The more complete, comprehensive, and geographically widespread tradition is that recounted primarily by informants of the Babambo clan.This tradition relates that at a hill called Nyabihunge, near the southern end of Lake Kivu, there occurred a succession struggle within the Havu royal family, the Basibula. According to this account, the losing contender for the throne, a certain Kabwiika, fled east of the lake to Kinyaga, which, although today a part of Rwanda, had not at that time been integrated into Rwandan central court administration. There, in Kinyaga, continue the sources, Kabwiika received a sympathetic welcome from a man named Lubambo, the eponymous ancestor of his (Ba)bambo descendants.Lubambo appears to have been an important local authority: Babambo informants state that although not himself of Rwandan origin, Lubambo had achieved considerable acclaim at the Rwandan court for having healed members of the royal family (including the king of Rwanda, Gahindiro, some versions add) of smallpox.

The tradition continues that while staying with Lubambo in Kinyaga, Kabwiika fathered a son named Mwendanga, by Nkobwa, an unmarried daughter of Lubambo. Preparing to celebrate the birth with the customary feast, Kabwiika went to seek fish at the lakeshore, where he was accidentally speared and killed by one of his own associates; this on the very day of Mwendanga’s birth.Mwendanga, illegitimate as well as a paternal orphan, was then raised by the family of Lubambo. Here the tradition reflects a theme common to royal genesis traditions —that of the orphan, brought up by an “outside” clan, who later succeeds in obtaining the royal throne.

Certain variants, the most vivid being those by Babambo informants on the mainland, recount that the Babambo fought Kamerogosa, the successful contender to the Sibula throne (and Mwendanga’s paternal uncle—half-brother to Kabwiika), in an attempt to“regain”the Havu drums (a synonym for“throne”) for Mwendanga. They succeeded in killing Kamerogosa, but Mwendanga, saddened and chagrined at the death of his uncle, according to these accounts, refused to claim the throne. Instead, with the encouragement of the Babambo, Mwendanga established himself on Ijwi, while retaining his ties to the lands on the mainland shores southwest of the lake.

The emphases of this tradition are on conflict and alliance associated with royalty and the retention or recovery of royal status; all the people in the tradition except the fishermen are explicitly tied in some way to royalty, and these ties are emphasized throughout. Stress is placed on political success and on the role of the Babambo, both in their ascribed status as maternal uncles to Mwendanga (and hence ritually as “maternal uncles” to all Ijwi kings) and in their own ambitions for royal status and power. The essential elements of these traditions, then, are:

  1. Kabwiika, potential heir to the Havu throne, was driven out of “Buhavu” in a succession dispute;
  1. Nkobwa, the mother of Mwendanga and daughter of Lubambo, was not married to Kabwiika;
  1. Kabwiika, seeking fish from fishermen at the lakeshore, was accidentally killed by one of his own men;
  1. Mwendanga was raised by Lubambo, who perhaps had ties to the royal court of Rwanda;
  1. Mwendanga’s maternal uncles sought to regain the throne for him, and eventually were responsible for helping to establish Mwendanga as mwami on Ijwi.

In element “a,” the different versions vary as to whether Kabwiika was the designated successor. Those informants close to the Ijwi royal court today imply that he was; others omit this point. This, of course, leaves open the question of how and by whom the Havu successor was designated. Current norms differ in the two royal segments (at Mpinga and on Ijwi), as they both do from the ideological explanations current in Bushi. There is thus no historically established “Havu” or regional norm, and in such a historically fluid situation, it would appear that Kabwiika simply failed to mobilize support for his cause. It is also interesting that, despite the few informants who claim that Kabwiika was the rightful heir (without explaining on what grounds), no one claims that the Ijwi line is actually the rightful senior Havu line. The Ijwi dynasty is always accepted as junior to its Mpinga collaterals, and this fact would surely weaken the case for Kabwiika’s claim as sole legitimate heir implied in the term “designated successor.”

In element “b,” only a few sources close to the Ijwi royal court state that Nkobwa was married to Kabwiika (or even that at least the formalities had been initiated). Such a claim would clearly help to establish Mwendanga and his descendants as of legitimate royal (Basibula) status. But most informants state quite clearly that Nkobwa was not married to Kabwiika at the time of his death; most agree that she was a single woman, as implied in the name “Nkobwa,” which means “unmarried woman” or “girl” in the Rwandan language. It is possible that the narrators are taking the personal name to be an indication of her civil status. However, most women in this area are referred to not by their proper names, but only by the names of their father (“the daughter of …”) or sometimes that of their husband (“the wife of …”). It is therefore more likely that the name “Nkobwa” has been retained in the tradition because it refers to her civil status, rather than the reverse (that is, that it was retained independently and her civil status mistakenly inferred from it).

Nkobwa’s single status does not conform to Mwendanga’s accepted membership in the Basibula family, however, and this presents an unresolved para-dox: that of Mwendanga’s royal heritage but without social descent within the Basibula clan. Given the important emphasis on royal legitimacy, a tendency to deny Nkobwa’s single status would seem probable, both for literary and for social reasons (as in fact some informants do).Yet because the most commonly accepted versions of this story describe her as single, some other reason needs to be advanced to account for this. Broad structural reasons inherent in the nature of this type of “lost hero” tradition will not serve to explain this factor, because most other forms of this stereotypical tradition drawn from elsewhere do not question the legitimacy of the ruler’s claims to rule; in fact, they sometimes go to elaborate lengths to establish just this. Hence the illegitimacy of Mwendangacannot be seen as the result of a purely structural device embedded within the tradition itself.

There are, however, two ways in which this tradition reflects themes and conceptions apparent in other traditions in the area. At the local level, it is often said (by non-Bany’Iju) that unmarried Rwandan women who became pregnant were sent to Ijwi—this reflects both the low status of the Ijwi population in the eyes of the Rwandans and the transfer of women west from Rwanda to Ijwi, often through accepted marriage institutions. (The people on Ijwi know of the same story, but apply it to a smaller island, Cihaya, south of Nkombo, saying that Rwandans sent pregnant unmarried women there.) Thus the tale of a pregnant unmarried woman is widespread in the popular tales of the region; Nkobwa’s story fits into a widespread trope.

At a higher level, the story of Mwendanga’s illegitimate heritage can be seen to reflect the common conception in the area that royalty divorces the king from his own patrilineage. In Rwanda this takes the form that the king was above class and people and hence a member of no particular lineage.The queen mother was also an important person in the kingdom, reigning jointly with the king (but sometimes also she “ruled,” in competition with him), thus also removing royalty from too close a tie with a given patrilineage. The case of Buganda, however, may be even more instructive than that of Rwanda in this context.There the royal family, the king and his children, did not share a common totem, nor did they rely on support from their agnates. Instead, they looked to support from their maternal kin, and in fact they adopted the totems of their mothers and hence tended to be associated with that clan. The Babambo tradition related here would seem to refer precisely to such a situation—relating Mwendanga, as an illegitimate child, to his mother’s family.

Yet socially the king on Ijwi is definitely not associated with the same Babambo clan in any way. Instead, he is very strongly associated with the Basibula clan and accepted by all to be of the same (patrilineal) descent as the kings of Mpinga (the senior Havu kingdom on the mainland). Furthermore, the concepts of royal identity on Ijwi today do not approach those reported for Rwanda, where the king was considered to be above class and clan. Nor was the class situation on Ijwi ever such as to indicate that this was different in the past: the king never needed to be elevated above society to mediate between different classes. Similarly, he does not seem to have been elevated above his patriclan, because on Ijwi the Basibula are a very small clan: by their numbers, they were never a threat to the status of other clans. On the contrary, the presence of the royal clan seems to have augmented the status of certain other of the most important clans—and hence it was never necessary to dissociate the king from his own clan in order to keep inviolate the concept of royalty: legitimacy through Sibula membership seems to have been more important than the political role of remaining neutral by dissociation from Basibula status.

Therefore, although the story of Nkobwa may in certain aspects reflect concepts common to royalty elsewhere in the area, it does not seem to have emerged as a result of these concepts. Although the tradition stresses the manner of the birth and contains within it certain unresolved paradoxes, such as exist in the concept of royalty itself and especially in the relation of Ijwi royalty to Mpinga royalty, this does not itself mean that the tradition is not also of historical validity, at least in its major tenets. As pointed out above, it seems entirely plausible that Nkobwa was not married at the time of Kabwiika’s death.

Of the essential elements noted above, only “c” is accepted in all the variants, even in identifying the fishermen involved—the Bene Shando, the sons (or lineage) of Shando. Kabwiika’s death is the major element of the Babambo tradition, for it simultaneously explains Mwendanga’s royal status and justifies the Babambo role as Sibula benefactors; the detail of how Kabwiika died is only in-cidental to this point. Still, despite the unanimity among the narrative variants on this point, even this incidental detail is open to various interpretations; pos-sibly this very interpretive ambiguity allows for the unanimity among the vari-ants. First, the tradition implies a conflict of the land-based royal family with the fishermen, associated with water and with fish, one of the essential foods consumed in the First Fruits ceremony on Ijwi.This potential ritual association, as well as the mobility of the fishermen, casts them into a role analogous to that of the hunter in genesis traditions elsewhere.16 In addition, there is a potential conflict situation portrayed here between Kabwiika and his own men, and this tradition could be interpreted as rebellion on the part of Kabwiika’s own (unspecified) followers. The narration of some versions emphasizes this possibility in its telling: by drawing out the full dramatic implications of Kabwiika’s death, by interjections of amazement reflecting that of Kabwiika’s men at having speared Kabwiika, and by dwelling on their subsequent fear and consternation, which led to the formation of a joint blood pact among them designed to conceal their role in Kabwiika’s death, thus shifting the blame to the fishermen instead.

For element “d” above, some informants deny that Lubambo had ties to the Rwandan royal court. But this claim can be seen as an affirmation of contemporary distinctions between Ijwi and Rwanda. Lubambo’s ties with the Rwandancourt are mentioned in Rwanda and on the Zaire mainland as well as on Ijwi; the Rwandan Babambo today note that there is a major segment of their family living in “Nyanza” near the former (colonial) royal capital of Rwanda, and they claim that this stems from a continuing close tie to the royal court since the time of Gahindiro.In support of this, it seems clear (though our only sources of this are oral traditions from the area) that Lubambo was a man of some ambition, building his alliances both east and west of the lake.In addition, Rwandan traditions, apparently independent of the Babambo traditions because the Babambo do not appear in them, cite an (unspecified) epidemic at the time of Gahindiroand note that Mibambwe Sentabyo, the father of Gahindiro, died of smallpox, apparently introduced to Rwanda from Burundi.

Despite the possible tie-ins, the significance of Lubambo’s ties to the court for the Basibula and the nature of the relationship of Mwendanga to the Rwandan court remain obscure. Some informants state that the ties were very close and that Gahindiro “gave” Mwendanga wives and cattle (an inversion of conventional marriage transfer). Others deny that there were any formal ties between the Rwandan and Ijwi royal courts. As reported by Kagame, Rwandan traditions emphasize the fact of Ijwi’s subordination to Rwanda, though the explanation is clearly fallacious.The lack of any evidence on Ijwi to confirm these assertions, even when the Bany’Iju accept with perfect equanimity their subordination under the Rwandan king Rwabugiri (two generations later), and the total absence of any indications of ties between the Ijwi elite and other members of the Rwandan elite, would argue against the likelihood of this, whatever the normative views of the Rwandan court toward their neighbors.

The fact of important economic and social ties between Rwanda and Ijwi, with both women and cattle moving west, is indisputable; but to read these in purely political terms as inevitably“gifts”of the Rwandan king and hence symbols of accepted subordination on the part of the recipients (Basibula/Babambo) is not supported in the Ijwi data. Those accounts that mention Mwendanga’s ties to the Rwandan court seem to extrapolate from Lubambo’s claimed ties (or later Ijwi subordinate status) rather than deriving support from the traditions of other sources. In short, the sources are inconclusive on this point, and the silence on the part of Ijwi sources seems weightier than the somewhat facile assertions of the Rwandan sources.

How instrumental were the Babambo in helping to establish Mwendanga on Ijwi (element “e” above) is also a point in dispute among the different versions of this tradition. There can be no doubt that the Babambo initially benefited in status from Mwendanga’s accession to “royal” status—or at least preeminentpolitical status—on Ijwi. Also, the Babambo claims to have raised Mwendanga and to have served as his principal allies on the mainland seem justified; all testimonies—from diverse areas, from Ijwi ritual practices, and from the later history of the royal family—support this conclusion. But the related question on the nature of Mwendanga’s position in the political structure in the mainland areas, and in the processes of forming a kingdom on Ijwi, are not at all illuminated in these traditions. Indeed the internal history of Ijwi shows that, whatever their role elsewhere, the Babambo played a minor role in politics on Ijwi; there was apparently no direct transfer to Ijwi of the relations between Mwendanga and the Babambo as these existed on the mainland, if the Babambo traditions are to be accepted on this point.

But in addition, there is no indication, either from Ijwi or from mainland traditions, of the exact status and power of Mwendanga on the mainland. It ap-pears that his primary residence was on the mainland at Bujombo, a hill rising high above the narrow straits of the lake, overlooking Binja and Nkombo islands, and neighboring Nyabihunge, the hill of Kamerogosa’s court. Many informants on Ijwi, when questioned on the historical aspects of kingship on Ijwi, replied that Mwendanga was king at Bujombo and arrived on Ijwi with the en-tire panoply of fully developed and functioning royal institutions. Other data, drawn from local traditions on Ijwi, indicate that this was not the case. Certain basic features of Havu kingship were retained (or reconstructed) on Ijwi; but ev-idence of a functioning kingdom under Mwendanga at Bujombo is lacking.The assertions to this effect would seem to be a result of reading the present into the past; it is from such anachronisms that emerge hypotheses of the “state created whole” through the importation of royalty in toto to Ijwi.

Reference to Bujombo in the Babambo tradition is either incidental to the main narrative (sometimes mentioned in the context of the Babambo attack on Kamerogosa) or omitted entirely. But Ijwi royal sources (and others) refer explicitly to Bujombo as Mwendanga’s principal mainland residence and point of departure for Ijwi, and there is enough support for this from other mainland sources to confirm that Mwendanga’s primary residence on the mainland as an adult was west of the lake, at Bujombo, not east of the lake, in Kinyaga. Thus there appears to have been a stage in the life of Mwendanga that is omitted in most Babambo traditions, traditions that in general prefer to portray a direct move from Kinyaga to Ijwi, under continuous Babambo tutelage and guidance. The evidence of a Bujombo residence for Mwendanga (west of the lake) does not invalidate the role of the Babambo, however, because it seems that their dominance of the area extended on both sides of the lake in this area at this time.

But such differences between the Ijwi and the Babambo traditions do illustrate the emphasis in the latter toward the privileged role of the Babambo in all of the significant events—birth and upbringing, revenge (and hence a continuing claim to the throne, as if the succession struggle between Kabwiika and Kamerogosa had never been resolved), and arrival on Ijwi. However, other Ijwi accounts of Mwendanga’s arrival on the island (notably those of the Banyakabwa, the predominant clan on Ijwi at the time) do not include the Babambo in any prominent role in Mwendanga’s arrival, if at all, and there is no other evidence to support this aspect of the Babambo claim.Furthermore, the Babambo traditions are entirely silent about specific events and people on Ijwi at Mwendanga’s arrival.

Still, evidence of various types lends support to the major thrust of the Babambo tradition: that during much of his youth Mwendanga was dependent on the Babambo and much of his early political training was at their hands. Tra-ditions from other sources refer to the Babambo drive for power in the area of the Nkombo-Binja straits at this time.25 Ijwi ritual also recognizes the Babambo as maternal uncles to the king and hence enshrines the Babambo relationship to Ijwi royalty. Finally, the role of the Babambo as major participants in the succes-sion struggles following Mwendanga’s death is also explained in terms of their relationship to Mwendanga, and as maternal uncles, cousins, and brothers-in-law to one of Mwendanga’s sons, who was apparently a prime contender as a successor to Mwendanga.

All of these independent data are explained historically by the Babambo traditions relating their early ties to Kabwiika and Mwendanga; such a convergence would add weight to the essential validity of the historical relationship portrayed in the tradition, if not to each narrative element within the tradition individually. It is difficult to account for the convergence of three such separate forms of data (traditions on the later succession struggle, present royal ritual, and direct testimony) if the Lubambo-Kabwiika tradition is read simply as an ex post facto explanation of one or the other. The difference among the various alternative sources for the history of this period (e.g., the traditions of other clans) does not touch on the fact of the Babambo relationship to the Ijwi royal line during the early years, but it does help define the limitations of this relationship and its significance. The Babambo traditions imply that Mwendanga was under their tutelage and that they were instrumental in all of the major stages of Mwendanga’s arrival and establishment on Ijwi. Others disagree: the Banyakabwa on the latter point; the Baloho on the former.

All the data available on the royal court on Ijwi indicate that Babambo influence at the royal court has been limited to their role as ritual maternal unclesto the king (not a very influential role at that), rather than to any historical role as advisors and power wielders. Even where Babambo are important today in their own communities, they do not hold influence at the court commensurate with this prestige. Nor do they associate with any particular regional political role on Ijwi as is found associated with Baloho, a role that will be discussed below; the succession struggle following Mwendanga’s death can be interpreted to be as much a regional struggle to determine the major center of royal power (on the mainland or on the island) as it was simply a struggle among contenders or clans, with the Babambo supporting the mainland contender. It would thus appear that, whatever their role in Mwendanga’s arrival on Ijwi, the role of the Babambo in Mwendanga’s royal establishment on the island and in the formation of the structures and character of royalty was minimal. Therefore, the traditions of other clans—the Baloho, the Banyakabwa, the Bashaho, and others—may be a better guide on this aspect of royal history than the Babambo “traditions of genesis” considered here.

To the historian, one of the most notable aspects of the Babambo tradition (and one that distinguishes it from the Baloho tradition) is its potential in providing approximate chronological references. It has been shown above how the Babambo narratives, because they name particular individuals and identify dis-crete historical events, can be cross-referenced to other oral sources, both Havu and Rwandan. For chronological purposes, the primary synchronism is the reference to Gahindiro, the king of Rwanda, who appears as a contemporary of Lubambo (and hence of Kabwiika). Lubambo is said to have gained favor at the court by his ability to heal a smallpox epidemic, which had affected even the royal family. As noted above, the Rwandan traditions reported by Kagame mention smallpox as the cause of the death of Sentabyo, the predecessor of Gahindiro; the epidemic proportions noted in the Babambo tradition may well be hyper-bole, as it was sufficient for the king himself to be threatened for “all of Rwanda” to be threatened. Such a dating would locate Lubambo’s ties to the court early in the reign of Gahindiro or near the turn of the nineteenth century (or even slightly before, because the smallpox epidemic occurred in the reign of Sentabyo, Gahindiro’s predecessor).

There is no precise way of relating this event to Mwendanga’s arrival on Ijwi, but there is likely to have been a considerable lapse of time between the two events. Mwendanga’s accession to power on Ijwi seems based more on the process of alliance formation than on claims to ascribed royal status. To achieve such alliances he needed to reach outside his cognatic links, because it is unlikely, as we have seen, that the Babambo themselves were the key instruments of royalestablishment on Ijwi. Thus (to allow for the creation of alliance formations), one can roughly estimate a period exceeding thirty years from his birth for Mwendanga’s arrival on Ijwi. Despite the lack of precision relating Mwendanga’s birth to Lubambo’s ties to the royal court, one can estimate that Mwendanga arrived on Ijwi during the first quarter of the nineteenth century.

Independently derived genealogies, as well as other traditions on Ijwi, pro-vide some check on this rough chronology. The royal king list at Mpinga shows eight names (putatively father-to-son succession) to Kamerogosa (the brother of Kabwiika), but of those, five lived in the period of two Ijwi kings. The sixth name back is a contemporary of the son of Mwendanga, and thus the two most remote generations parallel those of Mwendanga and his son. Furthermore, the Babambo genealogies are roughly in agreement with this chronology of Mwendanga, counting back six generations to Lubambo (Mwendanga’s maternal grandfather). Finally, the traditions of some clans to have arrived on Ijwi prior to Mwendanga make it seem likely that they arrived only during the reign of Gahindiro in Rwanda. Yet their presence clearly predated that of Mwendanga ; hence Mwendanga could only have arrived late in the reign of Gahindiro or in the reign of his successor, Rwogera, if these traditions are to be taken as valid.All of these data, then, converge at roughly the same time for Mwendanga’s arrival on Ijwi, but none provide the means for a more precise chronological reconstruction.

In contrastto the Babambo tradition, the Baloho tradition is very short. Rather than forming a narrative referring to particular individuals and events, this “tradition” consists of fragmentary components reconstructed from the tes-timony of several Baloho informants—a process of synthesis that treats these separate testimonies as belonging to the clan as a whole, which their distribution (and convergence) would indicate.

The references that make up this tradition, unlike those of the (more unitary) Babambo tradition, include very little circumstantial evidence or secondary in-formation concerning other persons, events, places, or timing. Despite the many cultural allusions contained in it, the Baloho tradition refers to only three named individuals (Kabwiika, Mwendanga, and Kamo) without mentioning their social identification (except that vaguely tied to royalty) or any relation to a precise or geographical context. At first glance this would seem to be a result of the present fragmentary form of the tradition. But this absence of empirical detail (or reference to discrete events and individuals) also conforms to the nature of thetradition itself and to the social and historical characteristics of the clan. Here it only need be pointed out that the tradition itself refers to travel in the forest. The principal themes also relate to cultures associated with the forest, and the historical and sociological characteristics of the Baloho on Ijwi, even today, in some ways indicate similar ties to the forest cultures west of Lake Kivu. In these areas west of the mountains, oral testimonies today characteristically lack chronological depth and historical detail, in just the same manner as the Baloho traditions on Ijwi concerning Kamo and Mwendanga.Thus the present fragmentary form of the Baloho tradition today may be more a reflection of the social and historical context from which the Baloho derive than a definitive statement on the validity of the content. To understand the validity of the con-tent, we need to understand the history of the Baloho on Ijwi, as told in independent sources.

The Baloho genesis tradition is actually formed of bits of references held by different individuals. Despite their fragmentary nature, these data can be viewed as forming a single tradition, for they are recounted exclusively by members of asingle small descent group, and the narrative elements held by one individual often overlap with those of another testimony. Furthermore, even though this tradition is usually found in fragmentary form today, there are two examples of longer and more complete recitations of this tradition that include several of the separate elements. Thus, irrespective of whether the tradition ever formed a single whole, it is seen as such today; at least some informants regard the various fragments as part of a coherent whole.

Regardless of the historical processes at work that created such a fragmentary form today (whether a breakdown of an earlier coherent tradition or simply a series of ideas or observations seized on by members of this single descent group), and regardless of the historical validity of the various elements, they can be seen as a single tradition in their complementary content, in their shared form, and in their combination by a few informants themselves. Even if the tradition is seen as an artificial reconstruction formed of disparate narrative elements drawn from members of this clan, the Baloho, such a reconstruction is achieved without incorporating elements from the other tradition, that told by the Babambo. Fragmentary as they may be in their narration, therefore, the Baloho accounts form a single tradition in opposition to the Babambo narratives.

Finally, other elements define these fragmentary accounts as part of a continuous narrative tradition. Where they include cultural items not a part of Ijwi’s mainstream culture today, these references can be identified as retentions from pre-Ijwi referents. For example, utility bags (used for carrying pipes, tobacco, snuff, medicines, twine, or small game) are rare on Ijwi today but still common west of the mountains on the mainland, in areas that have not maintained long-term contacts with the Baloho on Ijwi. (The “sack” could be seen as a magnified reference to this.) Such references therefore—the more remarkable for their rarity and isolation on Ijwi today—probably retain earlier Baloho cultural traits and serve as testimony to internal Baloho clan history. Thus, despite the present fragmentary form of these accounts, they may indeed contain historical features that provide an interpretation of past events.

As reconstructed from these sources, the Baloho tradition recounts how a certain Kamo, a diviner, himself apparently fleeing from the west, befriended Kabwiika, the father of the first Basibula king on Ijwi. On the death of Kabwiika, Kamo protected Mwendanga from unspecified enemies who sought him out be-cause of his royal descent and status. Finally, on the divinatory advice of Kamo, Mwendanga moved to Ijwi and began to rule with Kamo’s counsel and support. Thus the essential narrative elements in this tradition are:

  1. Kamo befriends Kabwiika;
  2. On Kabwiika’s death, Kamo travels widely, usually within a forest context, carrying Mwendanga in a sack;
  3. As a diviner, Kamo counsels Mwendanga to establish himself on Ijwi.

What is important in this context is the prominence given to literary images and allusions to objects and tasks today associated with the forest cultures to the west of Lake Kivu. Among these themes are the sack motif, the travel theme, the role of divination, and the achieved status associated with “friendship.” So, too, of course, is the legitimizing role of the descendants of Kamo, the Baloho, as advisors and friends of the king, a general social function that it shares, of course, with the Babambo tradition.

Thus the major present function of these traditions is that of explaining past royal favor toward the two possessor clans, in a period when neither clan holds positions of power and respect through proximity to royalty. Yet the fact that the traditions serve such a generalized contemporary function does not au-tomatically exclude the possibility of some historical foundation for them. We have already noted that in terms of specific royal history the traditions serve only as a very general guide, and in their details they can be misleading. But certainly there is no evidence that contradicts the major assertion of past association with the Basibula dynasty. In fact, what other evidence exists—as well as that drawn from many other areas—concurs. It would be surprising, for example, if a mainland tradition emerged among non-Babambo informants, on the basis of the current Babambo status as ritual maternal uncles on Ijwi.

This section has considered not the structure of the traditions but their content—the internal elements that may have some bearing on their use as historical sources. Because the two traditions are very different in form and content, this exercise has not been equally productive for both traditions; more precise details and greater historical understanding can be derived from the internal attributes of the Babambo tradition than from the Baloho tradition. The following sections focus on similar questions, but differently, by comparing the two traditions on the basis of their external attributes—their distribution, the forms in which they are retained and recounted, the historical and social characteristics of the possessor groups, and the way in which events more recent than those accounted for in the traditions may have influenced their evolution and present form and content. of kingsSocial & cultureThe more complete, comprehensive, and geographically widespread tradition is that recounted primarily by informants of the Babambo clan.This tradition relates that at a hill called Nyabihunge, near the southern end of Lake Kivu, there occurred a succession struggle within the Havu royal family, the Basibula. According to this account,...AMATEKA