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Friday, August 20, 2010

Kamba secrets: What is the true origin of all the suffering?

I have been fortunate enough to do a little traveling here and there in my time, but for me the most beautiful place in the world still remains high up in the Iveti hills where my dad was born. Without being biased it is absolutely breathtaking up there (approximately 6,000 feet above sea level).

A little difficult to describe in mere words but I can see it all when I close my eyes, even now seated in front of this computer in a dark room bang in the middle of some concrete jungle. I see the rolling red soiled hills with vegetation and jutting rocks. The grass thatched roofs and the mabati ones (some rusty and some still shiny) spread over the hills as far as the eye can see. I can even smell the fresh air undiluted by modern civilization and the constant stench that comes with it. Little wonder that I always do my best thinking up there.

I miss the place terribly more so because I haven’t been there for quite a while.

Section of the Iveti Hills in Kathiani constituency Machakos, Ukambani.

But there is another side to this beautiful picture perfect terrain that should be a tourist attraction one day. There is the extreme poverty and hopelessness. There is a lot of idleness in Ukambani but then the truth is that there are few communities that love to farm more than the Kamba people. Before the advent of the mobile phone many a true Mkamba would anxiously wait for somebody arriving in the city from home and the first question would be if it rained, not even the progress of an ailing relative would take the place of that standard first question. And everybody in Ukambani grows maize.

You see there are plenty of contradictions in this Eastern Kenya community, I guess that confirms how terribly complex these people really are. Still with their blood flowing through my veins, I guess I am pretty qualified to write about them and I will try very hard to make some sense out of the paradox.

But for now in this background-building post I will focus on something about the Akamba that has always made me very uncomfortable and at the same time puzzled. Few communities have been used, misused and dumped as much as the Kamba. Slave traders in the 18th century loved them because they easily betrayed their own to the ruthless Arabs and didn’t seem to mind seeing close relatives carried off towards the Coast never to be seen again. Sometimes the cunning Arab slave traders would return and turn round and betray their informants, capturing them as they worked towards meeting the every increasingly high targets for slave shipments. The colonialists found the Kamba very loyal and filled the army and police forces with them. The community received no special rewards for helping the white man in his wars or in keeping law and order.

The Kenyatta dictatorship took over where the White man left off and it is no accident that the first and second head of the military under Kenyatta were both Kambas. First there was Major General JM Ndolo who was followed by General Jackson Kimeu Mulinge. And even then Ukambani did not receive any really special treatment when it came to famine relief and other emergencies that arose in the area. President Moi continued where Kenyatta left off. And even as the community failed to reap any rewards for their many years of loyalty and support they steadfastly continued to support the dictatorial regimes of both Kenyatta and Moi. Things came to a head after the 1997 General elections that saw Moi win yet again. Angry Kenyans from other communities are reported to have harassed Kambas and even burned some of their commercial vehicles at the famous Machakos bus stop in Nairobi.

Even randy Asian housewives in Nairobi whose husbands are too busy thinking about money making schemes to satisfy them in bed seem to have found good use for Kamba houseboys satisfying their personal needs. And without any salary increments or special rewards.

The list of how Kambas have been used and misused by others is way too long and so I will have to stop there and move onto the simple question that arises from all this. And that is WHY? Why has this community ended up suffering so much?

Some spiritual experts from the church say it is because they killed a man of God namely Dr Ludwig Kraph a missionary who was found dead kneeling by his bedside, but it is claimed he was actually murdered by the Akamba. They add that since it is impossible to mock God the creator, the curse of mockery has fallen back on the community as a result of this.

Whatever the reason, it is important to take careful note of the great suffering that has been going on in Ukambani for many decades despite the special advantages the community has which given to another would have produced very different results. In many ways this will help any observer understand the complex and yet simple nature of Kamba politics.

More on the Kamba people, history culture etc.

Kamba Secrets Part 1

Kamba Secrets Part 2

Kamba Secrets Part 3

Kamba Secrets Part 4


Anonymous said...

Just because your Kalenjin bashing that has been going on for the last two years has refused to yield fruit doesnt mean that u should visit your anger on kambas.All communities and individuals should vote the way they want without being called names,bullied or intimidated.And poverty stalks all tribes in Kenya,save for Kenyan whites.I happen to know many rich Kambas,though unfortunately they die courtesy of viagra overdose.

Anonymous said...

Stop the ignorant tribalism.every tribe has some poverty.its very convenient of you to use the kambas in this context.why didnt you mention the turkana or jang'os or north easterners???its obvious your lips stink of Mr. Kabila Adui's nuts.lmao.

Anonymous said...

Overcome evil with good. Do good works, serve your fellow man justly and with excellence. Modern wealth (economics) is based on two things: Goods and Services. The degree to which an individual or a community prospers directly depends on ONLY these two elements and NOTHING else.

Anonymous said...

Typical Kenyans running away from the simple truth and living beautiful lies clothed in big, empty ideas. Be real and learn to accept the truth jameni. Hidding or refusing to accept truth never makes it go away. But again I am preaching to a choir programmed to DECEIT, endeleeni. Chris toboa.

Anonymous said...

Author Please square what you just said:

"...Some spiritual experts from the church say it is because they killed a man of God namely Dr Ludwig Kraph a missionary..."

With Wikipedia, which says....

"In 1846 he was joined by Johannes Rebmann, another southwest German Lutheran who was in the service of the CMS. Krapf and Rebmann set off to explore the interior of East Africa and they were the first Europeans to see the snowcapped mountains of Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. They sent reports about them to Europe which were ridiculed by the experts.

Krapf's deteriorating health forced him to return to Germany in 1853.

He brought with him several old Swahili manuscripts, including copies of the Book of the Battle of Tambuka, the earliest Swahili manuscript. In Korntal he continued his linguistic studies and advisory work for the Christian missions. [1]....."

And you can find this at:

Anonymous said...

I believe there is even a town in Germany named after Dr. Ludwig Krapf and I will check to confirm that they have his grave there.

Can some one please post an official credible report that Krapf did not die in Germany but was murdered by African natives as this story claims.

Without credible facts one is led to believe the author is, at best, a malicious liar. Malicious because there is NO good reason to ignore facts that are readily available in public record and demean a community with whom the author disagrees politically.

Anonymous said...

So how about the majority of street urchins -- Chokoras-- being Kikuyus and majority of Kenyan Gays, Prositutes in Koinange street, thieves, glue sniffers, feaces hurlers being Kikuyus, does that mean Kikuyus are priviledged to have many of their own in these occupations?

Anonymous said...


What have you done to improve the welfare of your community?
How can you ridicule your mother because of poverty after she toiled to take you to school? You say you its long since you went back to your birth place, I assume you have decided to abandon your family and call them traitors, cursed lot and poor. Dont you worry, you do not mock your mother and/or God and you will receive your punishment.

This post is just meant to again demean and abuse a whole community whose crime is just their politics. Kumekucha should be reported to National Cohesion and Integration Commission Chairman Mzalendo Kibunjia.
Does anyone know the email address of Dr. Kibunjia so that we can make a formal complaint??

Anonymous said...

This chris fella does not have any kamba blood. he is just trying to ridicule kao's and show them that its one of them doing this. Just look at all his posts and you will know where he hails from. This is one fellow who has been preaching hatred here and ridiculing Kenyan tribes. Do we really deserve this?

Anonymous said...

Why can Kumekucha ever come up with a well researched article. this sloppy crap pisses me always

Mwarang'ethe said...

Chris, what ails Kambas is no different from what ails all other communities in Kenya/Africa.

In simple words, we do not know how to create WEALTH. This is so because, we think MONEY is wealth.

As a result, we are engaged in endless rat race in search of money. Unfortunately, as we chase money, the wealth is shrinking. If you listen to Kenyans talk, we are always taking about DEALS. Deals do not create wealth.

So, what is wealth then? Wealth is simply an accumulation of products and services that are both available and wanted for consumption.

So, how is wealth created? The only way to create wealth is to produce more than is consumed, which is made possible through technology.

Technology is an applied science, and science means knowledge. People increase their productivity by acquiring NEW knowledge and APPLYING it.

This bring us to two crucial thing we do not know. These are:


(b)how to organise CAPITAL.

As concerns knowledge, we have a lot of it. More so, we are told that, knowledge is power, but, it is a half truth. It is ORGANISED KNOWLEDGE which is power and wealth.

Let us illustrate our UTTER failure to organise knowledge with the example of Kitui honey. When this honey is harvested, it is just refined and sold. Thats all we have done since time immemorial.

Now, let us look at how New Zealand does it. These guys, took their honey for analysis. In their scientific analysis, they found that, their honey has some medicinal value.

Having found this, they started marketing this honey not just as honey, but, a kind of natural medicine. As a result, you will find that, this particular honey goes for like £ 20 per kg. That gives us KES 2400 per kg. Ours goes for about KES 400.

The question is, is this New Zealand's honey diffent from Kitui's? From the taste of it, it seems to us, there is no difference whatsover.

Now, the question is, why is it that, no single Kenyan has ever thought of doing what the New Zealanders have done?

We do not think along these lines because, in our considered view, we have been socialised in the wrong way.

For instance, when we see poverty in Ukambani, we ask for CDF and food relief.

As such, we have become MENTALLY CASTRATED people who are always looking up to the:

(a) government (remember WELFARE STATE in our "new law"?)for our material wellbeing,

(b) donors, and

(c) NGO's to solve our basic problems.

Such attitudes destroy CONFIDENCE in people. People who are not confident lack INITIATIVE required to create wealth.

Anonymous said...

Spot on Mwarang'ethe. I could not agree more.

Especially this:

"If you listen to Kenyans talk, we are always taking about DEALS. Deals do not create wealth."


We have become MENTALLY CASTRATED people who are always looking up to the:

(a) government (remember WELFARE STATE in our "new law"?)for our material wellbeing,

(b) donors, and

(c) NGO's to solve our basic problems.

Such attitudes destroy CONFIDENCE in people. People who are not confident lack INITIATIVE required to create wealth.

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