you’ll (never) believe that happened!!!!

Hadithi? Hadithi? Nipe hadithi? Nipe Mji…..

Made in Tdot

There’s a book I read called The Truth About Stories (A Native Narrative), written by Thomas King, that instantly became one of the touchstones in my (literary & spiritual) journey….I’ll tell you parts of his-story because he said that I could, and I quote…..”It’s yours. Do with it what you will. Cry over it. Get angry. Forget it. But don’t say in the years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you heard this story. You’ve heard it now.”

najua hadithi ya mumbi na nambi, oshun, oya na Yemoja, ya audre lorde na assata shakur, bell hooks na Brenda fassie, Cherie moraga na chan mubanga, dbiyoung.anitafrika en adhri zhina mandiela, dionne brand, Jamaica Kincaid, Nalo Hopkinson, Octavia Butler, Angela Davis, Bernedette Muthien, Field Marshall Muthoni, Mekatilili wa Menza, Mbuya Nehanda, Nana yaa Asantewaa, Nyabinghi Muhumusa, Wahu Kaara, Wangari Maathai, Philo Ikonya, Muthoni wanyeki,  Sylvia Tamale, Winnie Mandela..all the way to Zanele Muholi, and I know more than these 31 en some stories, the ones that I keep for guidance and (true) hope, that remind me that WE  are the ones we’re looking for, we have all the answers that we need, in our true true stories…..

(tukona) Soul.hadithi…….

‘in the beginning’ hadithi…..

Lakini kwanza, nitakuambia hadithi ya how the Q werd was born from the Truth about (our) stories (a pan-afrikan narrative). We were listening to others because we thought we didn’t have any good ones of our own, even though we KNEW different, that those ‘other’ versions were still our own, just diluted & distorted through centuries of retelling…..

and because so many hadithi have been made up about US (people) and corrupted for exploitative reasons, then we have to at least try and set the record straight, while we still have the means…but don’t get it wrong, this non-fiction ain’t no luxury, en its (not) a free show,

(i got this on good authority) the truth about stories is that’s all we are. The metis singer Andrea Menard reminds us of this in the first verse of her song ‘The Half breed Blues’

I was born the privileged skin

and my eyes are bright, bright brown

You’d never know there is Metis blood raging underground

let me tell you a story about revelation.

It’s not the colour of a nation that holds a nations pride.

It’s imagination. It’s imagination inside.

hadithi? hadithi? nitakuambia hadithi yetu….lakini kwanza nipe mji?

to be continued….

Blogger’s note: hadithi? hadithi? Nipe mji? Nilirudi nyumbani, coz home is where the heart is, en I was blessed to learn (more) from babas (of Afrika) that spoke (big) love en truth, like Amilcar Cabral, Baba Tajudeen, Cheikh Anta Diop, Dedan Kimathi, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, Elijah Masinde, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah, Marcus Garvey, Ngugi wa Thiong’o,…there are many kings (in the Q werd)….this post is from one of them……..

a non-fictional short story by Onyango Oloo

http://demokrasia-kenya.blogspot.com/2010/04/yes-from-apathetic-facebook-20.html 

 Claire M is a beautiful, ebony complexioned, twenty-something petit-bourgeois British accented Kenyan employee of a certain tech firm who commutes daily between her middle class neighbourhood in Nairobi’s east end and her posh upscale office in the capital city’s west end.

She is also a very good friend of mine.

Vivacious should be her middle name, so effervescent is Claire’s good natured spirit.

We met purely by happenstance about two and a half fortnights ago.

There she was, slightly after ten in the pm, sitting next to me on the Number 33 matatu on a Furahiday, Embakasi bound.

A spontaneous conversation sprung up in a matter of minutes and within days we were certified Facebook friends who turned out to be residing within mere hectares and baby wails of each other.

A few days ago, I hooked up with her and one of her girl friends for an evening after work beer sip upstairs at the Verandah, across the street from the Stanley-the old Cameo cinema for old Nairobi hands.

In the course of our random chat, she casually mentioned that she had seen my status update on Facebook urging Kenyans to vote Yes come the Referendum on the proposed new constitution.

“I am NOT voting and YOU can’t make ME!” she declared with an air of finality which startled me, being totally unexpected.

I didn’t even know she had seen my earnest online constitutional exhortation in the first place.

“Remember the last time in 2007, I woke up very early in the morning and voted for Raila and look what happened! We Kenyans started killing each other! Over WHAT? I am NOT voting for ANYONE! And you can’t FORCE me!”

Yawa Maembe”, I tried to butt in, gently pointing out that this time around Kenyans were not voting for anyone, just for the long sought after constitution, twenty years in the making and stained with our blood, sweat and tears.

“Well, the only person I will be voting for is the Man Upstairs. And in case you didn’t know, the world is COMING TO AN END. All the signs are there.

Have you looked at

Jay-Z’s latest CD?

Or wondered why Beyoncé Giselle Knowles calls herself

Sasha Fierce these days?

How about that thing with Kanye West and Taylor Swift?

or Rihanna’s new outfit?

There you go.”

Let me hasten to add that Claire M is perfectly SANE and quite intelligent, in case you were wondering.

At this point she reached deep deep into one of those humungous mobile ward robes that women call handbags these days

and fished out a slim volume with a silky, smooth, soft, shiny glossy black cover featuring a smiling handsome African man on the cover.

The booklet was captioned He is Coming.

I think the author was referring to the world famous dreadlocked Holy Nazarene nicknamed JC, but the image was more reminiscent of one of those Nollywood hunks that litter our television screens and have taken over our DVDs these days.

“You see this?” she said, thumping mercilessly on the poor innocent book.

“It is all in HERE. Tell him Sheila!” she said, turning to her bemused best friend who had been staring, wide mouthed, as this delirious conversation unfolded amid quaffs of this or that variety of Kenyan malt product among the trio of us.

“I am not particularly religious”, I offered, meekly.

“The last time I stepped into an actual Church to formally worship was waaay back in May or June 1982”, I explained, shocking Claire M, who was not even conceived back then when

Shalamar,Ray Parker Jr, Odyssey, The Whispers, Kool and the Gang, Lakeside,

and the Gibson Brothers ruled the world’s disco floors with their curly kits, afros, box tops, bomber jackets and tight jeans-the future Retro/Old Skool gear and wear of decades to come.

Earth, Wind and Fire

“You mean you DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD???!!!”

Reluctant to start another raging, never ending Kenyan sectarian edition of the Crusades right there at the Verandah-a veritable den of iniquity if I ever saw one- I carefully skirted the religious inquisition, side-stepping a possible urban, nocturnal lynching at the hands of an irate, determined and capable potential Kenyan female executioner by reverting back to the need for a Yes vote among all Kenyans with a functioning brain.

“Well, like I said, WE are NOT voting, are WE, Sheila?” Claire M hissed defiantly, turning to her hapless bosom buddy for solidarity and assurance.

“And you can write that on that BLOG of yours! And tell the WORLD that Claire M said SO! It is NO for ME and THAT is THAT!”

“Are you SURE????!!”

I tried to verify, knowing how far around the world the Kenya Democracy Project blog travels these days.

This morning I got an update from my Neo website counter which informed me that the blog had reached 11,950 cities in 186 countries around this

Blue Marble.

“Yes! And I am waiting to read it!”

So Claire M, in sunny Nairobi, here you go.

You did insist and demand that I put your views on this blog of mine.

And I am sending you a link via my Facebook wall so you can read this on your mobile phone my Kenyan digital sister. I will also email you the URL so that you can carefully jot down the put downs and rebuttals for our next Verandah soiree.

My generation and this Twittered, Digged, RSS Word Pressed Facebooked Twenty First Century Viral Marketed Kenyan Generation of Claire, Sheila and Co. Ltd are Worlds Apart I tell you.

It is like Mercury and Uranus.

Back in the 1980s-Yes, when David Onyango Oloo was still a deceptively innocent looking, fresh faced, slim, twenty something student cum political prisoner and not this bloated twenty first century Kenyan Rip Van Freaking Winkle with sprinkles of salt on my head and chin- it was a badge of honour among the Kenyan youth to be political, to be conscious, to be democratic, to be patriotic, to be militant, to be vigilant, to be a voter.

These were the days of Daniel arap Moi and his side kicks like Okiki Amayo, Kariuki Chotara, Mulu Mutisya, Jackson Angaine, Ezekiel Bargentuny, Sharrif Nassir, Philip Leakey, Stanley Oloitiptip, Krishan Gautama and John Joseph Kamotho.

The days of one party rule.

The days of detention without trial.

The days of the one finger salute.

Not that finger you are thinking of.

The KANU one finger is what I am talking about.

The days of silence, the days of terror and the days of fear.

The days of Fuata Nyayo.

The days of KANU Tawala, Tawala.

The days of fake peace, counterfeit love and non-existent unity.

And also the days of defiant university student demonstrations and courageous lecturers’ symposia.

Not to forget fearless editorials.

The era of George Anyona and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

The hey days of Willy Mutunga, Al-Amin Mazrui, Micere Mugo, James Orengo and Ngugi wa Thiong’o.

The political coming age of the Njeri Kabeberis and Mwandawiro Mghangas.

Some university students declared in public kamkunjis that it was time for Kenya to be ruled by Marxist-Leninists.

Others were abducted off trains to be charged with sedition because they had dared to draft in their hand written chicken scrawl, earnest essays about the role of youth in fighting for democracy and justice in this country.

Still others were thrown down flights of stairs by angry secret police torturers for celebrating the attempted overthrow of the Moi dictatorship.

Back in those seemingly long forgotten days, Kenyan youth, Kenyan students, Kenyan post-independence patriots yearned passionately to kick the status quo’s hind quarters swiftly, repeatedly and viciously.

Back in those yesteryears, Kenyan students and youth spoke out loudly in protest when spooky sycophantic fascist neo-colonial comprador politicians led by our current septuagenarian head of state wanted to declare Kenya a de jure one party dictatorship.

And back then, there were no cell phones, leave alone the internet, forget email accounts, scratch Messenger, ICQ, online forums, chat rooms, Facebook or Twitter.

Back in that recent technological Stone Age, when you spoke of a telephone you was either referring to an old gloomy looking black contraption which had a PADLOCK firmly attached to it or a relative of the same intimidating device trapped in an outdoor cage, looking like a forlorn statue which required you to feed it with numerous coins if you wanted to talk to anyone for a few hurried minutes- at the top of your lungs, obliviously unaware that science and technology had already carefully considered your vocally needs to communicate clearly and therefore taken care of the volume and modulation functions in that teleinstrument.

But we were MORE networked and pumped up those days-politically speaking that is.

If there had been a proposed draft constitution waiting to be passed as the country’s supreme document, Kenya’s militant and patriotic youth would have already formed kilometre long queues, snaking around entire villages-urban and rural- to vote YES, YES, YES! months before the actual referendum!

What a contrast that generation of mine is to the apathetic, blasé, cynical, bored out of their skulls, hip hopping techno Kenyan chini kwa chini ohangla wiggling genge kapukaring smoked out dazed raggamuffins of the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Ten who have more passion for Arsenal and Man U than for freedom or socialism; Kenyan youth who know more about the subliminal Satanic sub texts in Rihanna’s latest dress than which reproductive rights side to take on the raging debate about where life begins; Kenyan youth who can recite the last 98 minutes of the last episode of Lord Of The Rings or the 23rd Season of Sex in the City verbatim from their photographic memories while being totally clueless about the actual contents of the Bill of Rights in our new constitution; Kenyan youth who can tell you the exact alcohol percentage in a bottle of Kingfisher or Smirnoff Red, but totally blank out when you ask them about what percentage women of seats have been allocated in the projected Senate chamber.

Do I sound harsh, bitter, angry, judgmental?

You tell me.

Forgive me for this Cardinal Sin of having seen Better Scenes for Kenyan Youth in this very country, in this, my very own pays natal.

But frankly some of us, aging grey beards, the Kenyan youth of yesteryears, expect more, much, much more, from our younger siblings, cousins, nephews, nieces, and for some of us now delving into our fifth decade of existence, our own sons and daughters.

We expect them to reap the harvest of our blood stained youthful endeavours for a more democratic dispensation.

We expect them to be more emboldened about defending our social justice gains.

We expect them to be more conscious than us, their prehistoric predecessors.

And yes, Claire M, that is why I expect YOU to VOTE YES for the new constitution come the referendum.

And I am talking to you too, Sheila.

But first, you have to register as voters my two Kenyan sisters.

And you can do it electronically these days you know.

So Claire M, there you have it.

You did ask me to write this, didn’t you?

Onyango Oloo

Nairobi, Kenya

 blogger’s note: braap! and those are the confessions of an angry afrikan baba, I hear where he’s coming from, those are my peers he’s talking about, apathy seems to be/coming a hall mark of our generation, but if you know where to look, then you will find those youth fulfilling the mission of their times…

Blogger’s notes:

I, Sista.In.Solidarity, will tell you not only my story, but those of bredrin en sistren, of elders en ancestors, for the sake of our children en those yet to be born….

because we [‘ve probably heard many parts of these hadithi before, we already] KNOW, but if our children are the future re-incarnate, then how satisfied are we with our (supposedly)  civilized trend of forgetfulness?

Hadithi? Hadithi? Nipe hadithi?

The Q werd is a mystic, organic en (us)people-driven hadithi caravan of video diaries. Nothing like the L word, in many ways like I love U People, with a continental twist…….the crux of the series is big love en big mobilizing for, and, within (pan) Afrikan communities (en with our allies)

Hadithi? Hadithi? Nipe mji?

Nilienda meroe, hapo wahenga waliniambia hadithi ya Isis, Oshun, Oya, na Yemoja.

The (inaugural) hadithi ya i,S.I.S, is from the Q werd blog of the day,

http://bedsofpurple.wordpress.com/orishas/

These are some of her parts…..

 “Yemaya is one of the most powerful Goddesses found in the many African-Caribbean traditions. Her name is Yemaya, or Ymoja as she was known to the Yoruban people of West Africa.

She is the Mother of the Ogun River and was also referred to as the “Mother of the Waters”. This is because she is said to give birth to the world’s waters – that new springs would appear whenever she turned over in her sleep, and that springs would also gush forth and turn into rivers wherever she walked.

Together with Oshun and Oya (the guardians of the River Niger), Yemaya was said to be “supreme in the arts of mystic retribution”, and protected her people “against all evil”.

Yemaya is a merciful Goddess who women called upon for aid during childbirth, and the Goddess to whom her people prayed to for fertility, especially by women who have trouble conceiving. According to legend, she birthed 14 of the Yoruban Gods and Goddesses (also referred to as “orishas”). This came about through her being raped by her own son. After this ordeal, Yemaya lay a curse upon him, causing him to die. However, when this happened, the Goddess chose to die as well, and went upon a mountain peak. As she died, the bursting of her uterine waters caused a great flood which, in turn, created the oceans, and from her womb, the 14 orishas were born.

 When the Yoruban people were enslaved, their Goddess went with them, sustaining them with life even in the face of the darkest times, in the new world. When her people were brought to the Americas, Ymoja became known as Yemaya, the “Mother of the Ocean”, for this was the first time that her people had came into contact with the ocean. As the Yoruban people were not allowed to practice their beliefs in this new world, they merged their deities with images of Catholic saints, and subsequently created a number of new religions – Santeria in Cuba, Voudoun in Haiti, Macumba in Brazil, and Candomble in Bahia. Within all these differing religions, Yemaya is still revered as a powerful deity.

To the Brazilian Macumba, she is known as Imanje, the Ocean Goddess of the Crescent Moon. In Cuba, there are many variants to her name – while Yemaya Ataramagwa was the wealth Queen of the Sea, she was also the stern Yemaya Achabba, the violent Yemaya Oqqutte (violent aspect), and the overpowering Yemaya Olokun, who could only be seen in dreams. To the people of Haiti, the Goddess is known as Agwe, and as La Balianne to the people of New Orleans.

Being a Goddess of the Sea, Yemaya is often depicted as a beautiful mermaid, or wearing seven skirts of blue and white. The cowrie shell is sacred to her and her places of worship are the seashores, or large rivers that flow into the sea. In Brazil, where she is referred to as “”Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception”, crowds still gather today on the beach of Bahia to celebrate Candalaria, a ceremony in which offerings of soap, perfume, and jewellery are thrown into the sea in honour of Yemaya. Letters of requests to the Goddess are thrown also. The people wait to see if their offerings are accepted by the Goddess, or returned to them upon the waves. It is believed that the Goddess would wash away the troubles of her followers with her waters, the waters of the womb of creation and dreams.

Colours attributed to Yemaya are blue, silver and white. Symbols are the six-pointed star, an open shell, the Moon, and bodies of water. Stones are turquoise (and other light blue crystals), pearl, mother-of-pearl and coral. The trout lily and sea lavender are her flowers, while sandalwood, tea rose, lilac and frangipani are her fragrances. She is also said to be fond of melons.”

To be continued…..

 Additional reading:

Did you know?….. mami wota in our stories

In a political ploy probably designed to legitimize her reign, after inheriting her father’s expanding colonial kingdoms at the age of 17, the Macedonian (Greek) Cleopatra IV and her 10 year old brother (Theos Philopator)-Ptolemy XIII, installed as the new rulers of Egypt, in imitation of the African queen mothers, reputedly built herself a (now destroyed) Mammisi shrine at Erment (Upper Egypt), when giving birth to her first son. She even had inscribed in her shrine the traditional priestly attributes including depicting herself giving birth to Julius Caesar’s son, being assisted by the seven Netjers (divine African ancestors, including Isis and Osiris). However, lacking the ancestral connection to the divine spirits, she thought she could fake it by trying desperately (without success) to obtain the sacred prophetic poems of the Eastern Masses, authored by the great Sibylline (Mami) prophetesses’. Undeterred, she ordered her conquered African subjects to address her as the “New Isis.” Ironically, she met her demised when she was fatally bitten by one of the sacred asp (serpents). (Walker 1983, p.573, Britannica 1974, Vol. 6, p.484, Vol 8, p. 386, Vol. I p. 261, VIII p.282, Nicholson, p.264,269,Lindsay 1971, p. 384).

[original source: http://www.mamiwata.com/mami.htm]

 

“Our appeal is straightforwardly based on the need for clemency as an essential element in the attainment of that healing process which the present national leader swore to embark upon, on taking oath of office. Without being superstitious, we cannot but observe how a 10-year cycle of blood-letting appears to have become an incubus on the very life of the nation’s Armed Forces – 1966, 1976 and now 1986. You possess the will to break this jinx. You have the moral duty to exercise that will.”

– Chinua Achebe, J.P Clark and Wole Soyinka in a petition to General Ibrahim Babangida at Dodan Barracks on March 4, 1986

blogger’s note: you probably already know this story, references to ancient Afrikan cultures are all over the net en the world….so here’s another one of them…of the gran (primeval) mama of us all  (emphasis on ‘the capital’ in the Q werd)

Adapted from http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/hathor.html

Hathor is one of the most ancient Egyptian goddesses. She was known as “the Great One of Many Names” and her titles and attributes are so numerous that she was important in every area of the life and death of the ancient Egyptians. It is thought that her worship was widespread even in the Predynastic period because she appears on the Narmer palette. However, some scholars suggest that the cow-headed goddess depicted on the palette is in fact Bast (an ancient cow goddess who was largely absorbed by Hathor) or even Narmer himself. However, she was certainly popular by the Old Kingdom as she appears with Bast in the valley temple of Khafre at Giza. Hathor represents Upper Egypt and Bast represents Lower Egypt

She was originally a personification of the Milky Way, which was considered to be the milk that flowed from the udders of a heavenly cow (linking her with Nut, Bat and Mehet-Weret). As time passed she absorbed the attributes of many other goddesses but also became more closely associated with Isis, who to some degree usurped her position as the most popular and powerful goddess. Yet she remained popular throughout Egyptian history. More festivals were dedicated to her and more children were named after her than any other god or goddess. Her worship was not confined to Egypt and Nubia. She was worshipped throughout Semitic West Asia, Ethiopian, Somlia and Libya, but was particularly venerated in the city of Byblos.

She was a sky goddess, known as “Lady of Stars” and “Sovereign of Stars” and linked to Sirius (and so the goddesses Sopdet and Isis). Her birthday was celebrated on the day that Sirius first rose in the sky (heralding the coming innundation). By the Ptolemaic period, she was known as the goddess of Hethara, the third month of the Egyptian calendar.

Hathor was also the goddess of beauty and patron of the cosmetic arts. Her traditional votive offering was two mirrors and she was often depicted on mirrors and cosmetic palettes. Yet she was not considered to be vain or shallow, rather she was assured of her own beauty and goodness and loved beautiful and good things. She was known as “the mistress of life” and was seen as the embodiment of joy, love, romance, perfume, dance, music and alcohol.

Hathor was especially connected with the fragrance of myrrh incense, which was considered to be very precious and to embody all of the finer qualities of the female sex. Hathor was associated with turquoise, malachite, gold and copper. As “the Mistress of Turquoise” and the “lady of Malachite” she was the patron of miners and the goddess of the Sinai Peninsula (the location of the famous mines). The Egyptians used eye makeup made from ground malachite which had a protective function (in fighting eye infections) which was attributed to Hathor.

As the “lady of the west” and the “lady of the southern sycamore” she protected and assisted the dead on their final journey. Trees were not commonplace in ancient Egypt, and their shade was welcomed by the living and the dead alike. She was sometimes depicted as handing out water to the deceased from a sycamore tree (a role formerly associated with Amentet who was often described as the daughter of Hathor) and according to myth, she (or Isis) used the milk from the Sycamore tree to restore sight to Horus who had been blinded by Set. Because of her role in helping the dead, she often appears on sarcophagi with Nut (the former on top of the lid, the later under the lid).

She occasionally took the form of the “Seven Hathors” who were associated with fate and fortune telling. It was thought that the “Seven Hathors” knew the length of every childs life from the day it was born and questioned the dead souls as they travelled to the land of the dead. Her priests could read the fortune of a newborn child, and act as oracles to explain the dreams of the people. People would travel for miles to beseech the goddess for protection, assistance and inspiration. The “Seven Hathors” were worshiped in seven cities: Waset (Thebes), Iunu (On, Heliopolis), Aphroditopolis, Sinai, Momemphis, Herakleopolis, and Keset. They may have been linked to the constellations Pleiades.

However, she was also a goddess of destruction in her role as the Eye of Ra – defender of the sun god. According to legend, people started to criticise Ra when he ruled as Pharaoh. Ra decided to send his “eye” against them (in the form of Sekhmet). She began to slaughter people by the hundred. When Ra relented and asked her to stop she refused as she was in a blood lust. The only way to stop the slaughter was to colour beer red (to resemble blood) and pour the mixture over the killing fields. When she drank the beer, she became drunk and drowsy, and slept for three days. When she awoke with a hangover she had no taste for human flesh and mankind was saved. Ra renamed her Hathor and she became a goddess of love and happiness. As a result, soldiers also prayed to Hathor/Sekhmet to give them her strength and focus in battle.

Of course, Thoth already had a wife, Seshat (the goddess of reading, writing, architecture and arithmetic), so Hathor absorbed her role including acting as a witness at the judgement of the dead. Her role in welcoming the dead gained her a further husband – Nehebkau (the guardian of the entrance of the underworld). Then when Ra and Amun merged, Hathor became seen as the wife of Sobek who was considered to be an aspect of Amen-Ra. Yet Sobek was also associated with Seth, the enemy of Horus!

She took the form of a woman, goose, cat, lion, malachite, sycamore fig, to name but a few. However, Hathor’s most famous manifestation is as a cow and even when she appears as a woman she has either the ears of a cow, or a pair of elegant horns. When she is depicted as entirely a cow, she always has beautifully painted eyes. She was often depicted in red (the color of passion) though her sacred color is turquoise.

It is also interesting to note that only she and the dwarf god Bes (who also had a role in childbirth) were ever depicted in portrait (rather than in profile). Isis borrowed many of her functions and adapted her iconography to the extent that it is often difficult to be sure which of the two goddesses is depicted. However, the two deities were not the same. Isis was in many ways a more complex deity who suffered the death of her husband and had to fight to protect her infant son, so she understood the trials and tribulations of the people and could relate to them. Hathor, on the other hand, was the embodiment of power and success and did not experience doubts.

While Isis was merciful, Hathor was single minded in pursuit of her goals.

When she took the form of Sekhmet, she did not take pity on the people and even refused to stop killing when ordered to do so.

to be continued……

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.

http://www.nytimes.com/1987/06/09/obituaries/elijah-masinde.html?pagewanted=1

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 [1] 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
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 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
operated.

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
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.

(first) Posted by Lumboka Star

http://mulumboka.blogspot.com/2004_11_01_archive.html

Additional reading

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

Are these the real Jews?

Story by ANTHONY NYONGESA

“Make sure you remove your shoes when we arrive at the main entrance into Jerusalem. It is a holy place and if you ignore my advice, you will be doing it at your own peril. You will receive no blessings and probably be cursed instead”, the boda boda (bicycle taxi) rider warns me as I get off.

We are approaching the compound where Elijah Masinde, the legendary Bukusu leader, self-proclaimed prophet and founder of the Dini ya Musambwa sect, hid in the early 1940s to avoid arrest by the colonial government.

The place has since been turned into a shrine by the Judah Israeli sect, whose members believe they are the real Jews. According to the sect, River Chesamisi – one of the river that runs down Mt Elgon on Kenya-Uganda border – is the “River Jordan” and every member must be baptised here.

“God revealed himself to Africans in 1920s and told them they were the Israelites,” says Moses Wafula, the high priest and self-styled representative of the Biblical Moses.

According to Wafula, “spirits” have shown that Jesus was an African, not a Semite.

“His second coming will be in Kenya, specifically in Bungoma, which is our area,” he claimed during an interview in “Jerusalem”, the church’s headquarters near Chesamisi High School, about 10 kilometres from Kamukuywa shopping centre.

To get to “Jerusalem” from the Bungoma-Kitale road, you can walk or hire a boda boda at Kamukuywa shopping centre since there are no public service vehicles on the Kamukuywa-Chesamisi route.

The sect is among the many independent religious groups that sprung up during the colonial days as an alternative to the mainstream churches, which had banned polygamy and female circumcision. It still encourages polygamy.

The sect’s offices are built above a tunnel where Masinde and other Africans considered dangerous by the colonialists hid for some time before they were captured and jailed.  

Immediately after Masinde’s capture in 1944, the tunnel was sealed. But it was re-dug by the sect members in 1998 and turned into a basement where religious implements are stored. It is here that the head of the church, Binti Zion Sarah Nafula, mediates with God on behalf of her people.

“Elijah Masinde, one of the founders of this church, came here as the Messiah to spread the gospel but began engaging in evil practices before he quit to form Dini ya Musambwa (Belief in Ancestors in the Bukusu language), which was banned by the colonial government.

“Under the umbrella of the Anglican African Israel church, Masinde was one of the six members filled with the “Spirit” to speak out against the devil and the colonial masters and they would hide in the tunnel whenever the colonial officers came looking for them,” explains Samuel Wanyama, Mfalme wa Israeli (King of the Israelites).

Later, Masinde and his colleagues formed Judah Israeli, only to abandon it after a short while to form Dini ya Musambwa.

Wanyama says that Masinde’s deviation from God’s work to form Dini ya Musambwa was a rebellion not only against his followers but also against God, and that was why he ended up being captured by the colonial forces in collaboration with African chiefs.

“Unlike in mainstream churches, where members fight for positions in the church, God anoints us through Binti Zion (Kiswahili for daughter of Zion),” says Peter Wafula, the church’s Kamukuywa branch chairman.

Twice a year, the sect members, dressed in flowing robes and their heads bent in supplication, climb Mt Elgon, which is 4,321 metres high, to offer sacrifices to God.

“We sacrifice doves, lambs and bulls that have not yet started mating. That is what God instructed his people to do,” offers Wafula, the high priest. They are supposed to make the offerings every month but only do so twice a year due to financial constraints, says Wafula.  

Before they set off for Mt Elgon, they slaughter a lamb in “Jerusalem” and smear its blood on the religious implements that are to be carried up the mountain.

On their way to the top, they bathe in the “living waters”, a warm spring on the mountain side that is believed to cure diseases and ward off bad luck in the community.

It is at this point that Binti Zion reads out the names of the followers who will make up the heavenly kingdom. Those whose names do not appear have to wait and see if they will make it to the heavenly kingdom during the next pilgrimage.

After several days on the mountain, the pilgrims head back to “Jerusalem” where they are welcomed with song and dance. After the celebrations, a bull is sacrificed at a special spot near the church building set aside just for that purpose.

“Jerusalem” is always a beehive of activity, with tourists, historians, journalists and other curious visitors thronging the compound to tour Masinde’s hideout -turned – shrine.  

In addition to the shrine, several huts have been built in the compound to house homeless families, widows and widowers, spouses separated from their partners, and elderly people who have no relatives to care for them.

“Before we give them accommodation, we try to establish whether or not the person is telling the truth about their having nowhere else to go,” asserts Wafula.

“Since time immemorial, this has been a place of refuge, that is why Masinde and others opposed to the colonial rule travelled all the way from Maeni in Kimilili to hide here,” he goes on to explain.

Unlike in other mainstream churches, the Juda Israeli sect operates on a very strict code of conduct. For example, a woman is not allowed to speak directly to a man inside the church. “If a female church member has a pressing issue to put across, she has to ask for permission to speak and that request must be made while kneeling on the floor,” says Ezekiel Waswa, a church official, adding that this is meant to enhance discipline in women.

“Our church seeks to maintain African culture not just in attire but also in deed. In the traditional African setting, women respected men and knelt whenever a man was talking to them or when giving men something, say water or food,” he asserts.

In another notable diversion from mainstream churches, the priest is not allowed to face the congregation while delivering his sermons, which take place on Fridays.

“It is only Jesus who will face his followers the way he did his disciples. No one in the church should face the congregation as is the case in mainstream churches. Those that do so will be held responsible for the sins of other church members on the day of judgment,” asserts Wafula.  

So, while delivering the sermon, the priest walks between the rows of seated members – men sit on the right side of the church while women sit on the left.

When they are not on duty, priests sit among the congregation, but never at the front or back of the church.

“Ours is a case of doing things simply, as instructed by the Bible. We are out to serve, not to be served,” says Waswa, who usually leads the pilgrims’ procession to Mt Elgon.

The land where the church and other houses are built was donated by local people, who were captured and beaten by white soldiers to reveal Masinde’s whereabouts when he started crusading against colonial rule. Those who donated land include Yonah Mukanda, Henry Khaemba and Joel Namanguva – all now dead.

Surprisingly, although Juda Israeli is one of the oldest sects in the country, it has only a few branches in Bungoma and Trans Nzoia districts, and one in neighbouring Uganda.

Publication Date: 04/02/2004
http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgcontententry.asp?category_id=31&newsid=5459

blogger’s note: so no technically this story is not about elijah masinde. yes, it’s about judah israeli, en I assure you, there is a reason you’ve got to know about juda israeli if you want to know more about dini ya msambwa. so, if you’re still reading this story, then you have some background on a (supposedly) mysterious, elusive indigenous Afrikan religion, depending on who tells the story……like here’s another hadithi…..

2001-AUG-28: Kenya: About 300 members of the banned ‘Dini ya Musambwa’ (‘Religion of Tradition‘) faith group have refused to allow their children under five years of age to be vaccinated against polio. They believe that vaccinations are “ungodly.” They prefer to use traditional healing techniques. 

blogger’s note: en before you assume this is just history, read the truth in the signs, like in this hadithi…..

http://africanpress.wordpress.com/2007/10/15/scrambling-to-be-recognised-by-dini-ya-musambwa-kenya-sect/

The battle for the crucial Western Province vote has taken an unprecedented twist as Former Vice-President Musalia Mudavadi and Ford-Kenya chairman Musikari Kombo scramble over a notable prophesy on Luhya leadership.

With the Local Government minister accused of having overlooked its relevance, the ODM running mate appears to have stolen the region’s political grip from the noose of Kombo. Now the Ford-Kenya brigade has embarked on a belated move to visit the shrine of the Dini ya Musambwa prophet, the late Elijah Masinde, to seek blessings and guidance.

According to the Masinde prophesy made over four decades ago, the leadership of the Luhya community was to come from Lake Victoria. The Luhya were also to realise the presidency through the community’s third leadership.

Despite earlier requests by the Masinde family to the Ford-Kenya fraternity for consultation over various issues, the leaders never turned up.

But the political equation has suddenly changed, with Mudavadi becoming the running mate of ODM presidential candidate Raila Odinga, which has some bearing on Masinde’s prophesy.

Subsequently, Mudavadi last month visited Masinde’s shrine and held a lengthy discussion with the sect members and Bukusu elders, who endorsed him as the third Luhya leader.

They also gave him a baton as a symbol to lead the community.

But in a bid to restore their dwindling political fortunes, Ford-Kenya leaders plan to perform a ceremony at the shrine to appease the ancestors and seek blessings ahead of the General Election. Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi said Kombo had sanctioned him to prepare the big cleansing ceremony to ensure they remain politically relevant.

But Masinde’s family has told Ford-Kenya to consult with them before visiting the shrine.

The family spokesperson, Mzee Lucas Watta, warned that the party leaders were not welcome to the shrine.

“We have blessed the Orange family and given Musalia the baton to be the third Luhya leader. We cannot alter this and Ford-Kenya must be ready to carry its own burden,” said Watta.

At an elaborate ceremony presided over by a prominent elder, Patrick Chaka, at the shrine, Mudavadi beat Kombo to the game by sitting on the special stool.

The late Masinde Muliro and the late Vice-President, Michael Wamalwa also sat on the stool signifying their new role as leaders of the Bukusu and the Luhya community as a whole.

Dini ya Musambwa myths

But Ford-Kenya allied politicians are putting up a spirited fight to reverse this notion. They argue that the Masinde prophesy is Bukusu-specific and not for the entire community.

Reacting, Bumula MP, Mr Bifwoli Wakoli, said: “I am a staunch Catholic and do not subscribe to the myths and legends of Dini ya Musambwa, which is a totally different religion.”

While acknowledging the existence of an ODM wave that is “quickly spreading around urban locations” in the former larger Bungoma District, Wakoli says he is not sure whether it is linked to the Masinde prophesy.

Nonetheless, the Ford-Kenya parliamentary whip maintains that his party still enjoys massive support in the rural areas.

Meanwhile, Mudavadi is expected to receive civic leaders from Narc-Kenya and Ford-Kenya from Malava constituency on Tuesday.

The Masinde factor aside, ODM hopes to take advantage of Ford-Kenya’s absence from the ballot paper in the December polls to win the Bungoma votes.

Mr Kibisu Kabatesi, ODM Presidential Campaign’s Director of Communications and Public Relations, says Ford-Kenya supporters had expected that their party would remain independent. But its being “consumed” by PNU has led to confusion and apathy.

It is probably because of this that a splinter party, New Ford-Kenya, led by Cabinet ministers Mr Soita Shitanda and Dr Mukhisa Kituyi hopes to ride on the voters’ apathy by offering an alternative.

Although a member party of PNU, New Ford-Kenya leaders will field candidates independently. The trick may just work considering that the party’s name resonates with that of the original Ford-Kenya party.

ODM’s popularity in the region, argues Kabatesi, is partly hinged on this development. He points out at the latest Steadman opinion poll figures, which indicate an increase of five points from 66 per cent to 71 per cent in favour of ODM in Western Province.

“This gain has mainly been made in the former Bungoma District, as the other parts of the Province are solidly Orange,” says Kabatesi.

Published by API/APN africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.standard.ke

blogger’s note: you probably don’t know how these stories (will) go, or maybe you do…either way, we’re going through the archives of hadithi, checking our lists of super (s)heroes many times, en sharing myths en legends of Afrika in this epic of a series…. all the betta for you to over/stand The Q werd (coming not/so soon to a screen near you).

Today’s’ queen was known by many names, depending on who tells the story….

When men were not brave enough – the story of Queen Dahlia

A woman who faced her enemies while empires crumbled, one of the most famous yet elusive women in history, Dahlia was a Berber queen. She is better known as Kahina or al-Kahinat, a title given to her by Arabs, which means “witch”.

Before the Islamic conquest, Africa was a province of the Roman (Byzantine) Empire. At that time it comprised Tunisia, north Algeria and some parts of Morocco. Africa, reconquered in 533 AD by Emperor Justinian, was an Exarchate – a single province with virtual autonomy, governed by a supreme official called the Exarch.

The Exarchate’s capital was the ancient city of Carthage. After Justinian’s invasion, Africa experienced many decades of peace and relative prosperity. At a time when almost the entire world burned with the flames of war, this small province remained an oasis of stability. Peace brought economic prosperity. Its grain was exported, along with goods produced by its artisans, especially their red pottery which was renowned throughout the Empire. With luminaries such as Pristian, Corippus, Victor of Tunis and Aldhelm, Africa also rose to become one of the intellectual centres of the world.

This Africa of Dahlia’s youth was a melting pot, in which peoples of different races and religions thrived, including Romans, Berbers, Vandal and Visigoth settlers, and tribes of black Numidians. There were Christians of various denominations – Catholics, Arians, Donatists (who rejected the ecclesiastic authority of the patriarchs) – and also numerous Jews and pagans. All these groups lived mostly in peace, marred occasionally by outbreaks of persecution against the Jews and Donatists, and other conflicts.

Very little is known about the private life of Dahlia. It is hard to distinguish fact from fiction in the numerous legends which surround her. Dahlia was born the daughter of Tabat, a chieftain of the Jrawa tribe, who lived in the region of the Aures mountains. Some (mostly Jewish) historians claim that Dahlia professed Judaism. These point out that her Arab title, “al-Kahinat”, may be a corruption of the Hebrew word Khn, which means “a person of the priest class”. The surname Cohen derives from the same root.

Additionally one Arabic chronicle, by Ibn Khaldoun, written years after her death, calls Dahlia “a Jewess”. It is possible that the Berber Queen followed the Jewish religion, but this is only a speculation. Indeed, many Berber tribes professed Judaism at this time, but others also had Christian or traditional beliefs.

The legends preserve some details of Dahlia’s appearance. She had very long black hair, and had large dark eyes. She was extremely tall for a woman of the time. She was said to be charismatic, and authors attribute to her the gift of foresight – most likely a reminiscence of her great intelligence and wisdom.

When she was a young woman, a chieftain who demanded to possess her as his bride terrorised her tribe. Dahlia went into hiding for some time. Finally she agreed to the marriage. On the wedding night, she slew her new husband by smashing his skull with a nail. Due to her enormous talents, she climbed to the top of her society.

The storm comes

In 646 Ad, when Muslims finally conquered Egypt, the long years of peace were about to come to an end. The Exarchate of Africa found itself on the frontline of the war with Islam. The Byzantine Empire, itself suffering defeats on almost all fronts, and further weakened by a constant civil war, could give no assistance to such a distant province. The Exarches had to completely rely upon local, limited resources. That they managed to hold off the Muslim advance for so long demonstrates how enthusiastically the local population supported the defensive actions against the Arabs.

It was not until 680 AD that the Arabs finally broke through the defences of the Exarchate. While Romans barricaded themselves in coastal cities, a Muslim commander named Oqba led a raid along the coast that reached the Atlantic Ocean in modern Morocco. It is said that Oqba slashed the waves of the ocean with his sabre, furious that there was no more land to conquer. Upon his return in 683 however, Oqba’s army was annihilated by a coalition of Berber tribes, and he himself was slain.

This victory, however, merely postponed the eventual fall of the Exarchate. In 697 AD, a new Muslim army entered Africa, under the command of Hassan ibn Numan. At this point, At that point, the weakened forces of the Exarchate could not stop the Arab advance, and following a sneak attack, Carthage fell.

Surprisingly, a Byzantine fleet appeared in African waters and the capital was retaken, only to fall again the following year, after a dramatic siege. Almost all its defenders and most of its civilians perished. In retaliation for its resistance, the Muslims destroyed the city. Thus the ancient city of Carthage, and with it the last Roman presence in Africa, came to an end.

The siege of Carthage, however, had given Dahlia the extra time she had needed. A new power in Africa was born. One consequence of the Byzantine defeat was that the Romans had lost their interest Africa. From this point onward, we have to rely solely on Muslim sources, which are very rarely reliable.

The witch

During the siege of Carthage, Dahlia completed her lifetime’s achievement. She consolidated all the major Berber tribes under a common purpose – driving out the invaders. Beginning with guerilla warfare, she soon graduated to launching full-scale invasion against the Muslims. She was joined in this by the survivors of the Byzantine army, as well as the remnants of the local Visigoths.

Dahlia attacked the main Muslim army, completely defeating it and pushing the invaders back to Egypt. She even reclaimed the ruins of Carthage. At that point, she was the unquestioned heroine and leader of all of Africa’s population – both nomads, Berbers and Romans. All the ethnic and religious groups united under her banner. She was also joined by some deserters from the Muslim army. One of them, most likely an apostate, became her lieutenant and adopted son. This was also the time when she gained her famous Arabic nickname.

Without doubt, Dahlia was close to creating an independent state. She ruled with an iron fist. She quickly transformed the anarchic Berber tribes into a disciplined army. She showed great military and administrative skills. She managed to hold Muslims at bay for a long time, perhaps as long as for three years. She also established an administration capable of maintaining a large standing army for this time. Dahlia was an intelligent person and knew that the Muslims would come back, so she prepared for them the best she could.

One of the most bizarre episodes of Dahlia’s struggle against the Muslims was the defection of her three natural sons. These joined the Muslims and converted to Islam, claiming that they did it on a peremptory order given by their mother. Some speculate that Dahlia knew that in the long perspective she had no chance to stop the Muslims, and decided that it was the only way to save her beloved sons’ lives. Other authors suspect that her sons came to conduct espionage and sabotage.

Even if this second option is true, Dahlia had no chance to make use of her sons’ skills. The exact cause of her downfall, and the date when this happened, is not certain.

Muslim chroniclers accuse Dahlia of maintaining a “scorched earth policy” in the hope that this would make the Muslims abandon their invasion plans. For this reason they say she ordered her men to burn cities, to kill livestock and destroy all the fields. Africa, according to Islamic chronicles, turned into a desert on her orders. Muslims say these actions caused her to lose the support of the settled population, who were terrified by the destruction. Farmers and city dwellers became, from this time onwards, passive observers in the conflict. Chroniclers say proudly that such destruction could never stop them, since the main reason for Islamic conquests was gaining converts.

Dahlia’s “scorched earth policy” is, however, an unlikely scenario. Non-nomads formed the majority of her army and supporters. She was intelligent enough to know that such a move would make them abandon her cause. Moreover, it diminished her already scarce resources. It is most likely that the destruction of Africa (which is a fact confirmed by archaeologists) was done by Muslims themselves who later attributed it to their enemy. The invaders were the only beneficiaries of the destruction. Moreover, Muslims used these methods of terrorist warfare elsewhere during their conquests, as in Spain and Egypt.

Dahlia soon found herself the only enemy of Islam on the African continent. Muslims sent considerable forces and finally defeated her Berber warriors. Sources differ on how she died. Some say that she died a soldier’s death – with a sword in her hand. Others maintain that she poisoned herself when all was lost and defeat was near. Even the exact date of her death is unknown. It happened between the years 702 and 705. Dahlia’s head was mummified and sent to the Caliph, who ordered that it be nailed to the entrance of his favorite mosque.

The end

After Dahlia’s death, the fate of Africa was sealed. All organized resistance ceased to exist, though some Berber tribes continued the open fight for some time. In all treaties with the Berbers, the Muslims demanded conversion to Islam. Facing the threat of complete destruction, most of the tribes agreed to abandon their old beliefs. Those who did not accept the new religion were killed. Many Berber women were said to have committed suicide.

Conversions threatened by force rarely have initial effect. For a long time local Muslim governors sent reports to the caliphs that the ever-rebellious Berbers were Muslims in name only, apostatising at every possible occasion and starting mutinies time and time again.

The fate of the mostly Christian settled population was initially similar to that of Syria, Spain or Egypt. However, Christians had lost most of their intellectual elites who had either died in war or emigrated (most of old Roman aristocracy had fled to Italy). By such means, the population became Islamised and Arabized much quicker than in other regions conquered by the Muslim hordes.

Small pockets of Christians however, survived up to 17th century. In addition, as late as the 12th century in some coastal cities, the Latin language could still be heard in the streets.

A long dark night fell upon Africa….

It is somewhat ironic, but modern Islamic authors refer to Dahlia/Kahina as an example of the high role of women in Islamic societies.

By Basileos
Dedicated to “Sahara” and all other daughters of the desert.

Sources:

Roger Collins: Early Medieval Europe
Georg Ostrogorski: History of the Byzantine Empire
Wikipedia
http://www.whoosh.org/issue85/klossner6.html
http://gess.wordpress.com/2006/08/25/the-legend-of-the-kahina-a-north-african-heroine/
http://www.swagga.com/queen.htm

Further reading:
Primary chronicle: Ibn-Khaldun (a compilation of earlier accounts; very biased and written a long time after her death).
Anonymous, Une Jeanne d’Arc Africaine: Episode de l’Invasion des Arabes en Afrique. Paris, 1890?
Beauguitte, Germaine. La Kahána, Reine des Aurcs. Paris, 1959. (A novel)
Boisnard, Magali. Le Roman de la Kahena. Paris, 1925. (A novel)
Djelloul, Ahmed. Al-Kahana. Paris, 1957. (A play)
El Aroui, Abdelmajid. La Kahena. Tunis, 1990. (A play)
Encyclopedia of African History and Culture. Vol. 2, African Kingdoms (500-1500). Edited by Willie F. Page. Facts on File, 2001.
Gautier, E. F. La Passá de L’Afrique de Nord. Paris, 1937.
Hannoum, Abdelmajid. Colonial Histories, Post-Colonial Memories:The Legend of the Kahina, a North African Heroine. Heinemann, 2001.
Hannoum, Abdelmajid. The Legend of the Kahina: A Study in Historiography and Mythmaking in North Africa. Ph.D. thesis, Princeton, 1996.

Illustration: Nouredine Zekkara

original source: http://www.north-of-africa.com/article.php3?id_article=337\