Abagusii people are easily noticeable for their strong cultural identity woven all over the face and accent. Besides hard work, the spirit of selflessness runs in the veins of Kisii tribesmen. Sure enough, all the fallen Kisii legends were outstanding. A closer look into the legacy of various Kisii heroes will blow your mind.
Inherent prosperity, fortune, and victories explain why Kisii people still value their art and culture. Above all, bravery is what makes great men and women from years ago noticeable today. Further down is a summary of Gusii heroes comprising those who went an extra mile to guard tribal values.
Top 12 Kisii heroes and legends in Kisii history
Kisii warriors, prophets, foretellers, academicians, musicians, and athletes rank highly alongside other legendary Kenyans.
1. Otenyo Nyamaterere, a fearless Kisii warrior
The famous Otenyo Nyamaterere was a well-trained and experienced frontline Kenyan warrior in the early years.
Otenyo was indeed one of the best Kisii warriors who defended Gusii land from the British Invasion.
Nyamaterere Otenyo drew much inspiration and tact from his aunt Moraa Ngiti.
Otenyo Nyamaterere biography facts
Warrior Otenyo comes from Bogeka Clan, Kitutu region, where he was born in 1908.
He grew under the care of Moraa Ngiti, a tough woman who had adopted him at a young age.
Warrior Otenyo born in 1908 amid British Invasion
1905 was a bad year for the Kisii community following the arrival of King’s African Rifles.
The group came in particularly to suppress all forms of rebellion. In the process, they beheaded locals, torched houses, wiped off crops, and forcefully drove animals away.
Among those killed were men, women, and children who expressed the slightest form of resistance.
Kisii warrior Otenyo attacking Northcote and Milton
It took extraordinary bravery for Otenyo to fight against Milton and Northcote, armed with guns and bullets.
Abagusii people nicknamed Northcote as Nyarigoti, a pronunciation-friendly version of his real name.
Otenyo faced these ruthless British soldiers with poisoned arrows and miraculously defeated them.
Kisii Heroes wounding Northcote at Manga hill
On a fateful day, Otenyo assembled a group of skilled warriors to confront the white man who had successfully massacred the locals and was now leading a herd of 8,000 away.
A fierce exchange at the Manga Hill left the 27-year-old Sir Geoffry Alexander Stafford Northcote wounded and nearly dead.
Somehow, Northcote survived the attack and called for a more brutal reinforcement from the Kisumu-based British centre.
Otenyo presented to the British as a sacrifice
The enraged team of soldiers from Kisumu descended hard on the locals and demanded they release Kisii heroes such as Otenyo in exchange for peace.
A series of killings gradually mounted pressure on Kisii elders and his guardian Moraa Ngiti to sacrifice Otenyo for communal peace.
Otenyo beheaded at Gusii Stadium and buried at Manga hills
The British colonial administrators eventually arrested Otenyo Nyamaterere. The firing squad forces took part in his public trial and killing.
Sources allege that the soldiers chopped off his head and hung his lifeless body under a bridge to serve as a warning for others.
The head was ferried to London for confirmation that the rebel was no more. Otenyo’s head was later placed in the British Museum.
Kisii leaders attempted to reclaim the skull of Otenyo from London in 2015 but are yet to succeed.
Otenyo Nyamaterere will forever remain a fearless Kisii warrior of all time.
2. Sakawa, the respected Kisii Prophet
The popular Sakawa from the early 1840s remains a mysterious Kisii legend to date. Many remember him as a man of wisdom, preferring silence.
Kisii foreteller Sakawa biography facts
Sakawa came from Kitutu Chache, where he was born in the 1940s. He grew to become a useful tribesman with the ability to predict upcoming warfare accurately.
Kisii Warriors relied on his insights for preparations on possible raids. The seer was equally famous as Prophet Eliamwamu. Others called him Sakawa of Nyakoe.
Sakawa prophesied about the Sao Sao War
Sakawa accurately predicted the Sao Sao war between Kisii and Kipsigis raiders.
The prophecy earned him a top place among the Kisii Council of Elders.
Sakawa foretelling about British Invasion
The Great Sakawa warned Abagusii people about the coming of a white man.
Some records suggest that he warned people from resisting because they were incapable of defeating him.
Some believe that prophet Sakawa disappeared from among men as he sought comfort on his favourite wooden stool.
3. Moraa Ng’iti a Gusii heroine
The famous Moraa Ngiti was a prophetess and a skilled traditional healer. She was a strong woman who dedicated her life to protecting all.
Moraa Ngiti biography facts
The popular Moraa Ngiti was born in the 1850s and lived until the late 1920s. She was a bold wife to Ngiti, a reputable traditional healer husband.
Just like her nephew Otenyo, Moraa Ngiti predicted the European Invasion of 1907. She grew to become a seer and skilled woman at warfare.
Moraa Ngiti and Otenyo Nyamaterere
Moraa Ngiti is a respected Gusii heroine for raising the powerful Otenyo. She also composed several songs that motivated warriors to fight against British colonialists.
The beheading of Sakawa 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.
Seer Moraa Ngiti’s prophecies
Moraa Ngiti is the Kisii heroine behind the “Chaga osire buna Ombati asirete,” proverb in the Kisii language.
She coined the Kisii saying while predicting the white Invasion. Moraa used the name Abarumbasi to mean Europeans.
4. Mansamu Yegetonto the PhD man musician
Dismas Nyang’au Onsoti, nicknamed Mansamu Yegetonto, was an accomplished Kisii traditional singer.
Mansamu Yegetonto biography facts
Nyangau Dismas was an industrious Kisii musician from the Iranda location, Kitutu Chache Constituency within Kisii County.
Mansamu Yegetonto was born in 1968; he started singing in 1994 and died in 2008.
Nyangau was buried in his ancestral home at Iranda. Sources indicate that his father was Francis Onsoti.
The deceased Nyangau was a responsible family man with a beautiful wife and five children.
Mansamu Yegetonto songs and career
Nyangau’s humorous and charming personality went viral with the hit song “One Day Morning.” Iranda B Kisii Kambanane is also a common phrase around his name.
The list of best Mansamu Yegetonto songs includes One Day Morning and Ekiage Enchara Ekaamba Kongita.
The dramatist Nyangau Yegetonto was excellent in using Kisii musical instruments such as Obokano.
Dismas Nyangau songs never missed, Obokano, an eight-stringed Kisii music instrument, still popular today.
Nyakebako, the PhD Man of Egesa FM
Nyangau Yegetonto joined as one of the Egesa FM radio presenters in 2007 and died a year later.
His morning breakfast show entertained many and attracted a wave of supporters around his influential music career.
Besides working with Egesa FM of Royal Media Services, Nyangau Yegetonto was a driver, business person, dramatist, songwriter, singer, and experienced tailor.
5. Christopher Monyoncho the best Kisii musician
The famous Gusii singer Christopher Monyoncho was a record-breaking songwriter and cultural musician.
Monyoncho biography facts
The bandmaster Monyoncho comes from Kegogi in Kitutu Chache, where he was born in 1945.
Monyoncho, however, scooped exceeding fame in the 1970s. He, later on, worked with Kennedy Nyamumbo as his band songs promoter.
Unfortunately, Monyoncho died in September 2013 after struggling with sickness. He left behind two widows with 14 children.
Christopher Monyoncho’s wives are Jane and Zipporah.
Christopher Monyoncho all songs
The list of Kisii songs is not complete without Christopher Monyoncho music, which has stuck in supporters’ hearts for years.
The best of Monyocho music collections include Gatarina Omosani, Ebisiba, Nyamwari, Omweri, and Abamura Bagotuguta Enibo.
Emeremo Yamasamba is perhaps his earliest song and an avenue to his success.
Kimangu Boys Band of the Kamba tribe recently suffered a legal blow for adapting Monyoncho’s songs to their local language.
The reputation of Christopher Monyoncho
He bagged the nickname Riyo Riebasweti (a python skin) for his strong expressions in art.
The name was precious, considering that the Kisii people used the skin to protect against evil spirits.
Besides, a python skin had several other medicinal benefits to the tribesmen.
6. John Arisi O Sababu, a traditional Kisii singer
Arisi was a bandmaster of the popular Kirwanda Songa 78 Jazz. Songs from Arisi have stood the test of time for their musicality and relaxing play.
John Arisi Osababu biography facts
Arisi, a former Gusii Maestro king, is the founder of the soft-spoken Kirwanda Songa 78 Jazz.
He was succeeded by his nephew and Obotaka Tibori Kegomi hitmaker Charles Nyagwoka Otiso.
Sources indicate that the grandfather to Nyagwoka was equally a gifted Obokano player in the colonial years.
John Arisi Osababu songs mp3 download
The Singer from Bonyakoni featured real-life experiences in his music with an entertaining touch. For instance, his songs Chisemi inspired education in Kisii land.
John Arisi Osababu Kisii music still rules the airwaves with virgin tunes.
For this reason, the Kirwanda Songa Band still enjoys huge followership more than two decades after his death.
A good number of Kirwanda Jazz Band members were close relatives, mostly cousins.
7. Henry Motego a talented Kisii footballer
Motego was one of the founding members of Shabana FC, which continues to shine in the Kenya Premier League (KPL).
He is memorable for taking his soccer talent across the seas to states such as Oman.
Kisii hero Henry Motego biography facts
Footballer Henry Motego comes from Gucha, where he was born on May 21, 1964.
He started schooling at Boitangare primary and proceeded to Cardinal Otunga.
Motego stayed at Cardinal between 1983 and 1984, after which he transferred to Itierio High School.
Motego henry footballing career
Henry Motego rose to the Kenya Premier League in 1988. A year later, the Kenya Breweries F.C. noticed his talent and signed him.
Motego played alongside famous footballers such as Elijah Onsika, Salim Mabruk, Henry Nyandoro, Richard Otambo, Vincent Abuga, and Mike Okoth
Apart from Shabana FC, Henry Motego played for other teams, including Al Oruba FC and Kenya’s National team, Harambee Stars.
8. Chief Musa Nyandusi a close friend to Jommo Kenyatta
Nyandusi was a powerful chief during the colonial era, serving for more than 30 years until 1964.
He was the first man from the land to afford cars such as Chevrolet Sedan and Fordson back in 1943.
Senior chief Musa Nyandusi biography facts
Musa Nyandusi was a feared Kisii leader with authority and command of power.
The legend had 15 wives and more than 100 children for whom he owned a school.
Sources state that he donated land to establish Kisii High School. He later gave another piece of land for the construction of the modern-day Gusii Stadium.
President Uhuru Kenyatta recently renamed Gusii Stadium to Simeon Nyachae Stadium.
The chief earned a couple of British medals called ‘Service to the Crown” for his unwavering leadership style.
Nyachae Family history
Nyachae and the late Senior Chief James Oiruria (d. 2007) are sons to Musa and his fifth wife, Paulina Bosibori.
Musa Nyandusi wife Paulina Bosibori
The staunch Adventist Bosibori is the fifth wife in Nyandusi’s household. She was a tough disciplinarian woman, just like his husband, Nyandusi.
Bosibori, the mother of the late Simeon Nyachae, was the favourite of Nyandusi’s 15 wives. For this reason, the chief trusted her with his power.
Simeon Nyachae family ties with the Kenyatta family
A good relationship between Musa Nyandusi and Jommo Kenyatta started in 1952.
Hiding Kenyatta from the rage of a white man cemented their long-lasting relationship.
Chief Musa Nyandusi suffered cancer and died from the disease in 1970.
The Senior Chief Musa Nyandusi Secondary School received its name after the longstanding administrator.
9. Simeon Nyachae, a prominent Kisii politician
The late Nyachae was born when tea planting was new within Kisii land, formerly comprising Kisii and Nyamira counties.
Hon Simeon Nyachae grew to become an influential figure in Kisii politics.
He previously served as a Member of Parliament before rising in the ranks to become a Cabinet Secretary.
Simeon Nyachae biography facts
Nyachae Simeon, born February 6, 1932, died recently on February 1, 2021, about five days to his 89th birthday.
While a young man, Nyachae earned a scholarship and attended Cambridge University, where he majored in Public Administration.
On his return to the country, Nyachae led in many leadership posts and, in the process, ventured into businesses, including Sansora Bakery of 1954, now Sansora Group.
Simeon Nyachae family background
Grace Wamuyu Nyachae is the most outspoken of all wives in the Nyachae household.
Besides, Nyachae had five other wives and 35 children. Charles Nyachae is the eldest and most famous of Simeon Nyachae’s children.
10. Dr Hezron Nyangito Central Bank of Kenya DG
The fallen Nyangito was one of the most influential and learned Kisii heroes of his time.
Rising to the position of deputy governor in Central Bank of Kenya in 2008 proves he was well-grounded.
Dr Hezron Nyangito biography facts
The late Nyangito was born on December 12, 1965, on the eve of Jamhuri Day.
His sudden death in 2011 after a period of struggling with cancer surprised many and sent cold chills within the Kisii community.
The former Ministry of Health PS is a PhD graduate from the University of Tennessee.
Dr Nyangito career profile
Dr Nyangito was a senior lecturer at UoN, where he demonstrated superb skills in economic policies and analytics.
He was a Deputy Governor at the Central Bank of Kenya, a position that Dr Sirima inherited.
11. Professor Joseph Nyasani, a Kisii legend
Kenyan scholar and Kisii professor Joseph Nyasani passed on recently after years of bearing the academic flag.
Prof Joseph Nyasani biography
The professor of philosophy and notorious television personality was born in 1936.
He is succeeded by a couple of daughters and renowned Kenyan/German journalists Shary Reeves (Nee Nyasani) and Nyatichi (Tichi) Nyasani Sitati.
He has six other children living in different states: Kenya, UK, German, and the United States.
Professor Nyasani educational background
His 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.
12. Charles Omweri of Majoge One Jazz
Totere Gusii Yaito Moigwe still satisfies our thirst for traditional Kisii songs.
The singer also managed to leave several street anthems now dominating radio play.
Best Charles Omweri songs
- Tari Mang’ana
- Nakumirie Omongwana
- Timanyeti Ekiagerete Tinasoma
- Marisera Nyamaino Mandegere
- Agachikobwatia Chibesa Chiaye Agasamberwa Nyomba
Omweri Machoge Jazz music mainly speaks about real-life experiences we still face today.
Top Kisii heroes in athletics and marathons
Kisii marathoners have been consistently doing well from the early years of Nyantika Maiyoro to the present day of talented long-distance runners such as Hellen Obiri.
i. Nyantika Maiyoro long distance runner
Kenya’s long-distance runner, Nyantika Maiyoro, excited the world upon receiving a congratulation message from England’s Queen.
Also, Jommo Kenyatta and Daniel Arap Moi commended his extraordinary talent.
Historical records confirm that he was a favourite of several journalists in the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, among other stakeholders.
Nyantika Mayioro biography
Mayioro was born in 1931 at Mwaboto village in Nyaribari, Kigoro, Kisi County. He attended Nyakegogi primary school before dropping out to focus on his talent.
The history of Nyantika Maiyoro reveals that his real name was Nyandika Maiyoro.
Accomplishments of Nyantika Mayioro
Nyantika would go on to take part in overseas race track competitions among them;
- 1960 Summer Olympics
- 1956 Summer Olympics
- 1954 Commonwealth Games
Upon retirement, Nyantika Mayioro worked as a sports officer in Nyamira District and later a Gusii Stadium manager.
Recognition and influence of Nyantika Maiyoyo
MBE honourary is the highest form of recognition that Nyantika Mayioro scooped.
Not winning any medal in his life-time, be it gold, silver, or bronze, did not stop Nyantiya Mayioro from becoming a Kisii legend.
He deserved better because rising to become a Kenyan long-distance runner in the early 50s was highly challenging for the little educated Nyantika.
ii. Kisii hero athlete Hellen Obiri
Obiri is one of the youngest Kisii legends in the community.
She is now an accomplished Kisii athlete close to Kipchoge Keino, Wilson Kipsang, and Eliud Kipchoge.
Hellen Obiri biography facts
The middle-distance runner was born on December 13, 1989. As such, Hellen Obiri age is about 30 years.
Kisii heroes: Hellen Obiri training and track records
Sources indicate that Hellen Obiri’s body measurements are 50 kg in weight and 1.6m in height.
In 2017, Obiri was featured in the list of 100 most Influential Africans. Elsewhere, Hellen Obiri family of supporters is ballooning her career.
The 2017 World Championships in London placed her name on record as the best athlete from Kisii, Kenya.
Hellen Obiri confirmed her talent to the world when she defended her title in the Doha held 2019 World Championships.
Besides, she is a silver medalist having scooped the 2016 Summer Olympics prize.
2012 was another rewarding year for her considering she won the Turkey-held 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships.
More top Kisii heroes and legends
Kisii County Governor James Omariba Ongwae recently released a new list of Kisii heroes on the eve of Mashujaa Day celebrations, these are;
- Ogwora Bitega
- Siruel Moturi
- Bethwel Nyagaka
- Ongeri Nyamateganda
The list of Kisii County legends is endless, with life-touching stories. We have some more coming up.
Kisii legends and Kisii heroes in history
- Charles Omweri
- Zephaniah Anyieni
- Christopher Mogere Obure
- Bana Sungusia band members
- Erastus Ontondi Nyakeyo stars
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 locals are among the most successful across the country. They are founders of the superior Kisii customs and traditions. Luckily, almost every one of the Kisii clans and villages enjoys a fair share of great Kisii legends.