Legend has it that centuries ago a wealthy Bahima cattle farmer called
Mutuumo who had hundreds of cows and many servants had a calf born to his herd,
of multiple colours and he was then warned by the gods never to eat the cow as
it was sacred, even if it died through natural causes. Mutuumo also had a secret
son to one of his female servants, of which more later! Mutuumo took the advice seriously, however when he was later travelling
extensively in Rwanda to trade his products, the cow did die and his servants,
who were hungry, ignored the pleas of Mutummo's wife not to eat the cow and
feasted on the animal. Mutuumos' secret son, who lived amongst the servant also
unwittingly ate the meat, breaking the family oath Mutuumo had made to the gods.
As a punishment, the gods made it rain for twenty-eight days causing floods that
turned the family farm and surrounding area into the modern day Lake Nyabihoko
that covers 2.31 sq miles. Whilst Mutuumo survived, his wife daughter and
servants did not nor did any of his wealth nor herd. His illegitimate son,
however, was spared. On discovering what had happened, Mutuumo, a broken and impoverished man,
approached his old and rich friend Mwamba and took a the job of keeping Mwamba's
calves to support himself. In time Mutuumo told his friend the entire story and
the two men formed a pact to drown themselves in the newly formed lake to spare
their lives' further misery however, before they died, they wanted to ensure
their legacy and provide for their children, so told those children to prepare
for a feast at the lakeside. There they told them that when they died the
children, including Mutuumo's son who had survived the flood, were to inherit
Mwamba's land and chattels equally. Once the message had been delivered the
children were sent back to collect further supplies for their feast and the two
father's took the opportunity once the children had disappeared from view to
jump together into the lake where they drowned.
Today the lake is home to Mutuumo Island Resort in recognition of the legend and
on the island there is indeed evidence of an old traditional Ankole homestead;
although little other supporting evidence of the Lake's supposed creation. Lake Nyabihoko itself is situated on the Ntungamo-Rukungiri Road and whilst not
readily accessible is nevertheless worth a visit if staying in nearby Ruhanga.
In addition to the island resort it is home to Pelican Beach which has rooms and
apartments for tourists to rent from which you can take a drink on a terrace and
watch the local fishermen on the lake go about their business.
You can also hire a boat or dug out canoe for as little as £1 or pay a bit extra
for a guide who will take you on an excursion of the lake. From there you can
see a variety of wildlife and birds including the Grey Crowned Crane, Fish Eagle
and, of course, pelicans from which the beach gets its name. The locals will
tell you tales of hippos and crocodiles in and around the lake as well. Don't
always believe them though!