Gihanga the fouding father

We have seen in our previous articles that prior to the arrival of Sabizeze from “Ubuha bwa Ruguru” to “Mazinga” the country was covered with trees and grasses; only animals were inhabitants of the land. There were no “batwas”, there were no “bahutus”, and there were no “batutsis”. We will have a separate article to explain where these three names came from.

We have seen in our previous articles that prior to the arrival of Sabizeze from “Ubuha bwa Ruguru” to “Mazinga” the country was covered with trees and grasses; only animals were inhabitants of the land. There were no “batwas”, there were no “bahutus”, and there were no “batutsis”. We will have a separate article to explain where these three names came from.

We also have seen that the belief that “bahutus” came from Cameroon and around Lake Chad and the saying that the “batutsi” originated form north east part of Africa in the Ethiopian highlands and Egypt are false, although many people believed in that false information.

These beliefs have been taught by many scholars on Rwanda’s history, especially Smith and Alexis Kagame. These scholars said that Gihanga is Creator, what is not true because Rwandans knew the creator as “Rurema”. Gihanga meant for our ancient ancestors “a founder (not a creator). He founded our nation”.

These scholars told us that he was the son of “Kazi” and said that Kazi meant root. Kazi is the son of Kizira, which meant taboo for them. But, this name still exists in ancient civilization like Egypt, in India and in Sri Lanka. For them it means a priest who blesses marriages. If you take this meaning to what happened during the period of Kazi father of Gihanga, the meaning is the one who blesses weddings. He has been chosen by Sabizeze’s descendent to marry Nyirarukangaga, daughter of Nyamigezi, son of Kabeja.

This ceremony, that took place in a place called Gasabo of Kibungo, near Lake Bugesera. The event ended when Kingnship as given to Benesabizeze, and the Queenship to was given to Benegahutu. The family of Gahutu that won Queenship at that time was Abasinga. Families that lost were Abega, Abakono and Abaha.. Abega will get this honor, when a Musinga called Nkorokombe refused to fight with King Ruganzu the first, whose other name is Bwimba.

Kabeja is known for being “Umusinga cyane”, because it is during his reign that Abasinga family won the chair of princess. The first Musinga lady to be married to Sabizeze’son is Nyirarukangaga wife to Kazi.

Colonial scholars said that she was Umuzigaba. What is not the truth because abazigaba are descendents of Kazigaba and Nyirarucyaba. Nyirarucyaba is a grand grand daughter of Kabeja. You understand that he cannot be Umuzigaba while the forefather of Abazigaba was not yet alive.

They went on, interpreting names of our ancestors until they brought them from heaven. In order to get them from heaven, Sabizeze’s name was rejected and they called him Kigwa, meaning the fallen from heaven. So, those coming from heaven met other people from the earth whom they colonized. We have seen in our previous articles that this also is false. We have seen our ancient ancestors, whose land was not called Rwanda. Today, we are going to learn about our founding father. “Gihanga Cyahanze Inka n’Ingoma” meaning Gihanga who founded cows and a system of governance, represented by a drum.


Gihanga is the son of Kazi and Nyirarukangaga. When there was disaster in Mazinga and when people left Mazinga to live elsewhere, remember that his grand father Muntu (known as Kintu for Baganda historians left Mazinga during this period.) Gihanga was born in Mazinga, during this period of calamity.

He is the only son who is known begotten by Kazi. But when you read Father Nyakatura, who called him Kintu, he says that Kazora (Kazi) begotten other children. Baganda historians also know him as Kintu give him other sons. Our next article will try to compare the history of Gihanga in Rwanda and in Uganda. Then we will know if Kazi begotten other children.

It is believed that Kazi died in Mazinga and his wife Nyirarukangaga saved his son. However it may be possible that Kazi also followed his father to today’s Uganda and died there.

Kabeja who was the grand father of Nyirarukangaga was a wealthy man living in Mubari in today’s Kibungo. Nyirarukangaga took the child Gihanga at his grand father’s home and he grew up there.
Gihanga was a very smart boy. From his early age, he showed to all people at Kabeja’s home that he was very talented.

Kabeja had also other two grand sons named Gahu who will be known later as Kazigaba (Kagabiye inka Gihanga) and Gakara, who also will be known later as Kagesera. Gahu was born in Mubari at Kabeja’s home, while Gakara was born in today’s Tanzania. We will have a chance to talk about Gakara when we will write on the history of Abagesera. Gahu and Gakara were cousins to Gihanga. They were sons of Kabeja’s son whose name is not known, who married Rugezo a daughter from “Buha”.

Many writers says that Rugezo came from Buhinda, but our research show us that Buhinda was not in existence during this period. Buhinda of Bahinda came later from Nkole in Uganda. (Dear reader, don’t be surprised to see Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and even Burundi coming time to time. The ancient history of those countries cannot be separated.)

Because Gihanga was very smart and very intelligent; he was loved by his grand grand father Kabeja, his cousins Gahu and Gakara were jealousy of his popularity. Being the favorite of Kabeja, the two cousins feared that he might take over their rights. Remember that they were sons of Kabeja son while Gihanga was the son of the grand daughter of Kabeja.

When he saw that his cousins were jealous, Gihanga feared. He was not at his father’s land in Mazinga. People had fled Mazinga, including his grand Father Muntu and possibly his father. He had no brother, only her mother family surrounded him. Gihanga started to plan to live Kabeja’s home and go look elsewhere he can found his own family.

His cousins, Gahu and Gakara where born prophets. Gahu and Gakara foresaw in a vision the plan of Gihanga. They came to him and told him that they are his cousins; and he should not fear for his life. They promised him that they cannot harm they cousin so, Gihanga stayed with them at Kabeja’s home. 

One night, Gahu and Gakara had a vision. In the vision, they were told to help Gihanga find a wife who would give birth to kings of Rwanda. He was not supposed to marry any other wife, except a wife from “Abasinga”’s family. One family of Abasinga was in Mubari that is Kabeja’s family. The other family was the family of Rurenge in Rurenge, at the boarder of today’s Tanzania and Rwanda, south of today’s Lake Ihema. The third family of Abasinga had already moved to Gala, in today’s northern Uganda while another one was in far northern Uganda that of Nyaga, the forefather of Mboga, who is probably the ancestor of Abagahe and Nyaga who went with him and become the ancestor of Abayaga.


Gihanga could not marry a daughter of Kabeja; Kabeja was his direct grand grand father. Accompanied by his two cousins, Gihanga went south to look for a wife. It is generally believed by scholars that he went to a Burundi King; however our own research found that at this period, the name mentioned by scholars for being Burundian King at that time, lived later not during Gihanga’sera.

His cousin took him to a residence of a Musinga who have not been named by the oral literature, but whose daughter was called Nyirampingiye. There are some writers who said that the father of Nyirampirangwe was Rwamba; but the oral literature put Rwamba very far behind that period. Rwamba lived in Bungwe few years before Nyagakecuru. This Nyagakecuru lived during the reign of King Ruganzu. Rwamba cannot be the father of Nyirampirangwe, who is Gihanga’s first wife. 

What might be true is that the father of Nyirampirangwe at a place called Buhanga I. This Buhanga might have been near lived in Bungwe in south.

When Gihanga arrived in Buhanga I, he asked to be employed by Nyiramirangwe’s father. Because he was so talented in almost everything, the father of Nyirampirangwe took him as his servant. After few years there, the father of Nyirampirangwe gave him her daughter as a wife. Unfortunately Nyirampirangwe did not have a baby for Gihanga.

His cousin had a vision, telling them that the family in which they married was not the family in which Gihanga should get a wife. Gihanga left the house of Nyirampirangwe’s father and went to look for another wife. Oral literature and oral history tell us that Nyirampirangwe asked Gihanga not to leave her and Gihanga agreed to go with her.

Immediatley after Gihanga left Buhanga I with his two cousins and his wife Nyirampirangwe, they saw a gazelle.   Gahu and Gakara had seen that animal in a vision and they have seen that that gazelle will lead them to the home of the wife who will be mother of Rwandan kings. Gakara and Gahu advise Gihanga that they have to follow the animal because the animal has a message and will lead them to the house of his future wife.

The Gazelle went ahead of they followed it. The oral history doesn’t tell us how many days they traveled with the gazelle from Bungwe to Rurenge. But what it tells us is that the gazelle took them to Rurenge, another residence of Umusinga named Jeni, son of Rurenge. Rurenge is a place known from then until today. The place is near Ihema’s lake, at the boarder of Rwanda and Tanzania. One part is in Rwanda and another part is in Tanzania.

They reached Jeni’s home in the evening. When the animal reached Jeni’s home, it interred the house of Jeni. Gihanga and his two cousins arrived after the gazelle has entered Jeni’s home. They came and asked for their animal. But, Jeni told them that it is prohibited to give back an animal that has taken refuge in one’s home. From the advice of his cousins, Gihanga asked Jeni if he can take him as his servant. Jeni, son of Rurenge, king of Abarenge, in a place until today known as Rurenge received Gihanga and his cousin and accepted to have them as his servants.

Here at Jeni’s home, Gihanga proved to be very intelligent and a very talented young man. Jeni was happy with his service and kept him at his home.  Gihanga went on teaching residents of Rurenge how to make objects from metal. At Rurenge, Gihanga excelled in everything he was doing as he did in Bungwe.

Everything Gihanga has been doing at Jeni’s residence was reported to her daughter named Nyamususa. Nyamususa had a separate house in which she lived with her servant Nyirampingiye. Prophets at Rurenge has told Jeni that once she will know a man, that man will be the leader of his people. That is why Jeni didn’t want her to be seen by men.

He built a remote house for her, with a servant named Nyirampingiye. Nyamususa lived in that remote house with her aunt whose name has not been mentioned by the oral history. 
After Nyamususa has heard about the skills and talents of Gihanga, she wanted to see him. She told her servant Nyirampingiye to go over to see Gihanga, and ask him some  jewellery for her. What Nyirampingiye did. Gihanga gave her many bracelets for Nyamususa. 

Nyamususa was delighted to see Gihanga’s gifts. But, Nyamususa wanted to see and meet Gihanga in person. She asked Nyirampirangwe to go back to see Gihanga and ask him if he can agree to come to her home. When Nyirampingiye told this to Gihanga, Gihanga was happy because his cousin had already told him that the lady is the one to be his future wife. Gihanga agreed and the rendez-vous was planned for the next evening.

Gihanga met Nyamususa that evening. Nyamususa had already prepared a strong “Ubutunda” (beer) for Gihanga. Gihanga spent the night with Nyamususa. At the midnight Gihanga wanted to go back to his home, but Nyamususa refused saying that because it is so late, he should stay the entire night and leave in the morning. Gihanga slept with Nyamususa that night and Nyamususa conceived that same night.  In the morning, Gihanga rose up and left Nyamususa’s home. Before leaving her, he knew that she will be in trouble after his departure, that is why he left to her a sealed basket and a knife that will help her when she will be in trouble.

“I leave this basket and this knife to you. Keep them carefully, because one day, they will be of a good use for you.”
When Gihanga met his cousins, he told them what happened and asked him to leave immediately Jeni’s home. Gihanga left that night and went northward in Buhanga. 

Scholars have said that Buhanga is in Ruhengeri. However, our research discovered that Buhanga was in today’s Byumba. There are a grave people in Nyamirembe where residents believe that is was a grave of a King.  In Father Alexis writings, he said that Gihanga was buried in Nyamirembe. Nyamirembe is south of Buhanga II.

When we will write about Ruganzu Bwimba, we will explain well how the Ruhengeri’s Buhanga belonged to Ruganzu Bwimba and was a residence of Rutsobe not of Gihanga. Why scholars did said that Gihanga lived in Buhanga belonging to Rutsobe? Let bear in mind that colonial writers had in mind the politics of divide and rule. To be able to dived Rwandans, there was a need of a history that divides them. They started by bring Sabizeze from heaven and mate a group of people he colonized. Here also they distorted the history giving Gihanga the residence of Rutsobe. To make sure people will believe in that, the said that Rutsobe was Gihanga’s son. What is not true because Rutsobe is Ruganzu Bwimba’s son. Born to him from Nyirarutsobe during the time Ruganzu. We will come to this later when we will be writing on the history of Ruganzu I. 

In Buhanga, Gihanga funded a city lived there the remaining of his life. He left Buhanga II after the death of his first wife, who was killed by her daughter and died in Nyamirembe, always in Byumba.
The purpose of scholars to take Gihanga to Ruhengeri aimed at creating roots that will divide Rwandans. Here they said that Jeni was a Tutu king whose land has been taken by Gihanga, whom they called Tutsi.

There is a story written by George Sandart, one of the first to write on the history of Rwanda that says how Tutsi’s took Hutu’s lands. This story will be explained in death in our next article where we will be comparing the Rwandan Gihanga, in by Banyankole as Rugaba, by Baganda as Muwanga and by Batoro as Nyamuhanga.
The purpose was the formation of a hutu land that will be widely advertised by Ferdinand Nahimana. Today, it is clear that there have never been such hutu lands. Peopling of Ruhengeri and Gisenyi is documented and it has been populated for the first time during the reign of Mashira in Nduga.  The same Ferdinand Nahimana has written on the immigration on that part of Rwanda.

Gihanga has left Nyamususa with a pregnancy. After months Nyamususa’s aunt find out that she was pregnant. He told this to Jeni about the incident. Jeni was very upset and wanted to kill the girl. He asked Nyamususa who is the father of the child, but Nyamususa refused to reveal the father. Jeni order that she be taken to the forest and be killed there. Batwa took her and her servant.
Nyamususa and her servant left their home with batwa. When they arrived in the forest, Gahu and Gakara who were hunting saved them from the Batwa. Nyamususa continued the travel herself and her servant until the night. As it was cold and animals were around, Nyamususa remembered that Gihanga left a basket to her. She took the basket and opened it with the knife left also by Gihanga. Helped by her servant, they made fire and were able to survive. The next day, they traveled and reached Gihanga’s residence in Buhanga II.

There are writers who say that Gihanga had many wifes, but our researches discovered that Gihanga has only two wives.  They Include Nyirampirangwe she married in Buhanga I and Nyamususa the second wife he married in Buhanga II. There some who says that he married also another wife called Nyirampingiye. When we were doing our research, we find out that there existed two Nyirampingiyes.

The first was Nyamususa’s servant and the second was Rutsobe’s mother. During the fight between Ruganzu and a Mushi King who lived in South Ruhengeri, Nyirampingiye saved Ruganzu’ life. Ruganzu married her and they had a son called Rutsobe. Gihanga never married a servant to her wife. It was even a scandal to marry a servant, a part from few special cases, when a servant saved a king or other few special reasons. From these two wives, Gihanga had five children. One lady and four sons.
From Nyamususa, Gihanga has begotten four children. They include Nyirarucyaba, the first born, and followed by Sabugabo, Gahima and Mugondo. From the first wife Nyirampirangwe, Gihanga has begotten one son named Gashubi. 

 In our next article, we will write on the last days of Gihanga, his legacy and the comparisons of the Rwanda’s Gihanga, the Banyankole’s Rugaba, the Baganda’s Muwanga and Nyamuhanga for the Batoro.

The author is a Rwandan independent researcher and historian writer.