By D S
Kamba men are known for their shrill voices, more like their women. When you eavesdrop on a Kamba couple arguing you will be forgiven for thinking that the quarreling duo are two women! Your ears will be slapped with shrill voices shouting obscenities in their language.
They are loved by Asians because of their loyalty, honesty and lack of ambition. A Kamba man is contented with a salary of 10k. He will not agitate for better pay. Incidentally the ‘peanuts’ is enough to feed him and his family because he is frugal and mean.
What other men might consider peanuts is a windfall to them.
Kamba men are stunted. A fifty year old man can easily pass for thirty! A Kamba man walking with his wife you will be forgiven for thinking she is his mother. He cannot string two sentences without uttering the word, ‘kibeti’, an indication of how much Kambas love women.
He does not greet his neighbours but will not shy away from borrowing salt from the very neighbours he snubs. He will walk up to you and retort ‘ nipatie chumvi’. If you think that after you give him salt, the ice will have been broken and he will warm up to you, you are mistaken.
Unlike his Luo or Luhya counterpart, he does not maintain a respectable distance from his mother in law. When she visits, the man surrenders his side of the bed to her and spends the night on the sofa. That is unheard of in Luo land and will invite a curse to the man and his in law.
At work, they are known to engage in gossip and slander. Asian employers love them because they can be used as spies, telling on their colleagues. It is normal for them to use charms for job security, what they call, ‘kutibu kazi.’ There is always that Kamba man who does not greet his colleagues in the morning. He sneeks in surreptitiously, ignoring outstretched hands, not responding to verbal greetings, maintaining a studious silence, only to come to life in the course of the day. Or that accountant who is always clad in a brown cardigan, come rain, come shine. Wonder no more, the brother is simply heeding his witch doctor’s advice.
The standard greeting when a Kamba man meets another just arrived back in the city from home is, ‘kwe mbua?’
A Kamba brother’s ideal date is a tour of Uhuru Park. He and his date will marvel at the waters and be mesmerised by the revellers enjoying boat rides. Water is a very rare commodity back home, hence the excitement, the sheer awe and wonder! The date will not be complete without soda and bread.
That is the Kamba brother for you: mean, unambitious, diminutive, superstitious and snobbish!