chapter  [21]
17 Pages

The Wasaki War: An Oral Narrative of Southwestern Kenya*

WithMichael G. Kenny

Southwestern Kenya along the Lake is a relatively dry country. This chapter recounts the memory of an epic struggle on Rusinga and Mfangano Islands; the narrative, derived from the oral accounts of older men, illuminates the nature of local social organization and must be understood in its light. But problems arise with regard to the connection of Waware with Kaswanga, though oral evidence indicates a firm alliance between them during the Wasaki War. Relations between Waware, Kamasengere, and Wan yama are still more equivocal, and, by their own account, Kamasengere joined the coalition against the Wasaki late in the day. According to the Mfangano Waware account, the Wakula were then living at Gulwe, higher land in the far west of the island. The Wasaki had driven the Waware-Kas-wanga group from Rusinga and the latter were obliged to settle on the mainland. But Wadeya, like Moses, died before entering the promised land, and so ends the story of the Wasaki War.