Valumbe: the reverse side of the myth

Mysterious vertical holes have been drilled on Tanda Hill, eight kilometers from the city of Mityana (Uganda). These holes can be seen in other parts of the country, but here they are the most – 240. They say that animals bypass them, and people who have dared to visit the gloomy depths come back with a feeling of irresistible primal horror. Of course, because these holes were left by death itself.

Valumbe burrows are smooth vertical depressions in the rock with a diameter of 1.5 and a length of 3 to 70 meters. The holes are lined up in a row, the distance between them is 15 meters. Some of them are single, others are connected to each other by a network of tunnels. Scientists have not been able to determine their exact age. Therefore, it is believed that burrows have existed for several centuries. But who dug them – or rather, drilled them – in those immemorial times when the set of working tools consisted of primitive stone tools and the hands of ancient craftsmen?

One of the ancient legends says that the first man named Kintu once lived on earth. The daughter of the god Gulu, the creator of the universe, took a fancy to him. God agreed to marry his daughter to a man, but warned them to descend from heaven unnoticed, without taking with them the bride’s brother Valumba, who brought death and misfortune. The lovers failed to do this. And then his brother Kaikuzi was sent after Valumbe. Valumbe decided to confuse the tracks and hide underground. In search of Kaikuzi’s brother, he had to dive underground many times, breaking through cylindrical passages. In the end, he had to return to heaven with nothing. And the satisfied Valumbe remained on the ground. It is believed that burrows are its habitat.

ceramic figure of a “Luzira man” with a long nose and a hairstyle resembling a judicial wig
ceramic figure of a “Luzira man” with a long nose and a hairstyle resembling a judicial wig

Some old-timers tell the legend differently: when Kintu married the daughter of God, they had children. But one day, his wife’s brother came down to earth and began to claim that he was the father of one child. Kintu did not believe his heavenly brother-in-law. And then the vengeful Valumbe began to kill one child once a year, and as a result, the story of the persecution of Kaikuzi is already familiar to you.

In the middle of the last century, prisoners of the central prison in the suburbs of Kampala dug trenches for utility rooms and found a ceramic figure of a “Luzira man” with a long nose and a hairstyle resembling a judicial wig. What kind of person is so different from the local population?

This question can be answered by the second version, which is closer to reality. According to her, in the 13th century (where did the local tribes get such accurate data?) this place was inhabited by light-skinned people with supernatural abilities. The Bachwezi (that was their name) were able to fly, climb steep cliffs, and treat all diseases, and they also knew the history of all the peoples of the earth.

The Bachwezi hid their women and tried to maintain the purity of their blood without assimilating with the black population. They ate their own crops exclusively, and they did not act as enslavers – rather, they were mentors, teachers, military leaders. A century later, the Bachwezi suddenly disappeared, as if they had disappeared into the jungle.

Subsequently, the version was confirmed by archaeologists. They found objects made using technologies unknown to local tribes in the vicinity. It is noteworthy that so far, it has not been possible to find a single burial of mysterious light-skinned people. Only architectural monuments and complex irrigation structures. And burrows, for some reason, dug by them in the hard rock.

Official science believes that the depressions in the ground are nothing more than abandoned mines from which iron ore, chalk and coal were extracted. Geologist George Taylor wrote about it in 1920. In his report, he stressed that everything that people cannot explain becomes a miracle.

Ufologists, on the contrary, are of the opinion that there was not without alien intervention, since traces of minerals on the surface of the burrows are very insignificant. So, they concluded, the aliens had taken something valuable from here for them. But here’s what exactly, it has not yet been possible to establish.

There are many other versions. For example, hunters tend to think that “death holes” are traps for wild animals. Farmers saw in the stone niches a kind of cellar for storing food. (But wouldn’t it have been easier to dig them in soft earth rather than chiseling hard rock?)

In general, everyone is gradually pulling the blanket over themselves. Meanwhile, many adventurers like to travel to this area, but doing it without a guide is very risky because the pits are overgrown with thick grass and have turned into deadly traps. The role of the guide is also performed by the caretaker of the local places – Prince Petero Kimbugwe, dressed in a traditional black tunic for a worshipper of the cult of Valumbe. He warns that it is better to take off your shoes, since this is sacred land.

The pits are overgrown with thick grass
The pits are overgrown with thick grass

In addition to tourists, schoolchildren are often brought here. Both of them are happy to drink water from healing springs, admiring the picturesque landscape. In general, excursions here are a common phenomenon. The standard fee, $5, has not changed for years. And scary stories about “places of power” are most likely nothing more than a clever marketing ploy.

It is believed that the spirit of Valumbe lives in the burrows, but at the same time, each of them is dedicated to a separate deity. Therefore, Africans often come to the “burrows of death”, to whom Valumba dreamed in a nightmare. They go to a guide who interprets dreams, instructs the suffering and directs them to this or that recess where they should pray or bring something as a gift to receive the blessing of the harsh spirits.

Thus, some burrows promise the birth of twins to married couples, others help with skin diseases, others treat bones, etc. In a word, a well-established business is akin to Europeans’ visits to all kinds of fortune-tellers and healers.

Here is such a landmark in Uganda. Mysterious or not – who knows, because every person has his own truth and his own measure of the miraculous.

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