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Nyanchama Moirongo – A son’s tribute

I stand before you Tata’s eldest son; now the person that has assumed responsibility for this large clan you in front of you.  As an aside, My being Tata’s first son, I suppose was meant to be: my parents had a child (a 2nd child that lived but passed away only a few months into his life: his name Shem Matunda); four years later, on the same exact birthday Shem Matunda was born, they were blessed with another son: and called him George Matunda! That is me, Matunda Nyanchama …

I have always wondered about that coincidence; and my guess is as good as yours: that I am the same person born 4 years earlier; died and refused that I needed to come back!  And who knows of what God’s plans for tomorrow!


Let me first address the family:

Tata left us mostly grown up, married and fairly established; Tata doesn’t have a child in school or college; we are all taken care of; and we must thank him for that.

Tata also expressed a wish for a harmonious family, one that deliberates on issues and resolves those amicably; as a peace-maker Tata would wish that we remain harmonious: and that is important. Of course there will be differences of opinion, which is healthy; what matters, though, is that we are able to come together and resolve those issues for which we have different viewpoints.

As his first son, I will do everything in my powers to ensure we remain so; and that we support that, especially our children, that need help; and to lend a hand to others in our community that we are able to support.

One piece of advice from Tata: penye kuku wengi hapamwagwi mtama! Before you go out there with family issues, please let’s make sure we have exhausted internal conversation and that we have resolved what we could.

The same for the community: if you genuinely loved us, please ensure you peddle what builds and not what can destroy us. Ekiagera abande mbare bakoigwa amang’ana, bayabogoria, bayataria, bayamenta echumbi kikamilufu; ekero ring’ana rikoirana ase riakire twanyora buna riaonchoreirie tiriri riria riarenge.

Tokonyane nario torabe n’omorembe.


Tata Nyanchama Moirongo would otherwise have been known as Ochiego, except for problems he faced.

According to late grandma Paulina Kemunto, nere Nyakerario o’Kongo, Tata was born and soon became sickly. Both parents were worried that he might not survive and as they consulted on what to do, there a friend of grandpa’s came to their help. His Name: Nyanchama, perhaps the only man by the name Nyanchama  in the entire Gusii; for Nyanchama is a woman’s name in Gusii and remains predominantly so to date.

This Nyanchama spoke to grandpa about the new born and said there was a way out of his ailing state. The solution: name the child Nyanchama. Bikonee ‘mbikone! It was unusual to name a child after someone who was still alive. How could that be? Grandpa wondered!

However, if it meant that it is what would take for the child to survive, then that is what he would do. And, as others may say, the rest is history. Grandpa went home and broke the news to grandma. And they resolved to try it! Lo behold, the child (our now deceased Papa) responded! And yes, he stopped ailing and a healthy child he started growing into!

It looks like he was meant to live! And without that, perhaps, we wouldn’t have been: all the 21 children and more than 60 grandchildren.

In thinking about Papa’s life, we see a leader, a pioneer in many ways, a community person and a positive-hearted individuals that always wished better for others; and one, where possible, that supported others to improve their lot!

Twensi abana baye tware koborigwa tochore Tata, titware gochora Tata onde goetanie oyo!

Even as we mourn, we are celebrating as well; and why should we celebrate: precisely because of who our father was to us as a family, as a father, husband, grandfather, and … he lived a rich 84 years! And in those years he shaped our being; and made us what we are.

Rirorio monto tagotwara ise taikerania kende; gose emechie teri emenge mogaka ataiyo! For us, our father was present and effective. Otoagacheire chidaraja chinyinge kegima; otosomirie goika twatekire amaiso twarorire goetania buna totare konyara. Okorire emeremo yèechiro Nyabite, ase echae, ase ekahagwa, ase obosemia boke boke ase eamate … nabinde ebinge totamanyeti intwe ekiagera twarenge abake.

As a leader, Tata served in school committees; cooperative management committee at Nyabomite and Nyangoko coffee factories; he worked alongside others like Ocharo Onkangi, Elkana Mogaka Nyaboga, Masira Guto, Osoro, Meshack Nyandiko, Meroka, Abel Mokua and many others on affairs of the budding Nyabite market, now the core of Nyamira town.

As a pioneer Tata was one of the first people to plant tea and coffee in our area, opening doors for the development of the cash crop industry in our area. Tata also served in the committee that prepared and approved new farmers that wanted to plant tea. As a farmer, Tata remained one of the early adopters of new farming methods, wholly embracing the switch from traditional ways of growing maize to modern ones that assured better crop yields.

As a leader Tata remained a confidant of many, including members of parliament, chiefs, assistant chiefs and DOs that worked in the area.


Our father taught us community service and many of us have vowed to follow in those footsteps. One of these is the teaching profession: in our family, we have overwhelmingly more teachers than any other profession; we are community people and we intend to be.

Moraa 2007 – Moraa 2012 walemavu: Osumo: director at Gianchore; Michira: attempting KNUT leadership and more.

On my side, I have done community service: in technology; Diaspora and in this country  ….

Our plans and thoughts are to continue service Kenyans; and especially under the new dispensation.

Old wine in new bottles will always taste old; what we need is new wine in new bottles!

The JSC example of selecting Justices Mutunga & Nancy Baraza, respectively, as CJ & deputy CJ, has set the pace for change; we will have to follow this lest we don’t get the full impact of change.

Gakiaborire ‘nchera maate kerigerie ‘nchera rogoro (if you cannot find it on one side of the road, try the other side). In the past, candidates have bought votes and have gotten elected; they some have stolen openly from public funds and we have done nothing about it; education results stare at us and they are dismal, courtesy of previous leadership; our environment calls for action and no leader is taking about that; our land sizes are diminishing but no leader is asking where we would be in 20 years and how we are going to feed our people.

We discriminate based on clan and tribe; the Hague trials are testimony of how vicious we can be, killing in the name of power and tribe.

Question: when are we going to have a more gentle community, a country of caring and one that looks ahead for common good? When shall stop discriminating and seek common ground? When will we stop our public officials from stealing from us? When shall we start planning for the future?

We must change course to ‘chera rogoro; and it starts with me and you; and we must pick leaders that care; people with vision and men and women committed to public service rather than those riding on our backs for their own good; and at our own expense.

I want to assure you that Tata lived these values; it is a legacy he has left us; it is a legacy we intent to uphold in his memory.

In addition, we are announcing today Nyanchama Moirongo Foundation in Tata’s memory; this is a Foundation that would focus on two aspects that Tata stood for: Education and Business. The former will focus on excellence in education in our area while the latter would recognize businesses (again in this area) that have excelled in some respect or other.

A formal launch will be announced in the future, complete with a management board that would offer advice and future direction.

Let me finish by thanking all of you for the support you have given us as a family since Tata was called by the Maker; you have made it possible to give Tata the send-off he deserved. We are sure that he appreciates that which happened today.

I would also urge you to keep that spirit of help and support for others that would face the same calamities. And for your reward, leave it to God; He will bless you abundantly.

God bless you all.

Matunda Nyanchama

August 12, 2011, Omokonge, Nyamira, Kenya.

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