The culture of Kenya’s 43rd tribe, the Makonde, will now be preserved and displayed at the country’s premier cultural repository, the Bomas of Kenya.
Recording of the community’s culture at Bomas was facilitated by the Kwale county government, according to Culture and Social Services executive Ramadhan Bungale.
“I personally took the team to Nairobi where their traditional aspects, including dances, were recorded in a process that took us two weeks,” he said.
Members of the Makonde were officially recognised and documented as Kenyans in 2017 after 300 of them trekked from Kwale to Nairobi seeking the government to issue them with identity cards.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, who met them at State House granted their request.
They were the only Kenyan tribe selected to meet Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi when he visited the country last month.
The community participated in the 2017 General Election for the first time since their forefathers settled in Kenya eight decades ago.
Renowned for their skillful wood carvings, the Makonde were brought to Kwale to work in sugar plantations at the defunct Ramisi Sugar Company in Msambweni sub-county in the 1930s .
They did not return to their motherland when the factory collapsed three decades ago and have been living in squalid conditions in the former sugar company land.
Theirs has been a life of hardship and abject poverty coupled with the pain of being isolated and despised by the indigenous communities. Most of them eke out a living carving wood and tapping palm wine, among other odd jobs.
They are mainly found in Kitsakamkwaju, Pongwe-Kidimu and Pongwe-Kikokeni areas of Msambweni sub-county.
But in the spirit of affirmative action, the government has offered to have the Makonde get jobs in the public sector, among other benefits.
Bomas of Kenya was established in 1971 by the government to maintain and promote the rich diverse cultural values of various ethnic groups.
It also acts as a tourist attraction centre and is therefore, expected to preserve the authenticity of local cultural values and portray them in their pure form. – KNA