West Fm reaching out to People of Etabakonyi, Kenyans who fled to Uganda during the colonial period
Written by Timothy Makokha
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Mzee Manyasi Situma (Grey Coat) together with a section of the Etabakonyi People of Kenya who are in Buramburi County of Uganda .Photos | Manyasi Situma.
Kenyans who fled to Uganda believe and trace their roots back to Kenya their original homeland. They are always in touch with Kenya through listening to Kenyan radio station: west FM which reaches out to them in a language they understand most.
Mzee Manyasi who toured Uganda at Etabakonyi village in Buramburi County, Bunambutie Sub-County to carry out a research on Bamasaba originally Kenyans who stay there under the stewardship of the vice chairman of the Bunambutie sub-county Mr. George Wamalwa Sululu, a member of Babichachi clan in an attempt to understand more about their experiences.
They fled to Uganda during the colonial period after being displaced by colonialists from the highlands of Trans-Nzoia.
Famous Bukusu musicians such as Simiyu Makhanu have composed songs about Kenyans (babukusu) who fled to Uganda and some of the challenges they faced while on their journey.
In one of his songs, Simiyu Makhanu mentions Marambo wa Otibo of Balako clan and Wabomba wa Naulikha of Basibembe clan on their way to Etabakonyi in Uganda.
The same issue of Kenyans who fled to Uganda at that time was captured by a famous musician in Luhyia land Wanyonyi we Khatundi in his song ‘euyo ye babukusu’.
The people claim to have been displaced from Trans-Nzoia (eshamba) by the Whites in the late 1930’s during the Second World War. Some of the people who were displaced had moved there from Chwele, Kimilili, among other places of Luhyia land.
Those who were interviewed could remember their relatives/forefathers who remained in Kenya.
It’s believed they crossed to Uganda through Suam Border. Some of them imagine that maybe there were some Bukusu people who had originally settled there, who then welcomed and made them settle there.
Etabakonyi is an area in Uganda that is identified as the land for the Bukusu people according to the residents who stay in the place. This group of Kenyans in Uganda is neighbors with the Karamajong, Sebei, Teso and Gishu.
Their main complaint is constant attacks from Karamajong people who take their livestock through force and in the process injuring some of them. This makes them to perceive the Karamajong as their enemies who had make their lives difficult.
In an interview with Mzee Manyasi, Mr. Sululu explained how the famous Wangutusi Hills were named by the Bukusu people who settled there.
The hills were named after Columbus monkey (chingutusi) that were very many in the area.
Wangutusi Hills (above) were famous as there was a stone that was resting on top, but disappeared mysteriously in the 1960’s. Where the top stone migrated to, no one knows.
The hills have a large cave that can accommodate up to 100 animals. During wars with the Karamajong people, Bukusu people would hide their livestock there and fight to protect the innocent and their livestock.
Recent statistics of the census done in Uganda reveal that these Bamasaba people are ranked number six in the nations’ population.
Mr. Nabiswa William Nguni of the Babichachi clan said that they are living comfortably on the fertile land that is very productive. He also urged bukusu people who ran away from the place during the Idd Amin Dada leadership to return as the land is still intact.
Under the guidance of Mr. Sululu, Mzee Manyasi was able to reach out to elders in this community such as Michael Wanjala of bamutilu clan.
Mr. Nabiya Christopher Sirucha an elderly member of Bamusomi clan who stay at Etabakonyi narrated a brief history of how they ended up settling there. The old man recalled the long journey the Bukusu people travelled from Ebududa in Uganda to their various destinations.
The vice chairman of Bunambutie sub county (left) with an elder.
He explained that they entered Kenya from Ebududa before the partitioning of African nations boundaries and settled in western part of Kenya at Wapukha, Toloso, Kimilili among other areas. After some years, a few Bukusu people migrated to Trans-Nzoia (eshamba).
Mr. sirucha recalls some of the relatives who remained at Toloso such as Paul Nasiuma and Elijah son of Sirucha. Those who were in Trans-Nzoia were displaced by white settlers forcing them to move to Uganda.
Among the group that migrated to Uganda, Mr. Sirucha remembers the six sons of Natoboso including Matere, Nabiya, Suto, Chemungani, Luteka and Musa Murayi.
While on their journey they reached a place called Kinyurusi where they met Marango son of Otibo of Balako clan and Sululu of the Babichachi clan.
They temporarily settled at Kukumayi, but due to constant conflicts with Karamajong of Uganda they migrated further moving along with their livestock.
On their way, a cow belonging to Wabomba wa Naulikha gave birth forcing Wabomba to remain behind to take care of the lactating cow. This made the Karamajong warriors to spear Wabomba from behind leaving him dead as he was alone.
The remaining people proceeded with their journey together with the livestock and reached at Ekhalongo kha khutubile, then proceeded to Nabiswa. A few members of Bakhurarwa clan members remained there for example Mr. Johnston son of Chikombe.
When they reached at their present destination (Etabakonyi), Ndamo son of Matere was ordained their paramount leader.
The elder also appreciated their councilor Mr. George Sululu for promoting peace and unity with the bukusu who remained in Kenya. They also recognize the original worship by the Dini ya Misambwa- our original way of worship. They as well appreciated Enzu ya Masaba unity under the leadership of Omukuuka Weasa Wamimbi for promoting culture and togetherness among the Bamasaba people of Kenya and Uganda.