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Kamba: The Kamba Culture, And What We Like About It

Updated on February 21, 2011


I have to start by asserting that a culture is 'a way of life.' Therefore when I talk about the Kamba culture, I am addressing myself to the Kamba way of life at large: the way the Kamba people conduct their politics, the way the Kamba people conduct their economics, the way they conduct their social affairs… and so on.

I also have to start by saying that I am Kamba myself. As such, when I talk about the Kamba culture, there is every possibility of me being influenced by self pride. If that is the case, I would actually be unapologetic, because one of the objectives of this hub is to promote Kamba self-pride, which seems to have ebbed over time. Having said that, I can now proceed to enumerate some five things I love about the Kamba culture:

  1. The Kamba humility: anyone who has ever gotten to into an argument with a Kamba will agree that a Kamba doesn’t try to push his point too hard. The Kamba always tries to find a middle-ground. But it goes further: even in the cosmopolitan areas, the Kamba always make good neighbors – the sort that greets you in the morning and picks your clothes from the rain when you are not at home, so that they are not rained on. The Kamba way of upbringing ensures that everyone who is brought up in a fully-Kamba homestead has humility drummed up in him or her to such a level that it becomes part of the second nature. In the Kamba society, anything that seems even slightly haughty is condemned. Everyone in such a society does everything in their power to ensure that they don’t come across as haughty or even slightly arrogant – as there is every risk of them being turned into social pariahs. Now Kamba humility has often been mistaken for weakness, but it certainly isn't. It is a major strength for the community. A part of the community's soft power. Incidentally, the Kamba also have hard power, and they make use of it when occasion calls.
  2. The Kamba contentment: someone once joked that this is why Machakos town, Kamba’s capital, never quite grows. It is true that, at a personal level, the typical Kamba is not the person who will ever entertain a dream of stealing in order to get rich. In the Kamba society, wealth is respected – but not worshipped. Unlike some other cultures I know of, where kids are brought up to believe that they only have to get money and everyone will worship them, Kamba kids are brought up to know the place of money - as means to an end, and not an end in itself. Of course, this is one aspect of Kamba culture that is fast changing with the times. But we see some elements of it holding strong.
  3. The Kamba individuality: simply put, the Kamba community doesn’t subscribe to mob psychology. This is not one of the societies where the society delegates all decision making powers to one leader. As at the time of this writing, for instance, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka remains arguably the most popular Kamba leader. But that doesn’t mean that you earn the community’s wrath if you differ with him. He is widely respected, but certainly not worshiped: which, in my humble opinion, is just as it should be. You will never know how big a deal this is until you live in societies where contrary opinions/dissents are not entertained, and where anyone showing even a modicum of individuality risks being ostracized!
  4. The Kamba sensuality: the Kamba love having a good time – and this is a well established fact. Just listen to Kamba music, or casual Kamba conversations, and you realize that you are interacting with people who appreciate the shortness of life, and who know the value of having a good time.
  5. The Kamba flexibility: this manifests well on the Kamba politics, where the Kamba turn out to be politically persuadable people. These are people who can change with the times. In the social arena, we know very well that the Kamba are definitely not one of the societies holding tight to traditions that have clearly been overtaken by times. The average Kamba is capable of realizing that he or she is living in a dynamic world, and change with the times.


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