The Kenya Odyessy

I believe that if we are united by our past and present then we are certainly united by our future. Many theories have been advanced to explain the origin of humanity and they include the creation and evolution theory. Creation theory is anchored on faith rather than reason, the basis for many creationists’ beliefs is a literal or quasi-literal interpretation of the Old Testament especially from stories from the book of Genesis which narrates the creation of man in the image and likeness of God and placed in the Garden of Eden.

Evolution theory on the other hand pursues a Darwinism axiom which argues that man emerged after a long process of evolution from primitive creatures’ (primates) to sophisticated creatures known as modern man. Scientific evidence supports Darwin’s theory, which states that, man was originally a primate (ape-like) but gradually evolved over the years from his ape-like ancestors.

According to this theory the process of evolution began approximately three million years ago. It is postulated that the process of evolution started as a result of changes in the climatic conditions of the earth.

From about three trillion years ago, the climatic conditions of the earth began to change; it became warmer and warmer gradually. Due to the changing climatic conditions some living organisms adapted to the warm climate and were able to survive through the conditions but organisms however failed to adapt to the new climate and therefore died and have since become extinct.

Archaeological evidence, in particular, points to East Africa as being the possible cradle of humankind due to the fossil remains of ancient habitats dated approximately three million years ago and the existence of several archeological sites that have been discovered in East Africa. Some of those archeological sites include:

  • Fort Ternan near Kericho,
  • Rusinga Island,
  • Orlegesailie near Magadi,
  • Gambles cave,
  • Koobi Fora near Lake Turkana ,
  • Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania
  • Kariandusi,
  • Hyrax Hill near Nakuru

The oldest remains found in Kenya were those of Dryopithecus Africanus. These were discovered at Rusinga Island in Lake Victoria. The creature discovered was named Proconsul and was dated about 2.0 million years ago.

THE EMERGENCE OF KENYAN ETHNIC COMMUNITIES

Kenyan communities emerged from three linguistic bloc of people namely; the cushites, the nilotes and the bantus.

THE CUSHITES

Oromo Woman
Gabbra Woman

The cushitic people were believed to have originated from central of Ethiopia. Cush was the name given by ancient Egyptians to the kingdom that largely lay immediately south of Nubia in the Nile valley. They comprised of five groups and one of these groups the Eastern Cushites occupy the northern part of Kenya and comprise of the Gabbra, the Oromo, the Rendille, the Somali and the Borana. Linguistic evidence places the original homeland of the Eastern Cushites to a region East of the Omo River.

The Somali are believed to have started their migration from their cradle land at the beginning of the present era (1st century A.D). They acquired the camel and the Zebu cattle from Arabia through trade and other contacts across the Red Sea.

 

 

 

THE NILOTES

Pokot Woman
Samburu Woman

The nilotic people of Kenya receive their name from their original location which was somewhere in Sudan near the Nile River. The Nilotes migrated from their original homeland which was around Bal-el Ghazal region. The Nilotic- speaking group is believed to be the second largest after the Bantu speakers and are divided into three major groups by scholars who have studied their migration and include:

  • The Highland Nilotes who comprise of the Kalenjin speakers who live in Kenya’s Rift valley region including the Pokot, the Kipsigis, the Nandi, the Tugen
  • The Plains-Nilotes who comprise of several sub-groups namely; the Maasai, Samburu, Turkana, Njemps and the Teso.
  • The River-Lake Nilotes who constitute the Luo of Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya as well as the Dinka and Nuer of Sudan .In Uganda we have the Acholi, Padhola and the Alur. The luo are divided into four divisions namely:
  • Joka Jok,
  • Joka-Owiny,
  • Joka Omolo and
  • The Abasuba’.

 

THE BANTU

They are the largest single African group and inhabit three distinct regions of the country- the upper area of Lake Victoria, central Kenya and the extreme southern potion of the coast.

Historians have argued that the earliest Bantu speakers must have arrived in Kenya about AD 1000. The group that came to Kenya entered through two different directions. This first group known as the Western Bantus and they were the ancestors of the Abaluhyia, Abagusii, Abakuria.

Illustartion af an agikuyu woman carrying her child.

The second group known as the Eastern Bantus moved from central Africa and moved into central Tanzania, they later settled in the area between Mount Kilimanjaro and the Indian Ocean coast. They comprised of the Taveta, the Dawida, the Akamba people the Mijikenda. Another group migrated westwards into the Kenya highlands, and this became the Agikuyu, Aembu, the Chuka, Tharaka and the Ameru.

Agiriama girl from nine ethnic groups that make up the Mijikenda community

Christian upsurge led to separation of communities shortly thereafter they moved in different directions due to inter-marriages and basic education.

Migration helps us to understand change and continuity in societies i.e. life is not static but dynamic and this explains the current movements of people to different parts of East Africa. Languages have also grown from the various cultural interactions to provide a common language of communication. In the past, the luo abasuba group came about after interaction between the luhyas and luos.
These interactions have led to intermarriages which promote cohesion, togetherness and peace in the country. Trade activities between different groups that produce different commodities have also been improved. It is therefore evident that migration and settlement has been more beneficial to groups in the country and despite the cultural difference Kenya is ultimately formed by all the different existing ethnic groups.

References

C. Ehret, The Civilizations of Africa: a History to 1800, University Press of Virginia. (2002)
Gibbons, Ann. The First Human : The Race to Discover our Earliest Ancestor. Anchor Books (2007)
Spear, Thomas (2000). “Early Swahili History Reconsidered”. The International Journal of African Historical Studies.

DISCLAIMER :I do not own the images featured in this post. All rights belong to it’s rightful owner/owner’s.

♣️

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *