[ 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

 I give thanks for yesterday, today and tomorrow. I give thanks for the gathering for the memorial of the death of Elijah Masinde, and our deepening connection with egun en those yet to be born.

Bless our ancestors, bredrin and dadas in solidarity en pikney. I pray that you forgive my sins, those that I do and don’t know about. I pray for my family, friends, enemies, and that I may not have any enemies…..Guide us to our right [full] destinies.

I pray for health and prosperity not only for myself but for others. Bless those who heal and look after themselves AND others, en (gran) mama earth.  

Ase. Ase…..

 I invite you to listen to dis’ poem and consider dis quote found (again) in a post on http://www.blacklooks.org/

“The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became
blood like that of a dead man; and every living thing in the sea died.”
Revelation 16:3

 

Sankofa! Our ancestors are not gone, we stand on their shoulders, (as) they live deep in (around en under) us.

so consider then dis’ (pre) Obituary of Simiyu Barasa

Written by Himself

 Focus [on Afrika]: Kenya view 

When you find yourself talking with several guests of the morbid situation of your country during the wedding of one of your friends, you quickly realize there is something wrong with your country. When your National broadcasters show men being dragged out of public service vehicles and hacked to death by a mob of young men who do not even hide their faces from the police a few metres away, and such scenes are repeated more than the advertisements and commercials, then your country is doomed. When you hear that people are chased from their homes into a church for belonging to a particular tribe, and then followed into the church where women and children are locked inside and then burnt alive, my friends, you are no longer in a country, you are living inside hell on earth.

The Swahili (oh, that language that was supposed to unite us and now has been rendered impotent in its intended super-glue powers) – the Swahili say that when you see your friend being shaved with a razor, start wetting your hair in preparation for your shave too.

I do not intend to go gently into that dark beyond without saying a word of goodbye. Friends, (and those who consider me an enemy because of my tribe or lack of it), being of sane mind and in charge of my mental faculties, I bid you goodbye. I chose to write you an obituary, which you should read as a love letter to my country that has died in that critical moment when its dreams were giving birth to a beautiful bouncing future.

I know not the hour of my death, for no one knows the hour of their death in this country anymore. That man on Naivasha, who was dragged from the car and his speech as he answered questions betrayed him as belonging to a tribe the highway blockers were hunting down, he did not know his death. I have seen myself trying to run from the mob the way he desperately tried, machetes raining on his back, and yet he ran on, three desperate steps, before his body disintegrated into huge chunks of human flesh and fell down. Upon which they cubed him. I too, my friend, am about to face the same death. My tongue, when I try to speak, shall definitely betray me as a targeted tribesman when the mob does come to me. For I do not belong to any tribe.

My sister, Rozi, called me yesterday trembling with fear. She lives in Western Kenya, on the Eldoret/Kakamega border. They had taken a patient to Moi Referral Hospital Eldoret. On their way back, the ambulance was stopped by youths bearing all forms of crude weapons. They demanded to know which tribes everyone in the ambulance belonged to. The driver was of the local tribe, so he was told to step aside. As the others showed their National Identity cards, my sister realized that all around them were corpses of human beings freshly chopped to death. Her turn came and she said she was Luhya. They told her to speak in Luhya, but my Sister doesn’t know Luhya. “I really can’t speak it because my mother is a Taita!” she pleaded. She had to desperately show a photocopy of my mother’s National Identity card which she had in her purse, a photocopy my mother had given to her the previous week to use as a referee for the bank account she was switching to. That photocopy saved my sister. The only language my sister can speak, apart from English and the National Swahili, is Gikuyu. The tribe the youths were targeting.

My friend, I know no tribe. I only know languages. My mother is Taita, my Father is Luhya, and we were raised in Kiambu among the Gikuyu. It has never been important in our family to know which tribe we should belong to, my sisters and brothers have names from both sides of our parents communities. In this chaos, if the hunters of fellow humans were to find us in our house, would they really believe we are brothers and sisters from our names?

If I say am Luhya, the Gikuyu with whom I have lived and now am engaged to one of their daughters would kill me as they have gone on a mission to revenge the deaths of their kinsmen in Western Kenya. If I flee to my parent’s home in Luhyaland, the neighbours will barbecue me alive for I can’t speak their language and of course my mom is from a foreign tribe. Not to forget that the guy who sold us that piece of land where my mom and Dad saved so hard to buy is known to come and insist on grazing his cow on our compound claiming “my cows used to feed here, buying the land doesn’t mean I don’t own it!”

Now in this Nairobi where I stay, I am wary of my neighbours. The guy opposite my flat is a Luo with whom we argued amicably during the pre-election period on which party we supported. Maybe now, given that friendly neighbours have been the ones killing each other, he might remember our political chats over my litres of coffee and come chop me up?

That is why friends, I have decided to write this obituary. I know not my tribe, I have only known myself as Kenyan, and others as fellow Kenyans. In these times, belonging or not belonging means not being dead or being seriously dead. What chances does a person like me have?

My friends have their tribes mates to protect them. The cosmopolitan Nairobi has now been balkanized with residential estates being exclusive reserves of certain tribes. Complete with murderous gangs imported from up-country to protect their own. Mungiki for the Gikuyu, Chingororo for the Gusii, and the Baghdad Boys and Taliban for the Luo. Where, pray I, is the estate Balkanised for those of us of mixed heritage who know not their war cry of their tribal warriors? The only two tribes I can run to don’t have such armies. And claiming my Dad’s Luhya identity, and a Bukusu at that, is problematic in itself. The Gikuyus are hunting them down claiming they voted ODM together with the Luos, and the Luos are hunting them down too claiming they voted for Kibaki together with the Gikuyus. So such is my fate for my father belonging to this tribe that voted 50-50!

My friends, I have prepared myself for my death. I don’t know how it will be, but since as a Film and TV drama person I believe in rehearsals, I have rehearsed all possible scenarios so that when my moment comes, it won’t be so hard to take it. Chekhov’s method acting manuals are no longer needed. I just turn the TV on during news time or read the papers, and from the several images of people who have been killed in various ways, I choose one to dream and perfect that night. I have dreamt of being locked into a church or building with several others and torched alive. I have smelt the petrol fumes as its being splattered through the window onto our bodies and then round the building. I have seen the flash of the matchstick being lit, and smelled my flesh burning to ashes.

I have rehearsed how I will smile when I am dragged out of a public vehicle and hacked to pieces by the marauding youths who pop up in our numerous roads. I want to die smiling bravely, but just like the guys I see on Al Jazeera and other International TV channels, the moment I get to that part where a red eyed bearded man pokes his head into the bus and shouts “everyone wave your ID cards in the air!” I wet myself and start screaming for mercy, instantly easing their work of identifying foreigners for the blades to work on.

I have rehearsed how best to gasp when a barbed arrow strikes my chest. Or a club smashes my brain out of my skull. Or a spiked plank of wood is driven through my mouth. I have died so many times, my friends, that now I must be immune to the real death when it comes.

I used to laugh at tourists buying maps of Nairobi. I bought one recently. It is stuck in the wall of my bedroom where small pencil marks indicate all the escape routes I will try to walk in to get out of town once the mayhem knocks on my door. Unfortunately, to the west are roadblocks where my Luhya name will mean instant death. If I go Mombasa Road I might run into a roadblock where Kamba’s and all coast people are being cubed. To the North I can’t even dare. To the south I might pass, coz I can speak Gikuyu, but my name would be my passport to the grave yard. That map, my friend, directed me to writing this obituary.

Maybe if I was a famous poet I would go down in history alongside Chris Okigbo, the Nigerian poet who went to Biafra seeking to actualize his poetry but found bullets instead. My friends abroad are asking me if I am safe. Maybe if I had been bright of mind like they were I would have faked a bank account statement immediately I cleared my o-levels and fled to the United States to wash toilets in between my degree courses, but no. When they told me America is the land of dreams, I swore to them I am an Africanist, a believer in the African dream. When they filled scholarship forms to get away from this dark continent, I laughed at them. Now my faith in my country has faded faster than the newness of the new(s) year.

So, friends, some of us never really thought that our tribe was that important. Simply because we were from the tribes that make up Kenya. Some of us have lived in every province of this once great nation and learnt the local languages, drank the local brews, danced the local songs-so well that the locals even gave us the names of their tribes to fondly call us by. I have been called Kamau, Mwanganyi, Wambua, and even Bayelsa in Nigeria. (I should have known, when Dudun told me that Bayelsa is the troublesome state of Nigeria where the Delta is, that it was a premonition of the war in my country.)

I have nowhere to go. No tribe to run to. No tribesmen to protect me. Except the grave. Which is what my fellow country men are intent on sending all those who don’t belong to their tribe. Goodbye, friends.. Seeing that all fast food restaurants have a notice ‘pay in advance’, let me take the cue and say Goodbye in advance. When you see a pulp of human flesh in the tarmac with youths dancing round it waving their bloody matchetes, look closely. That ear might be mine. That grinning upper lip might be mine. I loved you, my fellow countrymen. I loved without thinking of your parental lineage. I loved Kenya. But look what this country has done to me: sodomised my sense of humanity and pride. 

Jan. 30th   2008, Nairobi

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKK3D0H9fWo]