Bakhone, the clan of the late Paramount Chief John Nabutola
Written by Timothy Makokha
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Members of the Bakhone clan council, family and friends of the late Paramount Chief Mzee John Nabutola at his home. the late Nabutola passed on at the age of 92 years.
Members of Bakhone clan of the Bukusu sub-tribe mourn the death of the late Paramount Chief john Nabutola. This is one of the greatest clans among the Bukusu people that have produced prominent leaders in this nation.
The late paramount chief up to his death had been the chief adviser in the Bamarukwa association (a brotherhood association) among the Bakhone clan. (Read: Former paramount Chief John Nabutola is dead.
Members of the clan usually praise themselves saying that they are members of the Bakhone, Bariti Bamarukwa, Barariita,Lubafu,Basingila, Biili.
They call themselves Bamarukwa because in the ancient days when they were still staying in samia district, leaders came from this clan and no other person from a different clan would lead them.
Bakhone people call themselves Bariti because they were able to assimilate foreigners into the clan without discrimination. For instance, at the ban of slave trade in the world, slaves who were deported at Elureko (Mumias) were to be taken by members of their clans, but some remained without anyone caring for them. This made Namachanja the first paramount chief in Bukusu land to take all returned slaves without discriminating them and made them to be part of the Bakhone clan.
‘Basingila biili’ means that the leaders among the Bakhone people valued addressing any gathering from a raised ground. A leader could address his subjects while standing on a hillock (sisiili), for the people to see and hear them properly.
According to Martin Namachanja Wanyonyi, who is the branch chairman of the clan of Kanduyi, Bakhone migrated from Uganda in a place called Bududa. By virtue of Martin Namachanja Wanyonyi being a member of the Bakhone clan, he was made the village elder of Namuyemba-B in khalaba sub location, Bungoma County.
On arrival in Kenya, they settled at Matayos (Busia County) Ebusamia. From Matayos they came to Akeng’a in Teso land. Some remained there as others moved on towards Bukusu land where majority of them are staying currently.
Mabonga, the brother to Walusaka was the first to come to Luhyia land, as Walusaka remained there. Mabonga came to luhyia land as a herd’s boy and was in charge of cleaning the cow shed and taking the animals out for grazing. He then gave birth to Khisa.
It is said that Mabonga was born with a mysterious bungle on his left hand’s wrist (kumukasa). This kumukasa is associated with leadership of a person over others or existence of leaders in ones lineage. He used to hide his kumukasa, but one day as he was removing manure from the cattle den they saw it and it earned him respect.
Khisa then gave birth to the famous Namachanja, the first Paramount Chief in Bukusu land. Sudi son of Namachanja took over the leadership and also became a paramount chief later in life.
Mukanda was Sudi’s brother. The former paramount chief Sudi ordained John Nabutola his nephew, (brother’s child) to take over power from him.
It is true this Bakhone clan has produced very prominent people in this nation, who had featured not only in local administration but also in the church. For instance the late Cardinal Maurice Otunga is a legend in the Catholic Church. The famous Cardinal Otunga was a son of Sudi and cousin to the late paramount Chief John Nabutola.
Henry Kere, one of Sudi’s sons was chief for the former East Bukusu location and went to LEGCO as an MP during the Whiteman’s rule in the pre-colonial Kenya. The late Sylvester Otunga was brother to the late cardinal who was the first mathematician in Luhyia land who had published several works with whites. Another brother to Cardinal Otunga called Nabangi Sudi was once an assistant chief during his lifetime.
The current assistant chief for Mateka sub-location Mr. Nabangi is a member of Bakhone clan. Members of the clan have spread in most parts of this country including Mateka (Tulumba), Musikoma, Kabula, Luyekhe, Kaduyi, Netima, Chebukwa, Chesamisi, Kimalewa, Mwikhupo, and Ndalu.
All these areas where Bakhone are staying have regional chairpersons in charge. There are some who remained at Bududa in Uganda, Matayos (Busia) and Aking’a. The overall national chairperson for bakhone clan is Mr. Leo Wanyonyi, a cousin to the late paramount chief John Nabutola.
The late paramount chief Nabutola was an aggressive leader who contributed towards the establishment of Nzoia Sugar Company and the Webuye Pan Paper Factory. He was son of the late Gabriel Mukanda, Omukhone (father) and Nachaki, Omuchemwile (mother). He was born at Chebukwa village, but later moved to Mateka where he died.