Mwanyagetinge Voices And Stories About The Lives And Times Of Our Elders: Omong'ina Pacifica Kerubo Mwamu
Mbuya mono Tata Omonene for our elders. Our Mwanyagetinge Elders, Our Inestimable Treasure: Riete [ August ] 17, 2015.
Aya amwabo aya:
Na SPECIAL REPORTER for Gusii:
At a Glance:
NAME: PACIFICA KERUBO MWAMU
AGE: 120 YEARS
HOME: KUURA VILLAGE, WEST MUGIRANGO, NYAMIRA COUNTY MATRIMONY: 1930
NO. OF CHILDREN 14
NO. OF GRANDCHILDREN: 114
Abagusii did not eat salt until we heard about "Egento giatokire Getembe gekobekwa chinyeni. Now this salt is hurting our people" Mama Pacifica Kerubo Mwamu. Mwanyagetinge.com/2015.
Omongina Pacifica Kerubo Mwamu was born in the year 1895 as the first child to his father from West Mugirango, Nyamira County. She was later circumcised in the year 1916 when she was 21 years old. Omongina Kerubo told us that at the time, a girl was to be around that age in order to be circumcised.
In 1930, she was married to the late Mzee Michael Nyasani Mwamu from West Mugirango. After matrimony, they were blessed with fourteen children [ five girls and nine boys]. According to Omong'ina Kerubo, the large number of children they bore caused the community to respect them, as was the Abagusii custom.
In those days, girls were considered to be a source of wealth
"We were respected because we had boys to protect the village, and also we were were considered rich because we had had girls" Omong'ina Kerubo told us. During that period and age, a girl child was termed as a source of wealth because she was to be married and bring in a lot of wealth in the home in the form of dowry.
She told us that she has lost her husband and four of her children due to various ailments, causing her lots of sadness. Omong'ina Mwamu told us that even though things change, some of our traditions should be respected so that we can maintain our identity as Abagusii.
Mama Kerubo told us that "Sometimes I feel lonely because most of my age mates are no longer living" She said that she spends most of the time sharing stories about life in the old days with her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
"Obokima Bw' obori and ching'ende ch' ebara are the best"
Omongina Kerubo said for their entire lives, she and Mzee Mwamu lived as farmers growing obori, amaemba, ching'ende, chinsaga, riinagu, egesare, riisosa, omotere, and enderema. She said that they also kept lots of livestock and were well known in the village to have a lot of cows.
When we asked her what kind of food she likes, she said "Of course obokima bw' obori and ching'ende chibekire ebara from Luoland" She said that her late husband would never eat any obokima from maize and always insisted on seasoning their food with ebara from Luoland, instead of salt.
She said that they grew up not knowing anything about salt. She said that the first time she heard about salt was from a servant of Abasongo who came from Getembe and showed them this white substance and said that "Egento giachire Getembe [a name describing Kisii town] gekobekwa chinyeni.”
"Once the whole village tasted it, everyone was very happy and all looked for a way to have the salt. In the beginning, the salt came in chigunia and they sold it in small bags after being weighed. Now they are telling us that the salt is causing amanyinga aigoro [ high blood pressure ] " Omongina Pacifica added.
We asked Omongina Pacifica to tell us if she remembers any Mwanyagetinge tradition that has disappeared. She said that she laments the disappearance of three things:
1. Grandmotherly advice: Omong'ina Kerubo told us that grandmothers house place was like a school whereby all the grandchildren were to be taught on how to live and behave themselves. She said that nowadays, most children do not spend time with their grandmothers and this has caused many children to grow up and not know their roots.
2. Etureti [ Esaiga ] was a house where those men who are not yet married went to live. Mama Kerubo told us that young unmarried men should get advice about being men from the elders. She thinks that the loss of Etureti is the cause of many social problems in Gusii since young men nowadays do not get guidance from the elders.
3. Egesarate. Omong'ina Pacifica said that Gesarate, a temporal structure where livestock were kept under the watch of strong young men should be restored. She told us that because we do not have Geasarate, we lose many of our livestock to thieves and rustlers.
We asked her if she remembers when the Abagusii experienced difficult times as a group. She said that she remembers the times when there were droughts and lots of food crops and livestock died. As a result of this, some Abagusii also died due to lack of food.
Nyangige was the worst drought of them all
Omong'ina Kerubo told us about the drought of Nyangige. It was the worst drought ever to hit Abagusii. During that drought, there were many locusts [ ching'ige ] in Gusiiland. These locusts ate every green thing in sight, causing famine. The children who were born at that time were called Nyang'ige, or Ong'ige.
Omongina Pacifica also remembers the Nyamakongiro famine. She said that the famine was so severe that Abagusii for the first time started eating amakongiro. " I did not care about the amakongiro back then and I do not care about them now but we had to eat them in order to survive" Omong'ina Kerubo added.
The other famines caused by drought which she remembers are the Kirera and Kengere [ occurred when the bell or ekengere was intoduced to Gusiiland ] famines. Mama Kerubo said that the children who were born during the Kengere drought were called Kengere.
We asked omongina Kerubo if she has any advice for our young people. She said that "Nchiri gosira monibi atasireti, Toganeria oyomino amakweri, Bwata semi semi oyomino, Oyotabwati oyomwabo abwatwe okoboko gocha inka, Totogi momura kieni motogie enkoro, mwanyabaiseke obotaka mbogosira …."
In closing, we asked her if there was anything she could add to the Emebayeno she just told our young people. "Always trust in God" Mama Pacifica Kerubo added saying that it is the most important advice she can give to our young generation.
MAY THE LORD OUR GOD GRANT YOU THE LONG OF BREATH