The Abasamia Kenya
The earliest ancestors of the Abasamia came from Egypt on foot. When they left Egypt they went to Mukono in Uganda. Then they entered the Lake and came in boats as far as the Sikulu (Sigulu) Island. From there they went to Lwambwa in Bunyala. They then gradually spread out all over this district.
On the other hand, Obare Makhulo says that the first Abasamia emigrated from Elgon area and went to Ebukhayenje in Samia in Uganda. From there they went to Lwambwa and Alego; they dispersed in Alego. Then some stayed behind in Alego, others went to Ebuyoma (Uyoma), and another group went to Sakwa.
The people they came in contact with:
Egypt: The Baganda, the Basoga, the Madi, and their fellow Abaluyia. Mukono: It was uninhabited; they left the Baganda here and came this way. Sikulu: Also uninhabited.
Lwambwa. Again uninhabited.
When they emigrated from Egypt, they spoke Olusamia (the Oluluyia dialect of Samia). Their food was fish, meat, cow-peas, fruits, sorghum, millet, and eleusine meal. They came along with the Baganda, the Basoga, the Madi, and the Banyuli (and the Abanyole). Samia. They found here a people called “Onguye Lugulu Masaba”, i.e. Onguye the Mount Masaba (Elgon), who had huge heads. They were then driven from here. On the other hand the Abanyala found the Abasamia here. They came from Navakholo.
The reasons for migrating
Egypt: They migrated from there because it was a bad country with poor dry soil and preponderant drought and, consequently, without sufficient food.
Mukono: They were in need of a lake where they could fish, iron ore deposits (The Abasamia are skilful black-smiths and they enjoyed a monopoly of this trade until the establishment of European Administration and the consequent introduction of European tools and implements. The industry is also known to have flourished in pre- colonial Bunyoro), and grazing land.
Sigulu: The same as Mukono; they also migrated because this hill was in the midst of the lake. In this place (Samia), they now had iron ore, wood for charcoal,
plenty of fish, good grazing land and abundant food.
Akuru (Aguru) was the ancestor of the Abasamia; he died in Egypt. He was the father of Samia, the founder of the Abasamia clan. He died here. Ouma Omanyo is the son of Omanyo; son of Ochieno; son of Omanyo; son of Obinda; son of Wamira who died at Lwambwa; son of Khakwe; son of Ng’weno; son of Lunani; son of Tebino; son
of Samia; they all died here.
William Odame is the son of Omusebe; son of Okuku; son of Obola; son of Oremo; son of Were; they all died here. Were was the son of Makabe; he died at Budinyi in
Bunyala and Makabe died here. Makabe was the son of Khayoda who died at Lwambwa; son of Musamia who died at Lwambwa; son of Mudunyi who died
at Lwambwa; son of Atori who died at Budunyi in Bunyala. Donald Musungu is the son of Naliali; son of Shibeto; son of Kundu; son of Mudenyo; son of Andati who died at Lwambwa; son of Podi; son of Waburi; son of Tebino; son of Samia; son of Alununi; they all died at Lwambwa.
They were formerly ruled by the “omwami wefumo” (the omwami of the spear). He was assisted in this by elders known as “abenengo”, i.e. the owners of the homes, who were his subordinates. The “abenengo” were usually appointed by their clansmen. The “abakhulundu bengongo” (the elders of the territories) presided over cases; they were appointed by their clans. The omwami could not be deposed; but he was usually reproached for misconduct. Succession was based on the principle of heredity. But the elders of the sub-tribe could reject the nominee of the reigning “omwami”. The youngest son was usually nominated but, if a minor his elder brother became his guardian.
The functions of the “omwami” were to lead his troops in war and to help the people with food during the time of starvation. He was neither a rain-maker nor a medicine man nor a sacrificial priest; neither was he a magician. His function was to keep the peace. He used to get a cow in the event of a successful raid, beer, and elephant tusks. He had personal servants and attendants. He was buried in a skin in a lying position. He wore a calf-hide cloak, a copper bracelet, a cowry-shell crown with the feather of the “isimbishira” bird in it, and brass bracelets on his legs He used to rule all the Abasamia.
The Nandi and the Masai used to come and raid their cattle. The war leader of the Abasamia in this case was Mahabe. The Baganda fought with them at Ibanda in the Samia part which is in Uganda. They used to come to raid their cattle, iron ore, and hoes. The Baganda were finally defeated. Sidero was the war leader of the Abasamia.
The Abakhayo and the Abamia also used to come to raid the hoes, iron ore, and the cattle of the Abasamia. They defeated the Abasamia. They then went to Bukhayo and fighting broke out there again. The Abasamia defeated the Abakhayo and then returned here. The Abasamia were led by Ojune.
Samia speaking people live in Western Kenya and Eastern Uganda. They are composed of several clans and their ancient economic activities include fishing in Lake Victoria and other rivers such as River Sio, crop farming (ovurimi), and animal farming (ovutuki).
Samia speaking people love music which is played in their various ceremonies, which include marriage (Obugole/ Obweya), funeral (amasika), veneration of ancestors (ebikuda mukutu and Enga’nyo), and wrestling (amalengo). Their musical instruments include: (a) A large violin-like wooden instrument called Adungu (b) A drum called Engalabe, covered at one end with the skin of a monitor lizard (c) A flute called Erere and (d) An instrument called Sikudi. The major traditional dances are owaro, ekworo, eboodi and esikudi. The eboodi and ekworo are love dances. Owaro and esikudi are performed when people are happy. The Samia speaking people as widely known by other tribes predominantly leave in Busia districts (Both in Kenya and Uganda) and speak a dialect similar to the Luhya tribe in Kenya. However, on the Ugandan side there is a slight variation in the dialect spoken by the Samia of Southern Busia on the fringe of Lake Victoria and those of North Busia district closer to Tororo District. The former speak Olusamia while the latter speak Olugwe. The two dialects are difficult to differentiate by non Samia speaking people but easily discernible by the natives.
Years before modern government, Samia people used to live in villages called Engongo which are separated by valleys and within Engongo they had Engoba. Engoba is many; one is called Olukoba. One needed a ladder-like contraption to access or leave Olukoba but the Olukoba also had specific gates. Up to today, the daily lives of Samia people are dictated by customs and traditions. For instance, a woman who loses her husband should be remarried to a brother of the deceased so that should this widow wish to bear more children, they should resemble their kin. Their diet consists of cassava bread made of sorghum or millet, often mixed with fermented cassava also called obusuma. Sometimes white stiff porridge made out of maize flour added. The food is eaten with vegetables, meat, or chicken. The Samia also largely consume gruel, rice and bananas. Samia speaking people are known to be very clever people due to frequent consumption of fresh fish. In fact non Samia speaking people often refer to them as “obusuma ne’ngeni bicha speed” meaning brown stiff porridge and fish roll down the throat very fast.
Notable Samia people include the following:
1. Aggrey Soryoyi Awori – Politician, former International athlete, former parliamentarian and cabinet minister.
2. Sam Odaka – Former Foreign Minister of Uganda (1964–1971)
3. Benjamin Joseph Odoki – Former Chief Justice of the Republic of Uganda, from 2001 until 2013.
4. Justice James Ogoola – Lawyer, Judge and Poet. Principal Judge of the High Court of Uganda and a Justice of the COMESA Court of Justice in Lusaka, Zambia.
5. Barbara Nekesa Oundo The current State Minister for Karamoja Affairs in the Ugandan Cabinet.
6. Kevina Taaka – Member of Parliament, representing Busia Municipality
7. Professor Fred Wabwire-Mangen – Professor of Epidemiology, Makerere University School of Public Health.
People used to live according to their relations or clans. The chiefs (Abaami), ruled all the clans. The most famed chiefs include Mukudi wa Namwonja, Achibo wa Ondwasi, Ogoha Mwami, Kadima, Daniel Namagwa Bwire, Awili Apwoyo, Maiga Ogwomi, Abamba Odinga, and Ochiengi Mulindo. Samia speaking people include, but are not limited to, the following clans: