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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Forts and Fortification in Western Kenya (Marachi and Ugenya) in the 19th Century
Author:Ogutu, M.A.
Periodical:Transafrican Journal of History (ISSN 0251-0391)
Notes:biblio. refs.
Geographic terms:Kenya
East Africa
ethnic groups
History and Exploration
History, Archaeology
civil wars
Luyia (African people)
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/24520303
Abstract:The 19th-century locations of Marachi and Ugenya (western Kenya) were characterized by fortified villages. The prevailing civil wars and raids among the Maasai, Kalenjin, Iteso, Luyia and Luos forced the inhabitants to construct defensive forts. This essay examines the origin of the forts, the factors that determined their siting, political, economic and social organization within the fortifications, communication systems and defence measures undertaken. The study reveals that the original founders of the forts were either the Abatachoni or Abadura, who were to be replaced by the incoming Abamarachi. Besides reoccupying the existing Abatachoni forts which had been deserted, some Abamarachi clans built their own. This was sometime after the second part of the 19th century. The last two to three decades of the century, however, some of the Abamarachi forts were reoccupied by the Luo clans, who either joined the Abamarachi or forced them out. It has been suggested that these forts enabled either the Abamarachi or the Luos to entrench themselves in occupied forts and so expand their territorial gains. Since the forts were for defence, friendly clans welcomed each other and so speeded the integration of ethnic groups. Marachinization or Luonization of clans was realized. A common language was adopted and the locations of Marachi and Ugenya are presently made up of bilingual Bantu and Luo-speaking peoples. Their fenced villages take the pattern of circular forts with permanent gates at specific locations. App., ref.