The Luo and Abagusii are set to loose one of it’s community
Kavirondo, a little known community, is seeking to be classified as a separate tribe from the Luo community.
According to NTV,The Kavirondo, otherwise Abarondo community that hails from the Kano plains, Muhoroni in Kisumu County has its origin with Bantu speaking community.
In Kisumu, they are commonly called the Sidho clan. Other clans such as Mikiria, Mugirango, Basii and Wasweta are spread out in Migori, Homa Bay and Kisii counties.
According to the community Mr. Charles Otieno Maina,the community spokesman, the Abarondo migrated to the lake region along with the Abaluhya and Abagusii in the 16th century before they settled with the Luo community (who initially came from Southern Sudan) and intermarried. Soon they were assimilated by the Luo.
Over the time, some of the Abarondo community members moved and spread to the present Migori, Homa Bay and Kisii highlands.
“The Abarondo community were generally farmers growing different varieties of food crops. However, they practised witchcraft as a defence against their enemies,” says Mr Maina.
Out of the practice of witchcraft, their neighbours — the Luo — nicknamed them ”Josidho”.
The community had a powerful leader and hero known as Luanda Magere, who according to historical data was born in the 1720s to Abonyo Wuod Amolo and Nyabera.
Legend has it that Luanda Magere possessed unearthly powers and his flesh was made of stone. Arrows, spears and clubs simply deflected from his body, making him invincible during wars, so goes the story.
Luo Council of Elders secretary Adera Osawa says that Luanda Magere was shrewd in war, considering that he practised witchcraft.
“Luanda Magere was a powerful worrier, who won many battles. However, he was brought down by his Lang’o wife who discovered his weakness and shared it with the enemy,” says Mr Osawa.
At a time of war, a Nandi warrior remembered that Luanda’s strength was in the shadow. He stood at a hill and threw his spear at Luanda’s shadow. Luanda Magere fell and died. His community believes that his body turned into a stone.
A site in Sidho with a stone is still revered as the spot where Luanda Magere died and people come there from far and wide to conduct rituals and prayers.
The Kavirondo community is often confused to be of the Abagusii tribe.
“Although some of our members have moved and lived in Kisii highlands, we are not of the Abagusii community. Our language is very distinct from the Luo and the Abagusii. The Abarondo are not part of the Ramogi clan,” Mr Maina says.
The community has a population of about 110,000 people spread out in Kisumu, Homa Bay, Kisii and Migori counties.
Today, most of the Sidho community members are sugarcane farmers occupying the sugar belt at the foot of the Nandi escarpment.
Community land ownership
However, the community feels it is neglected by the government when it comes to community land ownership.
“We want recognition from the national government. We were left out by the national government in talks to privatise State sugar factories (Miwani, Chemilil and Muhoroni Sugar),” says Mr Maina.
He added: “We were the first community to lease land to the white settlers for sugarcane production from Kibos to Londiani,” said Mr Maina.
Leasing of land to white settlers ended in 2009.
“Originally our land was taken by the Europeans in 1902 for sugarcane and coffee farming. But the land should be returned to the community before the factories are privatised,” said the Sidho community spokesman.
Debt and mismanagement has led to the collapse or placement under receivership of five State-owned sugar millers in the cane-growing belt of Western Kenya.
Chemelil, Miwani (under receivership), Mumias (under receivership), Muhoroni (under receivership), Nzoia and Sony sugar companies have been struggling for years.
The government plans to revive the firms, to make them viable again.
In the first step, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya announced a waiver of Sh62. 5 billion debts owed by the five sugar millers to set the stage for their revival.
In the second step, the government said it would lease out the now debt-free sugar millers to private investors to turn them around.