The Loudness in Silence

By Shumy

It is as if it’s early in the morning, hard to tell the difference yet, it’s as if it’s  all in the same day, just different hours. Less and less people in the neighbourhood. If you are a visitor you would think everything is just quiet but yet still you can hear  the loudness in the silence. Even the environment is the witness, trees are not moving their branches, and mountains have refused to reciprocate the unwavering breezy. Strange that the loudest river nearby is quiet, stable and even animals are quiet. Perhaps the weather isn’t great, but why shouldn’t it be? It is supposed to be sunny and bright but yet even the sun has betrayed the sky. Can’t have the darkness twice but, yes everything has changed and the loudest thing so far I have heard is silence.


For a long time it has been mostly busy and an intense performance of day-to-day duties of life. It will never be the same for reasons that will never be understood by many and which will only be a mystery for the future generations of Muganda and Mbessa. The reasons are quite beyond people’s understanding, but we should at least be given an opportunity to try.  From the elders’ saying,  this only happens when a Muganda sins against their gods, and that would be cleansed by a goat and cow sacrifice.  But why is it different this time? The consequences are so intense and people can’t comprehend how intense they have sinned against their gods. Muganda Area known for its flat land, tall trees and beautiful mountain views. Every night after the harvest it has always been their culture to sit down under the Umukuyu tree to storytell and educate the young generations about their traditions, norms and values of their community. It  is always lovely, nights where dances and different talents are showcased under the moon during the evening. This was also the time where the young ones were taught of their religions and ceremonies to honor their gods, ancestors and their kings. The Mbessa, have been good but not so great neighbors mostly due to their differences in the traditions and religions.Their lands weren’t flat but hilly and they mainly focused on raising cattle. However, with all their differences even though their history has not always been so good, the Mbessa and Muganda people have managed to co-exist together for a long time without many difficulties as much as they respected their boundaries in terms of land and all their norms, values, gods and other differences among them. The Muganda were mainly protected by their god(s) or perhaps god Nyushu followed by their ancestors. The Muganda were not allowed to marry outside of their community as per instructions from their ancestors and the great King Muganda. In addition, by following the rules of their king the Muganda people have lived peacefully until now.


The sun hasn’t come out for 2 days, the whole community is in despair wondering what has happened to them. This is a sign that they have sinned against their gods. The whole community can feel the terror coming for them. People have to go to the only holy mountain in the Muganda area but not many will reach there because the sparks and loudness in the silence have become so wild, the forests have turned strange and animals no longer listen to Muganda people. One bite from the konze snake and you won’t survive for 30 seconds.The silence is so loud that you can hear your neighbor’s heart-beat. Darkness is near and the rims of konze will finish the whole community before the next day if they do not reach the holy mountain. No sound of birds and no light from the sky and even with as dark as it gets, they are in the jungle on their way to the mountain to get answers and offer sacrifices. One wrong move the konze will bite. Crops will not survive and for the first time ever they can see the hunger and all the terror that comes with it. 7 of the 15 men going to  visit god Nyushu for answers have died from bites caused by the konze. Women have to stay indoors covered with sorghum flour on their skin pleading to Nyushu for the calamity not to be severe. But what’s the cause for all of this calamity in such a peaceful community?


King Muganda has four children, three sons and one girl. And the Mbessa queen has two very beautiful girls. As the Muganda people normally meet during the evening hours one of the sons of King Muganda, Prince Thebeko Muganda has been sneaking out of the Muganda area to meet the princess of Mbessa, Sabina. It has been going on for 11 months and not many people have noticed. However, the king’s men noticed but could not say much because prince Thebeko is ruthless to anyone who goes against him. Due to fear, none of the king’s men could report him. However, this time he has impregnated a girl out of the Muganda area, a stranger. To make the matter worse,she is a Mbessa princess. Due to the obscene act of one of the king’s sons the gods are angry especially the Nyushu god is angry at the people of Muganda, and for that they will have to pay severely. Thus, the whole area of Muganda has to face the terror of death and calamity in their community until sacrifices are made to Nyushu god and to the ancestors.


It’s still dark outside and only 5 of the men have reached the mountain, this is because two are the Mganga (communicators between gods and the people of Muganda) and of the other three, two of them are witnesses and one is the king’s eyes and ears among them. Since the two witnesses have been chosen by the gods one of them will have to be the student of the Mgangas,like a follower in the near future. This is the tradition for the Mganga and the process of selecting their followers– the ones to keep the communication going between the people of Mganda. It was time to make preparations for communications which means providing the communication sacrifice. The Chief Mganga has to offer 2 pure black roosters and other rituals for them to establish an antenna between them the gods. They called this process the Mtsindwi manjal. They spent quite some hours still pleading to the gods to hear them. You have to have patience to perform such rituals, and with their experience the Mganga told his company. At a certain moment all became uncertain, because the environment at the mountain wasn’t that good, everything was taking longer. When Nyushu and the gods are angry, one can die even from a leaf cut or an insect bite, thus, it was right for the people who survived to reach there to be so worried. But after no less than 5 hours, in the middle of the night with so much wind, noise and thunder filling the whole mountain, it was time for the Mganga to talk to Nyushu. Not long after the message was retrieved and asked the messenger to deliver it to the king Mganda. Only the king’s messenger was allowed to leave the mountain as per their rituals and upon getting to the king with the message, only then can the rest go back home.


The two young love birds (the princes of Mbessa and prince of Muganda) are quiet,  each one in their own homes. They do not know what’s happening. But due to this calamity they cannot meet as it is a rule that no one moves in or out of the Muganda palace during war or calamity. They still have yet to hear from the people that went to the holy mountain to hear from god Nyushu for an answer. The next day the messenger had come to the king with a message from the Mganga with clear instructions that the prince has to be cast out of Muganda and the king’s family.He will never again  be seen or treated as the prince nor the kings’ family member. The first child between the prince Thebeko and princess Sabina of Mbessa will die after 15 months. As for the rest of the village they have to offer 15 months of bulls and 15 months of billy goat as sacrifice.The king’s family will have to also provide 15 days of local beer to the gods to end the calamity. At the expense of the Muganda people king Muganda was heartbroken for disowning his favorite child paying such a price to save the kingdom. I would say that the responsibility that comes with the position of being the king at times can be challenging, however,  everyone in the kingdom looked up to the king to make that final sacrifice.

8 October, 2023