By Jide Uwechia
According to most modern ubran legend on Rastafari:
” the word ‘Nyabinghi’ has a somewhat complicated history. It was originally associated with an uprising against White European colonialism in southwestern Uganda during the mid to late nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth…
The movement was mainly led by a number of women, including a charismatic healer called Muhumusa, who was much feared. She was believed to be possessed by the spirit of a legendary Amazon Queen, Nyabinghi. Muhumusa not only inspired a vast popular following, but also organised military action against the German colonialists”
The tenuity of this over-simplified explanation that mixes facts and fantasies needs to be pointed out. The first is that there is no place in Africa called Amazon, and there was never in existence at any time any Amazon Queen of Africa. But there was always in existence, an African Queen of Queens whose memory still lingers in so many stories and legends right across Africa, like the Queen Sheba, and the Emperess Kandake.
As the story goes, the spirit of this African Empress, this dread lioness Queen of Queens, Avenger of her father and son, subsists in Africa and the diaspora until this day, manifesting her presence and actions in this physical domain through spiritual possession, inspiration and mental transformation.
There are various names for this historical African Queen of Queens but at a time she was known in the cradle of the Egyptian and Kushitic civilization, in the upper Nile areas, toward the borders of modern Southern Sudan, and Uganda, as Queen Nyabinghi.
The name Nyabinghi was a synonym for Sekhmet. Though the true details of her life has been subsumed in legends, Queen Nyabinghi was the archetypical Priestess-Queen of a province of Upper Kush (Ethiopia-Egypt), who rebelled against the oppressive life-denying evil regime which disrupted order and stability in the motherland through the instrumentality of foreign occupation, external manipulation and local collaboration.
Descent of the authentic lineage of the ancient Kushitic Kings of Kings, this dread locked little African princess fled from the corrupting influence of the evil forces of oppression into the inner reaches of the great forests.
Nyabinghi took refugee in forests spanning modern Congo, Sudan and Uganda. There in an act of daring and defiance she established a mass guerrilla army of dread rebels (known as the children of Nyabinghi or Binghis for short) which fought against the collusive cabal of pale forces oppressing the ancient motherland until oppression fled from the motherland.
Nyabinghi’s self -sacrificing and daring action took the foreign over-lords by surprise and aided by the spiritual power of Sekhmet, Nyabinghi and her warriors soon crushed the oppressive regime and chased it away from the land.
Justice, peace and stability then reigned again.
Codes of Nyabinghi
The natural ebullinece of Nyabinghi, her intelligence and her charisma soon made her an a focus of fanatical devotion for her followers. Her male and female dread lock devotees sought leadership and spiritual guidance from her insight. She left a code of living for her followers. This code was necessary in maintaining their natural connection with their maternal origin the earth.
“First and foremost, Nyabinghi is the true defender of the peace, justice and order in the motherland. To Nyabinghi, there is nothing more precious than the humble soil of Africa on which the Binghis are born, where they grow and into whose embrace they shall sleep continuously.”
“Nyabinghi loves all humanity without compromise. Queen Nyabinghi adulates the works of her father, and her son. So should all the Binghis.”
“Binghis are the guardian of the land and the brothers and sisters to all that live right in creation. Love them, respect them and show them compassion always.”
“Binghi deals only with righteousness. Righteous action, thoughts and words. A follower of Nyabinghi does no wrong. Wrong weakens the strong.”
Binghis will always share water with the thirsty, food with the hungry, clothe with the naked and a boat for whomever would cross the river.”
“Nyabinghi shows loyalty and sincerity to the just, but the unjust were to be cleansed with fire.”
As postcripts, some versions of the story hold that Nyabinghi lost her life in the struggle, others say she lost her eye, others talk about the loss of limbs or children. The point is that the struggle launched by Nyabinghi came at a great personal cost to her. But it brought untold and everlasting gains to the land of the Kushites. What a royal soul!
The selflessness, fortitude and steadfastness of Nyabinghi increased the commitment of her devotees. Even after she had physically departed earth which in itself was controversial as many believed that she had simply vanished rather than died, mediums, prophets and sages still reported of communication and contact with this ever-loving patroness of righteous Africa.
Soon words came that Nyabinghi would be born again…that Nyabinghi would rise again somewhere, somehow amongst the children of Africa, at home and in the Diaspora, whenever and whereever the need calls.
For millenia, her worship has persisted in Africa. Her mediums, devotees and followers, and prophets are easily identifiable by their dreadlocks and their lion and lioness totem and almost overbearing commitment to the welfare of Africa and Africans always pervaded the continent.
The early colonist and subsequent slavers from Europe unwittingly reported of a secretive but co-ordinated continent wide resistance against colonial depredations. There were reports of subversive and insurgent activities by certain faceless cults operating throughout Africa against colonial incursion.
Simultaneous accounts from Nigeria, Serria Leone, Gambia, Senegal, Sudan, Congo and Uganda detailed vigours resistance movements against the thrust of the European powers. Although armed with better weapons, the British soldiers were always in dread of encounters with one of those groups. They were courageous, fearless and formidable in action. In death they went with a royal dignity. It was as if they met their deaths willingly.
This resistance was alive also in the Maroon communities of the penal slave Islands of the Carribeans, and in South America. In the United States where the power of travesty was projected with pompous arrogance, resistance took the form of secret actions like random poisoning of the slave keepers, their animals and the destruction of their livelihood through arson and other acts of vandalism on the slave plantation.
In the land of the first Pharaohs, in Northern Uganda near the borders with Sudan, the colonialist and slave masters encountered one of the incarnate forms of Sekhmet the dread lioness, by way of a resistance movement fighting their depredations on the African soil.
The savage European slavers encountered the Ugandan section of the Nyabinghi resistance when they sought the expansion of their slave trading activities into northern Uganda in the late 19th century. This movement was led exclusively by women and they fiercely resisted the incursion of the European savages. The tit for tat engage between Nyabinghi movement and the European savages lasted for well more than 50 years.
In the early 20th century one of the most feared Nyabingi leaders was Muhumusa a dreadlock guerrilla fighter with the Nyabinghi movement, a person described by the illegal and illegitimate colonial governments established by the European savages as ‘an extraordinary character’.
Her followers believed she was possessed by the spirit of the legendary Kushitic Queen, Nyabinghi. Calling for a revival of right living through reliance on the principles of the forest code of the ancestral Nyabinghi, Muhumusa not only inspired a vast popular following of dreadlocked-lion (and lioness) worshipping, hemp smoking auxillary fighters, but also organised military action against the German colonialists.
The Nyabinghi movement was subsequently condemned by the British as ‘witchcraft’. and Muhumusa was captured in 1913. The Ugandan movement was relentlessly hounded by the government of the European savages.
British effort to destroy the Nyabinghi movement was implicated its criminalization as witchcraft through Witchcraft Ordinance of 1912, which promoted Christianity and encouraged other indigenous anti-Nyabinghi cults. The British used the witch burning procedure of 1500 to 1600 that were central in the transition from pre-capitalist to capitalist relations in Europe.
Even after the capure of Nyabinghi Muhumusa, the uprisings continued nevertheless, led by other women and occasionally men who had become similarly possessed by the power and presence of She who must be obeyed, the dreadlock lioness Goddess of Africa, the Queen of Queens and the Majestic Lady of Power, Sekhmet-Nyabinghi the daughter and mother of the great God.
Again, such brave resistance could not be so easily forgotten. It has lived on in many ways amongst the children of Africa at home and in the diaspora, having much influence on the Rastafari tradition, in which so-called Nyabinghi codes of livity, and chants are very popular and usually form the basis of the annual Groundation celebrations. In Jamaican parlance, the name Nyabinghi has come to mean ‘Death to Black and White oppressors’.
From the late 19th century to the 1920s in the Caribbean Islands and especially in Jamaica, once again…the chant of Nyabinghi was heard. She was there, her name, her presence, her forest code, her forest chants and drummings, her holy chalice the cannabis hemp, her totemic animals the lions and the lionesses, and her ever present dreadlocks followers, all were there too.
Again, one encounters Nyabinghi in the West Indies, chanting word, sound and power in Jamaica, in the United States, in Canada, Africa, rising, fighting against savage oppression, chanting death and destruction unto black and white oppressors wherever they may be!
These days one observes the binghis and the binghis’ children stepping forth to take the secpter, the royal staff of power, to restore stability all over world. Given her antecedents, Sekhmet-Nyabinghi and her Binghi children will win this one once again.
November 15, 2008