There is a common tale among my people of a magnificent black spotted god who manifested in the form of a Leopard! “Mayanja the god of the waters”

From time immemorial, the leopard has been revered in the Buganda culture as an elusive symbol of the divine god of the waters!

Even though many tales depict Mayanja as but a single symbol, the legends still depict his manifestation in the form of a leopard as a remarkable part of our history!

The Luganda-French dictionary produced at the beginning of the 20th century by the White Fathers indicated, in the entry for Mayanja: “deity incarnated in the leopard” that Apolo Kagwa, the Protestant politician and a great scholar of colonial Buganda, added to this description in 1907 these words: “Mayanja was a river, at Seguku, which gave oracles”

“The river was afterwards worshiped under the form of a leopard, which some people account for by saying that the leopard was drowned in it. It is said that the ghost of this leopard afterwards took possession of a man, who, when under its influence, gave his oracle in gruff tone and made noises like a leopard.”

Mayanja was not the only spirit incarnated in a leopard, far from it. On the other hand, it is very unusual to find a leopard accidentally drowned.

These animals normally belong to the category of spirits referred to as misambwa. This term designates the spirits of nature and the spirits of place (trees, rocks, springs, etc.). For example, the musambwa of the Lubigi swamp that feeds into the Mayanja at the capital was a python spirit (Stock 2019). But Mayanja is different, it belongs to another category: that of the baluubale, the national or regional gods.

Mayanja exemplified the transformation of certain misambwa into baluubale and the birth of a new religion, more powerful and more flexible. This was the cult of the spirit of a river which crosses the heart of the kingdom of Buganda and which, later (between 1400 and 1600, according to Schoenbrun), was transformed into a national god.

However, in Ancient African Egyptian Kemetic Spirituality, symbols played a central role in conveying complex spiritual concepts. The leopard skin was one such symbol that held immense significance in the religious practices of the Kemetic Priesthood or Masons.

The Leopard, known for its intelligence and mastery of the land, water, and tree domains, was considered the most superior predator in the eyes of the Kemites. As such, the Leopard skin came to represent divinity and authority.

Agnes Namale