African Warrior Queen Muhumuza – The Legend of Nyabinghi and The Fight Against European Colonialism in East Africa
Fascinating story about a rebel priestess who fought against colonialism in Afri…ca. A remarkable photo find: Muhumuza, a rebel leader and priestess, arrested by the Germans in 1908 and the British in 1911. She spent the last few decades of her life interned in Kampala, supported by four servants and selling her cows’ milk. The colonisers feared her influence and spirit medium fame, so she was never allowed to return to the southwest of Uganda. But that didn’t stop her from secretly initiating many visitors into the rituals of Nyabingi, the traditional goddess of fertility. Muhumuza, born c. 1870, was a wife of King Rwabugiri of Rwanda. On his death she believed her son to be the rightful heir. She led a coalition against the German-backed young king, Musinga, but was captured by them in 1908; they interned her in Bukoba until 1911 when she was either released or escaped. She was a Nyabingi medium who instructed her followers to search for the sacred drum, Kalinga. She claimed that when it was found her son would become king and all her followers would receive cows from underground. She predicted that bullets would turn to water. She was later described as: “By dint of years of training, she has acquired a high falsetto voice and professes inability to walk normally, her method of position being on tip-toe in a crouching position with the aid of two sticks. The chiefs with scarcely an exception trembled whenever her look was directed towards them.” When she established her headquarters at Ikumba near Kabale, the English saw this as an insult and a threat; they attacked her camp in 1911 and, after a six-hour battle, defeated her forces and captured her after she was wounded in the foot. The arrest caused complications because the area had not yet been formally incorporated into the Uganda Protectorate therefore the Kigezi administration had no power to try her. The Governor ordered her to be interned in Kampala where she remained until she died in 1945.