Betwixt en between the lines are our true (true) stories, retold in (a video diary of) the ‘Q[/t]’ werd….

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/may/22/football-south-africa-world-cup

we’ve said it before, in other places, and [most  symbolically] here….

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dr3uvUU4roc&feature=related]

we’re doing the best we can with what we got to entertain, and re-educate not only ourselves but others, in the practice of freedom.

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/06/16/mb-truth-reconciliation-event-winnipeg.html

 

http://archives.cbc.ca/society/education/topics/692/

(re)building coalitions

 and (re)building solidarity with our people…

hadithi? hadithi?

nipe mji…….

 

 

[re/posted]scribbles from the den

When the idea was first hatched to put forward South Africa’s candidacy for the 2010 World Cup, it seemed a far-fetched dream. And when FIFA actually awarded the tournament to South Africa, it was, in the view of many, a gamble destined to fail. However, after six years of turmoil, controversy and acrimony later, South Africa is finally set for the 2010 World Cup tournament.

For the next month, (legitimate) concerns about the financial toll of the tournament on South Africa’s economy, the absence of concrete benefits for large swathes of the South African population, or about FIFA’s stifling rules will be put on the backburner as the world enjoys the beautiful game.

Dori Moreno

Dori Moreno is one of those unapologetically afflicted by ‘World Cup Fever’:

I have been waiting for the World Cup to arrive ever since the announcement was made that it would be hosted in South Africa. It’s difficult to get excited about something happening so far into the future. But now, the World Cup is upon us, and in just 2 more sleeps, South Africa will face Mexico in the kick off game of the 2010 World Cup. And South Africa has woken up and is alive with energy, passion and enthusiasm.

 ‘Today, the Bafana Bafana team took to the streets of Sandton, Johannesburg in an open top bus. South African fans came out en masse to celebrate and get a glimpse of their national team. The vibe was indescribable and when the Soweto Marimba Youth League played the national anthem, I confess to being moved to tears from the sheer emotion and energy of the event.


‘I think even the die-hard pessimists out there will struggle not to get caught up in the positive energy that will carry us all on a cloud for the next month. To everyone out there, I say, ENJOY! To all the visitors to our awesome country, feel it, live it and fall in love. It’s time for AFRICA!!!!’

Jeanette Verster’s Photography

And talking about the June 9 ‘United We Stand for Bafana Bafana’ parade organised in Sandton to encourage South Africans to show their support for their national team, Jeanette Verster publishes a colorful picture essay that vividly captures the national excitement.

Brand South Africa Blog

Brand South Africa Blog hopes that the unity and patriotism demonstrated in the run-up to the World Cup will last long after the tournament:

‘The past few months have been an incredible sight. Road works, bridges being built and the most spectacular, the giant eye which watches over all of us from the entrance to the V&A Waterfront. To say I feel proud would really be an understatement, although true. Undeniably through all of this is the tangible feeling of patriotism, excitement and unified spirit in the air.

‘Flags, Zakumi’s (official World Cup mascot), soccer jerseys everywhere makes me feel that we can unite as a country, evident in the progress made.

‘*** I love SA ***

‘The feeling I hope for South Africa is that we stay this way long past the end game is played. Everyone is watching and can see that through working together and progress, we can be pushed into another league and be part of a set of countries people all of the world would like to visit sometime in their life.

‘So, Bafana, we are behind you 150%, make us proud and do your best.

‘Visitors to South Africa, our country is beautiful, take the opportunity to visit places off the beaten track you’ll be pleasantly surprised and p.s. don’t forget to shop!’

Constitutionally Speaking

Even as the excitement builds up, there is anger just beneath the surface over a number of (FIFA-inspired?) decisions which do not benefit South Africans. One such issue is the apparent blanket ban on public gatherings in many municipalities for the duration of the World Cup. Constitutionally Speaking argues that:



‘If this is true, it would mean that parts of South Africa are now effectively functioning under a state of emergency in which the right to freedom of assembly and protest have been suspended. This would be both illegal and unconstitutional. Other reports have suggested that such orders were indeed given, but that the police are now backtracking – probably because the police have realised that they are breaking the law and that the order, in fact, constitutes a grave breach of the law and the Constitution.

‘It is a sad day indeed when the police itself become a threat to our democracy and our rights because Fifa and the government want us all to behave and shut up for the next month and to forget about our democratic rights.’

Scribbles from the Den (and betwixt en between the lines: a video diary of the ‘Q[/t]’ werd)

Scribbles from the Den takes us back 20 years to a memorable World Cup game which is now part of the football folklore and which credited to have changed the World Football Order in favor of African countries:

‘Exactly 20 years ago on June 8, 1990 at the Giuseppe Maezza Stadium in Milan, Italy, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, “a humble team with an insignificant past” to quote the Miami Herald, defeated Argentina, the star-studded defending World Champions led by Diego Armando Maradona, in a thrilling Italia ’90 World Cup opening game that came to be known as the “Miracle of Milan”…



‘The victory over Argentina was merely the beginning of Cameroon’s Cinderella story which came to an end only after England ousted the Lions in an epic quarterfinal game that is also part of World Cup folklore. Cameroon’s brilliant run in Italia ’90 in general, and its historic win over Argentina in particular reverberated around the world and changed the Football World Order forever…

‘The aftershocks from that memorable Friday afternoon at the Giuseppe Maezza Stadium would be felt years later first with FIFA increasing the number of African teams taking part in the World Cup from two to five, then with the “browning” of European leagues which opened their doors to players from the continent and in the process unearthed African football prodigies such as “King” George Weah of Liberia, Same Eto’o of Cameroon and Didier Drogba of Cote d’Ivoire.’

Up Station Mountain Club

As the football fiesta goes on in South Africa, Charles Taku, a lead counsel at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania, wonders whether Africa has any reason to celebrate as many states turn 50:

‘Africa is sick; very sick indeed. It is safe to state that at 50, there is nothing to celebrate. Rather than celebrate, Africa should be engaged in a moment of soul searching to find out where we went wrong and to generate ideas about how to resolve the myriad problems afflicting the continent…



‘There is no gainsaying that Africa is a victim of its colonial heritage. It is also true that many African problems are self inflicted. For that reason, according to Peter Schwab, Africa is its own worst enemy.

‘As Africa enters the second half of the century, there is a compelling need for it to eschew all pretensions to celebration and to use the opportunity of the moment to search for viable solutions to its plethora of problems. Our collective failure enjoins us to do a lot of soul searching at this point of our history rather than celebrate a failed past in anticipation of a bleaker future. Africa and the black race in general need to take their destiny into their own hands once again. Time has come for all black people of this world to invoke the spirits of Marcus Garvey, George Padmore, CLR James, the Osagyefo Mwalimu and others whose mere mention of name give us the inspiration, courage and hope to start all over again, in seeking a path of glory they once laid out for us.

The time to build and improve on what they started for our collective survival in a mercilessly competitive world is now. Waiting for dictators that preside over the destiny of most of the continent at present to pave that path to glory is simply foolhardy, if not suicidal.”



Kumekucha

Kumekucha explains how he believes the ruling elite plan to rig the August Referendum for the proposed new Kenyan Constitution:

‘Folks I am afraid that I have more bad news for you concerning the new constitution most of us are yearning for. Let me start by confessing that for a person with my years of experience I was rather naïve to believe that those who own Kenya would ever allow for an electoral system that they did not have any control over. The truth is that the so called “tamper-proof” electoral roll has already been tampered with and non-existent voters introduced. And since it is NOT the same electoral roll that we will go to the general elections with, the only conclusion is that the intention is to rig the August 4th Referendum.

‘The game plan by the powerful owners of Kenya is for the NO camp to catch up with the YES majority so that the difference is around 20% or less. What will then happen is that NO will win with a very slim majority. Enough to deny most Kenyans what they are yearning for so much that they can no longer sleep too well. Those wh o have read the document and realize the sweeping changes it will bring into the country and the deadly blow it will deal to impunity.

‘What really scares me is that so far these powerful forces have been able to get things done through the NSIS and have even influenced the judiciary to make certain bizarre rulings. To me that is evidence enough that they are quite capable of going ahead with their well laid plan even as the president tires himself crisscrossing the country campaigning for a new constitution.’


BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Dibussi Tande blogs at Scribbles from the Den.

 

Blogger’s note: In memory  and honour of Elijah Masinde’s anniversary, we dedicate these stories to (deepening our connection with) our ancestors, bredrin, dadas en pikney.

The Bukusu are one of the seventeen Kenyan sub-tribes of the Luhya (Bantu group of) East Africa.

Calling themselves ‘BaBukusu’, they are the largest single ethnic unit among the Luhya nation, making up about 17% of the whole Luhya population.

The other Luhya groups in Kenya are ABaTiriki, Maragoli, ABaNyore, ABaKhayo, ABaMateka, ABaNyala, ABaSamia, ABiSukha, AbiTakho, ABaShisa, ABaMarachi, ABaTsotso, ABaKabarasi, ABaTachoni, ABaWanga and ABaMarama.

Origins
The Bukusu myths of origin state that the first man, Mwambu (The discoverer or inventor), was made from mud by Wele Khakaba at a place called Mumbo (which translates to ‘West’). God then created a wife for Mwambu, a woman called Sela.

Mwambu and his descendants moved out of Mumbo and settled on the foothills of Mount Elgon, from where their descendants grew to form the current Bukusu population.

Other traditional stories relate of a place of origin called Misri, from Mizraim (Hebrew for Egypt).

Anthropologists believe that the Bukusu did not become a distinct grouping apart from the rest of the Luhya population until, at the very earliest, the late 18th Century.

They moved into Central Uganda as part of a much larger group of people, many forming the eastern extension of the great Bantu migration out of central Africa.

(See Origins of the Luhya.)

Settlement
Together with other Luhya groups, the Bukusu are thought to have first settled around the foothills of Mount Elgon. This area was already inhabited by Kalenjin warrior tribes, and the Bukusu and their neighbours had to build fortified villages to ward off the attacks of these tribes.

The first fortified villages were built at a place called Silikwa (sometimes called Sirikwa). Following repeated attacks and unfavourable weather conditions, folklore has it, a council was held at Silikwa and it was resolved to migrate south and east, where spies are said to have reported large, unsettled lands. However, a section of the population was reluctant to move and stayed behind when the main tribe moved.

Those who stayed behind are said to have become the Ugandan BaMasaaba tribe. Those who left moved into what is now Bungoma district of Kenya, to become the ancestors of the current Bukusu people.

Currently, the Bukusu mainly inhabit Bungoma district of Western Province, which is bordered by Kakamega District to the east, Busia District to the south, Mount Elgon to the north and Uganda to the west.

A large number of the Bukusu are also found in the Kitale area of Kenya’s Rift Valley province, as well as in Lugari-Malava district.

The BaMasaaba of Uganda are very closely related to the Bukusu, with many shared customs and a common dialect of the Luhya language.

Previously, the Bukusu were referred to as the ‘Kitosh’ by the neighbouring Kalenjin community, a name they despised. The reasons for this are not very clear: in some Kalenjin dialects, “Kitosh” means “people of the earth”. This could have been a reference to the agricultural Bukusu, or to the fact that they lived on the lower foothills of Mount Elgon. Following vigorous campaigns by community elders, the name Kitosh was eventually substituted with Bukusu in the mid 1950s.
A replica of a Bukusu hut at the Sarova White Sands Hotel in Mombasa, Kenya.

Traditional life
The Bukusu lived in fortified villages, and did not have a structure of central authority. The highest authority was the village headman, called Omukasa, who was usually elected by the men of the village. There were also healers and prophets who acquired great status because of their knowledge of tribal tradition, medicines, and religion. Elijah Masinde, a resistance leader and traditional medicineman, was revered as a healer in the early 1980s.

Family
Bukusu family structure was traditionally modelled on the generic Luhya family structure. Families were usually polygamous, with the first wife accorded a special status among her co-wives……….
Children inherited the clan of their father, and were not allowed to marry spouses from either their own clan, or their mother’s clan. The first son of the first wife was usually the main heir to his father, and he had a special name denoting this status: Simakulu.

At birth, children were usually named after grandparents or famous people, or after the weather. Male and female names were different: male names frequently began with ‘W’, while female names usually began with ‘N’. Thus, for example, a boy born during a famine would be named ‘Wanjala’, while a girl would be named ‘Nanjala’. Both names share the same root word, ‘njala’, from ‘eNjala’, the Bukusu word for hunger.

Initiation
The Bukusu practised (and still practise) male circumcision. It is thought that they adopted the practice from contact with the Kalenjin at Mount Elgon. Others argue, however, that the presence of the practice in the other Luhya tribes indicates an earlier adoption, before the Bukusu settled at Mount Elgon. In ceremonies that were spaced about two years apart, young boys of a particular age (usually about 15 years of age) would, on getting the go-ahead from their parents, invite relatives and friends to their initiation.

The initiation was a public event, witnessed by all. Going through the operation without showing any sign of pain was (and still is) thought to be an indicator of bravery. Once circumcised, an initiate became a member of an age-group. There are twelve age-groups, forming a cyclical system, with each age-group lasting for 8 years. Once the last age-group has been reached, the first is restarted, and so on. For example, the “Bachuma” age-group lasted from 1980 to 1986: every Bukusu circumcised within this period (that is, in 1980, 1982, 1984, and 1986) belongs to that age-group. In 1988, the “Basawe” age group began, and lasted until 1994.

Female circumcision was widely practiced among the Bukusu, until government campaigns put an end to the practice in the 1980s. However, some clans still continue the practice in secret. [depending on where you look at it from, it could also be that the practice died a few generations ago]

This is especially the case around Mount Elgon, where the neighbouring Kalenjin tribes also practice a form of female circumcision. [fafanua.]

Although circumcision was universal among the Bukusu, the form of the ceremony varied according to the clan. In particular, the festivities and ceremonies accompanying the final stage of initiation, when the now-healed initiates came out of seclusion to rejoin their families as ‘men’, were specific to clans, and have been handed down largely intact to the present day.

Marriage
Young men got married at about the age of 18-20, while girls got married at about the age of 16. There were two types of first-time marriage: arranged marriages and enforced eloping. If a young man came from a well-to-do family, he would ask his sisters to find a girl for him to marry. The ability of a potential wife to cook well, bear children and work in the fields were the main attractions in a girl. Once a girl was identified, an emissary was sent to her parents to ask for her hand. The girl had no say whatsoever in the whole matter: bride price would be discussed, and then once it was paid she would be sent off to live with her new husband. This form of marriage is still common in traditional households today.

In some cases, however, the young man would be from a poor family and could not afford to pay the likely bride-price. Traditional society allowed such young men to abduct the girls they intended to marry. (The girl had to present an opportunity to be ‘abducted’, so her cooperation was essential!) The couple would then leave their home to live with a far-off relative for a while, until the young man acquired enough wealth to pay the original bride price, as well as a fine, to the parents of the girl. This practice has since died out.

The Bukusu highly approve of intermarriages between themselves and BaMasaaba. This is because they have quite a number of similarities in their codes of conduct, marriage customs, circumcision traditions and even folklore. Among the most famous of Bukusu marriage customs is the immense respect accorded one’s in-laws. A lady, for example, treats her father-in-law with a lot of deference and respect, and they are not allowed to make physical contact in any way. The same is true of a man and his mother-in-law……

Cattle were very important: they were the main means of exchange, alongside cowrie shells (chisimbi). Most values, from the beauty of a girl to the price of a field of land, were expressed in terms of head of cattle. Possessing cattle wealth and prosperous agriculture, the Bukusu were sometimes not only admired but also envied by neighboring communities.

Occasionally intermarriages used to take place between them and the other communities. It was common practice for Kalenjin neighbors to give Bukusu their sons to look after their herds of cattle. In times of famine, which are said to have been frequent amongst their Kalenjin neighbors, the latter used to even sell their children to Bukusu. Bukusu also used to send their own young boys to grow up with Kalenjin or Maasai families, in some cases for espionage purposes.

Death
Being sedentary pastoralists, they had time to care for their sick and bury their dead. A sick person was looked after till he recuperated or died. When a person died, he was buried in a grave with a warrior’s weapons if he was an elder. Several functions were performed during and after the funeral ceremony. Ordinarily, burial pits ranged from 3-4 feet in depth, much shallower than today’s. Sometimes wild animals like hyenas exhumed corpses from graves and ate them. Should such an incident occur, people looked for the presumed skull of the desecrated body, and when they found it, they hung it in a leafy tree.

When the family of the deceased migrated, they brewed beer (kamalwa ke khuukhalanga) for the ceremony of transferring the skull with them to the new home or settlement. An old woman was entrusted with the responsibility of conveying the skull to the new site. Burial of the dead was thus, to say the least, ingrained in the Bukusu traditions.

Economic activities
Bukusu accounts indicate that both agricultural and pastoral economies have been practiced by the tribe for as long can be remembered. This is authenticated by the vast amount of knowledge they have about farming practices, rich pastoral vocabulary and the broad variety of legends connected with pastoral life. Today, they farm mainly maize for subsistence and sugar cane as a cash crop in the Bungoma area, as well as wheat in the Kitale area. Cattle and sheep are universally kept, cattle mainly for milk, and sheep for meat and ceremonial functions (when a sheep usually has to be offered to elders for sacrifice). Larger or polygamous families will usually have a team of oxen for ploughing and hauliage within the home. Chicken, a traditional delicacy, are nowadays reared on small to medium scales for commercial egg production.

Politics
The Bukusu currently form one of the main support bases of the governing coalition in Kenya, through the Ford-Kenya political party. Previously, they were mainly associated with opposition to the Kalenjin-dominated reign of former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Notable Personalities
Among the more notable Bukusu personalities past and present:

Maina wa Nalukale, a seer who was reputed to have foretold the coming of the British colonialists
Elijah Masinde, resistance and religious leader
Michael Wamalwa Kijana, former vice president of Kenya
Masinde Muliro, former minister and opposition leader
Musikari Kombo, current leader of Ford Kenya

References
Ayot, Henry Okello (1977) History Texts of the Lake Region of East Africa. Nairobi, Kenya: Kenya Literature Bureau.
Barker, Eric E. (1975) The Short History of Nyanza. Nairobi, Kenya: East African Literature Bureau.
Makila, F. E. (1978) An Outline History of Babukusu of Western Kenya. Nairobi, Kenya: Kenya Literature Bureau.
Were, Gideon S. (1967) A History of the Abaluyia of Western Kenya: c. 1500-1930. Nairobi, Kenya: East African Publishing House.

© The Wikipedia

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Elija Masinde (also spelt Elijah Masinde) was a traditional leader of the Bukusu people of western Kenya.

Early life
Born around 1910 – 1912 in Bungoma district, Masinde started out as a footballer, going on to play for Kenya 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 as a result.

Dini Ya Musambwa
While in jail, Masinde claimed to have been given divine interpretation of the Old Testament of the Bible, and proclaimed that a “Black Jesus” would come to liberate the people of Kenya from colonial oppression. When he was released, he formed a sect called “Dini Ya Musambwa” (Bukusu for “following of spirit[s] of the ancestors”), and gained huge followings in western Kenya.

Detention, old age, and death
Upon Kenya’s independence, Masinde was detained by the government of Jomo Kenyatta for almost 15 years. He had been accused of formenting religious hatred. He was released by the government of Daniel Arap Moi in 1978, and lived quietly in his native Kimilili area until his death in 1987.

It is reported that, before his death, Masinde pointed out to his family 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.

References
*Makila, F. E. (1978) An Outline History of Babukusu of Western Kenya. Nairobi, Kenya: Kenya Literature Bureau.
*Alembi, Ezekiel. (2000) Elijah Masinde: Rebel with a cause”. Nairobi, Kenya: Sasa Sema Publications Ltd.
http://experts.about.com/e/e/el/Elija_Masinde.htm

 

BLOGGER’S NOTE:

this post is a(nother) preview of the Q/t werd: a (real/raw en) mystic, organic, us-people driven caravan of  pan-afrikan myths, legends en our (kinda) super/s/heroes….we’re celebrating and (re) mapping the intersections of our diversity with werd! Sound! (en di) Powah! (of love)

These are some stories we know, that (not only) I heard (en read) many times before, from many different (kinda) folks,

you can do anything that you want with these hadithi, share them with others, cry about it, get angry or forget it, but don’t say you’d have lived your life differently if only you’d heard this story, now you know….

[We warn you, we have not only just begun! 😉 ]

http://www.kenyaimagine.com/Social-Issues/Literature-Blood-and-Doves.htmlLiterature, Blood and Doves
Wednesday, 26 March 2008
 As the media went into a frenzy celebrating the ‘5th Anniversary of the Iraq War’, my friend Jackie via chat asked why they were saying this like it was a happy event, like a wedding anniversary or something.We quickly came to the Kenyan situation and said next year we shall probably have our first Anniversary frenzy celebrating the post Election violence that was ethnically motivated and marked our descent into hell. Some people will actually be celebrating killing of others like it is a happy Birthday celebration. My friend aptly summarized it – “it will be warm and syrupy and Julie Gichuru will preside over the televised version on a talk show.”

But what lessons does it teach us, we practitioners and consumers of literature? It teaches us that from the roots, the development, and the eruption of the violence, literature (like other Kenyan institutions) was misused to fuel the ethnic violence. (‘Literature’ is here used loosely to mean the written, the spoken, and – as recently redefined by technology – the blogged, the SMSd, the graffitied, the rapped, the sung, the videoed.)  Literature in all the variety of its forms was abused to propagate negative tribalism and ethnocentric hatred of others, as well as misused by its practitioners, (lecturers, students, readers, editors of literary columns and internet bloggers,) to mis-interpret what are otherwise noble folktales, as well as to disparage fellow literary icons simply because they were from the ‘other tribe’. There was also the noble opposite, especially in the aftermath of the outbreak of violence, when writers and practitioners of literature used literary works and personalities in an attempt to address the violence, hatred and propaganda being bandied about by agents of ethnic hatred hiding under the veil of democracy.

The process of slanting the ideological and thematic strands in stories for political expediency was similar to the Nazi effort of the early 1930’s when the NSDAP sponsored the research and publication of folklore that had Nordic-Germanic symbols and themes of German supremacy, which they then used to galvanize the peasantry, and the population at large, in the belief that they were a pure master race. Alfred Rosenberg’s Kulturgemeinde issued in its two main journals, Kunst and Volc and Volskum and Heimadt, folktales with that intent. German Literature professors, especially in folklore, were pressured to align their research findings with the National Socialist Weltanschauung. An innocent story like Little Red Riding Hood, in the Grimm brothers’ Children and Household Tales (1812), was, for instance, turned by the propagandists of the Third Reich into a symbol of the German people, saved from the evil Jewish wolf. In this way, Adolf Hitler spread his hate against Jews, homosexuals, clergymen, gypsies, mentally challenged people, and all those not of (what was thought to be) pure German blood. In Rwanda, hate publications, stories and folktales were similarly mis-interpreted to propagate Hutu and Tutsi animosity.

Likewise in Kenya, from smoky rural huts to the Kenyan web. In one of the hate mails that circulated in the Rift Valley and on the internet, a section of the Nandi invoked the legend of Koitalel Arap Samoei, a brave son of the Nandi community, and one of the great freedom-fighters, who valiantly led the (unfortunately, seldom credited) longest resistance against the British colonialists, until he was tricked and killed by Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, after which the community divided once again. His heroism is one of the defining hallmarks of Kenyan nationhood: he proudly and honourably resisted imperialism and the oppression of a people by another. On the internet, as on the ground, however, the exploits of Koitalel were used to inspire the Nandi to rise up against the Gikuyu who had ‘occupied their land’; the Gikuyu it was alleged, were latter-day imperialists. It claimed the re-birth of Koitalel through Hon. Ruto, who shares the name Samoei name with him, urging the community to rally behind the reborn Orkoiyot. The brothers of the Nandi were urged to raise arms against the Gikuyu, ostensibly because whereas Kibaki was a Gikuyu and unreachable, they could get to his tribemates. The rest is history.

Similarly, a section of the Gikuyu, since the sunset years of the Moi regime, have rallied round the myth of Mugo wa Kibiru, a great soothsayer in Gikuyu land, who visioned the coming of the white man and urged his people to prepare to oppose the raider. The Gikuyus also invoked another legend, Dedan Kimathi Waciuri, widely seen as a symbol of the courageous struggle for Independence. With these two, united by the clandestine religio-socio-political Mau Mau movement that led the anti-British rebellion in Gikuyuland, a few young men claimed visitation by Mugo wa Kibiru, in which they were exhorted to lead the community against oppression by the Moi regime and his Kalenjin tribemates.

In the guise of returning Gikuyus to their pure cultural practices, the group widened and grew, eventually morphing into the well-organized Mungiki gang. When it was clear, according to the 2007 polls, that Mwai Kibaki was trailing Raila Odinga, and that, even among Gikuyu peasants, he was not a favourite due to the perceived favouring of his elitist moneyed friends, elements within the Gikuyu hireachy invoked tribal unity using the image of Dedan Kimathi: ‘we fought for Kenya’s Independence while they lazed around the lake’, there is no way ‘we the circumcised can be led by the uncircumcised’, it was said. Loose talk of ‘Kenya is ours’ was heard.

From Kenyatta’s speeches, where he is supposed to have told told MPs opposing his seemingly tribalistic governance that “My people drink milk in the morning, your people in the afternoon” to imply that former had a right to the cream of Kenya’s resources, such proverbs, and metaphors were used to spite other communities. Modern metaphors were dragged into the fray, equating the murderous mission with Christian evangelism. In an interview with Dennis Itumbi of AfricaNews, posted on kalenjin.net, a Mungiki leader (who studied at Kangaru and Mangu high schools, did a BA in Philosophy with a bias in (Religious) logic at the University of Nairobi and a Masters Degree at St. Paul’s Theological College in Limuru specializing in African Theology), a Mr Mathenge aka Mnyama, says Mungiki is “political and religious. Look when Jesus came on earth he said he was the King of the Jews. That is political. Then he said he has come to restore salvation. That is religious and that is our mission. You don’t even need to ask that question. Remember the recent meeting in Michuki’s office. Why were these politicians meeting?”  The rest is history.

Among the Luhya, particularly the Bukusu, one of their freedom fighters and legendary icons, Elijah Masinde, was invoked. The Bukusus, in an apparent bid to make them ignore the dangling of one of their own, Musikari Kombo, by Kibaki as a possible future president once Kibaki had served his full term, were reminded of a prophecy uttered by Elijah Masinde to the effect that ‘The throne would only come to Bukusu land through the path of the lake’ i.e., only Raila, being from the Lake region, had the duty to serve as Kenya’s president and pave the path to a Luhya once he retired, a fact hammered in by Raila’s choice of Mudavadi, a Luhya, as his running mate. What followed was major battle, with the differing political groups trying to outdo each other in the ‘best interpretation of the Elijah Masinde prophecy’, a resuscitation of Bukusu folktales urging caution against the Barwa (Nandi enemies), the Mango myth of Circumcision as well as Maina Wa Nalukale’s tales of Bukusu supremacy over the Luhya nation. It all culminated in a tussle of comic proportions when each group visited the grave of the legend to pay homage, donating blankets and other goodies in efforts to appease his spirit and counter the other groups appeasing efforts as a sacrilageous soiling of his name. All this for a man who, until last year, was largely forgotten in Kenya’s history outside Bukusuland.

Instead of literary scholars laying bare the selfish manipulations of these folktales and icons for political gain, they jumped onto the bandwagon, dropping their PhD  degrees and pamphlets of scholarly research to prove the rightness of whichever group they supported. Professors of literature attacked each other’s credibility on the basis of their tribe of origin. A major casualty, of course, was all those amazing works that were being done on the Mau Mau history. Suddenly, Mau Mau was collateral damage in the war for and against Kibaki. It was no good talking about it in serious forums. It was just a Gikuyu peasant war that had nothing to do with Kenyan History. No, it was the best example of we Gikuyu fighting the white man and now you want to say we can’t rule this land we shed blood for, so please write it and garnish it with sentiments of how grateful Kenya has to be to our tribe. Literary critics led the interpretation of literary works to discredit opposing tribes. An example is one review that was an unfortunate attack on an 80-year old peasant man who had slaved for over 28 years handwriting his memoirs about his life in detention, Kizuizini (Detention life), a Swahili book which I personally edited and researched at the National Archives to verify its credibility. (I am not Gikuyu so had no tribal allegiance). Despite it being a rich source of information about our history, one self-appointed ‘leading’ critic termed it ‘fiction’ saying that since the old man had a line which he said ‘we fought the white man because he had taken our land, and we wanted it back since it was given to us from the days of Gikuyu and Mumbi, our forefathers’ and since he later goes on to regret that ‘what we had fought for in Kenya, we never really got it, since those who supported the colonialists went on to grab land while many were left landless’. A noble book was dismissed as Gikuyu propaganda without proper consideration, simply because it was written by a Gikuyu; truly a case of a book caught in a war not of its own making.

It was also fashionable to dismiss Ngugi Wa Thiong’o as just another beneficiary of Gikuyu elevation. Years ago, when I was still a young brain, easily influenced by his egalitarian Marxism, a post-graduate student of high repute in the Institution I was at lashed out at Ngugi during a Black American Month symposium, stating that he was to blame for inventing the Mungiki Sect through The River Between; it had propagated the return of certain Gikuyu customs. I wrote a bitter defence in The Standard’s Literary Forum, arguing that those who founded Mungiki probably hadn’t even read the novel, and anyone who had read the novel could see that nowhere did it advocate beheading of people as a Gikuyu cultural norm. The defence sparked a barrage of hate replies and counter-replies which degenerated into tribal name-calling, after which the editor slammed shut the debate. Fast forward: Ngugi returned to Kenya after his self imposed exile; many read it as the beginning of a wider scheme of Gikuyu glorification, forgetting the return of Ali Mazrui and other fire-brands who had been demonized by the Moi Government. When the unfortunate attack on Ngugi and his wife happened, numerous emails circulated celebrating the fact with sneers of ‘The Gikuyu hyenas, look how they even eat one of their own.’ When the post-election violence broke in December, Ngugi’s remarks that some scenarios were similar to what he had written in his block-buster novel, The Wizard of The Crow , were angrily sneered at. It did not help when Ngugi wrote a pre-lection commentary concerning his impression of Kibaki, based on the three occasions they had met. The first rejoinder to that article was an attack on Ngugi claiming that he had proven that he did not think any president fit to lead Kenya unless he were Gikuyu. That article was circulated largely to discredit Ngugi as a Gikuyu apologist.

Even the new generation of writers were not averse to attacking each other on tribal bases. Some publishing houses were accused of being slanted towards publishing people from their owner’s tribal region and neglecting others in total disregard of the merit of their works. Whether that is true or not is debatable, but what is true is that the perceptions  that such and such a publishing house publishes only such and such tribes were there.

Literature had squarely entered the fray of tribalism, becoming as divided as all the other institutions which had been looked upon to deliver us from this evil: The Kenya Electoral Commission, the Judiciary, The Press, and the Church. You read or misread literature and, especially folklore, according to your tribal spectacles.

There was intense rejuvenation of folk tales that portrayed the Kalenjin and the Nandi as fit only to herd cattle. The famous story in which a cow was given to a Luo, a Gikuyu and a Kalenjin, did its rounds. The Gikuyu, it is claimed, zero grazed it, pampered it by planting and cutting napier grass for it, and it gave the best quantity of milk (to say Kibaki’s economic boon). The Kalenjin grazed it all over the land till he eroded the soil, and the cow gave a meager quantity of milk (a comment on the 24 years of Moi rule and the harsh economic times in his sunset years). The Luo, it was said, was too lazy to graze a cow day in and day out, so let it wander as he sat in his hut, knowing that whenever he needed food, he could walk to the lake, fish, eat, sleep and then go fish again when he felt hungry. This, you can guess, was spread by Gikuyu people. It was countered with numerous stories in print and oral narratives of stories with the motif of Gikuyu as genetically disposed towards thievery, and when the election dispute arose, the cry was ‘kill all the Gikuyu since they are nothing but thieves’.

Not to be outdone, the Gikuyu, particularly the Ameru, re-ignited myths of their migration to the Mt. Kenya region from Axum in Ethiopia, with links to the Queen of Sheba; thus they claimed to be one of the lost tribes of Israel. The more educated linked the Meru, particularly the Athuci, to this claim of Jewish descent. In bars, it was said that the Biblical Eden was located in the land divided by a flowing river (the Chania in this case); and that Mt. Kenya was the seat of God, who had bestowed Kibaki with the power to lead as only the Gikuyu could reign over the rest of the country.  You could not galvanise a people around their pride as the pure more strongly than this. Unless you are Hitler of course.

The folklore taught to the circumcised among the Bantu and especially among the Gikuyu were brought to the fore, encouraging distrust of other tribes as lazy. Numerous moderate Gikuyus, on trying to caution their hardliner friends about the irregularities marring the elections were taunted: ‘are you not circumcised? So why fear antagonizing a kihii (the uncircumcised)?” In the post election violence, Gikuyu youth hunted down Luos in Kibera, and Naivasha, forcefully circumcising them before either beating them or killing them. Reports from Independent bodies delving into the root causes of the violence have documented the same from the Nandi community: young circumcised youths were taught folklore during their cultural lessons, slanted to provoke them into attacking the Gikuyu in the Rift Valley, now that they were warriors. In turn, stories, proverbs and writings have cropped up which encourage what I can term the ‘Jewinisation’ of the Gikuyu: a feeling of persecution and ‘we are the hated because of being entrepreneurs’ which,  surprisingly, is getting encouragement from the learned and wealthy of the community. From hawkers to middle class homes, the Gikuyu feel besieged, and believe that they are being witch-hunted for working hard and prospering. With the Gospel of prosperity taught in evangelical churches, they have sought refuge in Christian stories of those persecuted by jealous people, and hence found solace by conceiving of themselves as an unfairly-persecuted minority, like the Jews. It resonates with the teaching of the bible; some religious people go further and rely on the Biblical hatred between the Jews and the Gentiles to justify hating the other tribe. Several blogs hosted by Gikuyu attest to this, one of the most prominent being one titled ‘Who are the Gikuyu? The Jews of Kenya‘. In Rwandesque terms, Kenyan communities claimed supremacy over others using their communal narratives, and urging the decimation of others as weeds, stains, and other negative terms. Proverbs were given tribal meanings to otherise. Communities were labeled madoadoa, stains that needed to be removed, in avenues as public as FM stations.

But fortunately most people decided to use literature in its various forms to propagate peace and provoke a re-evaluation of the whole Kenyan conflict, as well as what avenues there were to address the animosity that was fast claiming lives. The Concerned Kenyan Writers email group brought together arguably the best Kenyan writers in a dialogue of sorts, which quickly grew into a major forum for international media and literary people looking for a more authentic, alternative source of information that wasn’t censored by the commercial factors that hampered the mainstream media. Writers like Binyavanga Wainaina, Yvonne Awuor, Billy Kahora, Stanley Gazemba, Muthoni Garland, Rasnah Warah, Parselelo Kantai and others wrote fiction and non fiction articles that they posted on the site and were circulated worldwide. International writers played their part in narrating the Kenyan experience, mostly because it resonated with their own countries. Gappah Pettinah from Zimbabwe, Uganda’s Doreen Baingana and Kalundi Serrumaga are notable examples.

In December, before election day, Story Moja, a literary body in Nairobi, organized Kenya’s first Reading Festival; a story-telling competition was held. Most of the narratives referred to the General election that was around the corner, warning against the dire consequences of tribal politics as if prophesying the violence to come. The winning narrative, almost uncannily, was about kitchen tools that engaged in animosity and fought each other in their quest for supremacy, leading to a blaze in the kitchen. It ended with a plea for Kenyans not to be like the kitchen tools. But apparently some didn’t heed it. On the theatre scene, plays like Lwanda Magere which ‘pimped’ the legend of Lwanda Magere – the invincible Luo warrior who was invincible until he leaked the secret to a girl that only spearing his shadow could hurt him – were done with a modern political angle and toured the countryside. Youth from the Dandora slums organized by Patrick Shomba made a short film titled Ghetto President and aired it there.

After the violence erupted, writers gathered at the Sunday Salon to read stories of hope and love; all the admission money collected was donated to the Kenya Red Cross to buy food and clothing for the internally displaced. Similarly, a play was shown at the National Theater the proceeds of which were donated to charity. Many more events took place countrywide.

Despite the fact that literature was used to spread hate, it is not to be blamed. It is those who misused it who are to blame, in the same way that those who used the positive power of literature to ease the conflict are to be praised. One does not ban all water bodies simply because someone drowned in a river. With special reference to folktales, it is not that they are forms for hatred, but rather that people misused them.

At the end of World War II, Allied commanders banned the publication of the Grimm tales in Germany in the belief that they had contributed to Nazi savagery. Some even called for the banning of folktales and similar literary styles, but reason eventually prevailed: it was not the tales, but the manipulators who were the problem.  It is a fact that most of the folktales and narratives in our communities extolled peace and understanding. Even those that were slanted and mis-interpreted by the warmongers to spread hate are about the virtues of Koitalel Arap Samoei, Dedan Kimathi, and Lwanda Magere, who actually had virtues we all need to emulate: prominently, self-sacrifice for the communal good. Our folktales did not advocate killing of innocent women and children, and they did not advocate killing innocent people in a room set ablaze for the sake of revenge. But like everything at this insane moment in our country, truth was lost.  Literature, like a gun, depends on the hands it is in.

________________________________________

Simiyu Barasa is a film maker (Toto Millionaire), and a member of the Concerned Kenyan Writers collective.

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