Kenyan tribes, cultures, explained

January 20, 2009 12:00 am

NAIROBI, Jan 20 Veteran politician Wanguhu Ng’ang’a has launched a book that seeks to explain ’s rich and diverse ethnic groups.

Titled “Kenyan’s ethnic communities – Foundations of the Nation”, its launch came at a time when global interest on had risen sharply after the election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the .

Mr Obama has Kenyan roots – his late father was Kenyan.

Capital News spoke to Mr Ng’ang’a about his book. 

Q: Why did you decide to author this book?

A: I have been involved in the political affairs of since the days before independence. During all this time I have had opportunity to travel widely in the country and associate with the Kenyan people to the extent that I can be justified to claim to know the country and its owners – Kenyans – well.

It is the above knowledge of our country and its people and the danger I smelt sipping in the society which made me think of writing a book to provide information of who Kenyans are and where they live hoping that such information would demystify tribalism and make Kenyans realise and accept that they enjoy same citizenship and have common obligation to live together in peace and harmony for our common good. I felt troubled by negative tribal under – currents I detected taking roots in our society and was being actively fanned by dangerous tribalistic leaders. It is like I had premonition of what eventually and tragically engulfed our country last year.

After more than seven years of research and study, I have written the  822 pages of text  book about the 44 Kenya’s Communities (42 communities is illogical as it  excludes Europeans and Asians contrary to the written  law on citizenship) titled; “’s  Ethnic communities – Foundations of the Nation” 

Below are some of the highlights of what has been written about the book since it was launched on July 30, 2008 by the chairperson of the Department of History and Archeology of the University of Nairobi, Professor Miclah Amolo, Achola assisted by Professor Vincent G. Simiyu of the same department.

1.         Professor Vincent G. Simiyu in the foreword  of the book has written; 

“The author has done a thorough job, and his symphatic approach to the study of every ethnic group is worthy a lot of credit. It is a book that every library and institution of learning should have. It is an ethnic encyclopedia of . In all Mr. Ng’ng’a has given the histories and cultures of forty four ( 44) ethnic communities of ”.

2.         Professors Fredrick K. Iraki of the United States International University (USIU) in the Sunday Nation Book Review dated 31st August, 2008 wrote the following:

“The book explores the ethnic linkages in Kenya Communities. The book is one stop shop for researchers on collective history of Kenyan tribes. Mr. Ng’ang’a has made significant contribution in shinning the light on our collective history. His opus would be useful in helping us forge a united nation”

3.         The East African Magazine Book Review dated November11-23-2008 wrote the following ;


At a time when continues to suffer the fall out of the post- election violence early this year, a book that shows that different ethnic groups in are not fundamentally antagonistic and in fact share common historical interests is a welcome literary event.

’s Ethnic Communities: Foundation of the Nation succeeds in demystifying the differences between various communities and brings out the similarities cutting across most ethnic groups in the country”.   

4.         In the Book Preface of the book I have written the following :

“The message that emerges in this book is that we all belong to one or the other ethnic community and that all of us ( other than perhaps the Dahalo hunter – gatherers) originated from outside the present Kenya boundaries not very long time ago. This notwithstanding, there is nothing illegal, outrageous, shameful or harmful in belonging to any of the peoples. We are all Kenyans with the same citizenship, destiny, rights and obligations to each other and the country. Like dynamic societies in North America and elsewhere, we should take pride in our individual and community heritage and not undermine or demean our nationhood. We must consciously suppress clan, caste, ethnic, sub-ethnic or racial prejudice against each other as all are inimical to our common good as people and nation”.

Q: The book’s launch coincides with the inauguration of US President-elect Barack Obama. Indeed, his campaigns and subsequent election have propelled interest on from across the world. Explain?

A: President Obama’s roots in are from the Nilote’s communities – River / Lake nilotes branch. His clan – Kogelo is from Joka Owiny group of the Luo community in who separated with Japadhola of Uganda in Budama before they migrated into through Samia – Bugwe in Western Kenya.

Barrack Hussein’s father Jaduong (elder) Obama was a genial middle sized man who was eloquent as he was friendly with a melodious deep voice. He was my personal friend.

A few weeks before his death, as fate would have it, I enjoyed a drink with him in company of other friends at the former Tumbo’s Bar and Restaurants along Nairobi’s Ngong Road half a kilometer from where the fateful fatal accident occurred. The presence and eloquence of the young Barrack Obama fondly brings to my mind memories of the senior Obama whose company I consummately enjoyed and which still lingers in my memory.  Kenyans are proud of Obama’s achievements and are happy to share him with Americans and the rest of the world as he serves in the office of the President of the



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