House Of Mumbi A Heritage Or A Curse? “Nyamo Shia Rogoro” A Heritage Or A Curse?

Posted on May 4, 2008. Filed under: Butdoisay TRUE STORIES |

nyamo shia rogorouncivilized masai

The doctrines of the religion and the history of the Agikuyu is not fully documented or preached about like the bible story of Adam and Eve. The fact that the bible talks about the inherited sin from the world’s first couple bides us all into descendants of Eve. We all belong to the House of Eve according to the Holy Scriptures.

The House of Mumbi (Nyumba ya Mumbi) is thus a title that refers to the Agikuyu, generated from the story of their origin, roots, culture and heritage.

Today a shrine stands on the ground where the first man Gikuyu, created by Ngai and Mumbi who was given to him as a companion and wife, started their life and the family that is now the tribe called the Agikuyu or commonly known as the Kikuyu. The shrine which consists of several huts is situated at the Mukurwe wa Gathanga and is more than a tourist attraction but also a reminder of the Kikuyu roots and origin according to the doctrines of the Kikuyu traditional religious believes. (The complete story will be covered soon in a new category, Your Tribe Your Roots, here at My Expression)

Lately and specifically just before and after the violence that erupted after the last elections in Kenya, the title House of Mumbi was mentioned in the same manner as the famous rubric the Mount Kenya mafia even though these are two completely different elements by all means. It was talked of in such loath that even a good number of Kikuyus were unwilling to be colligated to anything to do with the House of Mumbi.

It was, still is, easy to judge the Kikuyu en masse as tribalists and thieves and every conversation that touches on or bends towards the pride of being a Kikuyu was seen as a tribal statement and hugely condemned as such without much of a thought put to it no matter how innocent it might have been. I have had to defend some of these actions on different occasions risking being labelled a tribalist.

The mere mention of the House of Mumbi evokes such outrage that the Kikuyus around have to shy off as if belonging to the House of Mumbi is a curse that they would rather do away with than preserve. As this practise of abhorrence heighten, they are brain washed into believing that there is indeed something wrong in being a Kikuyu.

In an article featured in a major newspaper, a writer likened these to the attitude towards Jews in Germany before the Holocaust and the Tutsis in Rwanda before the genocide. But it was never really taken serious until the intended ethnic cleansing erupted in several parts of Kenya. Though many reasonable people have tried to ague that the violence was spontaneous and had nothing to do with ethnicity, it is still hard to explain why innocent Kikuyus were victimised other than just that, ethnicity.

A short time after the elections and while the violence was still going on, some heavy weight Kenyan politicians here in Sweden were featured in a TV debate that basically ended up with the conclusion that the violence was a result of the Kikuyu dominance politically and financially. This to the Swedes whose only way of understanding the situation was such as that debate, their arrogant ambassadors and the likes of Michael Ranneberger the US governor of Kenya wannabe, the central province Kikuyus had eroded the country off both power and wealth within the five years that Kibaki had been president. But what they were never made aware of was that the Kikuyu are part of the suffering mass by large numbers and that they too were determined to do away with the powerful elite that was polluting the country with their greed.

That the Kikuyus are “jokingly” thieves and money lovers has been accepted in Kenya even by the tribe itself. This joke easily floats within the Kenyan public just like any other joke about other tribes. But is it a coincidence that Kibaki was labelled a thief? In normal cases elections are rigged, at the time of Moi I never heard anyone shout thief even though Moi rigged until rigging couldn’t help him no more.

To belong to the House of Mumbi has hence changed to mean the same as the Mount Kenya mafia. Terribly unfair.

To belong to the House of Mumbi should not have anything to do with or be associated to the corrupt elite Kikuyus but must always maintain the respect of a people’s identity. Just as the House of Judah, just as there can be the House of Ramogi or the House of Laibon. To disrespect and show contempt to this heritage is to discriminate a people and this is the heaviest anchor for tribalism.

Recently a council of elders (Athuri a Kiama) was proposed for the interest of the Agikuyu, a common tradition in almost all of the other tribes of Kenya. This caused a big debate and not surprisingly there were Kikuyus on the opposing side as well. The most discouraging factor is that while other tribes’ councils of elders sat to discuss a war against the Kikuyu, there wasn’t a council of elders for the Kikuyus to discuss how this issue would be dealt with. The lives and fate of the people was left in the hands of an unwilling Government to protect. Before it could act, the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people were lost. Probably, Athuri could have avoided this by meeting the other councils of elders as was done in the past.

It was a big shame to hear some Rift Valley mps refuse the return of the displaced Kenyans to their homes arguing that the root of the problem had to be sorted out first. An exercise that could take years before it could be settled conclusively while the innocent Kenyans suffered in refugee camps. The displaced families obviously matter less to this politician. Some went further and suggested that people should vote according to regions’ majorities (tribes) wishes. Talk about killing democracy.

We must not allow a bunch of political misconceptions or a power drunk elite be linked to our cultures, traditions and roots to a destructive level. The House of Mumbi should not be judged by the sins, wrongs and shortcomings of a few persons. These could only bed for instability since discrimination can only result in revolutionary measures.

In a carton (Samir) published in Stockholm City newspaper on the 30th April, in one part of the world, Sweden, two guys are discriminated for being dark skinned while in a different part of the world, Kenya, two guys are discriminated for being Kikuyus. That this was carried in a Swedish newspaper shows how intense the Kikuyu issue has become and that the rest of the world is starting to realise it.

Like Joseph Hill (Culture) said, “tribal wars don’t solve no problems”. It’s time that this bull was caught by the horns before it caused any more damage. The House of Mumbi has nothing to do with thieves and bad politicians. It is a heritage of the history of a Kenyan people called the Agikuyu and this all Kenyans should be proud of just like we are proud of the cultural rich Maasai tribe. We should see it as part of the Kenyan treasures not as a name of another mafia family.

It is not a curse to belong to the House of Mumbi; we cannot disband ourselves from it either. It is something to be proud of not ashamed of. Like the black Americans defend their African identity and insist on being referred to as Afro-Americans even with every right of American citizenship, we must defend our tribal identities and desist from victimisation while we remain proud to belong to the larger family called Kenya. And this applies to all Kenyans.

One love and tranquillity.


Comments and article stolen from Njoros blog.

  1. Joe Ndungu Says:
    May 1, 2008 at 5:31 pm
    Our Heritage will never be a curse i have to agree with you
  2. muirani Says:
    May 2, 2008 at 9:37 am
    Well put and said Njoro. Some of us were lebelled that tag of tribalists or chauvinist long time ago by those who are the only one entitled to label other people and comminities whatever they like while themselves failing to see themselves as tribalists of the highest order.
    Bob marley said that “people who have no culture is like a tree without roots”. By one embracing his culture and traditions does not qualify one to be tribalist.
    Its true that mistakes which have and are made by leaders from Central province, makes the Agikuyu community to be condemned en masse.
    Thank you Njoro for your well thought article and i do wish we should have our own Agikuyu university whereby culture and taditions are tought.
  3. Ebony Says:
    May 2, 2008 at 11:50 am
    Browsing through some websites makes me sick to the stomach to read peoples anti-kikuyu sentiments and others vehemently associating several stigmas with kikuyus however I will always be proud to be a kikuyu and nothing will ever change that.
  4. myself Says:
    May 2, 2008 at 11:53 am
    Kikuyus should be as proud as they can be. They are no less than other tribes, they are blessed and loved by God as other tribes.They have their unique traits that attribute to their nature, they should fly their flags even higher!
  5. BUTDOISAY COMMENT>We are all proud of our tribes, the masais are known to be uncivilised, traditional, illitrate and so on for their rich culture, but masais are so proud of being masais, the luhyas and luos are known to be NYAMOS- ANIMALS to the kikuyus or nyamo shia rogoro, this is a phrase used by the kikuyus almost everyday when reffering to Luos and luhyas, I have been called this word so many times that I even call mself this word….nyamo…”some kind of very bad ugly animal”, the luos have also been called IHE by the kikuyus meaning UNCIRCUMCIZED MAN, for so many years and I know some luo friends that can joke some times, calling themselves IHE…which is not so appertizing….the kikuyus are known for loving money, known to be thieves and so on, so we have all to learn to live with these akward expressions among other tribes, and we should not underestimate any other tribe, we all have our own tribal gangs that can be rutheless when asked to be, the kikuyus has the Mungikis, Luhyas the Musumbiji, Luos the Talibans, Masais the Morans, but we all still remain Kenyans, and so do not point a finger at me, thinking am alone……RESPECT IS ALL WE NEED IRRESPECTIVE OF OUR TRIBES…not any particular tribe should be blamed for the past post election violence,all Kenyan tribes took part, and the violence spoke for  itself …….”no tribe is any special than the other!!!! “……BUTDOISAY….thanks for a good article…

PS.Nyamo shia rogoro is a term used by kikuyus to call the luos and the luhyas meaning “animals of the west or maybe the moon”…..probably because of their big ethnic eyes,big ethnic lips,big ethnic madiabas, if am not wrong……help me if you can clarify better!!!

Clay Onyango.


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