Abagusii people are easily noticeable for their strong cultural heritage, signature accent, and strong love for bananas. They are industrious with a good reputation in politics and business. Behind these successes is a long list of Kisii heroes and legends.
Inherent prosperity, fortune, and victories explain why the Kisii people still value their art and culture. Further down is a summary of Gusii heroes comprising those who went the extra mile to guard tribal values.
List of top 25 Kisii heroes and legends in Kisii history
Kisii warriors, prophets, foretellers, academicians, musicians, and athletes rank highly alongside other legendary Kenyans.
One trait that they all share in common is bravery, mapped with admirable leadership qualities.
1. Kisii warrior Otenyo Nyamaterere
The famous Otenyo Nyamaterere was a well-trained and experienced frontline Kenyan warrior in the fight against British Invasion.
Warrior Otenyo comes from Bogeka Ward, Kitutu Chache South, where he was born about 1880.
He grew under the care of his aunt Moraa Ngiti, a tough woman who had adopted him at a young age.
Otenyo rose to the status of a community war commander after launching a deadly attack against the British sponsored King’s African Rifles.
In one instance, Otenyo wounded Sir Geoffry Alexander Stafford Northcote at Manga Hill even though the British soldier was armed with a gun.
Otenyo’s glory sparked following the attack but was later captured and beheaded. His head was transported abroad and is presently preserved in a British Museum.
2. Kisii Prophet Sakawa of Nyakoe
Prophet Sakawa remains a mysterious Kisii legend to date. Many remember him as a man of wisdom, preferring silence.
Sakawa from Kitutu Chache was born in the 1940s. He grew to become a reliable forecaster fin all communal affairs.
Kisii Warriors relied on Sakawa insights for preparations on possible raids. The seer was equally famous as Prophet Eliamwamu. Others called him Sakawa of Nyakoe.
Sakawa rose to fame for accurately predicting the Sao Sao war between Kisii and Kipsigis raiders.
He also earned a top place among the Kisii Council of Elders for prophesying the 1905 British invasion way ahead of time.
Some believe that prophet Sakawa disappeared from among men as he sought comfort on his favourite wooden stool.
3. Gusii heroine Moraa Ng’iti
The famous Moraa Ngiti was a prophetess and a skilled traditional healer. She was a strong woman who dedicated her life to protecting all.
The popular Moraa Ngiti was born in the 1850s and lived until the 1920s. She was a bold wife to Ngiti, a reputable traditional healer husband.
Just like her nephew Otenyo, Moraa Ngiti predicted the European Invasion “Abarumbasi” of 1905. She also rose to the status of a seer and skilled woman at warfare.
Apart from raising the feared Otenyo, she composed several songs warfare songs against British colonialists.
The beheading of Otenyo did not stop Moraa Ngiti from her duties as a Kisii seer.
Records indicate that she continued to mentor young warriors until her old-age-death in 1929.
4. Nyandika Maiyoro a long-distance barefoot runner
Kenya’s long-distance runner, Nyandika Maiyoro, excited the world upon receiving a congratulatory message from the Queen of England.
Entering the racetrack late and barefoot did not stop Nyandika Maiyoro from giving Kenya an honorary win.
5. German-based philosopher Prof Joseph Nyasani
Kenyan scholar and Kisii professor Joseph Nyasani with 41 titles died in 2016 at the age of 80 years.
The father of six was a notorious german-based television personality and author.
Nyasani’s sharp brains broke a 300-year record through a Latin dissertation he authored in 1963.
Nyasani completed his doctorate studies at the University of Cologne and later proceeded to Ruhr-University of Bochum for law studies.
His multi-lingual capability in Spanish, Latin, Italian, French, English, Kiswahili, and Ekegusii remains a mystery to many.
6. Simeon Nyachae father Chief Musa Nyandusi
Jomo Kenyatta’s ally Chief Musa Nyandusi was a powerful leader during the colonial era, serving for more than 30 years until 1964.
Simeon Nyachae’s father was the first man from the land to own a car in 1943. In his earliest fleet were Chevrolet Sedan and Fordson.
It is from the family tree of Chief Musa Nyandusi that Abagusii sourced political leaders for decades.
The man of 15 wives and 100 children donated land for the establishment of Kisii High School. Similarly, he gave another piece for the construction of the modern-day Gusii Stadium.
Notably, Chief Nyandusi earned a couple of British Medals ‘Service to the Crown” for his unwavering leadership style.
More top Kisii heroes and legends
The list of Kisii County legends is endless, with life-touching stories.
Here are some more Kisii legends in our history books.
- Lawrence Sagini – first cabinet minister from Kisii
- Henry Motego –founding Shabana FC footballer
- Dr Hezron Nyangito –Deputy Governor of CBK
- Simeon Nyachae –prominent Kisii politician
- Mansamu Yegetonto –Dismas Nyangau Onsoti the PhD man
- Christopher Monyoncho –Nyamwari Band owner
- John Arisi OSababu –Kirwanda Songa 78 Jazz Band
- Charles Omweri –Majoge One Jazz bandmaster
- Hellen Obiri –fastest female Kisii marathoner
- Dickson Manyange Ondwari –Deaf Handball player
- Makori Mangera – freedom fighter
- Zephaniah Anyieni – politician
- Christopher Mogere Obure – politician
- Erastus Ontondi Nyakeyo – musician
- Ogwora Bitega
- Siruel Moturi
- Bethwel Nyagaka
- Ongeri Nyamateganda
Several of these Kisii heroes are particularly noticeable for their influence and humanitarian service.
They all deserve recognition for their dedication and fearlessness at a time when the Kisii community was vulnerable.
Remembering Kisii heroes in Nyamira and Kisii Counties
If only we had enough monuments and archives to celebrate and recognize all Kisii heroes even in days to come.
Kisii heroes are the reason why Abagusii are the most successful across the country. They are founders of superior local systems among them Kisii customs and traditions.