By Onyinkwa Onyakundi via FB
Many years ago, whilst watching a basketball match at Mombasa Polytechnic between the hosts and Makupa, a bunch of rowdy and drunken Mombasa Polytechnic fans arrived and on reading the scoreboard found two things they considered totally unacceptable. One was the scoreline which showed they were trailing by 8 points, and the other was that their team’s name read ‘Mombasa Polytechnic’, rather than ‘THE Mombasa Polytechnic’
You may consider this mundane stuff, but believe me, the match was held up for more than 30 minutes as the haggling went on with the League officials threatening to award Makupa the match and recommend disciplinary action for the Poly team. Thankfully some stencil was quickly fabricated and the missing ‘THE’ was inserted and play resumed.
I have seen this kind of ‘nomeclatural pride’ in students and alumni of ‘The University of Nairobi’ who would correct anyone using ‘Nairobi University’ to refer to their institution that theirs is the only University that uses not just ‘THE’ but also ‘OF’. Most Kenyans think that this is still the situation, but it ain’t. There is one other University in this category.
That University is ‘The University of Kabianga’ in Kericho County. Why they chose this rather curious name for a University that would have sounded easier to the ear as ‘Kabianga University’ has always left me in knots trying to figure out. It ain’t even ‘The University of Kericho’. It is ‘The University of Kabianga’!
But that ain’t even the only fascinating thing about this University’s name. The name ‘Kabianga’ ain’t Kipsigis, Kalenjin or even Nilotic. It is a Kisii name! Losely translated from ‘Ekegusii’, the name simply means ‘since they have refused’, with ‘they’ here referring to things, stuff or life.
In our long perilous journey from the Congo to our present day abode, we the Abagusii at some point settled in the area where present day Kericho sits. However, due to numerous challenges that included but were not limited to a bad climate, hostile neighbours and diseases, we threw our arms up and the towel in as we exclaimed ‘Kabianga!’, and marched on to Gusii. That is to say, that University’s name is ‘The University of Since They Have Refused’, or ‘UoSTHR’ if you like.