The Origin of Abakhero Clan of Busia County

The roots of the Abakhero community are traced back to the great Musere, their ancestor. Musere had migrated from Misri, the present day Egypt in the 15th and 16th centuries. He first settled in Tororo and Mbale in Uganda but later migrated to Butere. This became the ancestral home of the Abakhero community. The family of Musere was associated with rain making activities which astonished the natives during that time.

The present day Bakhero clan of Busia is traced back to Mwakha. He left for Busia from Alego via Ibanda in Uganda.  After relocating from Bonge to Nasira, his father passed on. The family felt unsafe and later migrated Lwanyange/Malanga through the leadership of Wandukusi. Malanga became another dispersal place from where the community dispersed to other areas such as Samia, Nambale, and Teso among others where they are presently found.

The Bakhero just like any other clan has its norms and values that shape the behavior of its people. It was ruled by a council of elders who chose the leaders from a group of wise men. The members stayed together in homesteads in grass-thatched houses. One amazing gift that amazes the neighboring communities is the ability to make rain. It is not easy to understand how people can organize clouds in the sky and within no time, a heavy downpour follows!

Earlier mentioned, Bakhero lived in homesteads, in grass-thatched houses. The houses were feeble since the main constructing materials were grass and mud. It, therefore, required strong manpower from the males for defense. The homesteads were made up of a traditional family; father, mother and children and a few close relatives. The children comprised of the married sons and the unmarried children of both genders. The mukhero man was the father of the family, and he ensured protection, built houses and met all the needs of the family. He would also take part in fighting events of the village. The son’s main job was to look after the cattle and also help the father in building houses. The mukhero woman was responsible for bringing children and doing house chore. They were imitated by their daughters who helped them perform the tasks. The grandparents were both moralists and historians. They performed the two roles through story telling.

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Marriage among the Bakhero was mainly for procreation purposes. Childless marriages were meaningless. Dowry was paid to the bride’s family before marriage happened. The bride was expected to be a virgin on her marriage day. The bride’s family was showered with gifts if this expectation was met. Children were named after their ancestors. It is also interesting to note that when the baby persistently cried, they believed that a certain ancestor wanted the baby to be named after them. A medicine man was thus consulted.

The rights of passage were marked by ceremonies. It started from when the baby was born the naming, and as he progressed into the teenage hood, he was circumcised. The marriage and then death awaited. The Bakhero gatherings were led by the council of elders and were held annually. It is through this gathering that family problems were solved. There were some things set aside for rituals. They were not supposed to be touched. If anyone touched them, they became taboo to themselves, and they had to seek ritual purifications. It was a taboo to engage in marital activities with a relative.

A dead man was buried on the right and the dead wife on the left. The Bakhero believed that the dead listens to the living and thus a leaf from Murumba tree was pierced through the ear of the deceased to support this. The man was buried in the house of the elder wife to symbolize respect and honor. It is also hilarious to note that women were not supposed to eat chicken. The taboo, however, is withering and dying off. The clan engaged in metal works, leather works, and wood works. However, the traditional craft is diminishing in the community.

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Change is inevitable, they say. So is social change. The East Africa expansion, as well as some economical, social and religious changes, led to social change among the Bakhero. Constant interactions with other incoming or the native communities led to some social changes which were adopted by the people. The introduction of Christianity during the colonial period changed the social customs of the Bakhero. Believing in ancestors is not as common as it was. The Bakhero being a smaller community was assimilated by the Luhyia and the Luo who were the neighboring communities.

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