By Tobias Chanji
A tribe in Kwale County whose members feel they are endangered with extinction have resorted to unique measures to protect their lineage.
The leaders of the tribe called Wasegeju have formed a movement called ‘Segeju Survival Movement’ to which all tribe members belong.
The tribe has also elected a ‘president’ who will be assisted by an executive board to lead the tribe to be distinct from the Digo community that has been assimilating them.
The tribe, which lives in Pongwe/Kidimu wards in Msambweni District, has elected Athman Said Kibadi Mwinyi Amani as the president. He was overwhelmingly picked by his tribe last year January together with an executive board that serves as the cabinet.
Village chairmen, a council of youth and women with a group of advisors make up socio-political setting of this community.
“We realised that we are marginalised especially when most of us were being swallowed by the Digo. From our records we are less than 8,000 so those who remained want to be identified as the survivors.
“We meet once a month but a major meeting is after every cereals harvest where we deliberate issues affecting us like culture and dictatorship from larger communities who from the onset viewed us as outsiders,” says Amani whose long name is even difficult to master.
But how come this tribe with distinct cultural beliefs like hunting came to be swallowed by a farming Digo community.
The president says that the tribe’s original homeland was in Shungwaya Tanzania just like other Eastern Bantus. He says they share ancestral home with the Watharaka who are found in Eastern Province of Kenya.
“Even the name Segeju was not known but people referred to us as Wadhaiso. We were only called Wasegeju by the Digos who saw us pulling our gowns up while crossing river Umba to Kenya, they said ‘wamesegeja juu’ then the ones that went up country were called Watharaka,