blogger’s note: (separating) fact (from history). truth is in the signs…..
1. His obituary in the NY times on June 9, 1987
NAIROBI, Kenya, June 8— Elijah Masinde, the leader of western Kenya’s Dini ya Musambwa sect and an opponent of colonial and independent Kenyan governments, died today. He was 75 years old.
Mr. Masinde, who regarded himself as a prophet, founded his fundamentalist sect in 1942 as a direct challenge to the authorities. He urged his followers to destroy their identity cards and not pay taxes. He spent much of his life in prison as a result of his activities.
2. and according to Wikipedia, (Elijah) Masinde was
Born around 1910 – 1912 in Kimilili, Bungoma District , Masinde wa Nameme okwa Mwasame started out as a footballer, who captained a football team from Kimilili. He also played for Kenyan national team in the Gossage Cup  against Uganda in 1930. By the early 1940s, he had risen to the rank of a junior elder within his community in Kimilili area, and became increasingly anti-colonial. In 1944, he led a number of localised defiance campaigns against the colonial authorities, and was imprisoned many times as a result. At one time he was kept in Mathare Mental Hospital and in Lamu.
In his early years Masinde managed to light a fire over a Grass thatched fire and cook a meal that people ate. During his detention in Kapenguria with Jomo Kenyatta he managed to forewarn Kenyatta of an impeding assassination plot, the bullet missed Kenyatta by inches. Before Kenya gained independence, he instructed Masinde Muliro on the tin that contained Kenyan soil.
While in jail, Masinde claimed to have had a vision. In the vision Wele Khakaba(God the Provider) instructed him to tell the whiteman to quit Kenya for it is not his country], and proclaimed that a Blackman is going to rule Kenya in the future.That whitemen are sheep of God now turned into wolves that were feasting on children of Wele(God). When he was released, he revived Musambwa(Luhya word meaning The Spirit of a people”), and gained huge followings in western Kenya, Uganda,Pokot, Turkana and even Baringo District.
Upon Kenya’s independence, Masinde was detained by the government of Jomo Kenyatta for almost 15 years. He had been accused of fomenting religious hatred. He was released by the government of Daniel arap Moi in 1978, Moi also arrested him following his clashes with traffic policemen in Webuye and Kitale. Elija Masinde remained defiant and always questioned post independence Kenya government especially on the issue of land distribution and citizen rights. He died in 1987, a neglected freedom fighter.
Before his death, Masinde pointed out to his elder son the spot where he wanted to be buried – he wanted a huge sycamore tree uprooted to make way for his grave. The family decided to bury him elsewhere, though, but were thwarted when a spot they chose for his grave turned out to be a hidden grave. They took this to be an omen and proceeded to bury him in the spot where the sycamore tree had been.
He left a widow, Sarah Nanyama Masinde. She was still alive in November 2007 and was then reportedly 105 years old.
blogger’s note: it’s sad for me to admit that I know little more about elijah masinde than what I’ve read in books, and mostly just within the past few years. it’s sad, because it serves as a testament to how disconnected we are from our ancestors (read: it serves as a testament to how “I” am disconnected fromy my ancestors, for you see these are hadithi about a hero from ‘my’ hood, of ‘my’ people…..I shoulda known more, but I can’t say I don’t know parts of the story now….)
Elijah Masinde, Omubichachi
KHU BUNG’OOSI BWA ELIJAH MASINDE, OMUBICHACHI.
By Prof. Julius Wangila Mukhwana
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 God).
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 historians need 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 naliowulila, 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 baBefwe 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
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.
(first) Posted by Lumboka Star
Elijah Masinde: Rebel with a Cause – Ezekiel Alembi
Elijah Masinde: a biography – V.G Simiyu
Elijah Masinde and the Dini Ya Musambwa – James Bandi Shimanyula