[ i,S.I.S intro: Hadithi? Hadithi? Hadithi njoo! Giza ya?  Nilienda Harare, Jinja, Kakamega, Kampala, Kimilili na Webuye, hapo (pamoja na) Bredrin en dadas in solidarity: tunajenga nyumba, tunalima, tunamshukuru mungu [na tunapokula na watoto] wetu, wazee hutusimulia hadithi ya moyo wa afrika…..

Hadithi? Hadithi? Check dis’ ‘Bukusu’ narratives reposted from the Lumboka Star]

BEMU LUMBOKA: MUMANYE MULI, KIMIENYA NE SELUKHO
By Prof. Julius Wangila Mukhwana. Australia.

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/hir 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 home craft 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 everywhere 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 squatters 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 [and even still today…..]

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