, not even by her own subjects, which was because she was claimed to be ” capable of seducing people and also benefiting them” in Mpororo, as well as in the ancient Kingdoms of Ankole and Karagwe, and was believed to be a captivating figure for the Kiga highlanders.
It was believed that during a time in Muhumuza’ s rule, she allegedly told her followers to look for a sacred drum called Karinga, which was a symbol of Rwandan royal power. She further added, saying that if they found it, her son Biregeya would be crowned King and everyone of her followers would receive cows from the underworld.
She also prophesied that her supporters would be impregnable and that bullets would turn to water, a popular rebel propaganda image. Muhumuza’ s retinue consisted of six men who carried her on a palanquin shoulder- high whenever she needed to move about or travel. Many believed she was Nyabingi, the fabled female spirit, reincarnated and Her power was so great that, at one point, 3, 000 people lived in the vicinity of her fortified home in Southern Kigezi.
Muhuzuma’ s Turn On The Europeans
European colonists who imposed themselves on the Musinga region were faced with hostile treatment from Queen Muhuzuma. Though she hated Europeans deeply, she never attacked them directly. Instead, she channeled her focus on their loyal chiefs, and this resulted in a surge of refugees seeking safety at Ikumba, the colonial administration’ s headquarters.
It wasn’ t long until Muhumuza was captured and imprisoned in the year 1908 in Bukoba by German and Rwandan collaborators for her continued hostility toward colonial powers. But in 1911, she managed to escape from Bukoba and returned to Uganda, but the political situation had altered, with European- led troops now in power. She eventually declared herself Queen of Ndorwa, which is now known as Kigezi.
Muhumuza led a new anti- colonial movement, declaring that she would expel German and British colonialists who were attempting to draw lines between British and German domains in the region, and in order to capture her, British and German forces embarked on a joint mission. A surprise colonial attack launched by Capt. Reid, who commanded a troop of King’ s African Rifles and local levies, resulted in a six- hour battle and her loss.
Her Bakiga companions were slaughtered by the hundreds. She was kidnapped and exiled to Kampala after being lightly wounded on the foot. The English were hesitant to let her leave Kampala and return to Kigezi, unlike other rebel leaders who were imprisoned for shorter periods of time. Her power has a reputation like that. In 1920, the Western Provincial Commissioner wrote.
Bessel, a colonial cadet officer who served in Kigezi as a government servant and met and interviewed her for an article about Nyabingi in 1938, wrote a favorable portrayal of her:
” An exceptional woman. . . battling for a just cause with very little more than necessary violence, she deserved to achieve her goal and most likely would have if European intervention had not intervened. “
In conclusion, the Nyabingi movement and Queen Muhumuza undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the region and beyond. As a result of her arrest and deportation to Kampala, the Colonial Witch Craft Ordinance of 1912, which outlawed practicing ” non- orthodox” faiths like Nyabingi, was enacted as a result of her arrest and deportation to Kampala. As a result of her fight against colonialism, she influenced the Nyabinghi foundations of Rastafarianism.
Queen Muhumuza deserves to be recognized among the pantheon of great African leaders as one of the pioneers of the African struggle against colonialism, given that a lady of her magnetic character fighting against colonialists was unheard of at the time. Despite her detention, the Nyabingi movement persisted until 1930, when the Great East African Revival established Christianity in the region.
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