Preparations to receive the bride price for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s great grandmother the late Susana Musana are ongoing at Ngoswani village in Lemek area, Narok West Sub County where she hailed from.
Giliisho’s family is leaving no stone unturned as they prepare for the great day to receive visitors from the first family who will be coming to correct the wrongs their great grandfather committed in the early18th century.
The family’s spokesperson, Chief John Giliisho said they are well prepared with special foods that according to the Maasai culture are given to distinguished guests.
We have a special bull for the visitors according to our culture. The cow is black and white in colour and it is already cleansed by the elders, the meat will be prepared on olive tree leaves. The visitors will eat only some special parts of the cow, he said.
Olive tree also known as Oloirien in Maa or Mutamaiyu in Kikuyu is the preferred tree because the Maa community believe it is a divine tree. The community use its charcoal for cleaning calabashes and the sticks for smoking milk gourds. Its burning branches are used for flavouring soup and giving it a nice smell.
Though the specific day to deliver the bride price is not yet set the chief confirmed that special songs are being composed to entertain their guest on that day, adding everyone will be required to dress in a pure Maasai attire to reflect the importance of the day.
Respected elders in our society will dress our visitors with special Maasai attire and thereafter make lead them to sit on an exceptional stool where they will dialogue and reconcile the past wrongs before the two families are blessed by the elders, he said.
Chief Giliisho says special wine will be prepared that will bless the visitors; according to the Maasai culture, only wine prepared locally by elders is used to bless such special visitors.
Everyone is welcome to come and witness the big occasion but not everyone will be allowed in the distinct room where the first family will be hosted or to taste the food set aside for them, he says.
The long journey that started early 2017 has seen the President’s family hold ‘behind the scenes’ talks with Giliisho’s family to pay the bride price his great grandfather should have taken care of.
Those in the frontline in the negotiations process are Uhuru’s cousins, Ngengi Muigai and Captain (Rtd) Kung’u Muigai, who recently during a youth meeting in Narok town reiterated that preparations to pay the bride price were in top gear.
Captain Muigai said that in the late 1890s, Gikuyu warriors raided a manyatta in Narosoora area � Narok and took a girl and a herd of cows. The girl, identified only as Musana, was later taken to Gatundu and given to the family of Magana.
Kung’u Magana, their great grandfather later on married Musana and named her Wanjiru. The two had a child named Muigai, who was the father of Kung’u Muigai, Kenya’s First President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and James Muigai.
Captain Muigai and Ngengi are sons of James Muigai, hence Uhuru’s first cousins all who have Musana (Wanjiru) as their great grandmother.
He explained that because President Uhuru was named after his great grandfather, Muigai, the responsibility is on him to pay his bride price.
Kung’u, the son of Musana went ahead to marry his wife without paying his mother’s bride price. Mzee Kenyatta also went ahead to marry before paying his grandmother’s bride price, but now, President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta wants to correct that wrong meted on the Maasai community by paying the price, says Capt. Muigai.
Musana, according to Capt. Muigai, is the Kenyatta’s family matriarch and her home was traced to Narosoora in Narok after Uhuru ascended to power in 2013. Musana is the mother of our family, we respect her and that is why we have taken time to trace her origin, he says.
During the First World War, the late Mzee Kenyatta was advised by Musana to hide in Narok to avoid being recruited into the British army.
The Captain says Musana advised Mzee Kenyatta to hide after his elder brother, Kung’u, was taken to the army in the First World War in 1914 and was never seen again.
Kenya’s First President is said to have taken refuge in Narok for five years. When he returned to Gatundu, he spoke fluent Maasai and wore a beaded belt called ‘Inyatta’ in Gikuyu.
Kenyatta stayed in Naroosura during the whole period of the First World War. He even went ahead and opened a shop in the area. This is where he learnt to speak fluent Maa language, he said.
Mzee adopted the name Kenyatta when he went back to Gatundu because of the belt he loved most. He had it from the time he got into politics until he became president.
One of the most important practices in Kenya and indeed in most of Africa is the custom of paying bride price to the family of a prospective wife. A couple in love cannot just take off, get married and establish a home. There are detailed steps and procedures that are followed before a couple can marry.
When a young man finds a girl that he fancies and he desires to make her his wife, he has to declare his intentions to the family of the girl. In some Kenyan cultures like the Maasai culture, this was done by the man planting a spear outside the home of the young girl.
After this, the young man gathers a number of his friends for a casual visit to the family of the girl. In this visit, nothing serious is discussed but the man makes his intentions clear from the word go. Of course you can never show up for any visit empty handed. He must carry gifts for the family to show his appreciation. This usually includes every day household items like groceries, money and some specific gifts for the parents and immediate family.
Another visit is arranged where the young man comes along with his family member and elders from his clan. This is a crucial visit where the actual bride price is discussed.
The young couple is usually not allowed to attend the negotiations. If the two families agree, bride price is set. Usually, bride price is in form of cows and goats. This is then translated into money and the family is required to make a reasonable down payment.
At this point, if the parties agree, a wedding is granted and the young couple can either move in together or hold a wedding ceremony in the church or at the Attorney General’s Chambers.
In most Kenyan cultures, bride price does not come to an end. The man is expected to show appreciation to the family of the bride for the rest of his life by supporting them financially even after clearing the stated bride price.
Many Kenyans are influenced by western culture and are droping their cultural practices. Still, many cultures are holding strongly to their practices. The cultural practice of paying bride price in Kenya is expected to continue for a long time.
Source: Kenya News Agency