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Honeyguide Newsletters: Fall 2000

About Africa

Reflecting on the joys of the day and anticipating the adventures of tomorrow.

The Honeyguide: Fall 2000
The Legend of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

The movie "Gorillas in the Mist" memorialized the mountain gorillas of the Virunga Volcano chain in Uganda and Rwanda. Since then, thousands of people around the world have traveled to Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to spend one truly magical hour accepted within a mountain gorilla group. They have seen the gorillas at play, in fights, and giving birth. Yet, there is more to this forest than gorillas. There is a legend behind its name.

Approximately 100 years ago, a large number of people migrated from Rwanda, former Zaire and the southern edge of the forest to the area north of the forest. At that time, the area north of the forest was only sparsely populated. For most of these people, their journey involved a long walk through the densely overgrown forest. Legend has it that a family was attempting to cross the forest and came across a large swamp. The spirits of the swamp saw the daughter; a beautiful young maiden named Nnyinamukari. The spirits demanded that the family give them the maiden in return for safe passage across the swamp. The family was in a dilemma and sat on the edge of the swamp for two days, not knowing what to do. Finally they decided it was impossible for them to return home, so they threw Nnyinamukari into the swamp and crossed safely to the other side.

The legend about the sacrificed maiden spread throughout the area and people became terrified of the forest, particularly the swamp. People called the place Mubwindi bwa Nnyinamukari. Bwindi means a muddy, swampy place full of darkness. The surrounding communities have referred to the forest and the swamp as Bwindi and Mubwindi respectively ever since. When the forest became a National Park, Bwindi became its official name. It is believed that this legend has helped preserve the mountain gorillas' peaceful habitat.

About The Honeyguide

The Honeyguide - a monthly email newsletter - is named after the Greater Honey Guide, a bird that has developed the remarkable habit of leading tribespeople to wild bees' nests, with the promise of honeycomb and grubs once the humans have opened the nest and taken the honey. The complementary relationship shared by bird and human represents the newsletter's goal - to periodically lead readers to new and timely bits of information about East African wildlife, culture, and travel.

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