Iconic Tennis legend, Serena Williams being dressed by an ethnic kamba woman from Tsavo in Kenya as she proceed to perform traditional dance with traditional Kamba dancers.
KAMBA PEOPLE: INTELLIGENT, BRAVE, SKILLFUL CRAFT MEN, DRUMMING AND DANCING PEOPLE OF KENYA WHO ALSO FOUNDED AFRICAN TOWNS IN PARAGUAY
The Kamba (Akamba in the plural) or Wakamba are agriculturalist, music and dance-loving as well as Kikamba-speaking people of Bantu extraction living in the semi-arid Eastern Province of Kenya stretching east from Nairobi to Tsavo and north up to Embu, Kenya. The Akamba refer to their land as Ukambani; which is currently constituted by Makueni County, Kitui County and Machakos County. The Maasai call the Akamba – Lungnu and the coastal people call the Akamba – Waumanguo due to their scanty dress.
The Kamba with the total population of over 4,466,000 people is regarded as Kenya`s fifth largest ethnic group. Apart from Kenya, Kamba people can also be found in Uganda, Tanzania and in south American country of Paraguay. The population of Akamba in Kenya is over 4, 348,000, about about 8,280 in Uganda and 110,000 in Tanzania.
Undoubtedly the most spectacular manifestation of traditional Kamba culture was their dancing, performed to throbbing polyrhythmic drum beats. It was characterised by exceptionally acrobatic leaps and somersaults, which flung dancers into the air. The style of playing was similar to that of the equally disappeared traditions of the Embu and Chuka: the drummers would hold the long drums between their legs, and would also dance
Interestingly, Kamba people as music and dance loving people are the original African descendants that founded the city of Kamba Cuá, an important Central Department Afro Paraguayan community in Paraguay. Kamba Cue people of Paraguay are known famously in South America for their awesome, intense and lively traditional African drumming and dancing performances. The Akamba are known in Paraguay as Artigas Cue -or “black of Kamba Cuá”. They arrived in Paraguay as members of a regiment of 250 spearmen, men and women, who accompanied General Jose Gervasio Artigas, the independence revolutionary leader of the Eastern Band (the current Uruguay) in his exile in Paraguay in 1820.
After their arrival to Asunción, they settled in the Campamento Loma area, practicing dairy and secondarily agriculture. However, in the 1940s, they were dispossessed of their land by General Higinio Morinigo. Out of their land of 100 hectares they were given paltry 3 hectares to stay on. However, the community survived, kept his chapel and dances, created a football club (“Jan Six-ro”) and one school of drum and dance for children. Their ballet is the only Afro-Paraguayan expression, and premiered at the Folk Festival peach “Uruguay Yi sings in” 1992, where it won the “Golden charrúa”. Their original lands at Campamento Loma remained vacant, and Kamba Cuá recently occupied them and planted the manioc, but by unfair and discriminating government decision (post-Stroessner), they were accused of being “terrorists”, beaten and evicted.
Today, according official estimates, in Kumba Cuá there live about 300 families (between 1.200 and 2,500 people). However, according censuses of the Afro Paraguayan Association Kamba Cuá, this community it formed has only 422 people.
Historically, Kamba were ancient hunters that traveled together with their Bantu cousins, the Kikuyus, in the Great Bantu migration from West Africa to Central, Eastern and Southern Africa. It is believed that Kamba and the Kikuyus came to settle together in Kenya as one group until they separated. Kamba settled in Taveta until the 17th century when they dispersed to the lower parts of the Eastern province. The major reason for migration was their search of water and pasture for their livestock.
Despite the incontrovertible evidence that Kamba are undiluted Bantu group, some anthropologists believe that the Akamba as a result of living amongst various Kenyan ethnic groups, are now a mixture of several East African people, and bear traits of the Bantu farmers (Kikuyu, Taita) as well as those of the Nilotic pastoralists (Maasai, Kalenjin, Borana, etc.) and the cushite communities with whom they share borders, to the east of Tsavo.