Saturday, October 07, 2006





Saturday, December 03, 2005

2005: Back to the video tape

MEMORUNDUM was to 2002 as REFERENDUM was to 2005. None sustained.














PRESIDENTIAL COMMENDATION 2005: Christopher Khaemba. OTHERS WHO RECIEVED THE HEAD OF STATE COMMENDATION (Civilian section) and not in the pic were - Mr. Joseph Wafula Matanda, Mrs Dinah Wattimah Nafula, Mr William Nyongesa Khayota.









Saturday, December 25, 2004


By Wafula Buke.
Thursday, August 26, 2004

Last week's commemoration of Michael WamalwaKijana by the Ford-Kenya leaders raises substantive issues around ethnicity, Statepower and progressive national politics. Can Ford-Kenya with Musikari Kombo at the helm, be a rallying point for national politics? Kombo and the late Wamalwa are political orphans of the late Masinde Muliro. But if existence in death is symbolized by the reign of one's legacy, then Masinde's successor shave assassinated his political being.

Indeed, a casual glance at the politics of Muliro through Wamalwa and Kombo shows a clearly marked ideological divide. And that is why Muliro's anniversary has never been marked by his regional successors. Both Muliro and Wamalwa died in August, Muliro on August 14 and Wamalwa on August 23. But sadly, the day Muliro died did not justsignify the death of an individual.

It marks the death of nationalistic politics and the birth of ethnicized politics in Muliro's home ground.

For after Muliro's demise, the ascendant Ford-K leadership, with Wamalwa at the helm, turned ethnicity, personality-cult and manipulation into an ideology. Ethnic evangelism became the norm and the difference between politicians was only in the degree of sophistication. Under the weight of this parochialism, Bukusu peasants who had voted for Jaramogi underwent retrogressive metamorphosis. Wamalwa's greatest achievement was the creation of a Luhya political unit.

It's not surprising, therefore, that Wamalwa's legacy of ethnic parochialism is real and has heavyweight bodyguards under Kombo. This legacy, however, is opposed to Muliro's nationalism. Muliro appealed for reconciliationin the tussle for control of the original Ford, and emphasised to his own constituents in Kitale that "anybody could lead regardless of his or her tribal affiliation." He refused to dance to ethnic bigotry after the 1991-1992 ethnic murders in the Mt Elgon area; he declared the Saboat community innocent and boldly pointed fingers at theMoi government.

That contrasts sharply with Kombo's twisted political perspective. Last week, while addressing a crowd at Patrick Wangamati's home, Kombo blamed `a certain community', a euphemism for Saboats, for the clashes. Moreover, unlike Muliro, who saw leadership and State power as a commitment to serve the sovereign, Wamalwa and his team saw power, or proximity to it, as an opportunity to consolidate largesse and patronage.

Thus, the downward drift of the people's consciousness was justified by the apparent belief that "one of their own was going to bepresident. "What is yours is yours even whenit rots you do not throw it away," becamethe clarion call.In Wamalwa's home region, politics became anactivity aimed at getting one of their own to the presidency; indeed, one's political worth was measured against their commitment to this clarioncall.Where Muliro would have weaved his political positions around agriculture, Kombo isfighting for Luhya supremacy.

Where Mulirowould have appealed for national unity,Wamalwa's political orphans consider ethnicity an insurmountable reality that should provide alaunching pad for attempts at closeness to theruling Mafioso.Not surprisingly, after his election asFord K leader, Kombo launched the contest forLuhya supremacy.Kombo has unquestioningly supported theshoot-to-kill-policy.

A month ago, the minister pilloried Katiba Watch supporters and urgedthe government to take tough action againstthem. For his `loyalty', the powers-that-be appointed him to the Ministry of Local Government. It didn'tmatter that the products of the "tough" measures were deaths of Kenyans in Kisumu during Saba Saba.

Muliro, rejected opportunistic ladders to political power in 1975, when he quite the Cabinet insolidarity with the Parliamentary Select Committee inquiring into the death of JM Kariuki. The writer is a human rights activist.Copyright © 2004 Lumboka, All rights reserved.

posted by The LUMBOKA Star @ Sunday, December 12, 2004

Sunday, December 19, 2004


By Mwalimu Wangila Mukhwana
Australia, 2004

Kenjingumi, babandu befwe bainala khulefuma
babasie bifusi. Khana sina.

Nono niko Omukiyabi Kukubo Barasa niko areeba
amanye, kakholekheela Nakuru during KADU
Executive meeting 1964 regarding whether they
should cross to join KANU.

Omusakhulu we Chimuka kenya bambukhee khangu
bekhaale ne babasie bemu KANU. The others
especially Martin Shikuku wanted further
discussions and wide consultations amongst the
electorates before crossing the floor to join
the KANU government voluntarily. Nio wefwe,
pebe, lirima liamuhamba alefuma wasie khwa
Meyule sifusi. Kaba busa kario wase Kukubo,
wo Mukananachi.

But naaye omwene in 1962 during the Responsible
Government (Madaraka) of six months, yaba banywa
kamalwa in Queens Hotel, Nairobi ne Baluhya
babandi. Mala baingana ne Nobert Okare a
staunch KANU from Kisa/Marama, and was a well
known news reader as another one called Sammy
Osore from Bunyore or same area. Anyway, out of
that parachialism, Nobert kwenaa kwapa sifusi omusakhulu

Babukusu ne Baluhya nebahulila kakekholekhe,
besamamba busa oli bayile bunoro. They declared
war on KANU. Oli khusilingi khurio, within the
same week, banyoola omusakhulu we sikhore,
ekofia ye bibiuma, bamupa bifusi yesi aweela
asi khu Government Road known as Moi Road.
Basi, ne Lihe liarakikha.

Kano kakila Bukusu Brotherhood East Africa
executive yabisia mbo Basoreri be kamani balinde
Omusakhulu khwa Makinia syanju yewe Kilimani
hembi State House. Yesi afukilila mala akhukulila
Kamapanga, Chihaywa ne Kimibano kimikisu,
Kamakabuti ne Kamarungeti. Our men kind of
reinforced the security that was already in
place, the official police man to guard
Masinde Muliro’s house since he was the Minister
of Commerce and Industry during the Madaraka period.

That is also the time, khasakhulu kha Kinyikeu
kha 44/46 bali Khaemba Sikenga khukhwama e
Namarambi (near Misikhu Catholic) khabolela
kumukhung’ano kwa KADU e-Bung’oma using the
phrase “Khwa Makinia” in addressing affectionately,
Masinde Muliro, that our people started calling
him “Khwa Makinia” as a code name to those who do
not know it culturally.

For example, Khwa mesache or Omusuta amuka,
Basebe or Omusebe namwe We kamapwondi, namwe
Wabunwasi, Khaswahili, etc so that ba pelelesia
munyinga echo balobe khumanya who you are referring
to both in personal chats or over the telephone
conversations. Nono abolikho olooma nosinyiila,
babemenielesia balobe khumanya. Liakila
Babukusu mu Nairobi khwaba ne BUNA. Ese ne Barasa Cheloti
nibo khukhwanjisia BUNA ng’eeneyo, nikhwokhubola
mbo Bukusu News Agency.

Then in 1963, when Omukhone omusakhulu Henry
Kerre Sudi suddenly crossed the floor to
join KANU, every one from Bungoma and Trans
Nzoia was outraged. They hounded Kerre to
lynch him. Our Executive met with him, Mark
Barasa,and John O’Washika in Maurice Mukanda’s
house (Khwa Mukanda wandaye wa kuka Sudi
Namachanja) in Jerusalem Estate. During the
heated discussion, Kerre explaining why he
crossed purely in Bukusus’ interests.

Kuka Mark Barasa, who used to stay at my flat
in Eastleigh Section 7, Hobbley Street, was
not satisfied with Kerre’s rationale for crossing
the floor. He said angrily, “Ewe Kerre, olikho
otiba kumusi busa.” Naaye Kerre, ali “Mark,
okhanjekeselelaa lulwala tawe.” Nga Mark ahulila
ario, ne enaha wasie, hembi amupe engumi.
Takha Omusakhulu John Washika akwe akari, abakaya.
Ese nase nabasaya khubelanila mala barangilile
babandu befwe mu Bunge bulayi.

All those present liked my little speech.
From that time, no Omusakhulu Kerre ekhaala
naboolela babandu ali “Omwana Wangila akhukambila
bulayi mu Parliament, neechile”. Nakelaho
andiukha lisina alindinga, “Mheshimiwa wa Bungoma bila
Kiti.” And that nick-name stuck amongst our
Nairobi dwellers. Unfortunately, it was not
long after that incident when Omusakhulu Henry Kerre got into
a domestic family argument.

It was with a cousin, one of the Mukanda sons
at a beer place at Chebukwa market. This young
man landed a blow on his forehead. Omusakhulu
papa Henry Kerre fell down, and was carried away
unconscious. But died later. This incident nearly
split the Sudi and Mukanda families. Masinde
Muliro wept over his “brother’s” death. Kasooma
ango wa Kerre aho, hata babandu babecha kamasika
from Bukusu and many parts of Buluhya and Kenya,
bauka bali khane yaba basimana.

To me this was very important because the
untimely death would have meant that KADU
supporters killed him for crossing the floor
to join KANU. As to what really influenced
Kerre to cross the floor, I shall one day tell
you. But that was the genuine Masinde Muliro
in typical funeral mourning his colleagues
and friends. He often mourned the dead in a
Bukusu traditional way, as far as I remember.
“Eboha lirungeti nalila nasoma.”

Incidentally, he did exactly that in 1969
during Tom Mboya’s burial on Rusinga Island.
It was unbelievable. That changed the Luos’
perception of Masinde Muliro and his disagreement
with Tom in politics. Believe it or not, after
1969, Masinde Muliro became the spokesman and
representative, at large, for the Luos in
parliament and outside it because the Kikuyus
and Luos were at each other’s throat in cold war.
Oginga odinga had formed Kenya Peoples Union
(KPU) and with Tom Mboya’s death linked to a
Kikuyu assassin, it mudded their relations more.

Engo wefwe Bungoma, Makhaso yesi apakho owasie
sifusi mu County Council meeting. “Ali ese
omusecha ndikho mbola naaye bali we Kimilili
ambinga.” Lundi akhaba Jackson Sirengo yesi
nga aba Member of Regional Assembly e Kakamega.
Kapakho sifusi ebweneyo owasie.

During the 1964 or 1965 Limuru Conference,
KANU nga yakhola burobosi to accommodate KADU,
Masinde Muliro apisana ne Tom Joseph Mboya
mala Tom khamubira chikura. Omusakhulu
Oginga Odinga enya Muliro abire though
himself was also sidelined because of being
aligned to China. Tom Mboya was known to be
leaning towards the United States.

Ne nga babala mala batangasia chikura bali
Mboya niye obirire khubaa, General Secretary
wa KANU, no omusakhulu Nathan Munoko amwikhuma
khumabeka araja naye, namukesia. Omusakhulu
Masinde Muliro auka, lundi alila po ali
“Munoko bakoki mala ekhume Omusinde.” Kenya
bali amureekho sifusi babefwe as delegates
from Bungoma, bakania busa ne baukauka,
nekhukwayila bali, Tawee, Musakhulu, Poela,
Eeitaanga ebira”.

Basoreri ne Bakhana bemu Lumboka, akano
kamahandalafu. I doubt whether Muliro forgave
Munoko in the few years that followed.
From my perspective, and based on “kabari” and most
importantly, what Muliro shared with me in
confidence, that marked the beginning of their disagreement.

Mu Baluhya namwo, Peter Kibisu apakaa Omusungu
ochuma mu Kenya Shell bifusi bamutimiaka mu
Nairobi Hospital khubeela Lukhobe. Ne James
Osogo ne Peter Okondo boosi balefumana bifusi.
Nono ke bifusi oboola, wakamaala kuu. In
modern times, naulila mbo Wanyonyi
Wamunying’inyi, omujumbe wa Kanduyi,
apakho omundu bifusi mu Kenya Parliament.
Naba oli mbolelakho bakoki wase mulala Kitale
ngaali khu Bakambisi ba Mike,ndi akanie
Chairman Michael Kijana Wamalwa khuunga mukono
omujumbe mwene-oyo for re-lection
in 2002.

I had advised Mike over the phone against it
as well. Later on, I followed it up with
him again, as one of his advisors. Ne bakoki
mwene-oyo angania neburafu ali “Chairman
sakana kamenako ta, oyo niye omulinda mu
parliament, naapa chingumi bakhamwenya ta.”

Nakeelaho nekesiakho owefwe omukoosi
Omumaina Samwel Makinda, yesi auka khumenako

Ke bifusi ne chingumi se mwakaulila nono,
akhaba nekhamubolele mu Lukiyabi.

Copyright © 2004 Lumboka, All rights reserved.

posted by The LUMBOKA Star @ Sunday, December 19, 2004

Monday, December 13, 2004

Kimienya ne selukho

By Prof. Julius Wangila Mukhwana. Australia.
December 13, 2004

Babandu befwe balomanga bali “Buli selukhoo, Namwenya kwayo.” Sekali kario bana befwe, namwe mukhaulilakho murio? Bemu Tolondo ye Lumboka, mwama khuloma kamakali khu Bakhupi-etungu ewefwe eyo, ne khukhwoola e Buluhya, baiba bakali busa buli eselukho yinyokha.

Mwateka mwakanakana khuima engila ekhola kimienya kiefwe kibeho khubuli selekho yichaayo erekeresia nio nayo emanya kakabaho khaale namwe mataayi aho. Sindu ngesio sibaho, andi kimienya kiekamatungu nikio babefwe bapanga nebakhina kamabeka, ne basuna singorio, ne betikita, nebafumia nicho babaya, namwe nebakhebulila nibo beraana nabo bakwaa mububukoo, andi kimienya ekio kisiliho. Muchuba muhenje chingila nga mwakachula. Liakila naboola ndi mukhebusie kakandi khubakhupi e-tungu babandi nelisubila mbo semundolela bubi tawe.

Nga mwabakhebulila, sebali “Waske Musungu ne Nyongesa Mukanda, Fwoti, nende Laisa bong’eene ta.” Mwebilila Omulagu Chelobani khurura e Cheputais namwe khane e Wamono. Mumukhebulila? Owamwekesia khukhupa e guitar naye kaba Laisa. Khuli ne kimienya kimikali kisomesia buli mundu ne khukhilaho kili kia marehemu Wasike Musungu. Lundi kilimo bifuno. Usually the music reflects, at times, the social concerns, politics, and developments of the artist’s society including his/her own life experiences. May I furnish you with some more information on what you provided concerning the following: Omuliuli Laisa bewa Temba, kumwenya kwewe mbo “E-Bung’oma mu Spinning” was based on the Government promotion of homecraft and women education in our district that was (first North Nyanza and later Elgon Nyanza).

In various villages during 1950’s - 1960’s and location centres at that time, women congregated and were urged to attend regularly to sew table clothes, crotchet, make their own dresses and sweaters, cooking, etc. Those who performed better, went on for upgrading at Bungoma Homecraft Centre. From there they were selected to attend the Kenya Institute of Administration at Kabete. Ne wekesia Laisa khukhupa e guitar kaba wandaaye William khwa Ben Maka. He had a big head as someone said. But he was not 5ft 4ins as reported in Lumboka.

He was nearly my height 5ft 9ins. Nomwene kaba omwiwana Musonge, khu Basonge be Wachipo. Semwalomakho Masinde Nalobile tawe, namwe abundi mwaloma nebilile. Nayee khukhwama e Makheele, Kamusinga Anglican Church. Ali omusoreri wembeelanga babandu kumwenya mbo “Omukhana Sarah Khatioli.” Nomwene kafwa lulumbe nilwo balanganga Kimilili bali “Nylon.” It was, perhaps a precursor to what today our people every where call “Bwembeo.”

Ne okundi niye mwebilila kaba Peter Wekhomba Mwangale. Naaye kemba kumwenya mbo “Bayinda be Kimilili” when he was a student in Uganda. Wamwikisia khukhupa e guitar kaba wandaaye omukhulu Absalom Wekhomba Omukinyikeu wa 44. Omuloosi wamwibula niye waba omukhulu. Peter’s song soured relationship between him and his father. The father felt that as a staunch Quaker, he had been shamed by the son for playing a guitar recording a song in tribute to him and others as farmers. Many Christian families or parents felt the same at that time e.g. Mwinamo’s father in Liranda in Isukha, disowned him for same reason.

However, Masinde Nalobile, Laisa ne Peter Wekhomba baba Babanyange 1950 – 1948. In that category of their music, there was another remarkable artist at the Coast, called Fadhili Williams. He sang the original “Malaika Nakupenda, malaika…..” Another very famous artist was Omutachoni Lusamoya from Ndivisi. Kumwenya kwewe nikwo babandu bakhiina for a long time was “Munandi.” It was the equivalentof “Bumping.”

Okundi kaba Lutubula from the same place. Naye kapanga “Limoyi”. But Omukananachi Kilikinji owe bawa Matere wa Lumonya khurura e Kamukuywa, naye oyo kapanga sinanda sichanula (the cordion) nende syekhumunwa (the harmonica). Yaba naaye kimienya kiewe kiaba bali “Ekorasi” ye Lulumbuchu (the waltz).

The reason for this was the second world war influence. Our people who were conscripted into the army (King’s African Regiment) to serve in this war as pioneers (Panyako) brought back memories of the music they experienced being danced to by the British soldiers. Related to this, the squaters on European farms across Kamukuywa river and the music they played and danced to imitating their masters, was Waltz. The returned soldiers with their squeaky boots-on danced waltz. Hence, the common saying in Bukusu that “Yaba neba kenda, biraro bilomaa busa bili miaa, khamusini, miaa khamusini.”

So omusakhulu Kilikinji mirrored that generation’s music. It's popularity among the Bakananachi to Bakinyikeu caused Kilikinji to continue playing even for Babanyange generation. I listened and danced to a few of his live music performances at one of the Kimilili location festival events during 1950 – 1956. These events or functions used to feature older artists like Kilikinji and younger artists like Laisa and Masinde Nalobile.

The promoter of such social activities was a community social worker, my cousin, Emanuel Nabwana under the direction of Major Ryland, a British colonial Community Development Officer from Kakamega. He taped the artists’ music. A nationally well known musician of Kilikinji’s generation in Kenya, was Paul Mwachupa, from the Coast. He sang “Simba Matata, and Simba..” in 1940’s and 1950’s. He died three to four years ago aged in late 80’s.

Before the generation of Bakananachi, a very notable artist was my grand father, Omukolongolo Munyatibu Machio Silenge, “Wapanga Litungu.” Almost no Mukananachi and Mukikwameti in Bukusu would say that they never heard of him.

It is said by our clans men that he started playing “Litungu” (the harp) at the age of 10. He was the only one in Bukusu who played an eleven stringed harp. In his adolescent years, Nabongo Mumia (King Mumia) had him play before him and his visitors. From then onwards, they said, Kuka Machio regularly entertained mainly “Nabongo Mumia and his royal family members at Elureko (the present Mumias). Sometimes his father Silenge Mukhasokho would refuse his adolescent son to travel that far to delight the king with his talented blend of music. This would annoy the king and cause him to order that the boy music artist be brought to play.

When he was initiated into manhood through circumcision in 1906, Machio was ordered by the king to live near-by so he could entertain the king’s family and visitors daily within a short notice. He was given a farm at e-Matungu (that is now under the current Mumias sugar cane plantation). The mosquitoes became a nuisance for him. So in 1912, he settled at Kibisi and Bituyu (the present Bewa Silenge and Nebolola) in Kibingei and Kimilili locations.

Kibisi was considered close to Shibachi’s settlement in Teremi, and Bituyu was close enough to Waluchio’s and Murunga’s homesteads in Kimilili since they were the rulers (kind of governors representing Nabongo Mumia) in that part of Bukusu. From this base, he moved around with other royal family members playing his music. He entertained mostly Murunga and Waluchio and their families.

These were the princes, the king’s brothers who had established their rule over Babukusu in the East with Kimilili town as their headquaters. Machio’s music was inspirational and informative. Thus far, uncle Pascal Nabwana told me one evening in 1962 before we left for Gatundu the following morning. He was to visit his old friend, who had been released from detention and restriction and was now relaxing at home among his people. That was the future Prime Minister and President of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta.

Pascal Nabwana told me, “Papa, oli kukao Machio karakikha khukhupa litungu, naye we chimbeengele afundeela, kukao embaa ali “Nikhaala ne mubolela ndi silibaao, nanywe muli ta. Khubolela mwana Shihundu, Basoreri enjeeyi balikho bakhaaba. Ewe lilaakho elala. Nyanga niyo Babukusu balikhu-kalukhaanakho, olindeeba, Naluliingo….”

After Machio repeated the chorus twice, and as he started the third one, Waluchio stopped him. Pascal said that he would have struck Machio’s harp down breaking it, had it not been for Murunga’s intervention. The overall senior chief/ruker grabbed Waluchio and told him, “Lekha omwana wa Silenge embee kumwenya kwewe. Enywe rekeresia niko kumwenya kuboola.”

According to uncle Pascal’s narrative, Machio finished his song. Then played three more that evening before Murunga and his royal family members retired to sleep. He also ordered Machio to go and rest, presumably to sleep, too. In those days, Babukusu were organising themselves to rebel and overthrow the Bawanga rule and dominance over them. Within six months, Pascal explained, Bukusu delegation went to Kakamega to petition the Colonial Administrator. They demanded that a ruler be selected from their own Babukusu tribes men.

The name they put forward, as a possible candidate, was rejected by the colonial authority. They wanted someone literate and conversant with government affairs. The delegates then argued that if that was what was required, they proposed Omukolongolo Namutala Mayeku. He was then a young man working as an office messanger and Kiswahili interpreter in the Colonial Administrator’s office in Kakamega. Murunga and Waluchio returned to Elureko as Namutala was installed the Chief of Kimilili. After that Gatundu visit, I went home at Kibingei towards the end of the month. I told my father about our visit and above all, the story that was narrated to me by uncle Pascal Nabwana. Arising from my father’s confirmation of it, I realised how instrumental my grandfather had been in the struggle to overthrow the Bawanga dominance and rule through his music.

It made sense then why each time adults inquired of who I was when I was growing up, and I said son of “Henry Mukhwana Machio.” Then the usual statement that came back as a reply was, “Khaane ewe Omwichukhulu wa Machio Silenge, owapangaa Litungu.” Trust me, I tried to access Machio’s music tapes and failed.

I would, therefore, appreciate immensely, if any of you guys in Lumboka, have accessed or know how to uncover such music that colonialists taped and never showed to our music artists of the generations of yesterday

posted by The LUMBOKA Star @ Monday, December 13, 2004 0

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Bukusu Political Leadership:An overview

By Wafula Buke. Nairobi, 2004

Belumboka: I was asked to kick-start a discusion on Bukusu political leadership.
I thought, the bestkick-off needed to be more historical than analytical.
Sorry, it’s a bit longer than advised. I hope it serves the purpose. So as to also gain from this discussion, I decided to confine myself to the period before the rise of NARC.

What I considered a short transition period, actually a multi-party general election political hangover, stayed on for rathertoo long.The new political actors in Kenya turned ethnicity, lies and manipulation of issues and events into an ideology that guided political practice. Ethnic evangelism became the norm and politicians only seemed to differ in their degree of sophistication in progating the same. Unlike their counterparts in Zambia, who understood the essence of democratic struggles and joined forces to defeat the ruling party, the new elite awakened the communal wisdom of yester-years after 1992 to strengthen the walls of ethnic cocoons.

Kiswahili, our national language, was regarded as a symbol of foreignness and a cog in the conveyance of community schemes for its share of the national cake. Politics became an ethnic activity whose goalwas to outdo other communities in the struggle for national leadership. All the political parties quickly evolved into vehicles for ethnic struggles for power. They called it“real-politick”Subsequently election campaigns were characterised by ethnic appeals.

Political party manifestos were rarely used or mentioned. In a party’s stronghold, that inmost cases coincided with an ethnic community, party policies were replaced with learned and ethnicized lies. Selected speakers reduced the nation to the community and portrayed other communities as ‘foreign’nations working in alliance with them to foster their community designs or in the alternative enemies. Political alliances were not based onpolitical beliefs but on the extent towhich the community schemes for powerand access to national resources mutually reinforced each other.The most vociferous ethnic elite were those who compared badly as role model sat the national scene. Because they had nonational democratic credentials, they could only seek support from their ethnic bases.

The late Masinde Muliro saved my home region from this renegade brand of politicsin the early 1990s. Muliro left a legacyof nationalism by his utterances and political alliances. He had appealed for reconciliation in the tussle for control of the original FORD. I felt Jaramogi merited support as the leader of the democratic forces since the sixties. Upon launching his campaign, Muliro emphasised to his own constituents in Kitale that anybody could lead regardless of his orher tribal affiliation.

Sunday, December 12, 2004
The 1991-92 ethnic murders did not reduce him to an ethnic chauvinist or warmonger. He retained his independence of mind and a commitment to national rather than ethnic interests. His demise therefore left a legacy ofnationalism and the new ‘democratic’ forces took advantage of to sway the peoples’support to FORD-Kenya. After the demise of Jaramogi Odinga, hisVice-Chairman, Michael Kijana Wamalwa roseto the chairmanship of FORD-K. Wamalwa’s rise marked the change of generation from the elderly pre-independence one to a younger one.

There was a radical change in policies from the centrists’ point with a nationali stand Pan-Africanist perspective, to rightwing and inward looking policies. With his rise a new fashion surfaced; ethnic lense in political vision. For example, when Wamalwa spoke to Luos after Jaramogi’s death, he referred to them as nationalists who will not take from him the leadership of FORD-K. This eventualitysaw the people’s nationalistic consciousnesseroded by the political elite of the Bukusuin Bungoma and Trans Nzioa districts, where the community’s geographical span ends. The downward drift of our peoples’ consciousness was justified by the apparent belief that“one of their own was going to be president.“Sisio aba sio. Siakhabola so mwata tawe”(What is yours is yours and even if it rots youdo not throw it away) became a fashionable proverbwhich every speaker had to idenify with.

Politics similarly acquired a new definition: A Bukusu activity aimed at getting one of their own to the presidency. The measure for political correctnesswas determined by the stand one took with regard to the goals captured in the above definition. The most rabid ones could at times go sectional and attack other Luhyasub-tribes. In the 1995 Webuye by-election campaign,for example,the late George Welime Kapten,then Kwanza Member of Parliament, said that“Biluhyia bia Kakamega bino bie korokoro busa”(these Kakamega Luhyias are just worthya tin of maize).

Matthew Okwanda, a FORD-K official and laterLabour Party of Kenya national chairman, who was present, was so enraged that he went back to Kakamega. Those with high academic credentials argued that there was no harm for any of them to speak their own language in State House the waythe Kikuyu had done, and the Kalenjin were doing. John Munyasia, a rustic politician and Sirisia constituency M.P, crowned it all by oftensaying: “the Kikuyu ate, the Kalenjin are eating,and you mean we Luhyas have no stomachs. ”Wamalwa Kijana became a king surrounded byBukusu cheerleaders with Dr. Kituyi being the chief strategist. Saulo Busolo’s brief stint at parliament was marked with occasional digressions from the Bukusu political creed when he called for an honest review of the performance of the Ford- Kenya national leadership under the chairmanship of Kijana Wamalwa. He took the lead in suggesting that F.K.enters into cooperation with KANU.

He was subsequently dubbed a supporter of Raila Odinga and voted out of parliament through with Wamalwa’s influence. The leaders could move from one division to another telling the people that all Kenyans communities were supporting Wamalwa Kijana for presidency. And“just as one cannot stop a cow from delivering a calf when the time has come,Wamalwa was headed to State Housewhether anybody liked it or not.”Munyasia once said.

They took advantage of the peoples inability to traverse Kenya to cheat them. While working at the Kenya Human Rights Commission, I encountered a person who claimed that his land had been grabbed by Wamalwa. Wamalwa told the fellow to wait till they got power; he would be allocated when Wamalwa got the presidency. He was promised alternative land. Constructive thinking about developmentin the many facets of life ground to anall time low with Saboti constituency leading the pack as the presidential dream engulfed the Bukusu.

When youth for Kanu ’92 chairman Cyrus Jirongo fell out with Kanu power barons, Bungoma MPs public vowed to “defend one of their own if and when the state attacked him.” Jirongo all over a sudden became ‘one of their own’. The government-engineered murders in Mount Elgon got transformed into an invaluable propaganda weapon in consolidating the Bukusu into a political unit for use inthe national inter-ethnic struggles for political power.

While the Kikuyu political elite supported their own by highlighting the suffering of their clash victims in Molo, ours were left alone. Wamalwa never organized a single charitable activity while the late Kapten demanded Ksh.15,000 from FERA suspects.These perceptions slowly but steadily prepared the ground for the political rehabilitation of established politicians, as it became apparent that the substance of their politics was the same.

Wamalwa Kijana even had the guts to appeal to former minister Elijah Mwangale, a man who had been accused of fleecing a farmers’company- Nzoia Sugar, to defect and get a‘gift’ by being elected back to parliament to replace the renegade Mukhisa Kituyi. The issue of political credibility shifted from the content of a person’s politics and track record to association with and propagation of Wamalwa’s presidential dream. In a sense, the rise of Wamalwa to the leadershipof FK narrowed the intellectual horizons of the Bukusu elite who everywhere gathered to discuss their 1.5 million or so people.

Development projects through fund raising started being viewed and explained as attempts by the economically mighty within KANU to derail the ‘Grand March to State House.’ The wait we take power first before we develop was a declaration of bankrupcy. They could have organized their people to address their problems using the human and material resources available to initiate development. This is what progressive MPs in other parts of the country did. Munyasia for example, instead held meetingswith old men at his Bungoma residence so as to enrich his stock of Bukusu sayings and proverbs for its manipulative application in public rallies.

For this pre-occupation, he earned himself a nickname, Manguliech, a respectedBukusu sage. While I would have expected them to strive to be nicknamed after modern intellectuals deeply involved in contemporary issues, the Bukusu leaders were busy competing to amass the Bukusu wisdom associated with the old communal mode ofproduction. What they consciously disregarded was that communal system was based on a certain mode of production and that society’s development of tools to control the laws of nature.

In the struggle with nature, the society started settling for farming; land became scarce leading to both inter- ethnic co-operation and conflicts. Communities either co-operated orattacked each other and at this time, peopleforgot about their internal differences and related as members of a community. The same happened when a wild animal broke into their residence.

This in my opinion, is theorigin of the bukusu saying “Sioo aba sisio. Siakhabola so si mwata tawe”.(Ours is ours even if it rots; you do notthrow it away). Help if I am wrong. But in modern Kenya the mode of production is capitalism with its emphasison property relations. There are a few rich people, a small urban-based working class and the majority who are rural peasants. In this reality unity ought to take a class format as conflicts take a class bearing with the elite impoverishing sugarcane, tea, coffee, dairy,cotton, maize and cashew nuts peasant farmers?

The few who control most of the land also happen to be largely represented in the foreign owned transitional corporations as directors, or as suppliers of office stationery. This is the reality on the ground all overKenya. And instead of preaching horizontal alliances and the ideology that captured their common predicament, Bukusu leaders opted for a failed and unsustainable verticalunity of the exploiter and the exploited.

This could explain why they found it easy to commemorate the Chetambe war of resistance over a century ago, but failed to commemorate Muliro whose politics towawards theirs. No wonder it took the unknowns to get Kanduyi stadium re-named after Masinde Muliro. Earlier, at the height of ethno-blood letting, all the elite in the district came together to raise funds to assist the victims. This voluntary organisation later metamorphisized into Bungoma Professionals Association.

Though the initial aims and objectives were noble, the structure of BPA made it an exclusive club for the economically well to do. The club hadbeen constituted specifically to organise the resources, human and material, for development in Wamalwa’s presidential bid. Whenever they attended rallies one could hear interesting introductions. ‘The person before you is a doctor. Do you know who a doctor is?’ And the crowd shouted in the negative. ‘ A doctor or a Ph.D. holder is one who has read all bookson earth including newspaper piece you use for folding cigarettes. Doctor, come forward and advice our people’. The doctor could then step forward and pump lies into the trusting masses.

Whenever they were together, they talked about appointments to various positions if and when Wamalwa took power. Just as it happened at independence, the Bukusu middle class, that preached Bukusu chauvinism despite the presence of other ethnic communities in the region, were waiting to display their prominent positions inthe Wamalwa led government. To them appointmentsto these positions was to be a measure of social development. Ideally the elite were supposed to be custodians of wisdom having benefited most from the peasant mothers and fathers. Unfortunately this clubviewed the Bukusu peasants as objects formanipulation in their competition with other elites from other communities for their enrichment as is currently happening.

They also considered themselves as the stock from which leaders could be drawn; theirs was representation of class aspirations.

Copyright © 2004 Lumboka, All rights reserved.
posted by The LUMBOKA Star @ Sunday, December 12, 2004

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Elijah Masinde, Omubichachi

By Prof. Julius Wangila Mukhwana
Australia, 2004

On the question of Elijah Masinde’s prophecy,
as asked by some of our Lumboka members
particularly Omukiyabi Mwalimu Kukubo Barasa,
I have this to share with all of you and thereby
contribute to responses by many members.

I hope you do not mind my lengthy explanation.
I knew about Elijah Masinde when I was growing
up in Kibingei. His religion “Dini Ya Musambwa”
had intensified and gathered speed across our
Masaaba community (Babukusu and Bagisu) and
beyond in what is now Kibingei Location.
He used to preach to people that gathered on
Kitayi Hill in our village. All herd-boys
in the village would bring around “Bibiaayo”
(grazing cattle, goats and sheep) to hear
him along side the adults.

I was one of those who brought my maternal grand
mother’s goats and sheep as well so to listen
to his preaching. I believe, and presumably with
the other boys of my age not yet attending
school,the attraction was not what he preached.
It was rather the spectacular crowd of people
that were all dressed in white, long garments.
That fascinated me. The adults said he spoke in
parables and told them about what the community
should do for the days ahead in future.

His inner circle of followers, we told, used
to go up-stream to the sources of Lwakhakha,
Kuywa, Kibisi, Kibingei, and Kamukuywa rivers
to pray and conduct traditional rites.
They slaughtered sheep and supplicated to
ancestral guardian spirits of our community.
He did the same thing in various caves and
climbed the foothills of Masaaba (Mount Elgon)
to worship Wele Mukhobe we Bakuka (the Almighty

His following grew and eventually all
Christian churches in Bukusu shrank in
membership because they had joined “Dini Ya
Musambwa.” A religion that was described by
colonialists and other Christians,
the non-believers (who included our own
Babukusu, Bagisu, and Batachoni) and those far
away in Buluhya and Kalenjin as worshipers
of devils.

Yet they were not.

Dini Ya Musambwa dedicated itself to ancestral
spirits, and accepted the power of super
natural force in the universe or the world in
which we live. Something that our people
traditionally related to well from time
immemorial. Suddenly, we heard that Elijah had
gone into hiding. They looked for him every
where. As we were children, adults never told us details.
I started school a year after he
was arrested. It was then that I learned more
about him from my Quaker parents, villagers
and other School children.

It was reported that the Kimilili police found
him in a well dug out hole around Chesamisi.

As he left with them, he allegedly “cursed”
an old man called Isaya and his family for
revealing his hideout. He also “cursed” Chief
Namutala for accompanying and guiding them to
that hide-out. It is well known that told him,
“When I return you, Mayeku’s son, will no longer
be around as Chief of Kimilili; Location.
Our religion as a movement for chasing away
these evil people you are protecting will have
assumed different dimensions.”

Chief Namutala countered that he was crazy and
gave orders to his aides to give Elijah Masinde
some more flogging. As he was led away and
driven in an open police land-rover, flanked
both sides by police men, throngs of our people
stood by the road side from Chesamisi to Kimilili
and cried. Elijah just waved all the way, as he
assured them of his return and reminded them of
undertaking the “Offerings and rites to rid
themselves and the community off the bad spirits
(Mwihosia ki wele kimibii, mukheebilila ta.”

All these things have been said over and over
in Bukusu. My father told me, and while working
in Nairobi, Omukinyikeu Willis Wangila Wanyonyi
told me after he returned to Nairobi to work as
an accountant with Treasury in the late 1960s.
Also, mzee Isaya’s son who was kuka Mark
Barasa’s driver when he was an MP, and stayed at
my flat in Nairobi when parliament was in
session, told me, too.

As Omukananachi Elijah Masinde had predicted,
when he was released from detention in
Kismayu, he found mzee Isaya economically
badly badly off. Omukolongolo Chief Namutala
khwa Mayeku was no longer Chief of Kimilili
(which had then split into Bokoli, Kimilili,
and Ndivisi). The prevalent politics were of
KADU and KANU demanding independence. All the
protestant and and catholic churches were full
to the brim with members as before the peak
of Dini Ya Musambwa during 1945 – 1948.

However, our Bukusu Brotherhood East Africa
(BBEA) based in Nairobi had split to
reluctantly create Bukusu Welfare Society
that was based in Bungoma. The former received
Omusakhulu Omukananachi yuno in March 1962
after he had been released from detention.
The split was as a result of the late Willis
Wangila Wanyonyi going to Bungoma in 1960 as
Treasurer of the African District Council of
Elgon Nyanza.

As president, he believed that the association
was best run from home in Bungoma. Ordinary
members and the Executive disagreed. So from 1961
onwards, Bakokiwe Alfayo Wekesa Lurare from
Muchi and his supporters refused and continued
to run the Bukusu Brotherhood E.A from Nairobi
as before. The Bukusu young fellows, including
myself, from various Secondary Schools and
working in Nairobi, did not like the way it
was run by the older generation. We felt that
they were not radical enough.

On one hand, Willis and Tom Katenya, who
was Organising Secretary for the Bukusu
Welfare Society, had the enormous backing
of the Chiefs and elders who mattered most
in Bungoma district. They collectively promoted
the Bukusu Welfare Society amongst our people.
They argued that older generations preferred to
have their own association. They claimed that
Bukusu Brotherhood E.A suited mainly young and
urbanised Bukusus working in various towns of
East Africa. In effect, that is how we

Anyhow, our BBEA executive met with Elijah
Masinde, Israel Khaoya, etc in Nairobi.
We discussed the prevalent KANU-KADU politics.
Masinde Muliro had already received him at home
in Bungoma with a big party. He had bought
Elijah a modern transistor radio that he loved
so much that wherever he went he carried it.
I remember how he asked each one of us after
the meeting started, “to first of all, state our
clans and our fathers’ names and their
circumcision sets, plus what side of politics
we supported.”

After hearing what he requested and that all
of us were for KADU, he looked at kuka Israel
Khaoya, turned to us and said, “You must ask
your fathers to tell you what I told them
before Europeans imprisoned me. Tell Masinde
Muliro and his friend from the Coast, near
the Ocean, that their party will not win
government.” All of us executive members
believed in KADU and so his revelation
shocked us.

There was silence in the room.

Then he added, "“Muliro should have no
political association with Kenyatta because
this man had brought too much blood shed in
the country.” He asked us whether we had u
nderstood all that he had said. When we
replied in affirmative, Elijah Masinde stood
up and said that the meeting was finished.
We were kind of confused. However, after that
meeting, Bernard Barasa Cheloti, who now
resides in Cherengany, and I went with
our visitors to Nimmi Photograghers Studio
at the corner of Duke Street and River
Road to have a photograph with them.
I gave that photo to Wandayase Fred Makila
in the late 1960’s when he was researching
for a book on “Elijah Masinde and Musambwa.”
If any of our Lumboka historian needs a
copy of it, I suggest that you check with
him or Bernard B. Cheloti.

Admittedly, I have not seen a publication
on Elijah Masinde by Fred Makila or
anybody since then.

Anyway, when the General Election results
of May 1963, under the Lancaster House
conference Constitution were declared,
KADU had lost. And KANU was victorious.
In effect fulfilling Elijah Masinde’s
prophecy or prediction. I still recall
vividly how Tom Mboya and Mwai Kibaki hugged
each other and performed a bear-dance in
Jevanjee Street in jubilation. Since the
offices were opposite each other,
those of us gathered in KADU office
looked like people at some wake and observing
vigil. Despite that euphoria, KANU did not
want to form government without Jomo Kenyatta.

Governor MacDonald asked KADU to form the
required “Responsible Government” which
ultimately brought Kenyatta Home Again.
Hence Ronald Ngala’s and Masinde Muliro’s
cars, and a similar one given to Kenyatta
were registered with plate numbers KHA 2,
and KHA 3, and KHA 1 respectively.

Prior to the General Election of May 1963,
a number of elders and chiefs in Bungoma
led by my uncle Pascal Nabwana, had been
urging Masinde Muliro to side with the
Luos on grounds of Arithmetic and Geography.
Uncle Pascal Nabwana used to tell me
that he kept telling Muliro, “ Khuuba ne Barwa
nende Baswahili, Papa, aba olinga oweikame
mumurongoro, efula nekwaa. Soli munju ta.”
Apparently these were same sentiments Elijah
Masinde had expressed to Masinde Muliro when
the latter sought his support for KADU policy.

Elijah Masinde refused to support any political
party or endorse KADU’s policy.

Then in 1964, Elijah Masinde, who had fallen
out with Muliro earlier before the General
Election, stated that “Masinde Muliro nali
owulila, Baana Babukusu, ahambane ne Bajaluo,
nyanga balimuwa Bubwami.” And in 1965/66 he said
in Kimilili that “ Nabone omwana aselukhe mu
Babukusu. Omwana mwenoyoo aliamiha.” He continued
as the gathering grew bigger around him, “Omwana
wefwe alichaa amihe, ne Muliro akhapanila bali
ele khu sisala sya Kenyatta tawe. Alekha busa
okundi elekho, eye kamafuki khundebe ng’eneyo.
Mala owililekho oyo, aliaahachililisia babandu
barekane mumaya.”

At that time, Elijah Masinde also returned
from his visit to Bugisu. He had gone to confer
with his Musambwa flock and Omuyinga, the Bagisu
ruler/king, and other Kombololo (County) Chiefs
especially Wanambwa. But Prime Minister Apollo
Milton Obote ordered his arrest. Upon release
from jail in Uganda, he was escorted to the
Kenya border. He looked for “Sihuna” from the
shrubs, uprooted it, and dragged it along.
It gathered rubbish behind him. Then he told
those around and accompanying him “that he
had gathered Obote’s power together that would
soon end.”

He travelled peacefully to his home in Maeni,
Kimilili. Later when briefing his flock, he
declared that it had been revealed to him in
the previous night that “Omulang’o emwalo sye e
Matore, mbone karurire khu Bwami. Lundi mbone
karerire kamafuki musibala. Chia mwekesie ba
Befwe e Mbale.” Indeed, our people went and
communicated the tidings to Bagisu elders
and Omuyinga together with the County Chiefs,
and returned to Maeni. Obviously, you all know
what happened to President Obote of Uganda when
Major General Iddi Amin Dada staged an army
coup in 1971.

That fulfilled Elijah Masinde’s prediction.
Prior to this stage, our leaders had dismissed
him and called him names just as they did in
1948 before the colonialists subsequently
arrested and detained him in Kismayu.
Everywhere Elijah Masinde appeared, our
political leaders and some of the elders in the
community avoided him. These leaders described
him as psychotic and called on the Administration
to control his movements. Suddenly he was
restricted to Maeni village only and not allowed
to meet with people from other villages. Some
leaders outside the community did not heed this
government requirement.

Notably Jaramogi Oginga Odinga maintained his
close contact with him. So did uncle Pascal
Nabwana who had not gone along with government
restrictions. Pascal Nabwana argued that
Elijah Masinde was once more being persecuted
for his views by an independent Kenyan Government
as the colonialists did. The parliamentarians
in our community from Bungoma to Trans Nzoia
distanced themselves as Elijah Masinde
snarled and yelled out insults at President
Jomo Kenyatta publicly.

After all, he had not liked Kenyatta since he
came out of detention. Eventually Elijah was
arrested and charged. Like before, he would
tell the magistrate trying him, “Ewe omwana
wananu. Ne rarao singilo si? Niko nabolelanga
bararao wenywe nebakhawulila ta. Bona wesi
solikho owulila ta. Ngosile sina Papa, kila
wunjimia ano. Sowolaana khukhumbocha kumuse
tawe. Ndekhenjengo.”

To those enforcing the law, they took this
to mean Elijah had no respect for the
law and Government leadership. So he was
additionally charged with “contempt of
court.” He was jailed for a bundle of these
petty misdeeds at Kamiti maximum security
prison. He was then later transferred to
Mathari Mental Hospital in Nairobi where
he stayed without treatment.

For he was not mentally sick. Cosma Makhanu’s
young brother, who was a Spdt.Officer of
Prison at Kamiti, was very understanding.
He treated Omusakhulu kindly, and at times
gave him tea and bread, and cigarettes.
This gentleman used to allow us and other
special visitors enough time to converse
with him.

During this time, Bakananachi Kuka Israel
Khaoya, Omukitanga khurura e Matili and
papa Wekunda, Omubichachi we e-Maeni, and
their Secretary, from Ndivisi, visited him
regularly at Kamiti and Mathari Hospital.
I hosted them on each visit. Later they told
me that he had demanded that I accompany
them whenever they visited on weekends
since during the week I was unable to visit
with them on account of my employment.
From that time onwards, they empowered me
to be visiting him on their behalf and
convey messages both ways including messages
to Odinga and Pascal Nabwana.

They had travelled to Kisumu and informed
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga of the arrangement.
Jaramogi told them that him and I had been
friends for a long time and he knew that
I was a nephew of Pascal Nabwana. Every time
I visited Omusakhulu Omukananachi at Kamiti
or Mathari, he showed concern all the
time for our people. He repeatedly told me
his previous advices to Bukusu community
that have come to be known as or referred
to in Kimilili, “Elijah Masinde sekwaboola.
Elijah, wase, kang’oola khaale busa.”

I wrote to Chairman Michael Wamalwa
reminding him of “Elijah’s sayings or
prouncements” when he became Vice President.

In short, to me, based on what I outlined
earlier, Michael Simiyu Wamalwa fulfilled
Elijah Masinde’s prophecy. It would have
been complete, in this regard, had he been
around with us now. Obviously he would have
succeeded President Mwai Kibaki. Balii ka
Wele sekamanyikhanga, fwana khuliba nokundi.
Those of you who pore over his archival
records, you are bound to see my correspondence
with him. Previously, I had shared with
him over the phone on many occasions before
anybody knew that he would be a V-P in Kenya
one day. This was during my usual chats of
advice regarding the politics in our
community and Kenya at large.

Despite this constant communication with
Mike, he apparently paid inadequate attention
to viewpoints from various Bukusu friends and
colleagues both at home and in diaspora.
They include people like omusakhulu Omubuya
Zephaneah Wekesa with whom I coordinated
effectively the “Sichikhi & Lumuli” politics
from 1975 through the demise of President Jomo
Kenyatta in 1978 up to the end of 1980.

Undoubtedly, none of you would ever know what
that refers to or means within Bukusu politics.
Not even the present or the previous politicians
know it save one. You will need to ask Zeph and
I about that in future, God willing.

Copyright © 2004 Lumboka, All rights reserved.