By Ogova Ondego
Published May 5, 2014
I have just come across two books that I am excited about. Both are on the second most populous nation in Kenya. And that nation is simply known as ‘the Community’, ‘the Society’, ‘the Public’ or ‘the Luyia’.
So why am I excited?
Simply because the only literature I had come across in Kenya’s 50 years of independence were history books. The first one was in my primary school and it was by John Osogo and the second, written by Gideon Were, was in secondary school.
I am also excited because I am looking for answers to several questions: will the new books tell me why ingokho chicken is such an important symbol of ‘the Public’ or why ‘the Society’ almost worships football and bull-fighting, or even why there is sibling rivalry, for instance, among the Maragoli of Vihiga District and the Babukusu of Bungoma? Why is ingwe the leopard accepted as the ingo home nation’s totem/symbol around which ‘the Luyia’ rally when it comes to football? Why does ‘the Society’, despite its high population–5,338,666 after the Gikuyu’s 6,622,576 and just above the Kalenjin’s 4,967,328–appear to be fractious and does not speak with a single voice when it comes to serious national issues like competitive politics?
All right. The two books I have come across—Luyia: A Cultural Profile and Luyia Nation: Origins, Clans and Taboos—are presented not as history/anthropology text books but as popular literature written from a journalistic perspective and on the paperback format.
The author, Shadrack Amakoye Bulimo, writes that he wrote the books to satisfy the curiosity of his daughters about their people’s origin and identity.
It was from his research and interaction with members of the Luyia across the world through the abeingo.com social forum that, he says, he got ample material that came to form the basis of the two books that are now published on demand and are available via amazon.com or bookstores in Nairobi.
Among the people to whom these books on abeIngo or people of my home are likely to be of interest are the youth, journalists, sociologists, anthropologists, ethnographers, linguists, historians, demographers, politicians and the Luyia people around the world. And, I daresay, academic theses and dissertations, too, could be enriched by some of the information in Bulimo’s books.
Shadrack Bulimo, holder of a master’s degree in international journalism, has joined Professor Gideon Were, Dr John Osogo and German Dr Gunter Wagner in creating literature on the Abaluyia of western Kenya. As to how useful the books are, only you–the reader–can tell me.
Both titles are available at the retail price of Sh3, 600 (about US$50) in Nairobi.