Book Review: A History of the Luo – Abasuba of Western Kenya from AD 1760 – 1940 by Henry Okello Ayot
This book is a run through the history of the tribes that came mostly from Uganda and settled in Kenya and Tanzania due to the conflict in their origin country.
It is important to note that, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania boundaries are the effects of British colonialism and that such didn’t exist in the past.
People moved because of, escaping conflict, want for better lands due to famine, escaping from slavery or slave trade etc.
The author Henry Okello Ayot says that what later became known as the Luo – Abasuba was largely known as the Abakunta.
Through the sons that most bore as they came to Kenya, many clans came to be.
The Abasuba became assimilated into the Luo lifestyle because the Luo acted dominant.
The author takes the reader through many phases, the conflict at the Baganda King courtyard, the migration and the settlement, the conflicts inside what is present-day Kenya and the dispersal of the various clans who were once one into different parts of the larger East Africa, Western Kenya, South Western Kenya, and Northern Tanzania.
It is quite an engaging book for those that want to know how Mfangano and Rusinga Islands became inhabited, also to some extent how Maasais and Kisiis were pushed back and also how Kasgunga, Kaksingri and Gwasi came to be.
Remember the story of Kinjekitile Ngwale of Tanzania. A medicine man who prayed over some water and told his warriors that they’d defeat the British in war. He ended up being defeated.
However, in this book, there’s one that happened likewise but the guns actually refused to work due to African medicine.
The medicine man and the Chief warrior’s name was called Mbaya, and he lived till about when the British came.
‘… The gun made a low noise; both sides watched expectantly but Mbaya was not killed. Encouraged by the success of the medicine, Mbaya charged towards the gunner and shot him with an arrow,’ Ayot writes.
The army with the gun was slaughtered and defeated by Mbaya; Mbaya and his clan claimed the land. Large tracts of it!
The book also touches on the Christian influence on African culture.
For me, it is sad to see how people who depended on their own rationality to live suddenly fell into the comfort and lies of the White Man.
People who believed death was a passage to another world suddenly became fearful and tethered like cows to the whims of the British.
People who abhorred single women (widows and unmarried) and suffering fatherless of motherless children suddenly started an individualistic lifestyle that creates problems to this day.
Henry Okello Ayot, thank you for this book.
Buy this book from Nuria Store.