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by Farida Dawkins, at 08:30 am, October 05, 2018, Culture

How 250 members of a Kenyan tribe set up a flourishing community in Paraguay in 1820

Kamba rain dancers...Wg Networks

Africans have strategically and skillfully made their mark in most corners of the world. Among these Africans is the Kamba community from Kenya.

In 1820, an exiled general from Uruguay named Jose Gervasio Artigas brought 250 freed Kamba people to Paraguay. These former slaves, both men and women willingly travelled with the general. They were also lauded for their skill with the spear.

They would prove this later when the remaining Kamba people fought on behalf of British colonialist as members of the King’s African Rifles during the Mau Mau Mutiny. In 1938, the Kamba exhibited their military prowess again when they fought the British to rescind a law controlling their livestock. They won.

Kamba dancers…African One

The Kamba, Akamba or Wakamba people of Kenya inhabit the areas from Nairobi to Tsavo and north up to Embu, Kenya.  Their native language is Kikamba, although they also speak Swahili and English. They are considered to be among one of Kenya’s largest ethnic group with a population of about 3,893,157  people according to Kenya’s 2009 statistics.

The Kamba, who also live in Uganda and Tanzania, are a Bantu group who were originally long-distance merchants and hunter-gatherers.  They eventually branched out to formal, agricultural and trader jobs.  They are also skilled wood carvers, basket and pottery makers.

Kamba girl…Trip Down Memory Lane

Some notable people from the community include Maingi Ndonye Mbithi, a trader in medicinal plants who formulated a brew made with a fermented drink called kavalu and herbs that are known to heal cancerous boils called Mi’imu.

A healer and prophetess named Syokimau foretold that white people would come to Kenya and the construction of the Mombasa to Kisumu railway line.  She relayed that she saw “people of a different colour carrying fire inside waters;” this would later translate into British colonialist in vessels carrying matchboxes and guns.

Upon their arrival in Asunción, Paraguay, the Kamba settled in the Campamento Loma area where they became dairy agriculturist.

The Kamba people in Kenya…Trip Down Memory Lane

In the 1940s, they were banished from their land in Paraguay by General Higinio Morinigo a military leader and the president of Paraguay from September 7, 1940, to June 3, 1948. 100 hectares or 247 acres of their land became 3 hectares or 7 acres of living space, according to Trip Down Memory Lane.

The Afro-Paraguayan community is now estimated to be 10,000 members now called Cue or “black of Kamba Cuá.” There is also the Kamba Kokue.

Afro-Paraguayan dancers of Kamba Kue…Trip-Down Memory Lane

In the present day, there is a dispute about the population of the Kamba Cuá.  The Afro Paraguayan Association says that there 422 people of Kamba descent while others have calculated the Kamba Cuá community to have between 1,200 to 2,500 people.

Kamba Cue dancers…Hoy

The Kamba Cuá are known for their extraordinary dancing skills which also tell the story of memories from the various generations and one example of this is the dance called “candombe.”

The Kamba Cuá are predominately Catholic and preserve practices of their religion and culture via festivals such as the celebration of Saint Balthasar on January 6, oral traditions, culinary artistry and drumming.

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