The following is an abstract from a report by kamacho

Research based on information from November 1993

A workshop organized by the joint Riwruok Nyikwa Tolo Welfare Assocation (RNTWA), Nairobi; the Katolo Maternal & Child – Welfare Organzation (KAMACHO), & Sponsored by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA)

People of East Kano

Generally, Kano is inhabited by a single ethnic group, the Joluo. The Luos are Nilotic who entered what is today Western Kenya in the 17th Century and by the 18th Century they began to spread into the present Siaya and Kisumu Districts. By the end of the 19th Century they were well established in what is today called South Nyanza and the Kano Plains.


The movement of Katolo people from the present Siaya District through South Nyanza to Kano in Kisumu District continued into the resent century. Siaya was the dispersal point of all cultural groups that today occupy the Kano Plains. The present cultural group(s) in Katolo either entered Kano Plain via South District or Kisumu District.


Conseqeuntly, Katolo sub-location is today comprised of the Nyikwa-Tolo as a single dominant cultural group; and Kimira as a cultural minority group; with further conglomeration of other petty cultural clans and sub-clans.


When Awuondo Ong’ok – the first Nyakwar-Tolo to patch his homestead in Katolo Rae – then a vast unoccupied land, only roamed by wild beats towards the end of the last Century, the only cultural groups occupying Omuono, Waradho and Charare were the Nyakach people. They were the was are, Kandaria and Kabodho. Katolo drove all of them away past river Awach to Cherwa.


By mid 1930’s, the area population had tremendously increased. More Nyikwa-Tolo had arrived from Siaya. Tolo, being a former friend of Moya – a handful of Kawamoya, e.g., Nyamwaya, Odwar, Onyona, Odera, Alesa, Okul and Randa preferred to live with Katolo. Good pasture land, fertile land and closeness to river Awach were the main reasons why they opted to live among Katolo. Though their medicineman – Anyango Otange – had warned them, “You Kawamoya, migrate from Katolo land and join your people in Wanganga, Kuth Awendo and Ngere”. They refused.


Today, these cultural minority (and other related cultural clans) intermingle freely and live among each other without defined cultural boundaries. Except, one thing they lack most is ‘culturophilia’. The majority of them have not supported development efforts encouraged in the region for the development of Katolo sub-location.

The Tolo ya Kopondo

Since these cultural community arrived in Katolo Rae and occupied their newfoundland ‘Katolo Rae’, they have never relaxed in terms of development of the region. In the early years, they were great cattle-herders and farmers. Of course, Tolo the father – the son of Owuor-Nyala was a great herdsman and farmer; and, so was to Owuor-Nyala the son of Nyingwek; and Nyingwel the son of Opondo. This is why Nyikwa-Tolo are often referred to as ‘Katolo ya-Kopondo’. Opondo, the son of Omolo was the brother of Jok the young – the Podho family. It is Omolo that unites Tolo with Oganjo, the famous ‘No’, or today’s ‘Kano Oganjo’ – linkage of which are issues of research.


Before the great Tolo Trek around 1800, like all other cultural communities, Nyingwel used to live with his parents at Kit-Mikayi in Seme. He died there. Owuor his son had two wives who bore him seven sons. Thus, Ondiegi (Bup), Guya (Waguya), Meji (Kameji), and Kabim (Sibim) from the elder wife; And Augagi, Racham , and Tolo from the younger wife.


These oral tradition accounts is what is narrated below by the late Vitalis Dika Otando (by then, Dika was still alive, he died in October, 1993).


By 1907, Nyikwa Tolo were already well established in the present Katolo Rae by 1908 the name ‘Katolo’ was first entered in the Colonial books. Between 1908 and 1993, when Wawidhi was being ruled by a Kawamoya man, Katolo was being ruled by a Katolian.


Table 2 below show how Katolo and Kawamoya used to be ruled between 1908 to 1993

Table 2: Chiefs, Assitant Chiefs of Katolo/Wawidhi Sub-locations and Kano, 1908-1993




Location Ruled by:

Katolo Ruled by:

Wawidhi  Ruled by:

Location called:


Assistant Chief:

Assistant Chief


Owiti Kitoto

Awuondo Ong’ok*

Juombo Jabedo


Amimo Ochieng

Tipo Omolo*

Omoro Osambo


Owili Athembo

Ochanjo Mado/*Gogo Mireri*

Nyabende Nyagoro

East Kano

Athembo Owili

Okelo Akech*

Akombo Okoko

East Kano

Kiyogo Oyuko

Orina Onunga*

Guda Adika

East Kano

Owiti Omori

Owiti Ototo*

Juombo Kibogo

South East Kano

Nyamolo Miyawa

Owiti Ototo*

Juombo Kibogo

East Kano

Ojienda Ongudi

Omolo Kamire/*Ondiek Okeyo


East Kano


(Source: Joash Owiti Ototo, ex-Assistant Chief, Katolo)

Note:   1. Chiefs and their assistants are listed in order of how they ruled from 1908 to 1993.

            2. From the above table, it is evident that when Katolo was being ruled by a Katolian* assistant chief; Wawidhi most often had a Kawamoya man.

Kawamoya as a Settler Cultural Community

In contrast to Katolo which is the single largest cultural community, composing 90% Kawamoya commonly known as ‘Kimira’ compose only 5% of the total population in the region. Kimira are, of course, the oldest occupants of Kano Plains. But as will be confirmed by the next speaker, their majority to date lives in Border 1 & 2 sub-locations and Ngere. They formerly lived at Got Owaga; then, Ngere before migrating to the present Nyabende region. Magina, Apondo, Kuth-Awendo and wanganga regions – today Border 1 & 2 sub-locations. They were brothers to Kola and Ochogo – today’s Kakola and Kochogo.


Cultural clans within Kimira therefore include – Kola, Ochogo and Wamoya. Until they started struggling for their own occupation land, Wamoya traditionally lived with Kola and Ochogo.


Oral tradition narrates that, “their earlier attempt to occupy the present Katolo Rae failed as they were thwarted by the Nyakach people formerly occupying the region. Their medicine man Anyango Otange who tried to predict Kabodho, Jimo, Kandaria and Wasare then occupying Omuono, Waradho up to Minyonge was not fruitful. Anyango Otange was not simply a strong sorcerer. Consequently, Kawamoya were ever defeated in cultural land clash wars by the related cultural groups; and, even forced to retreat to Nyabende, magina and Apondo where their majority today lives. Their attempt to capture more land northwards of the present Kano Oganjo was thwarted by Tura, Kakmie, Kakola, Kochogo, Kamagaga and Kobongo – forcing Kawamoya to be scattered in the Kano Plains.


A story goes that No (kano) were Uyoma from Imbo. How they relate to Tolo; hence calling Kano Oganjo – is a question for further historical or anthropological research. All we know to date is that, Tolo and Moya were only friends; and like the great Tolo’s Trek narrated elsewhere below. “No’s” offsprings also migrated in three waves:

  1. The first group crossed the great Sango Swamp to Karachuonyo (Kindu).
  2. The second group crossed to the present Kano via Kisumu
  3. The third group were among those who migrated to Karachuonyo and were discriminated by the local cultural groups they found there. They thus later migrated to Kano.


Oral tradition goes that, when “No” first arrived in this newfoundland, he settled among Wang’aya and Sidho – formerly occupying Kibigori; then also occupied by the Nandi people. That is, too, where Ngere is. After settling among the Wang’aya and Sidho, they later met with other relatives, who had entered the region via Kisumo. The nandi were chased away by Wang’aya and Sidho.


Oral tradition also goes that, “it was the second group that entered the region via Kisumo that when they met with met with the third group from Karachuonyo, the former used to tease the latter with the name ‘Waaidhi’. Thus, a name that Rateng Kola traditionally teased Kobong’o, Kawamoya, Kakmie, Miniare Obongo sons and Kimie, Obongo Mbae and Obongo while they were still in Imbo.


In other words, it seems No’s grandchildren and Kimira – traditionally belonged to the same family tree before migrating to the present “Kano”.


Tolo, on the other hand does not belong to “Waaidhi”. That is why, as I started elsewhere above, Katolo had always had its leader; and identified as a sub-location.

Tolo: Origin & Occupation of Kano Oganjo

Nyikwa-Tolo are the original occupant of Katolo Rae after driving away Nyakach. How they came to occupy the region and drove away Nyakach is part of a historical saga that cannot be told in one word. T all began with the story of a Great Trek that took them all the way from Seme through Seka, Kotieno, Sango-Nyadina to the present Katolo Rae. This heroic trek was accompanied by cultural land clashes, confrontational wars, sad episodes, etc. The colonialists used to refer to such cultural warriors as the ‘savage’.

The Great Tolo Trek

Tolo at Kit – Mikayi in Seme (Early 1800’s)

A story goes that Ondiegi (Bup), Owuor’s eldest son and a brother to Tolo, one day committed adultery with his younger mother. Owuor’s sons were annoyed. Kabim then decided to migrate, went and settled between Abaluhya and Nandi then referred to by the Luos as, Lango. There, Kabim (sibim) introduced cowpea (Ngor) – a crop related tribes could not properly pronounce, except as ‘Ngori’. Hence, Kabim’s was nicknamed ‘Nyangori’ – the present Nyangori.


All the younger wife’s children – Augagi, Rachem and Tolo – followed Kabim. No sooner did Kabim settle among the Abaluhya/Nandi than he was circumcised. Brother’s that followed him were, too, forced to circumcision – lest they leak clitoris. But Tolo refused. He retorted that “I cannot be circumcised; nor forced to leak clitoris”. Thus a proverb goes:


“Ka athing’a a nyange mane othing go Tolo (Like Tolo that was forced to be circumcised). Or that, Ka Katolo mane ochun ni odhodh yuom (Like Tolo that was forced to leak clitoris).”


On refusal, Tolo and his brothers migrated back to Kit-Mikayi in Seme. They stayed there until their father, Owuor died. After the father’s death, the sons splitted:

-       Augagi migrated, went and settled in Alego, present Augagi clan in Alego, Siaya District.

-       Racham migrated, went and settled in Gem, present Racham clan in Gem, Siaya District.

-       Guya migrated, went and settled among the Abaluhya where Guya bore a son and named Sagam – the present Kasagam. Some of Guya children went and settled at Maseno; while others migrated with Tolo to Seka in Kamagambo.


Thus, the great trek had begun; a trek that later continued to present Kano Oganjo or Katolo Rae.

The Great Trek from Kit – Mikayi in Seme to Seka, Kamagambo (Mid 1800’s)

After Tolo had refused to be circumcised in Nyangori, her returned to Kit-Mikayi in Seme. On return, he found when Odong’o his cousin, had turned Owino his brother into a slave and his herdsman. Odongo, Owino and Otoo were brothers; and Tolo was their cousin. Tolo was annoyed by Odongo’s deed.


One day, Tolo advised his cousin Owino to disappear with all Odong’o’s livestock. Tolo promised to give him Guya and Meji (his brothers), Otoo (his cousin) and other escorts.


That evening, Tolo deceived Odongo that: “Your herdsman Owino, your brother Otoo, Guya and Meji including my own sons were killed by the Nandi while herding. The Nandi in turn raided all the animals.” That night, Tolo and his entire family followed Owino, Otoo, Guya and Meji. Both crossed the big Sango Swamp and settled at Rongo-Kamagambo at a place known as Seka.


At Seka, Meji started his own clan today known as Kameji. Owino married and bore a son called Gan, today’s Kagan.


From Seka to Sango – Nyadina, Nyakach (Late 1800’s)

Seka was not fertile place. This forced some of the Tolo’s children to re-migrate to newfoundland, leaving behind the elderly Tolo – the father. Tolo lived until he died in Seka. Some of his major clans still found at Seka include Kaloo, Kauma, Kochola and Kotoo.


Nyikwa Tolo’s great trek from Seka were in three groups:

(a)   The first group led by Osele ended at Konyango. Osele, (Tolo’s grandson) had been chief (Ruoth) in Seka. At Konyango, he started s tribunal court which became known as ‘Kosele African Tribunal Court’ (Doho-Kosele). This great trek occurred towards the late 19th Century when imperialists were busy colonising East Africa, the then British East Africa Protectorate. Osele was crowned colonial agent and chief. He ruled until her died at his Tribunal court, ‘Doho Kosele’.

(b)  The second group had continued to Kojuach, the present Ober school, settled and started Mikayi market.

(c)   The third group crossed river Miriu, down to Sango Nyadina – the present West Nyakach. There, they met Kabondo before Nyakach raided them.

From Sango – Nyadina to Kano Oganjo

Land at Sango Nyadina was fertile. They lived there only for two years. While at Sango, Katolo quarrelled with Kajimbo over land clashes. A fight broke out. Kadianga supported Kajimbo in the battle. Katolo was outnumbered. But the episode didn’t end there. Owuor wuon Kere, then Kadianga’s medicine man was later sent by Nyakach to go and spy Katolo’s hero. Owuor wuon Kere pretentiously went and lived with Katolo as a relative. Matete wuon Omieri then Kano’s medicine man had a powerful medicine to that of Owuor Kere. Most Nyakach then occupied Kano Oganjo; but had problems with related cultural communities.


Owuor Kere lived with Katolo for sometime, while spying. Finally his medicine predicted Katolo’s here; Bele. Kadianga and Kajimbo later killed Bele at the lake when he was fishing; took him to a dead river, cut his body into pieces, dried, then burnt. After burning, took his body-ash and mixed with traditional brew, kong-mbare. Owuor Kere, then invited Katolo to a communal drink where Katolo were given a holed-sieve (seke maiye orokore); while Kadianga drunk with blocked-sieve (seke mook otuch to otwee odeso). It was after that drink thatKadianga and Kajimbo raided Katolo and killed them en mass. Such savagery acts were common in those days. The colonialists, then referred to them as the ‘savages’.


It was this cultural was that made Katolo to escape from Sango Nyadina to Urudi near Pap-Lisana where Katolo met Agoro. There, Katolo fought Agoro but later settled their differences. Thus, proverb goes:


“Katolo ga Agoro ogore ndi (Katolo and Agoro collided)”.

Katolo met with Kawamoya

At God Kwach, Katolo were supposed to join Obuolo’s group. But because of Kakola’s braggadocio, Katolo broke away. Katolo then befriended Kawamoya – a clan within Kimira – then living at Got-Owaga between Muhoroni and Koru. They started visiting each other.


When Kawamoya later migrated to Ngere; Katolo followed them. While in Ngere, wamoya’s medicine-man, Miyawa advised Kawamoya:


“Keep Katolo close to you because of their fearlessness.”


When Miyawa died, Owuor wuon Kere (Nyakach’s medicine man) predicted that if Tolo – ‘Guol magar’ (The fierce dog) – separated from Kawamoya, Nyakach would raid Kano. This is why when Miyawa died, he was buried and exhumed three times: First in Ngere, then at Bondo-Omoro, and finally at Onjiko AIM. This was the last war between Kano and Nyakach.


It was this last war between ano and Nyakach that made Katolo to migrate from Ngere to Onguo and Magunga; where they re-met Agoro, Gem, and Kabondo who were then occupying from Nyakwere up to Nyabondo Plateau. Katolo settled among Agoro and Gem patching their households Northward towards – the present Awach Olalo. Agoro atched their households Eastwards towards today’s Cherwa.


While Katolo were at Rae – the present Gem rae – Nyabende Opila the son of Ariro Nyo Othacha from Katolo, then married at Kawamoya – discussed with Kawamoya if Katolo could rejoin them at Kano Oganjo. Kawamoya sat down and agreed: “Yes, acting from the previous advice of our medicine-man, Miyawa, we should recall them from wherever they are:.


Kik wawit Tolo oko. Tolo dibondo en guol mager. (Let us not separate from Tolo. Tolo hyena is a fierce dog)


This made Kawamoya to agree. They then called Katolo wherever they were using sorcery (bilo) placed in (tal):


Tolo dibondo guok mager, duog uru. Karolo duog uru. Pinyni ne wadakie kodu. Ok wadagie kendwa. (Tolo hyena the fierce dog, come back. Katolo come back. We once lived together here. We cannot live in this land alone).


The two children who called Katolo were Okelo Oluoch from Kanyakwar, then living with Miyawa; and Randa Miyawa. The present Nyabende region facing eastwards towards Wangchieng – Orucho, Omouno, Waradho and Charare to Cherwa (Minyonge) – was populated by Kabodho, Kandaria, was are, who lived up to the present Cherwa. Large chunks of land was unoccupied, simply existing in a state of nature – thick jungles, wild beasts, Kipsigis. The region was popularly known as ‘Pau-Nyikeye’ (land of antelopes).


Kawamoya, then occupied Nyabende region near the present Awach-Olalo market; but going opposite directions towards Magina, Apondo; and towards present Wang’ang’a and Kuth-Awendo; with some retreating back to Ngere.


A story goes that while in Kano, Nyakach one day advised Kanyakwar that “the fearless Katolo and Agoro – then great friends – are out catching fish that came last night. Let us go and take their weapons”. After taking their weapons, Nyakach later started war with the armless Katolo. It was this war between Katolo and Nyakach that dispersed Katolo. Some remained at Katolo Rae; others ran to Nam-Apondo (Kauma and Karabok). Some to Kamagag (Kaloo, Kadhoch). Others to Onjiko and took refuge among Kobong’o.


This war also made some cultural communities (e.g. Kanyakwar that had been brought on friendly basis by Akuno wuon Ongongo to settle among Katolo – to return to Kisumo. Others ran to Chemelil and took refuge at a place known as ‘Kopere daraja mbili’.


This was the last war between Katolo and Nyakach (i.e., Kabodho, Kandaria and Wasare). Though ultimately, Katolo defeated Nyakach; who then went and raided Kabondo and chased them past river Miriu. This is how the present Katolo ya Kopondo got today’s Katolo Sub-Location, also known as Katolo Rae.


In other words, today’s Katolo Sub-Location is Nyikwa-Tolo’s newfoundland – captured from the Nyakach people after defeating them in ‘land clash cultural wars’.

Nyikwa – Tolo Culturo Base

90% of the people presently occupying Katolo sub-location are the Nyikwa Tolo. Tolo the father had three wives: Munde, Otieno nyar Gogo and Athum Nyaruanda who gave birth to the following sub-clans:

(a)   Mundhe the elder wife gave birth to Omenya. Omenya, married Buoro Nyokidi who gave birth to Oguta and Obuya. Obuya married Adhoch; while Oguta married Aloo Nyachiro. Aloo Nyachiro gave birth to a son who married Anyango, Malowa, Olwenda and Mondia.

(b)  Otieno Nyar Gogo the middle wife gave birth to Auma and Nyang’i. Auma married two wives – Amolo nyar Kojuach and Wako. Amolo gave birth to Wandaye and Malunga. Nyang’I had one wife who gave birth to Okong’o. Okong’o gave birth to Rabok Makwa. Rabok gave birth to Ochola. Ochala gave birth to two sons Walo (Kawalo) and Ngota.

(c)   Athum Nyaruanda the younger wife gave birth to Tolo, named after his father Tolo; and Chialo. The young Tolo Chialo were born out of cohabitation by a man called Ogala with Athum Nyaruanda. In this household, is also Akwany – a child that was picked during war by Omenya. Akwany was nourished by Athum Nyaruanda.


Like Akwany, is Kimer – today’s Ramogi. Kimer (Ramogi) is a child that was picked by Agie, a Nyakwar-Tolo from Kokong’o clan during a war between Lango (Kalenjin) and Koguta/Ramogi. Agie gave Kimer to Lang’o Ading’a, his brother, because Ading’a had no son. In those day’s, Katolo, Koguta and Ramogi were close. When Kimer was picked the mother was found dead; while Kimer was breast-feeding. Nobody knew his lineage. Though, the mother is suspected to have hailed from Ramogi-Koguta, today living in North Nyakach. Before Lang’o Ading’a died he left a goodwill:


Katolo monad go duto uter, to dhako matin no to mar wuoda ma Kimer (Katolo cohabit all my wives, except the younger one for my son, Kimer)


So, Kimer thus cohabited his younger mother and gave birth to Ayago. Ayago gave birth to Ogutu. Ogutu gave birth to Akong’o. Akong’o gave birth to Migudi and Lang’o the present ‘Joka-Mala nyokewe okepe Kobura’. Kimer grew until he became old and married, identifying himself as Nyakwar-Tolo. Today;s name ‘Ramogi’ is therefore only a despise.


Otoo (Kotoo), Tolo’s cousin, has also today grown in number. They form a large clan in Kinasia village in Katolo sub-location. Bup and Guya (Waguya), Tolo broher also today form clans of their own – though, because of their insignificant number, both identify as Nyikwa-Tolo.