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Traditional Governance

Abashisa had a unique system of traditional government. They were ruled by a leader (omwami) known as Omwirwatsi (adjudicator) who judged all cases, protected the country and negotiated peace agreements with neighboring tribes. When he judged cases, he was paid tributes in the form of cows, chickens, beer or meat.

Omwirwatsi had special elders who assisted him in judging cases which were done in the open court of clan elders. His regalia included a calf-skin cloak (ingubo yobwayi) adorned with small bells. A leather belt with a cowry shell on it was slung from his neck and shoulder. He also wore a cowry shell headdress with the feathers of a whydah bird on it, and a brass bracelet or copper bracelet on his wrist. He carried a spear and a shield as a symbol of his authority although he never took command of any battle directly.

Omwirwatsi was appointed by clan elders who also had the power to dismiss him for misconduct. Although he was the chief sacrificial priest, he was neither a rain-maker (omukimba) nor a diviner (omufumu) nor a medicineman (wolunyasi). When the Omwirwatsi died his insignia were inherited by his successor who was usually his son. He was buried in a sitting position with a drinking tube in his mouth and a pot on his head. The people who buried Omwirwatsi were also responsible for slaughtering the bull for the funeral feast.