Mumboism, also known as the Mumbo cult, was a new religious movement founded by Onyango Dunde in the early 20th century.
Followers of the religion, known as Mumboites, were most active in Kisii Nyanza region near Lake Victoria. The movement had anti-imperial teachings and was suppressed by the colonial government of Kenya.
In 1913, Onyango Dunde began to preach that he had been swallowed by a serpent in Lake Victoria. The serpent spit him out, and gave him a prophecy that he would spread to his followers:
“I am the God Mumbo whose two homes are in the sun and in the lake. I have chosen you to be my mouthpiece. Go and tell all the Africans… that from henceforth I am their God. Those whom I choose personally and those who acknowledge me, will live forever in plenty… the Christian religion is rotten… All Europeans are your enemies, but the time is shortly coming when they will all disappear from the country.”
In keeping with the prophecy, Dunde condemned European culture, Christianity, and the influence of colonialism. He also prophesied a golden age that would arrive with the end of the European presence in the region. Mumboism was popular among the Luo and Kisii people.
In the years following the end of World War I, many of the Kisii became followers of Mumboism in growing numbers. Some factors contributing to this were frustration with the colonial government due to deteriorating agricultural, trade and health conditions among the Kisii people, fluctuating currency value, and the colonial administration’s increasingly burdensome demands concerning taxation, labour owed to the colonial government, and requirements for registration.
The Bogonko clan, the wealthiest and most influential among the Kisii, were adherents of Mumboism. Their position had been undermined by the European presence, and they were leaders of Mumboism particularly among the Kitutu subclan.
The colonial administration was threatened by the anti-European message of Mumboism. The colonial government ultimately banned Mumboism in 1954. Much earlier in 1921, it had exiled Dunde and other Mumbo leaders to the Islamic island of Lamu in the Indian Ocean.
A 1919 government report had listed important leaders of the movement, some of whom were openly opposed to the colonial government: Mosi Auma of Kabondo, Nyakundi of Kitutu, Omwenga of Wanjare.