by Mr M
The cruel world that betrays family generation after generation
| FAMILY BETRAYAL
THE BIRTH OF CHIEF SHILENJE
It was in the early 1880s when a child was born in a certain village called Emulama in western Kenya. This was before the arrival of British in Kenya and the land was still primitive. The child was born in a cave with an aid of midwife was the most important nurse of then. There was no form of housing not even exist stance of thatched houses. From time to time elders would walk through the forest in search of caves which they later made their homes. Muronji the mother of new born was fully naked not even considering the temperature which was too cold. At the center of the cave there was a big fire lit that provided both light and warmth. The child was poured onto cold water at once which led to loud crying. The other women around sang joyfully and gave thanks to their God for new gift they had received when the child broke into crying. The child was then wrapped in a handmade sisal towel and given to his father called Wemanya. Wemanya took the child joyfully into his arms and gave thanks to (Were Khakava) their God and named the child Weku. Weku was Wemanya's father who had died recently of malaria.
After some two weeks the mother and her child were allowed of the gave for, they believed by then they were both well off. His mother who was dressed in a sisal skirt while she wore no top carried Weku around joyfully singing to him lullaby songs. Men Used to dress in skin clothes while women dressed in sisal clothes. It was believed then that a child was always exposed to threats of all kinds and therefore was supposed to be taken care of. A charm spell was performed by child's grandmother and the child was then tied sisal rope around his waist was charmed. Sorceries and witchcraft were normal thing then and people could practice freely.
Within no time the child grew into a fine energetic boy. The boy had other siblings one girls and one boy. The boy was the last born since his mother Muronji had developed complication. During this time there was chieftaincy in emulama village and all of tsotso land which was the greatest subtribe in luhya community. There was always a ceremony done after every two moon days. This ceremony initiated small teenage boys into junior warriors who would defend their communities against enemy attacks. The best warrior among would then be chosen to be one of bodyguards of the chief. In case of death of a chief the best bodyguard would then ascend into chieftaincy. Weku was now twelve years when he joined other teenagers in the ceremony in order to become one of warriors. The ceremony included just many activities and learnings unto which the most significant was wrestling.
At the age of thirteen years one of Weku's legs was dislocated after he had a terrible accident. He was being chased by a leopard when he landed his foot in a ditch. His leg healed after long time but left him with a disability. He limbed while he walked. Despite all of this Weku was determined into being the best warrior. He never missed any of the ceremonies. During free times after hunting he would try doing some excises which was climbing hill tops and jumping on top of rocks. No one in the community knew that Weku used to do exercises. They always believed he was out hunting. As time elapsed Weku started excelling over his peer teenagers. He could wrestle using one leg as stamina and could still excel. He used to chase Antelopes alone and would lead them to swampy areas making it easy for capture. It was not long before his fame spread around. During the ceremony that would initiate them into community warriors Weku won and became best of all. He became one of the bodyguards to the chief. At the age of sixteen both his parents died of measles. Their deaths were separated only by a week. This did not seem to be a big deal to Weku since it was a normal event not to add to that that at the age of sixteen one was regarded an adult. This means at that age Weku was already married. Weku assumed leadership of chieftaincy at the age of twenty years after the former chief who was a hundred- and five-years old deceased. The new chief who was lame and the best warrior around was celebrated in all manner of ways. It was from this ceremony that the villagers nicknamed him (Shilenje) as a cheerful name for they said (nende Shilenje shillala ufurire vosi) which meant, with only one leg he has won over all. Shilenje in luhya language means a leg.
When Shilenje's reign began it in was in early nineties. During this time British colonies had already arrived in Kenya and Uganda. In 1895 Uganda was colonized while Kenya colonized in 1896. British colonization did not affect Shilenje's chieftaincy at that time since he was in the western part of Kenya that was still primitive. During this there was increased ethnic wars and cattle raiding in Tsotso land. If not wrong the whole reign of Shilenje was composed of full protection against his enemies the neighboring Kabras, Nyala and Luo from Nyanza Kenya. Most of spies from neighboring communities used to spy during butter trade. Since There was plenty of meat in Tsotso land most of neighboring communities would come with different products like bananas, fish, millet, sorghum and many other in exchange for meat. It was during then that spies would spy the land. There was also a strong kingdom in wanga that was also a threat To Shilenje reign. The kingdom was ruled by king Nabongo Mumia who later collaborated with British.
Chief Shilenje was blessed with six children, three boys and three girls who survived against all calamities. It should be noted that he had ten children dying before some of them who were six survived. The world was so cruel and betrayed him by losing his children when he was still young. However, the great prosperous and loving reign of the great One leg warrior did not last for long. He died 1917 during the end of first world war. He suffered only for one day before he succumbed. It is believed that he was poisoned by one of his great rivals. This was a great setback to the left orphans. The lastborn who was a girl was only one year old when his father died. Her mother had died early that year when she was giving birth to her. Her uncle did not seem to care for his own nephews and nieces. Also, her aunt had already gotten married to another community and did not seem concerned. What a great betrayal to these young orphans. His chieftaincy was left unfilled due to many circumstances but main being the arrival of British soldiers. Most of potential young men to assume leaders feared to take the mantle. This is where fate takes control.
There was some of a few individuals who were wealth then and some of were attached to whites especially those who did long distance trade. Now the first born who was only fourteen years old used to work as maid for Mr Khayo one of the wealth men in the village. Now after the death of her father the remaining five sibling's fate lay in her hands. His boss wanted to help but how would he manage to help all six children? This left her with no choice but to seek her boss aid in marriage as the second wife in order to save her siblings. Phoebe was married when she was fourteen years old. She took her five siblings who then became like her children. Remember now the chieftaincy was now vacant and no one seemed to care. The brother To Shilenje who was to take care his brothers wealth disappeared never to found or being seen again. Every thing Shilenje had acquired laid in dissolute and some of people looted wealth simultaneously.
After like ten years the land was declared under the rule of Nabongo. This was after Nabongo acquired more power from British who he had joined forces with. Peace was one of the most esteemed things in Luhya community Since existence of humanity. This is still intact unto this day. That is why Nabongo Mumia collaborated. There is minimal fights and conflicts experienced in these lands. This made the western part of Kenya receive early education which unto this day Western part of Kenya still strives in education. People from western part of Kenya were not affected negatively with British colonization. They never shed blood. Unto this day the politics in Kenya are still derived from Luhya collaboration and other communities' rebellion against British rule. For more than fifty years there has been never been Luhya president despite luhya tribe being the most loved tribe in Kenya. Most of leaders from other communities believe it was because of their forefathers' rebellions against British that Kenya got independence. Remember that as time went by the family of Shilenje thrived under harsh circumstances.
OMILA'S RETURN FROM EXILE.
The husband and now the brother in law to the six siblings of late Shilenje was kind to them. They never lacked anything during their stay there. I don't know if it is really true but most of time, I had people say girls grow faster than boys. By the time Omila was seventeen years old his three sisters had already got married. His elder brother who was supposed to be there mentor had already run away to work in urban areas. Remember this was the time when towns like Kisumu, Mombasa, Nairobi and Nakuru were coming up. They already existed but they were underdeveloped. After British arrival that is when development begun. This led to large demand of human resource. Omila and his younger brother remained at there sister's place until Omila was twenty.
At twenty Omila married a wife from Chesti community from Lubao there a neighboring community. This is about ten kilometers walk from Omila's ancestral home which is Emulama. It was believed that chesti clan had many sorcerers. These witches were believed to be able to direct a lightning strike from one place to the intended victim. Before one could seek a hand in marriage, investigation was carried out to ensure that the spouse did not come from an enchanter's clan or family. However, despite all of this Omila was determined to marry Rhoda as her wife. This showed how the influence of British rule had started to chance the course of Luhya's traditions. After a successful traditional wedding Omila was comfortable with his wife at there brother in law's place. The brother in Law had even given them land to set up some settlement houses and carry out farming. However, Omila was never a guy that gave up in life easily. Omila still remembered his ancestral land that belonged to his father Shilenje.
After sometime Omila took his wife Rhoda and came back to his ancestral land. During those times ownership of land was communal. There were no land survey firms around that could issue land title deeds. Land was grabbed and owned by those with power. It is a taboo to grab a land that contains a graveyard in Luhya land unto this day. This means the land that contained Shilenje's grave had not been grabbed. This is where Omila put up his first thatched house. This was only the beginning of restoration of his ancestral land. As I said earlier that in Luhya land, they always give peace and harmony first priority. This means still the neighboring communities still knew that the land rightfully belonged to the children of late Chief Shilenje. They were in support of Omila land regaining schemes. The main problem was that the land had been grabbed by the outsiders who had an upper hand. Those who had grabbed land paid tribute to Chief Omutsembi from Eastern Tsotso who had pledged his allegiance to King Nabongo Mumia the collaborator. Nabongo had extended Omutsembi's jurisdiction up to north Bustosto where Chief Shilenje had previously governed.
During all this time no one knew the reason why Omila had decided to marry from a witch clan. It became clear of Omila's treacherous plan when he moved back to his ancestral land. All this time Omila had Planned to use some help from his wife. He knew His wife could not let anything bruise him. He was having a great protection from his enemies. It was a good moved employed at that time however it was short lived. Not only Chesti clan were witches but other families like Tiriki, and Nyala had proved their great power in sorcery. This had helped buy him some time of establishing a home state. You should know most of this land was still virgin. The land was a bush that needed to be cleared out. There were no through ways only some strips that connected home states and rural market places.
The 1936 Devonshire white paper land act in Kenya was a great help to Luhya family since it opened way for British settlement and some Indians in Western part of Kenya. This was going to help new open up of western Kenya. Now if you want to gain some trust from one person you at least should create friendly atmosphere. This is what British employed mostly before bringing their rule. They sent Christian scholars to western Kenya to make way before they fully took control. In other parts of Kenya, they never sent Christian scholars because they were using direct rule. Remember western Kenya had collaborated under the rule of Nabongo Mumia. During all this time still Omila had not regained his father's land. This time he had created a lot of enemies and his life was at stake. He got used to endless arrests by Omutsembi's soldiers who were known as vigilantes then. A new mission church was set in north Bustosto land. This church was called Church of God Ingotse mission. It was a matter of no time before Omila gained interest in this new church.