On the 3rd day, the circumcision candidate must be hosted by his mother’s relatives (ibukhotsa) and the mother’s favorite brother must bless him before he faces the knife. On this day, the boy is smeared “buuse” and he faces the knife with all the courage. It is why when the pain gets to his head the “umusinde” calls on to “mayi”. It just means that the ancestors from the mother’s side were not pleased because of something the family may have failed to fulfill. In case the mother comes from far, the candidate has to go there before “khukoya”.
Wanda and Mwalye are brothers, they married from one family in Bubetsye on top of Wanale. It is actually rumored that Wanda’s wife was just given to him but she truly belonged to Mwalye but because Mwalye was the younger of the two, he could not marry before Wanda. There was an understanding and they ended up swapping Mama Alice to Wanda while Musibikha, the sister to Mama Alice was given to Mwalye in compensation. They come from a wealthy family of a former chief in Bubetsye. You remember Wanda’s son who refused to join isonja while his cousin Wamono who was younger did.
Bubetsye being far, the candidates had to go before khukoya but Wamimbi refused to join Wamono. We therefore set on the 5 day’s journey with Wamono as the lone candidate. The feud between these two families never end.
Through the shrubs of Namwalye we crossed Manafa, we passed Mbale town and today we are sleeping in Bumboi. It is a big procession now which has been joined by the locals and we had fun.
On such nights girls who follow us or join us are free to feel.
Yesterday’s night was interesting and we woke up at 5 to warm the drums. Everyone thought we could have gone express but Wamono, the candidate was complaining of joint pains and a terrible headache. All this time we kept telling him, “Kamani mwibili”. The beats of the drums started slowly and soon gained momentum. In the chilly morning, the youth led by Umusinde hit the ground and raised dust and all the girls danced with vigor. You should have seen the pride of Bamasaba today. Strangers have brought gifts and in no hour the numbers were in hundreds.
When we reached Bumashebe, rain started with small drizzles. The drums could not produce that great sound, “tsafundila”. This was a sign of bad luck.
It is then that we remembered that Wamono shouldn’t have left Mukhwana back home. This was very wrong. Twins have to go through this initiation together even if Mukhwana is a girl. At Bumashebe ensued a bitter argument as to whether we should continue or go back and fetch Mukhwana to join Wamono. We could not imagine going back all the way. An elder amongst us proposed that one of us who has a bicycle should ride back and bring Mukhwana. Wamono was showing signs of sickness but now we knew it is the God of twins who is making him feel that way. Wamono didn’t improve and yet by evening his twin sister had not yet been brought, the rain had disappeared but our candidate wasn’t getting better. Medicine for such fever is “kumururutsa”. When Mukhwana showed up, she was given one “kumushinga” and imbopo tied around her waist.
The disruption on the journey meant we had to sleep on the way again. This time in Budwale.
Our candidate’s health has deteriorated despite the presence of his twin sister and our medication of Kumururutsa and this morning before we could set off, he collapsed. We were all shaken. By evening we, we could see the boy’s life going. “did you bring me here to watch my brother die?”. Mukhwana wanted her brother to be taken back to hospital, the elders preferred to deal with the case traditionally. Wanditi went to the bush and returned with some herbs.
Wamono passed on a mile to maternal ancestors. What is scaring me most is that Mukhwana will surely follow her brother. We have been told that twins experience the same in their lives and that they die together. The wails which received us can never be explained. A team of messengers was dispatched to inform home people of this incident. All along Mukhwana kept blaming imbalu for having killed her brother.
What happened to Mukhwana, how did the families respond? We are heading to the main plot. The story begins here.
By Denis Wabuyi
The writer is an accountant and writes the X-FILES every Thursday. You can find his previous X-Files by using Google “Wabuyi X-Files”