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Aug 30, 2018 22 tweets 5 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
#HistoryKeThread: The Handshake In Kano

We know that the Uganda Railway was from 1896 called so because Kisumu, which was the destined railhead, was part of Uganda.
Even as part of then Uganda, large swathes of western Kenya as we know them today were collectively referred to as the Nandi Protectorate.
On 1st April 1902, the Nandi Protectorate, incorporating Kisii and Luo Nyanza, Luhyaland and greater Nandi country, was transferred to East Africa Protectorate. The resulting province was given the name Nyanza, although I am not sure how the name “Nyanza” came about.
The colonial authorities drew up boundaries that bound Luo, Luhya, Kisii and Nandi enclaves.

Shortly thereafter, East Africa Protectorate was renamed Kenya.
Despite this move, the natives of Nyanza still looked towards Uganda, according to the late Oginga Odinga in his book, “Not Yet Uhuru”.
Oginga, seen here chatting with Ker Joel Omer of Sakwa sometime in the 1950s, described how Arabs (I suspect these were waswahili afro-arabs from Kenya’s coast) passing through Nyanza country heading coastwards from Uganda created a sense of alarm among the Luo.
The Arabs warned that the Luo were “part of a colony, meaning you have no land...the land belongs to the King of England...”

Soon, the British would, in 1900, introduce hut tax. It then dawned on the natives what the Arabs meant.
In past posts, I have stated than the name Kavirondo was coined by waswahili accompanying caravans into the interior. They described the common habit of the Luo people squatting on a lowly stool as “kukaa virondo”. Thus the Luo were described as “wale wakaa virondo”.
Wrote Oginga, somewhat corroborating accounts about the origin of the word “Kavirondo”:

“Early visitors took over the name Kavirondo which the Arab caravans had once used and gave the same name to all the peoples living in Nyanza, though they comprise totally distinct groups...”
Indeed, British administrators, who considered the Abaluhya and Luo to be one and the same people, had maps showing Nyanza and parts of western province as Kavirondo.
We also know that pioneer Nyanza missionaries, who were supported immensely in their work by Nabongo Mumia, Paramount Chief of the Abaluhya, referred to the Luo as “Kavirondo”.
Young men were conscripted to serve under chiefs. In open fields, they were taught, to much amusement of locals, saluting and marching drills.
There was uproar when the colonial administrators proclaimed Mumia (pictured), one of whose bodyguards was Oginga’s father, Paramount Chief of all Nyanza.

Elders in Nyanza refused to recognize Mumia as their leader.
Chiefs from Uyoma were most vocal in their opposition. Native askaris had to be sent to pacify them. It is not clear if Mumia was Paramount Chief of Nyanza till death (there was a PC). For when he died in 1949, he received something akin to a state burial, with military honours.
In those days, the office of Colonial Chief was considered prestigious. And at times elders used cunning ways to endear themselves to British administrators so they could land administrative appointments.
One of these was Jasakwa, who hailed from Sakwa. For some time, he served British interests in Kano, where he also learnt some Swahili.

When the Brits wanted to extend their administration to Sakwa, they sent Jasakwa the interpreter ahead to “clear the way” for them.
“New people are coming - the white people”, he told Sakwa elders.

“They have dangerous weapons so don’t fight them. Instead, make a treaty with them”.
According to Oginga, Jasakwa wasn’t believed by the elders, who nevertheless sent him back with gifts to give to his white masters.

But Jasakwa had a clever plan for himself. This is what he said when he met his British employers:
“The Chief says he cannot meet with you. He is the leader and it is not his duty, he says, to welcome strangers. I myself bring you these gifts...”
Impressed by Jasakwa’s hospitality, the British appointed him chief of Sakwa. Only Kenyans would understand, tongue-in-cheek, that this was an early “handshake”

The people of Sakwa would soon afterwards be up in arms.
“We have our Chief. The man you appointed serves as a messenger and interpreter for our chief...”

But the British would have none of that.

I am not sure what happened to Jasakwa. And even Oginga, who wrote briefly about him, doesn’t tell us.
But maybe one of Jasakwa’s descendants is reading this.

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More from @HistoryKE

Oct 3, 2018
#RIPJosephKamaru: The curtain falls on the life of legendary Gîkûyû benga musician Joseph Kamaru, following a long illness.
This is the man whose debut 1969 hit track, Darling ya Mwarîmû (teacher’s darling), caused a storm in parliament and in the national teachers’ union, who threatened to go on strike.

It took Mzee Kenyatta’s intercession to put the storm to rest.
He composed hundreds of gîkûyû songs throughout his lifetime. In 1989, he released the track Safari ya Japan shortly after his return from the Asian country, where he had accompanied Kamaru retired President Moi on a state visit.
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Oct 2, 2018
#HistoryKeThread: Seen here conferring with then President Moi, Mr. Burudi Nabwera is a former diplomat, MP, Asst. Minister and later not only Secretary General of KANU in its heydays, but also a Minister for State.
Last year, the alumnus of Makerere University released his biography, ‘How It Happened’, a book that should be a good read for anyone interested in the politics of Kenya during the single-party era.
On 7th of October 1990, Mr. Nabwera caused a stir when he announced that the government would not prosecute anyone for the murder of former minister Robert Ouko. The report by Scotland Yard’s detective John Troon, Nabwera argued, had not named any killers.
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Sep 25, 2018
#HistoryKeThread An American’s Observation Of Life Among The Agîkûyû

Published in San Francisco, United States, Western Field was an American west coast monthly sports hunter magazine.

The magazine featured stories about the hunting exploits of various American hunters both at home and overseas.
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Sep 21, 2018
#HistoryKeThread: The Wadavida (Taita) Of Yore

In 1890, author Thomas Stevens authored the book, Scouting for Stanley.
The book is an account of the time Thomas spent in East Africa, where he had been sent to join in the search for legendary explorer Henry Morton Stanley.
In April of 1898, he camped at Ndara Hill among the Wataita. Here, a Rev. Wray of the Church Mission Society strived to teach the Wataita with much difficulty about the gospel of Christ. Perhaps this difficulty is what led Rev. Wray to dabble in farming.
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Sep 17, 2018
#HistoryKeThread: When Colonial Officials Adopted Locals As Mistresses

Hell hath no fury like a randy colonial officer stationed miles away from conjugal comfort.
In the early colonial years, the Governors' subordinates were initially men taken over from Imperial British EA Company (IBEAC). Later on, a professional class of colonial civil servants was recruited to take up the many administrative positions opening up in the colony.
Many of the officers had hardly gone beyond the age of 30.

As such, they invariably found themselves sexually starved and lonely. That is, if they didn't have African mistresses.
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Sep 3, 2018

Krapf’s Tough Crusade

In July, 1846, pioneering missionary Ludwig Krapf struggled to attend to his ailing, bed-ridden wife.

Krapf had suffered a debilitating fever and so had his wife, Mrs. Dietrich Krapf, who was in a worse state....
She had days earlier given birth to a baby girl at their budding Rabai mission.

Hours to her death, she asked Krapf to bury her right there at Rabai, saying she needed her remains to "constantly remind the passersby of the great object which...
...had brought the servants of the church of Christ to their country...."

Krapf would much later write that his wife "wished to be preaching to them by the lonely spot which encloses her earthly remains."
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