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Grasp the Shield Firmly the Journey is Hard

A History of Luo and Bantu migrations to North Mara, (Tanzania) 1850-1950

Siso Zedekia Oloo

Publication Year: 2010

This book is a compilation of oral histories about the movement of Luo and some Bantu-speaking peoples. It includes histories of many clans or ethnic groups, and how drought, warfare, disease, and competition over pastoral resources in western Kenya forced them to look for a land that they could call their own. Highly entertaining, the stories cross over from pre-colonial to post-colonial eras, with tales of fooling the colonial officers, winning battles and producing miracles. Although warriors and chiefs play a critical part in the stories so too do unlikely actors such as women, prophets, and common farmers. As one of the elders put it, ìWithout history you are like wild animalsÖ you need to know where you came from and who you are.î People with kinship connections to the ethnic groups represented here will delight in the references to places, people, kin groups and events. Residents of western Kenya will be able to trace some of their genealogies to North Mara and vice versa. Historians and anthropologists will find in this book a rich primary source for their own research. Those interested in cultural change will find this a fascinating case of Luo assimilation: events chronicled in this book are still underway and observable in communities today. Producing the text in both Swahili and English ensures that local people will have access to these histories for their own learning and on-going discussions about the past.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. v

List of informants interviewed by Zedekia Oloo Siso (1979-99)

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pp. vi-vii

List of Photographs

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pp. viii

Attributes of Ethnic Groups, Tarime, North Mara, 2007

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pp. ix-x

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Editor’s Introduction

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pp. xi-xxiii

I first met Mzee Zedekia Oloo Siso back in 1991 when a missionary research doctor, Glenn Brubaker, introduced us as people with a common interest in the history of the region. Siso had been working with Brubaker traveling throughout the Mara Region of Tanzania collecting blood samples for their research. ...

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pp. 2-15

Truly, I know that more light is needed to further understand the people living along the shores of Lake Victoria. The interrelationships of the extended families of these people need more explanation, which I believe my skillful and diligent colleagues will expand from the little information that I have written, ...

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1. Wasurwa

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pp. 16-27

The Surwa were the first to come to Shirati before all the other ethnic groups who live there. For example, the people from Ugu arrived after them, coming from Kadem Aneko. The people of Kakseru came even after the Ugu, but the Kine had come here earlier and lived in the Bwiri hills when the Surwa were living in Shirati Sota. ...

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2. Wairienyi (Wasimbiti)

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pp. 28-63

The Irienyi who left Gosi (Gwasi, where the Gasi people live) came to live in the place called Kahenge. They then moved to Surubu but due to war moved on to the area which they now occupy. The Irienyi were then forced to move by other ethnic groups to the hills of Nyaihara where they spread ...

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3. Wakiroba

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pp. 64-83

The Kiroba are children of Mkuria who began to separate from and loose each other because of war and famine in the areas they passed through. Therefore each youth was lost looking after his own needs. The Kiroba arrived in the area of Machame, there in Kilimanjaro. They left there again because of wars ...

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4. Wasweta

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pp. 84-99

The Sweta came from Masaba in Uganda, their journey took them to Kenya in Maragoli, as its known today. The name came from the fruit of a certain tree called “masweto” which they ate when they were hungry on the way. This fruit is found along the banks of rivers and is preferred by baboons. ...

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5. Wahacha

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pp. 100-109

The Hacha are the brothers of the Irienyi, they are both the children of the people who came to this country. When they arrived here they divided into two sections, the Irienyi entered the area of Ruhu and the Hacha entered in this area of Inyerero, near the Island of Buhacha. At this time the Hacha were were blocked ...

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6. Wategi

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pp. 110-119

Mtegi was the son of Girango. They came from Uganda, in the area of Kitgum. They travelled along the water near the coastline, sometimes using a kind of boat called an “abuoro”. Finally they arrived at Uma Karachuonyo where they stayed for a long time and then moved to Wire Koyungi (Oyugis). ...

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7. Warieri

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pp. 120-129

The elder Kiseru had three children, two boys and one girl: 1. Kina, the son of Kiseru, 2. Tesi, the daughter of Kiseru, and 3. Kiseru Ajwang’, the son of Kiseru. His father died before he was born, when his mother was pregnant with him. When he was born he was named after his father. The name “Ajwang’” means an abandoned child. ...

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8. Wakakseru (Kiseru)

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pp. 130-169

The Kakseru people came from Egypt and passed through Sudan, on into Ethiopia, and then down to Uganda, following the Nile River. They came to Uyoma Kenya and moved on to Kisumu, Kenya and then to Kano, where some of them still live. Among them was the clan of Miswa Nyauogthuon of Onyango, who was here in Kirogo ...

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9. Wakagwa

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pp. 170-203

The Kagwa came from Got Ramogi and moved down to Imbo Kadimo where they settled for a long time. They they began to experience troubles and frequent wars with the people of Imbo Kadimo, especially under the leadership of Ndego Pindi, the father of Obwago Ndego. This matter made Obwago made him angry, ...

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10. Wakamageta

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pp. 204-231

It is said that Ramogi had children called, 1. Achol, 2. Adhola, 3. Ligwara, 4. Gial, 5. Aluru, 6. Lango, and 7. Kitgum. They began to separate slowly with some coming down along the banks of the river Nile, and others passing slowly down the shores of Lake Victoria, establishing camps on the islands as they went, ...

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11. Walowa (Turi)

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pp. 232-313

The original home of the Turi was in Got Ramogi in Imbo. When they left that place because of war and famine they moved down to Uyoma and settled there for a while but had to move again because of famine and war and went to Mirunda, the country which borders the Ondo and the Saki, where they were chased out ...

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12. Wagire

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pp. 314-339

The mother of Gire was the daughter of Achol and she gave birth to Gire in their home in Achol before she was married. As was the custom among the Luo, when a girl got pregnant before getting married she had to go to her married sister’s or to her aunt’s home to stay. She might then have the good luck to find a husband there. ...

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13. Kowak

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pp. 340-349

Mot (Kamot) was the first to arrive before the Kowak came to Tanganyika. This was because of a promise or charge (Singruok) that had been given by their father. When he was about to die, Mzee Owak Ramogi told his son Kibira that, “you must try to stay with your brothers and live in peace with them ...

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789987081301
Print-ISBN-13: 9789987080991

Page Count: 374
Publication Year: 2010