The Kuria, also known as AbaKuria, BaKuria, IgiKuria are an agro-pastoralists and Bantu-speaking ethnic group residing in Kuria West and East Sub Counties of Migori County in the Southwest Kenya.
The community extends along the border of Kenya and Tanzania particularly in Musoma, Bunda, Mara regions of Tanzania.
They are traditionally a pastoral and farming community that grows maize, beans and cassava as food crops, coffee, and maize as cash crops.
The community has a rich heritage and fascinating culture.
The Kuria community historically celebrated the events like wedding ceremonies, marriages, newborn naming and circumcision. These ceremonies attracted different special costumes, body markings and dances.
Among other cultural practices is the naming of a newborn.
If you have interacted with members of this community, you will agree with me that of every five of their men, four could be a Mwita, Chacha or Marwa.
But how does this coincidence occur?
There are factors such as the day of the week of the birth, the time of day, the season of the year, the order of birth, the location a child is born, among other factors that play major role in naming.
According to Mzee Magenyi Kerata, an elder in the community, order of birth and naming after the older generation is the main reason for the existence of many Chachas, Mwitas and Marwas among the community.
“If the first born is a boy, one of the three names; Chacha, Mwita or Marwa is selected. Similarly, if the first born is a girl the names available for selection are Bhoke, Rhobi, and Gati,” he said.
Mzee Kerata added that the names Chacha, Mwita or Marwa are also given in honour of the family lineage.
“My son is Chacha because he is a first born but also my second born child is a girl and she is called Bhoke, a name after my grandmother.” said Kerata, adding that it was not necessary that Bhoke be first child to get the name.
In addition, the attitude of the parents as well as the gender of the child play significant roles in the overall naming process.
Kerata says such names play a very important role in addressing the parents of the name bearers.
“When one gets a firstborn child, he or she will be addressed by the name of his son or daughter,” he said, adding that the greetings will be prefixed to the respective name.
For instance, the father now will be addressed as Isachacha, Isamwita or Isamarwa. The mother will be addressed as Nyamwita or Nyachacha. This is in correspondence to the parent of Chacha, Mwita or Marwa names.
Mzee Kerata says the Kuria people also name their children according to an event which took place during the birth of a child.
Such natural events attracts names such as; Earthquake (Kirigiti); Lightning (Nkobha); Rains (Wambura/Nyambura); Famine (Wanchara); Harvest (Magesa/Mogesi) and Floods (Nyamanche).
He however points that the cultural practices of the Kuria people are fast fading off, due to influence of modernization.