In the footsteps of my father

Late one afternoon of January, 1934, as the sun took a rest from its daily routines, in a small vibrant village of Kitulu in Vihiga county, beautiful Rebeca started experiencing some contractions. With the help of a midwife, she delivered a bouncing baby boy. The date, January 12th. Having been born in a family that had embraced Christianity, he was christened Solomon and his second name, Mukilima. Solomon has lived up to his name as a wisdom filled man taking after his biblical namesake, king Solomon.

Solomon was born in an era where the Maragoli tradition was valued and looked up to, to instill good moral values into the young ones. In 1948, at the age of 14 years, he underwent circumcision. A right of passage that was treasured by many and none would dare miss out on it lest they be laughed at. According to the Maragoli culture, circumcision took place after every ten years and each was named. The naming always symbolized something, either an event that was taking or had taken place or to symbolize something.

The 1948 circumcision was named “nzerorere.” Nzerorere simply translated is “to see for yourself.” Why was it named so? Some may ask. In 1948, a lot had happened. Some of the culture had been done away with and this included children going to “itumbi” for the circumcision rights. Children could be circumcised anywhere and this included the roadside. The circumcision which took place in 1938 which he was unable to attend because of his tender age, was named “Lizuriza – remembrance.” They were trying to remember their great grandfather’s culture which was slowly fading away.

Though raised in the village, his father, Isaiah Imbisi had received some education from the Mzungu and he worked as a teacher and doubled up as a pastor of the Friends Church and a businessman. Rebeca, their mother, who traded salt in exchange of millet, maize and other stuff did all she could to ensure her children received the education they deserved.

Solomon who was the seventh born of this wonderful family did not disappoint his mother. He started schooling at the age of 10 years. In 1944, he enrolled at Kitulu A School (A school is currently referred to as nursery school). He was a bright student who later joined Magui Sector School in 1946 for his primary school education. Back in the day, they only learnt for five years in primary. As the years went by and he had to build a ‘simba’ for himself, word has it that as a young man he once shared his ‘simba’ with Bahati Semo, the former Member of Parliament for Vihiga. Their friendship blossomed and they were very close through Semo’s political career though Solomon never attempted to vie for any political seat but did serve in the KANU office at a local level for sometime.

In 1950 he sat for his CEE (Common Entrance Exam) at Magui which he passed very well. His mother, Rebeca Kayaja, though not in any formal employment wouldn’t allow this budding energetic young man to waste his brains in the village. She did all she could to see him continue with his education. In the year 1950, Solomon enrolled at Vihiga Intermediate School (currently Vihiga High School) where he continued to excel in his studies…


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2 Responses to In the footsteps of my father

  1. Beautiful, again rich in culture and good description. But you made it run too fast!! Would have like to know why his parents named him Solomon, what he did in his childhood (apart from schooling & circumcision) his favourite dish, sibling-rivalry, etc.

    I like your awareness of the sorroundings though.

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