On the surface, the founding myth of the Baganda people is simple and entertaining. Kintu, the
founding father, initially lived alone on earth. He later married a girl (Nambi) from heaven, and together
they populated the land called Buganda, where their descendants continue to live today. Many scholars
treat this narrative with condescension and levity, and some even consign it to the inconsequential
realms of fantasy. This article examines the significance of the Kintu story and its sub-narratives for the
process of nation building, in the context of Buganda as an integral part of the colonial construct called
â€œUgandaâ€. The discussion shows that the Baganda actively use the myth to build and preserve a strong
sense of ethnic identity, and as a psychological anchor in their search for survival in the ethnicitybased
politics of modern Uganda. Secondly, the political and emotional controversies generated by the
mythâ€™s sub-narratives and the competing ethnic claims to the name â€œKintuâ€ that arise from there,
continuously test the ability of the Ugandan state to endure. Thirdly, whereas the myth can generate
negative inter-ethnic emotions, it can also be used to facilitate the completion of the unfinished project
of building the Ugandan state, by appealing to those aspects of it that present evidence of a shared
past and a common destiny.
Keywords: Founding myth, sub-narratives, ethnic identity, psychological anchor, nation-building, colonial construct, emotional controversies, competing ethnic claims, Ugandan state, shared past.