The Bukusu are one of the seventeen Kenyan tribes of the Luhya Bantu speaking people of East Africa. They call themselves BaBukusu and they are the largest tribe of the Luhya nation.
Origin of the Bukusus
Their myth of origin state that there once lived a man called Mwambu who was made from mud by God who was known as Wele Khakaba at a place called Mumbo which translates to west. God then created a wife called Sela for him. They then moved and settled on the foot hills of Mt.Elgon, known to them as Masaba.
Another myth state that they moved from a place called Misri.But anthropologists believe that the Bukusu moved into Central Uganda in the late 18 century with most of them forming the great Bantu migration out of Central Africa.
Another myth trace their origin from Muntu we Entebe who lived in Tabasya of Misri.He was a great warrior who was later deified by the people of Misri.His son Mwambu married Sera the daughter of Wasiela the son of Samba Ambarani.Mwambu became the father of Mwaabini,the inventor cum discorverer.From these, the Bukusu tribe was born.
Settlement of the Bukusus
Currently the Bukusu inhabit Bungoma, Trans-nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Kakamega and Lugari Districts. Before this they are thought to have settled north of Lake Turkana at a place called Enabutuku.They then moved and settled in Cheranganyi Hills at a place called Embayi which later came to be known as Sirikwa.
The epidemics and other natural calamities forced most of them to scatter into different directions. They dispersed and settled among the Kipsigis,the Nandi, the Samburu,the Marakwet,the Borana and even beyond.
Traditinally, they lived in fortified villages. They did not have a structure of central authority. The highest authority was headman, called Omukasa who was usually elected by men of the village.
There also existed rain makers, healers and prophets who acquired great status because of their work.
Initiation of the Bukusus
The Bukusu community practiced and still practices male circumcision. They are believed to have adopted this culture from the Kalenjin at Mt Elgon.Circumcision was and is one of the most important rite of passage. It takes place after every two years.
The initiation is a public event and was witnessed by all. The initiate first goes through a celebration called ‘khuminya’where relatives are invited and songs are sung throughout the night. During this occation, one was allowed to sing about anything. People were free; both young and old. You could sing about the hidden parts of men and women and no one could hold you accountable.
The initiate goes through the operation without showing any sign of fear. Even a blink of an eye was considered as a sign of fear. Anyone who showed such signs was mocked and laughed at and sometimes were referred to as women. Once circumcised, the initiate joined the Age-group and there were 10 Age-groups in total.
Common myths of the Bukusus
-Stumbling ones feet was considered a bad omen which was believed to be lying ahead and one had to be very careful.
-It also indicated that some people somewhere were talking about you.
-If one was going for a journey and then a black cat or dog crossed his/her way, then he/she had to go back home since the journey would not be successful. Those who were energetic and determined enough could struggle to overtake the dog or the cat or could take off at a terrifying speed before the dammed animal could cross.
-If one was on his way to see his girlfriend and then by chance stepped in cow dung, he had to turn back home since he could not succeed.
-Whistling at night was prohibited by some families since those who did so were considered night-runners and if child whistled at night it showed that at some point in his life he would become a night-runner.