Every time CHARA (SEMIKARO, OZI, KILELENGWANI, REKETA, CHAMWANAMUMA, SHIRIKISHO, etc) is mentioned, what comes to minds of majority is the 2012 Tana River county tribal clashes where according to GRACE NZIOKA’S commission report (gathering dust on the shelves), about 200 people were killed, 14,000 people were displaced and more than 40,000 were affected by the ethno-political clashes. Thousands of livestock were either butchered or raided. It is in record that this was one among the worst violent incidents in Kenya since 2007 post-election violence and also between the neighboring communities Pokomo and Oroma tribes. The US President had to condemn the inhumane happening in Tana River (THE TANA RIVER MASSACRE).
Security experts and analysts quoted that this was a ‘battle’ that involved the al-shabaab, Oromo Resistance Army on one side and Mombasa Republic Council (MRC) on the other side, which resulted to al-shabaab abandoning its initial plan to use MRC to setup Islamic like courts in Kenya, the same way they did in SOMALIA.
The POKOMO MAGAZINE is pleased to represent to you the history of CHARA PEOPLE, dating back more than a hundred years ago.
The first people who settle on land were the Kalindi (a Pokomo sub tribe) but no one will refute the fact that before anybody settled in the area, the Watta people were already living in the area. Two kalindi clans, the NAMBOO and MANGOWE/or GOMENI moved from Hidabo, settled and build a village called SHAKA which is near Kipini town. Then strangers came led by LIONGO FUMO. He asked the Kalindi to let them settle among them as allies at which the Kalindis agreed. He then asked for a place beyond Shaka, and the Kalindi people also gave him land at which he built the town of OZI and his people lived both in SHAKA and OZI. The population of his people grew and some moved and settle in KAU (liongo fumo).
Kalindi and Liongo fumo peoples (the Swahili, a Coastal tribe) lived together for a long time and Shaka prospered. As time went by, Liongo Fumo wanted to buy land but the Kalindis refused saying they would live together as friends. Later, the Kalindi left Shaka and settled in CHARA which was arable land. The area was very fertile, in fact they used to harvest rice twice a year but the wet land was mosquito breading site, hence the death rate was so high. The Kalindi Population then started decreasing each and every day due to malaria which led them to move to SEMIKARO and later settled in ODA.
Then the NGATANA People arrived from ZUBAKI after losing a battle to the ZUBAKI but did not live for long as they had killed a woman at a place called HANCHOLOKO. In fear for another loss, they ran away to MWINA and settled at JANGE near WEMA in fear of the mighty LIONGO FUMO.
River Tana initially passed through Witu, Majiweni, Kipini Secondary, Jendewi and flowed to Indian Ocean through Tosi. (For those who knew the areas well, they must be familiar to the valley that passed the mentioned areas) then there was tectonic movement, where areas on one side of the land overlapped the other creating a ridge. The ridge can be vividly observed from the Liongo Fumo village (Tosi) where some trees are hanging almost upside-down.
Due to the raised land, the river changed its course to Kalota an area West of Ozi towards Gongoni. The areas of Ozi to Reketa was covered by the Ocean Wetlands. On arrival of the colonialists, they wanted to use their boats to access the upper Tana. By then, the current river was full of mangrove trees extending to Ozi. The white men could not work with Liongo Fumo’s people as they were highly involved in slave trade. Young men from the Upper Tana mostly Gwano, Kinankomba, and Ndera, travelled to Chara areas and started to dig a trench to join the Kalota River to the swamp at Ozi because the Reketa River had a waterfall in it. Since Kalota grounds was high and Ozi was low, they eventually managed to change the river course to join the Ozi swamp (Now the river at Kipini).
Kalota river turned to be a seasonal river and the then young men who participated in this colonial venture decided to settle with their families in Chara area as it was rich in agriculture. The region is currently inhabited by the “Wantu wa Dzuu”. Due to lack of sustenance, Kalota River changed its course at Matomba towards its ancestral course leaving Chara, hence changing to a seasonal river. The new river now meanders to Reketa, maintaining its original course through Ozi River.
And that’s how the land ended up as the Wantu wa Dzuu’s land, but later cushites (OROMO, WARDEY, and WAGOSHI) also settle in the area scrambling for it.
Special thanks to all who contributed in this.