WHO ARE THE TAITA?
My dear relatives , today I would like to remind you about our roots and origin. First I would like to pose a question; who is a Taita? and who is Mdawida?. The name Taita brings together three communities namely the Dawida, the Sagalla and the Kasighau. We lived among the Mijikenda in Shungwaya before we migrated to Taita hills. Our history shows that in Shungwaya, the Dawida were known as Tita and Kadiyaru were the Kasighau, while Dara were the Sagalla.
- Dawida- occupies the Taita Hills
- Sagalla- occupies Maungu hills and Sagalla ridge
- Kasighau - occupies the Kasighau hills
In the ‘Diaspora’, Taita trading parties went to Chagga and Usambara via Taveta and that is when some Taitas settled in colonies among the Shambala. We have penetrated Pare, Chagga and Taveta.
This is how we started our journey from Mwangea in the three columns, each heading in a different direction.
How did we travel? We traveled in columns. The first column was composed of the Taita clan of Wanya. We headed upstream of the Sabaki river before settling on range of hills. Presently, we occupy Wundanyi, Wusi and Kidaya right up to the eastern slopes of the mountains in Tanzania.
The second column, followed the coastline to Usambara, turning north, with some settling at Kasighau and the majority reaching the foothill of the main Pare mountain range near Mwatate. However, on reaching the upper Mwatate valley they were chased away by the northern group (Wanya) from where they turned west along Voi river . This group now occupies Mlechi, Msau and Mbale.
The third group of migrants arrived at the Usambara mountain in Tanzania. They then traveled right around it or climbed over the Pare mountain area before turning towards the south-western end of the Dawida hills. As they traveled, they were joined by Chagga elements of Tanzania on the way and they now settle near Bura, Umari, Sage-Ighuru, Mrughua, Mwanda and Mghange. They were later on joined by the agricultural branch of Masaai(Wakuavi). These group now occupies Lushangonyi, Mghange and Mwanda. These clan are the Waikumi clan. Before we arrived from mount Mwangea, the Dawida hills was occupied by certain people known as Ndigiri/Ndegere and Wambisha.
The position of the Wambisha still remained obscure in the 1900s; they were considered by the Taita to be a group belonging to the same category as the clans. It sometimes happened, when one was asked for his kichuku, that the name Wambisha could be mentioned instead of Wasadu, Wanya, etc, it was supposed therefore that the people of the Wasadu, for example, call the Wasasadu, in certain contexts ‘Wambisha’ (the opponents, those who beat is) and that the Wasasadu in turn use the term for the Wanya; but this is not the case.
Perhaps, for political reasons, the Taitas never admitted that there was occupations of their mountains before their own settlement, two centuries ago or thereabouts. There were, however, material remains of an earlier population: pyramidal heaps of stone without ritual or other significane for inhabitants of today, commonly called mifingiri ya Wambisha, the Wambisha pyramids or cairns.
That suggested that the Wambisha were descendants of an earlier people and are still considered as a distinct unit though incorporated within the tribe. Their main cluster was in Ruma, near Mount Wesu, was culturally not yet wholly assimilated between the years 1850-1900 and at that time preserved a language of its own (The Taita called it “Ngasu” meaning secret), the language was quite distinct from both Kidawida and Kisagalla.
The Wambisha did intermarry with the six clans and if it can be shown that they do not do so among themselves we may speak of the seven Taita clans.
It will also be important to note that, the Taita were not the only people to inhabit Taita area. They found a Cushitic community that lived there and for some time, they lived side by side and even adopted some cushitic words which can even today be found in Taita language.
Yet the question of the Wambisha (Taita Ethiopians/Jews) cannot be wished away. Taita people did copy some of the Jewish traditions such as in animal sacrifices while worshiping God and in burials where after burying they placed stones on the graves and by extension, putting skulls in rocks and caves and not intermarrying with close relatives the so called clans, the Vichukus, one could not marry within the same clan(Kichuku) as it was considered an incest and a bad omen.
These stone mounds are called cairns/pyramids and a few can still be found. Wambisha clan are from Habesha, an Eritrean/Abyssinian tribe, these Wambisha clans can still be found in Sagalla, and Cairns at the buial sites can be found currently at Mgheno ranch near the National Youth Service at Zongwan
It is therefore a fact that the Wambisha people, they inhabited the Taitaland while before the other Taita six clans came in. It is also believed they were also other clans there as well with the Wambisha, and there are the Wanyamba na Wakuruma, it is believed the Wasasadu clan which was mainly composed of witches wiped out these two ancients groups completely through poisoning them.
One thing I would highlight is that there are small pyramids (cairns) (Mfingiri ya Mwambisha) that were built by Wambisha for burial of their dead and these were found in Mbale, parts of Mbololo, and in Mghange. However they were destroyed by people through agriculture.
Yes there could be a relationship between Wambisha clans and the Wariangulo. But today Wambisha clans can be found in Mbale, Nyache and parts of Mbololo.
One thing which should not be confused is that the wambisha were moving south and settled at Ghazi. It is at this time when the Wadawida were migrating and there is a probability that they lived side by side until the taita fought them defeating them and the remaining intermarried with them. The Waria-ngulo people are said to be nomadic in nature, that is they are hunters and use magic medicine for hunting, they do not keep any form of livestock and they do not intermarry with the seven taita clans hence I would classify them as one of the Taita clans.
In Conclusion the Taita clans are thus seven:
Here are the seven parent clans of Taita;
6.Waikumi (Wakuavi Masaai)
- Wambisha (Dorobo, Ndegere/ Ndigiri)
Next lesson will be on the Detailed of 7 Taita Clans and how the clans were used to do the Goat Intestine Analysis (GIA) and Vichuku vibaa, vivalo na Mizi ra Kidawida.
Good night my relatives.
© PREPARED BY FRED MMBOLOLO