Chief Wangombe was the son of a Kikuyu man and a Maasai woman. He was born in Tetu, at Kamakwa near present day Nyeri Town. His father and therefore the whole family belonged to the Ambui clan, of Thiukui Mbari. Mbari is a cluster of homesteads whose members of several generations can trace their origins to a single clan member.
His father was a trader by the name Ihura Karugu. He went frequently into Maasai country to trade with foodstuffs especially during famines and cattle epidemics when the Maasai needed grain most.
In one of Ihura’s business trips, in the company of the young Wangombe, he was dispatched by the Laikipiak Maasai. The young boy escaped and went to live with his relatives among the same people who had caused the demise of his father. After a period that is not clear, he returned to his paternal relatives in Tetu. But his kinsmen were suspicious of his relations with their perennial enemies and some people planned to dispatch him as well. But Wangombe got wind of those plans and escaped. This time he traced other relatives in an area called Ruthagati in Mathira Division, not too far away.
As a Hinga – a person who could speak both Kikuyu and Maasai, and therefore a perfect spy for either group, Wangombe betrayed the Maasai by leading Kikuyu warriors in successful raids. His ability to lead a double life and therefore fool his enemies endeared him to the Tetu people who accepted him as a leader. With this increasing influence, he was able to lead combined forces of the Mathira and Tetu warriors against the Maasai. Unfortunately for his Kikuyu People, he sometimes combined forces with contigents of the Maasai in raids against some sections of the Kikuyu and their close cousings the Ndia. According to Muriuki, In 1898, he made his largest ever incursion against the Ndia with an estimated “five hundred Maasai and Kikuyu warriors…”