Investigative Report by Leo Odera Omolo.

A news, but highly sensitive issue of communal identities has arisen between the people of Suba origins and the Luos who are residents of the two administrative districts of Gwassi and Mbita.

The two districts form the part of the Homa-Bay County, which is arguably the largest in the greater Southern Nyanza.

The residents of the two districts wanted them to be renamed Suba South {for Gwassi} and Suba North {for Mbita} in conformity with the communal identity, particularly that of the people of Suba origins who have fought for national identity for years.

Analysts who are well versed with the history of the early settlement in the region have said that the population of the people of Suba origin within the two districts is much superior that those of the people of pure Luo background therefore wishes an aspiration of the majority should be allowed to prevail.

The government must intervene in time and make its position clearly spelt that there issue of Suba history cannot be reversed at the whims of the individual for political expediency.

There has been an attempt to at deliberate distortion of the Suba community history by certain unnamed Luo leaders through their public utterances, which did not augur well to the interests of the Suba people, but which are parts of the well orchestrated political expediency. It is well documented that one prominent Luo leader had called for tribal cleansing during the creation of the Suba district and the national communal identity of its people by the retired President Daniel Arap Moi in the late 1980s.

The breakdown of the numerical Suba population among the residents of the two districts indicated that in Gwassi constituency the people of Suba origins counts for between 80 and 85 per cent while 15 per cent goes to the other sojourners. On the Mbita side the Suba population could be moderately put at between 60 and 65 per cent and the rest to the Luos and other migrant communities.

There are, however, a strong present of non-Suba people in Mbita district, mainly the small sub-clans representing the communities which represent the indignant Luos groups such as Jo-Kasigunga, Jo-Kamireri and Jo-Waondo in addition to the immigrant sub-clans who moved into the region following the opening of lambwe Valey Settlement Scheme in the early 1980s. These people come from the various Luo sub—clans of Jo-Karachuonyo, Jo-Asembo,Jo-Kano,Jo-Nyakach,Jo-Uyoma and others. This immigrant persons forms the majority inhabitants of the Lambwe East Location.

And also in the mainland Mbita, the Suba population is well spread in areas like Malela, Njaga Mirunda and Usawo. These people represented the Suba-sub clans of Wasaki, Waumi, Watajo, Jo-Ngodhe, Kakaeta and Jo-Kamigundho.

In this context, the Luo population on the mainland Mbita is only patches of scattered people in Gembe and Lambwe East Locations therefore the claims by the Mbita MP that there are more Luos in Mbita constituency than the people of Suba origins is not credible.

On the two major twin fishing islands of Rusinga and Mfangano, the Suba population represent between 90 and 95 per cent. In this respect Hon Otieno Kajwang’ claims sounded rather polemic than the true picture of the matter. It is therefore wrong for whole cabinet minister to misled Kenyans people purely for political expediency.

It hurts a lot for the Suba people who have spent decades fighting for their recognition and tribal tug against the marginalization and illegal assimilation by the Luos. To be told that they were minority in their own land. The history is not on the MP’s side, and he will have to pay dearly for his political blunders.

After representing the Suba people of Mbita constituency from 1992, Hon Otieno Kajwng’ ha now shifted and pitched his camp at Homa-Bay County headquarters where he is contesting for the County Senate seat. He has left neither legacy in Mbita nor any track record of development apart from counting on Waondo Secondary School which is in his home turf.

Kajwang’ who is famed for coining and composing the now politically popular slogan like song “The Bado Kuna Mapambano” lyrics. But since he is on record as having been opposed to the renaming of Mbita district to be called Suba North, the Immigration and Registration of Persons Minister must have counted out his elementary mathematics, the close to 80,000 votes in the Suba region.

If the MP who ha represented Mbita constituencies for close to three decades and left within nothing to account for his legacy is not careful enough, he will find himself battling for the Homa-Bay Senate seat minus the support of his constituents, whom he is now despising.

The spirits of the Suba stalwarts’ personalities like Zadock Syong’o, Peter Otienoi Nyakiamo, Felix Nyauchi, Dr Valentine Omolo Opere, Ambassador Michael Okeyo, Opiyo Arrum, and other patriots who fought hard for the official recognition of the community will haunt the MP wherever he goes.



  1. Dr. Wanga Godriver

    Kajuang is crazy we need a name that reflects suba identity. “Kandi awola otie! Turi Wasuba kamili! tunyala kukiwola, ona kukigamba areke usiru!” We cannot be wished away for political expeidiency.Subas are there to stay, if assimilation was complete as pandits dare claim then the language and names could have died a natural death and that is not the case but propaganda and fallacy to distort history of a people which is a sacred right.

  2. Nyagilo bazil

    Otieno kajwang should beat by to politics(asante ya punda ni mateke) because if it has to be that, all the time he lived in mbita he had never known that he himself is a nillote living within Bantus in their own ancestral land.It seems he was given a soft landing sport and he now act like colonist.
    my advise to kajwang is to contest for a position of a councilor since we have already sense negative ethnicity in him. we cannot allow a guest to decide for us as a community but are ready to live with luos peacefully. We also have prominent people from our own community to contest the positions and perfectly represent us.

  3. domnic

    Bwana Leo,your article on this issue of dispute between luos and abasuba is
    very divisive and out of tough in our present kenya.

    It looks very clearly that you have an agenda which is sponsored by enemies of
    luos. For a very long time,as a journalist ,your articles have never been progressive . The luo is never a tribe but a way of life and so to many big tribes
    we have in the whole world. Pure luos are very few indeed if are to be counted.
    Even pure abasuba in number is very small. The truth about the creation of abasuba as a tribe in 1979 by Moi’s government was pure political . It was political because abasuba and luo way of life before 1979 was the same and it
    will remain the same.

    While moi was dividing luos ,he went a head to include Pokot who never kalenjil
    The pokots ways of life is quite different with kale. Why was moi putting them to gether. This was indeed politics which was started by Kenyatta to make luos feel
    small. This shame politics Moi carried on through the agents of luo underdevelopments. Can you tell me,mr odera, why Maragoli were lumped to be Luyas in the same year ,1979. You should a void be used to divide luos for small
    token. The line you are now trying to follow will deny a capable basuba to be elected to represent the county. The luos have never discriminated suba people
    in any way.

    Leo ,you remember very well that the first senator of Great South Nyanza was
    Mbeo who was abasuba. He was elected despite the small number of suba people .
    In fact,the majority of senator mbeo’s voters were luos. If you take of luos
    from different clans,you will find that real and pure luos are very few.

    Your problem with Otieno Kajwang’ should not make you blind to start fighting
    your own people. People who know you can not differentiate you with any other old
    luos who were huge and black.

    The a basuba is just political name like luyah ,kalenjin ,mjikenda etc. The a basubas came from different directions. Some suba came Buganda, Tanzania and other places. Just like any other communities who formed a culture after
    staying together for long.

  4. Peter

    I am suprised by this article by Leo Odera.

    The people of Kasigunga are the true Subas. Leo you know this very well.

  5. Leo Odera Omolo

    Dominic, You are one of the people I have always respect their opinion,but on this comment you got it totally wrong and upside down.Senator Selemiah Mbeo Onyango is not a member of the Suba, but a member of a small Luo-sub-clan which is only assimilated by Subas.The clan hapened to have been the indignant resident of the Mfangano Island at the time of the arrival of the Suba and due to the numerical numbers and waves of the new arrivals it was swallowed.Moreover Mbeo was not voted to the Senate by the Luos as an act of favoritism, but due to the excessive influence of KANU and Tom Mboya then one of its big-wigs.
    Please do you home work before you open up for what looked like sycophantic outbursts aimed at pleasing your invisible masters for favor.Are you aware that the British Colonialists had established a Suba-Kuriia tribunal court in 1932 fr sepcific purpose of trying and adjudicating cases involving people of Suba origins and the Kurias?And tht the court was only abloshed the other in early 1970s and moved to Migori town which was considered centrally situated.This was doe so long after Kenya had achieved its political independence i1963.
    Are you aware that there used to be three interpreters based at the Kisii D.C’s office? One was handling the ekegusii{Kisii} language, the other for Dho-Luo while the third one who happened to have been none, bu the famous and highly respected Suba Chief and old man Kasuku Matunga for the Abasuba language. All this were done long before Moi came to power and long before I was born..
    Dominic you must desist from distorting pertinent issues for political expediency. I agree with you that Luos are a collection of the various tribes mostly assimilated into the community for some reasons or the other, but that does not qualify you to deny the existence the Suba people who when put together its number could be far much in excess of 300,000 people.

    Suba form 70 per cent of the population of Hamisi consttuency in Vihiga district, about 15 per cent in Gem, the so-called Uhore {Waware}, th so called Wawaria in Kano plains, Wang’aya, Sakwa Karabuor in Bondo,Wasenge of Yimbo,Omungoe of Bunyore,Waswet a of Kasipul,Bosweta of Bomajoge, Abanyamasicho of Nyaribari,{famously known as Kamba Nane} and the largest are Abasimeti who lives around Sameta High School in Bobbasi in Kisii and under the slopes of a hill named Sameta. They are found in Karchuonyo, Kasipul-Kabondo, Gem Asumbi and small fractions scattered all over Luo,Luhiya and Gusii land.
    Furthermore, there are more than six Suba sub-clans living in North Mara led by the populous Wasweta,Wakine,Ugu,Walowa,Waganjo,Wategi,Shirati and part of Waturi whose other half is Wagunga/Walowa related to Wagunga and Wawidhi of Kano, Waswa just to mention a few.You must desist from cheap Luo politics by trying to rubbishing the history of a strong community.
    We have heard the allegations and insinuations of
    The issue o the Abasuba people getting their national identity restored back either for political expediency or by their democratic and costitutional right is a fore gon issue. Your allegations and insinuations that some Luos are being used by the enemies of the community cannot pass unchallenged.
    The category of the Luos who are used as stooges by their fellow Luos under the pretext of being patriotic to the cause of the community have achieved? What have those known to be dancing at the tune and and at the whims of certain individuals have achieved for the community which is,argument still wallowing in abject poverty.
    It is high time Luos who are thinking like Dominic should be told in a clear and uncertain terms that Luos are their own enemies due to their lifestyle couple by excessive miscalculation, underestimation of intelligence of their neighbors and unpolished approach to the national politics and too arrogance and loose talking that contributing the educated elites discussing only one subject whenever they meet in public joint {politics}Thank you dominic come up again with better ideas and not the outmoded Luo politics that has made the hitheto vibrant and respected community be classified as the most backward lot i Kenya.

  6. Faulu Suba

    The Abasuba existed before Moi was born, it was theefore not his creation. Kajwang’ represented Abusuba in parliament yet he is not one at a time when the district was called Suba and there has never been an issue with that.

    Why is he now creating a problem out of nothing?

  7. Boni Odinga

    This is nonsense…Moi started this to divide us…Leo is just trying to be non-conformist and controversial to buy himself new cred! We are one. I don’t oppose the revival and maintenance of the Suba language, but there’s no need of dividing people who’ve lived harmoniously all along.Many subas including Naftali Mata of the Suba bible translation fame(Gethsemane) in mrongo, Mfangano, speaks Luo as a first language, Milly odhiambo included! Kajwang is a beneficiary of political patronage and therefore sees no need for maendeleo…Wakiagah should kick him out! What then would you say of the subas(from Ngodhe) who live in Uyoma? We are all jo- kanyanam…this is intolerable!!! I love Suba, my second home and Mboya’s death irked all of us, was it a suba affair? was he killed because he’s suba or Luo….we uru weche manono…Love you all my great people!!

  8. patric

    and there is no nonsense when one tries to point out where the truth is….we are just saying what the reality is…omuntu wa suba is not luo,to seek for recognition is not a bad thing as far as i know

  9. patric

    awana wa awasuba,why is it that our views cannot be a ‘suba’ and i know my people and where am from

  10. Menya Otedo

    You accept in your submission that there are non Suba inhabitants in Mbita and Gwasi constituencies. What will happen to their identities if we change the names to Suba North and Suba South? Wont they equally loose their identities. They say two wrongs do not make a right. When a population is heterogenous, a neutral name is normally sort. It took our fore fathers time and research to come up with Mbita name which is incidentally a Suba name but acceptable. Why not name the districts Mbita South and Mbita North rather than Suba North and Suba South.

  11. omugambi

    Miguna Miguna has hit Raila below the belt. The Suba’s have never forgiven the Oginga’s for putting frustration on their way because they are not Luos. The Oginga’s undermined TJ simply because he was a Suba. Raila’s father suceeded against TJ but he has met his march in the name of another Suba, Miguna Miguna. The Wagunga’s and Wawidhi’s have never forgiven the Oginga family. I am not suprised Miguna a member of TJ subclan is doing the job. I hope Raila will not demand for you guys to be shipped back to Mbita. Tribalism and nepotism must end in Nyanza. The last time I checked they are nolonger supporting E Kidero. They now alleging he is a Suba and should not occupy the city governor’s position. Good work MM


    What is the difference between the Luos and the Subas? I want to know so that I can put this divisive debate to sleep once and for all. What differentiates us from one another other than historical ethnic extractions?And what do they mean in this Kenya? In truth, the Luo community in Kenya is composed of non Luos(of mostly Luhya and Abagusii sub-slans in Kano, Kisumo,Seme, Uyoma,Asembo,Karateng’ and I’ve not even landed in South Nyanza yet) than the Nilotic Luos. If the Subas want out, they should be let to forge their own identity-it is the bane of our politics anyway!But soon, other clans of Bantu extraction within the lager Luo community will be on their marks…Is this the Kenya we fought for the new constitution for?

  13. maurice ombogo

    The issue of ethnic identity is emotional but entirely useless, consider other communities who have fought for even died for their identity, it has only massaged ill egos of a few on both sides of the divide. the issue is outdated as we have more pressing issues to pursue, check at the poverty index, health, education infrastructure etc etc . keen on our new constitution these issues are already taken care of and i think vilifying kajwang and having the emotional outbursts of omolo is not helpful . i hope that the people of this region realizes the futility of this all issue. for these e have the kibunjia commision.

  14. ashraf

    U pple dont know histry wel waondo pple are bantus and kajwang himself doesnt know anajieka na Raila jaluo forgetting he is not one of them qaindo peoples are bantus the luos in suba are lambwe people only he was just stupid

  15. aloo george

    to those who wants to take leadership positions in the larger suba and h/bay county it is not business as usual we want real and tangible change in suba especially in education as this will shun early pregnancies leading to early marriage which compounds to a greater percentage of youth idling with nothing to do hence gullible to handouts dished by political aspirants and again being susceptible to STDs
    two we are endowed with anumber of natural resources which if put into the right state for usage can impact positively to the economy we only need good road to access viable market for our agric produce the human capital is available

  16. okelo

    Am proud to be Luo of Kasagam. Sagam people came from Now Western province at Ebusakame before formation of the word Luhya. So the Name Kavirondo was dropped and Luo was generally accepted to include us all. I am a Luo of Kasagam not Luhya since Luhya name came later and I am of bantu roots just like a Luo from Suba. This Leo thing has forgotten that the Kenyan Luo is predominantly bantu due to internariages and assimilation. Not any people are pure not even the Jews and some English or even Germans are black. Raila also has a Bantu roots. Do not let your problems with Raila drug the entire community into your own confussion. The Luo of Suba origin is the one entity that is recognised by even the other Luos of Nilotic origin, the Kenyan Luo language has incorporated bantu words making it different from the Sudanic or Ugandan dialect. The Nilotes, bantu and now caucasians are now forming one strong Luo community.

  17. Nyakiya

    I have read some of the comments here,informed by abysmal lack of knowledge on the subject matter of the real issue under discussion and I can do no more than offer my very unreserved pity!
    How can a griwnup, mature enough to decipher ethnographic matters, argue publicly and on a platform of erudites that Abasuba people (Bantus) and Lou people (Nilots) are one and the same thing?
    In fact Leo has tried to be modest in his article, to save a few “sacred” bulls.But the honest me will say here and now that Kajwang’ is a mere soloist, who neither composes nor directs the music. The Music Director is Raila Odinga, who in 1994, called the Abasuba people, a dead tribe whose recognition was only crafted by Moi to gain political capital.
    We are two distinct entities and the earlier we all realize that, the better. We do not have to be one tribe, to have a singular political destiny,ideology or even preference! In fact if you asked me, I would advice the Abasuba people to delink themselves from Luo tag even further by forming new political alliances with other communities that will respect their identity and uniqueness.

  18. Nonkwe Myanyanki

    Some times I think GR (good riddance) and not RIP would be more fitting for Kajwang….with regard to Suba issues.

  19. Evans Mori Odhiambo

    we are subas whether some don’t like it,every tribe must have its identity,even jater has identity

  20. Cliff Ochomo

    Nyakiya you have it on,we aren’t Luos be whatever reason you people give ,please visit Abasuba Peace Museum for more .

  21. Cliff Ochomo

    “Suba form 70 per cent of the population of Hamisi consttuency in Vihiga district, about 15 per cent in Gem, the so-called Uhore {Waware}, th so called Wawaria in Kano plains, Wang’aya, Sakwa Karabuor in Bondo,Wasenge of Yimbo,Omungoe of Bunyore,Waswet a of Kasipul,Bosweta of Bomajoge, Abanyamasicho of Nyaribari,{famously known as Kamba Nane} and the largest are Abasimeti who lives around Sameta High School in Bobbasi in Kisii and under the slopes of a hill named Sameta. They are found in Karchuonyo, Kasipul-Kabondo, Gem Asumbi and small fractions scattered all over Luo,Luhiya and Gusii land.
    Furthermore, there are more than six Suba sub-clans living in North Mara led by the populous Wasweta,Wakine,Ugu,Walowa,Waganjo,Wategi,Shirati and part of Waturi whose other half is Wagunga/Walowa related to Wagunga and Wawidhi of Kano, Waswa ……” Mr. Leo what are your sources concerning this? Please help me on it.Email me @

  22. Kelvin Wagara

    You should not include lies in defending your views. warieri{Jo-ugu}, Wakine,Waganjo and Wategi of Tanzania never used to be Suba clans but Abakuria clans.Warieri no longer use their dialect at all since it has disappeared except for very few wazee who are still alive. For your info, the dialect is very similar to Kikuria spoken in Tarime district even some names are just shared between the communities.50% of Wakine can not even converse in their original language and a half of the rest use Luo as the first language. The only clans which still use their original Kuria dialects are Wasweta and Wahacha in Rorya district of Tanzania! Why then didn’t you mention the largest clan of Tanzanian Luo,Jo-Kakiseru(I am also Ja-Kakiseru)? This clan was originally a bantu clan(Kuria) just like Warieri,Wakine etc and I can assure you that my grandfather who passed in 1998 at an age of 103 years could not converse much in Kikuria! you can now imagine the extent to which assimilation had taken place..My point is to urge you to embrace whatever seems to be uniting the people(Luos in this case) and do away with these cheap divisive topics.I personally have Bantu roots but can never describe myself as a Kuria(Do you see any point on that?).Tanzanian Luos are very proud to have brothers in Kenya and Uganda.

  23. Suba Arodi Luo

    You use luo names,think in luo before you put it in writing using english. u are that person who is at pains to recall a single suba term. Ua mother or father never brought u up as a ‘subanese’ but rather as a luo only to turn around to claim otherwise. Have u heard luhyias shouting for communities recognition? Have luos,kisiis,kikuyus and other tribes done that? Why all these hulaballoos about suba? Plz show kenyans that u are a separate community rather than forcing us that we recognize non-existing,lost and long time assimilated and irreversible history. PLZ,LET US FEEL SUBA IS AN EXISTING AND DISTINCT COMMUNITY FROM LUOS INSTEAD OF YAPPING A LOT. By the way,i have a suba blood but,’no need of crying of a spilt milk,’I AM A LUO and luo is my first language

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