Rabai People

Mrs. Shaw sewing class with the Rabai people
Mrs. Shaw sewing class with the Rabai people

For the letter "R" of my A to Z African People series, I will share the Rabai people. They are also known as the Warabai in Swahili.

Who are the members of the Rabai people?

The Rabai are one of the nine closely related groups that make up the Mijikenda; a Kenyan coastal Bantu tribe. In the past the Mijikenda tribe were referred to as the "Nyika tribe", which is a nearly derogatory term implying bush people.

Mijikenda oral history traces the origin of the tribe to the Southern regions of Somalia. It is believed that the Milijikenda people escaped constant attacks from the Oromo and other Cushitic tribes. They settled in the coastal ridges that were easier to defend.

The other eight sub-tribes are:

  1. Giriama
  2. Digo
  3. Chonyi
  4. Duruma
  5. Jibana
  6. Kambe
  7. Kauma
  8. Ribe

The Nine Mijikenda Subgroups and Rabai Constituency Map

Source
Rabai Constituency
Rabai Constituency | Source
A markerRabai District, Kenya -
Rabai, Kenya
[get directions]

This Elibron Classics book is a facsimile reprint of a 1860 edition by Trübner and Co., London.
This Elibron Classics book is a facsimile reprint of a 1860 edition by Trübner and Co., London. | Source

Where are the Rabai people located?

The Mijikenda occupy the Kenya coast and hinterland in the four contiguous administrative districts of:

  • Malindi
  • Kilifi
  • Mombasa
  • Kwale

The Rabai people are found in Kenya, Eastern Africa. The Rabai people live in a village named like their own name "Rabai". This village is located about 25 km Northwest of Mombasa, off the Nairobi-Mombasa highway on Mazeras-Kaloleni road, about half an hour drive from Mombasa.

Rabai is well known as the place where Christianity and modern learning in Kenya started over 170 years ago. The first European to visit Mombasa was in 1846. His name was Reverend Johann Ludwig Krapf. He was a missionary pioneer from Germany. This reverend established the first mission in the Rabai village. It is today a museum. The reverend's grave along with his wife and newborn child's, can be seen in Nyali.

The First Mission

1846
1846 | Source
Source
Rabai Church
Rabai Church | Source

How do the Rabai people live?

The Rabai culture is the same as the other Mjikenda. The culture revolves around clans and age-sets.

Different health projects are being sustained to help the Rabai people such as:

  1. providing medication
  2. importance of hygiene
  3. eradicating worms among school children.

Sadly and gladly, they are dealing with the issue of teenage pregnancy and child abuse.

How do the Rabai people communicate?

Their language is known as their name Rabai, also as kigiryama.

Geared towards enhancing food security and improving nutrition to small holder farmers in Rabai.
Geared towards enhancing food security and improving nutrition to small holder farmers in Rabai. | Source

How do the Rabai people survive?

The Mijikenda people are mainly agricultural. They produce:

  1. Coconut palm
  2. Maize
  3. Sorghum
  4. Sweet potatoes
  5. Cassava
  6. Millet
  7. Beans
  8. Wali = rice prepared with coconut milk (staple food)

The Rabai, Girama and Digo were the major traders among the nine groups.

Fishing in the neighboring Indian Ocean is another important economic activity.

What characteristics define the diversity of the Rabai people?

The Mijikenda people have a string folk music. Their music is mainly drumming and rhythmic.

The Rabai are a small community, but culturally strong.

Lesson

The below video says the best lesson: "Everybody's business: responsibility of nobody". I may write about Africa, but there is more to do. We need to do something. It really tears up my heart just to see their life condition and still seeing all the lovely smiles. Smiles are not always, you can see their deep sadness. The daily struggles with social, emotional and spiritual issues are alarming.

Blessed be those that have ears to hear, eyes to see and the will to make changes to bless others like the Rabai people of Kenya!


© Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill

Something about Kenya: Everybody's business

© 2013 Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill

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Comments 8 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

My education continues thanks to you, Maria. Excellent job of research and a very good looking article. Well done!

blessings always

bill


Lastheart profile image

Lastheart 3 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord Author

Thanks Bill. I learn when I search and I like to share Africa.


Froggy213 profile image

Froggy213 3 years ago from On A Mountain In Puerto Rico

As billy said, I know you researched this very hard. You did another great job and looking forward to the next. Love you honey.


Lastheart profile image

Lastheart 3 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord Author

Froggy213 thanks for being right there where you are. The next one is the "S'.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

I wish history had always been this interesting. Great job. ^


Lastheart profile image

Lastheart 3 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord Author

Jackie Lynnley thanks for visiting and encouraging. I am thankful that those that taught me History were good teachers. I also think that as we mature we know the importance of it. We understand and perceive that everything affects us; one way or the other.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Wonderful piece. I know it must be a tough life but I could not help but envy their lack of modernization.


Lastheart profile image

Lastheart 3 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord Author

Thanks Eric! Yes, it must be tough and maybe for us. That is what they know of life. From this side of the planet we all understand that they can be better with useful modernization; not the "stuff" that is killing us.

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