Musambwa followers massacred remembered, as families demand compensation
Families of people from the Dini ya Musambwa who were massacred in the colonial period at Malakisi, Sirisia Sub County, Bungoma County now want the colonial government to compensate them.
Speaking during the final ceremony of Khulotia among Bukusu people on Saturday 13th February 2016 in Malakisi, relatives of those who were killed said time has come for them to demand for compensation following the killings arguing that since those deaths, families of the deceased has undergone agony with many of their children failing to go to school.
They said just like MAU MAU fighters were compensated by the colonial government those people who suffered under colonial force especially at Malakisi should also be compensated.
Saturday’s ceremony was attended by Bukusu elders led by Mzee Richard Walukano, Joseph Elima Maloba, Situma Manyasi among others.
Some of the Luhya Sub Tribes were represented by their members with Sabaot and Iteso also sending their representatives.
Speaking during the function, Bukusu Mzee Richard Walukano said, the main objective of the ceremony was to remember Bukusu brothers and sisters who suffered during colonial period as they fought colonial rule.
He said as the Council of Elders of Bukusu people, they are alive to the fact that the over two hundred people who were killed in Malakisi was a display of extra judicial killing and therefore the perpetrators should be tasked to account for the deaths and compensate families.
Besides remembering the deceased, Mr Walukano said, the ceremony has been used to pray for the Luhya people with elders encouraging those holding positions be they elected or non elected to speak with one voice that will unite the region.
He added that as elders, they are very optimistic that the Luhya leadership will be now move with speed to unite and focus on issues that will make the region to develop economically, socially, politically.
Speaking on behalf of Musambwa movement, Mzee Joseph Elima Maloba who is believed to have taken over the leadership of Musambwa from the late Elijah Wanameme reiterated Mr Walukano`s sentiments arguing that it will be the highest state of impunity if families of over the two hundred Musambwa followers who were brutally killed by the police in 1948 will not be compensated.
He wondered why some groups that claim to have fought for independence have been accepted with a section of them being compensated yet Musambwa people who were brutally killed in broad day light have not even been recognized.
He called on the government of Kenya, County government to construct a mausoleum in Malakisi in remembrance of innocent Bukusu people who were killed as they fought for freedom.
In addition, Mzee Maloba challenged the leadership from the region to be on the forefront fighting for justice for those people who were killed.
“If those people would have been killed in other regions where leaders understand their role in fighting for the rule of law and justice for their people, I am assuring you they would have fought fearlessly for its realization, but look at what is happening in this case?” Mzee Maloba asked.
He however assured political leaders that with the ceremony now behind, they are destined for a bright future if they will organize themselves well.
“After now appeasing our brothers who were massacred by colonialists, I am very sure if our sons on the political arena plan well, they will reap so much from the blessings,” he said.
Mzee Maloba added that the many divisions that ever experienced among Luhya people might be as a result of the tribe not showing respect to their own people who were killed while fighting for the region.
According to history from elders, in 1940s when Christianity was taking shape in Western Kenya, Dini Ya Musambwa by then led by among other the late Mzee Benjamin Wekuke rose up against the religion using all the available means.
Around 1948, followers of Dini Ya Musambwa attempted to attack Christian white men who had put a working station at Kibabii, where the current Kibabii Mission is situated.
Police men tried to block them but their efforts fell on deaf ears as Dini Ya Musambwa followers insisted on driving away the Missionaries.
Police men drew several lines warning Dini Ya Musambwa followers from crossing but they did not adhere to those instructions and instead crossed.
At sometime police men were forced to shoot in the air to scare them but they did not relent.
As a result, some of them were injured; several arrested and locked up in Malakisi.
The following day, Dini Ya Musambwa followers who survived went to Malakisi in an attempt to rescue their fellow believers.
They were blocked by policemen most of whom had been ferried from Kakamega for reinforcement.
Dini Ya Musambwa followers crossed all the police barriers and then when one of them tried to forcefully snatch a gun from policemen, the officers opened fire on them killing some instantly while the rest passed on at different places after they escaped with injuries.
Among those who were killed, twelve of them were buried in Kakamega, one was killed in the Malakisi police compound and the rest were buried by their relatives back at home.
As of now, there are several people who were shot during the incident who are still living. In fact they are among the people demanding for compensation arguing that they were maimed falsely for fighting for freedom and equality.
On Friday, they were among many people who traveled to Kakamega to conduct the ceremony of Khulotia in relation to Bukusu culture.
To explain clearly what Khulotia means, I will take you back to the olden days where the dead were not buried but instead thrown into the bush to be eaten by wild animals.
Initially when a man died and this context a married man with family in the society, his body would be thrown in the bush later in the evening on the same day for the wild animals to feast on it.
After a few days, elders would go to find out from where they threw their relative`s body and on reaching there they would collect all the bones left behind by the wild animals then put it under a tree.
In addition, they would take his skull and hang it on the same tree, other bones will be under the tree but the skull will be hanged on the same tree.
After conducting other rites like Lufu, that is performed on the third day after throwing the deceased body in the wild, the late`s clan would organize for the rite of Khulotia.
Here they would go the place where his bones were placed and pick his skull which they will take at home and place it in on another tree in the late`s homestead.
During Khulotia rite, relatives will slaughter a bull under the tree containing the late`s skull and then spent a night there before setting off for the late`s homestead where they are supposed to arrive during sunset.
Meat from the bull that is slaughtered at the tree is carried home but a section of the intestines; Lisombo is left behind for the joking relative called Omukulo among Bukusu people.
The late`s relatives will say some traditional prayers at the scene pleading with his spirit to come back home and rest peacefully.
On reaching home, relatives plus of course neighbors will have a wonderful ceremony at the deceased`s home, eat and drink local brew ‘Kwet’ before dispersing.
The rite of Khulotia was also performed for those warriors who died during wars although with them mostly their bones would not be found but Bukusu people had a solution for that.
If in any case one died on the way during wars or maybe when people were migrating, after settling the clan would organize and go back to the place where the deceased died from and conduct the rite of Khulotia but now in that case because they could fail to find the late`s skull, they picked a stone, soil, grass, leaf which they will bring home symbolizing they have brought home his spirit.
Before the clan went to collect the stone, soil, leaf or grass, they would start by slaughtering a goat whose skin will be dried and prepared well for the rite.
It is in that skin where the stone, soil, leaf or grass was placed they put at the back of the deceased married sister, granddaughter or any female relative who had not started experiencing menstruation period.
When they arrive at home, that stone will be taken straight to an identified place most probably under a tree as the community plan for other rites later on.
Back to Khulotia that took place on Friday 12th February 2016 while remembering over two hundred people killed by the police during colonial period, it remains unknown if the families will be compensated as demanded.
Luhya Nation also waits to see if that ceremony alone will unite the region as alleged by a section of the elders.