A Tribal Story From Ethiopia To Masaaba Land

Tracing the tiny steps of history it’s amazing to discover how closely related we are with each other due to history and here is a story of the cultural relationship of the Gisu people among other African tribes.
The Gisu or Bamasaba people of Elgon are a Bantu tribe of the Masaba people of Eastern Uganda, closely related to the Bukusu people of Kenya. Bamasaba live mainly in the Mbale District of Uganda on the slopes of Mount Elgon.

The Masaba, Bukusu and Luhya people believed that their ancestors were Mundu and Sera.

The Bamasaba ancestor, Maswahaba migrated from the Ethiopian Mountains traveling via Lake Turkana to Sironko and settled around Bududa where he fell in love with a Maasai girl who was known as Nabarwa. The family of Nabarwa demanded that in order for Maswahaba to marry their daughter he had to undergo their rite of circumcision. He agreed to do so leading to the circumcision culture among the men of this tribe.The culture of circumcision then was adopted by the Bamasaba from their in-laws the Maasai people. The initiation ceremony is known as Imbalu which is held every two years in August.

Maswahaba’s first son with Nabarwa was Mwambu who was nicknamed Nkisu by his Maasai uncles who had stolen his fathers cows from him. Masawahaba failed to pronounce the nickname of Nkisu meaning a bull in Maasai language, given to his son by his uncle and so instead he pronounced it as Mugisu. The name Bagisu originated from the nickname Nkisu given to Mwambu by Maswababa’s Maasai Brother-in-law.

The Gisu dialect of the Lumasaba language is called Lugisu, which is fully understandable by other dialects, and is also understood by the Bukusu. The Bagishu share a lot of things with the Bukusu from Kenya. They share culture and according to the Bukusu the bagishu are their real brothers its only the border that divides them.


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