Kamba Tribe in Kenya



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Origin Kambas were involved in the long distance trade during the pre-colonial period. In the mid-eighteenth century, a large number of Akamba pastoral groups moved eastwards towards the Tsavo and Kib

Kamba Tribe in Kenya Description

Origin

Kambas were involved in the long distance trade during the pre-colonial period. In the mid-eighteenth century, a large number of Akamba pastoral groups moved eastwards towards the Tsavo and Kibwezi areas along the coast. This migration was the result of extensive drought and a lack of pasture for their cattle. The Kambas settled in the Mariakani, Kisauni and Kinango areas of the coast of Kenya, creating the beginnings of urban settlement. They still reside in large numbers in these towns, and have become absorbed into the cultural, economic and political life of the modern-day Coast Province.

Leadership Hierarchy

Traditionally the basic group among the Kamba was a unit of flexible social and territorial boundaries called an utui, based on a core patrilineage. The Kamba were grouped into some 25 dispersed patrilineal clans varying greatly in size. Individuals were organized in age grades, but these were not based on initiation as among the Kikuyu and others. Men in the eldest grade traditionally formed local district councils that governed several utui. Now government-appointed chiefs and headmen work with them.

Popular Cultural Events

In Kamba culture, the family is central to the life of the community. Before marriage, a man must pay a bride price (known as dowry), made in the form of cattle, sheep and goats, to the family of the bride. In a rural Kamba community, the man, who becomes the head of the family, undertakes an economic activity such as trading, hunting or cattle herding. He is known as NauTata or Asa. The woman works on the land she is given when she joins her husband’s household. She supplies the bulk of the food consumed by her family. She grows maize, millet, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, beans, pigeon peas, greens, arrowroot and cassava. Traditionally, it is the mother’s role to raise the children.

Very little distinction is made between an individual’s own children and the children of their sister or brother. Children address their uncle or aunt as tata (father) or mwaitu (mother). They often move from one household to another with ease, and are made to feel at home by their parents’ siblings. Grandparents (Susu and Umau) help with the less strenuous chores around the home, such as rope making, tanning leather, cleaning calabashes and making arrows. Older women continue to work the land as their source of food, independence and economic security.

Location and Size

Their homeland stretches east from Nairobi towards the Tsavo and Northeast to Embu. As the fifth largest tribe, Kambas make up about 11 percent of Kenya’s total population. They speak the Kamba (or Kikamba) language.

 


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