The Kambe is a Bantu tribe that makes up one of the Mijikenda (Nine towns) communities. These include: Giriama, Digo, Duruma, Rabai, Chonyi, Jibana, Kauma and Ribe. This is a tribe living in the coastal strip of Kenya.
The History the Kambe people
The Kambe people recollect their history from Singwaya (or Shungwaya), which was to the north of the Somali Coast. The belief is that they were escaping the constant attacks from the Cushitic tribes and Oromo people and ended up settling in the coastal ridges where they built their kayas within a protective setting.
During their settlement, they had visits from Persians, Arabs, and the Portuguese who came to the region for trade purposes. This brewed social interactions, and intermarriages resulting in the development of the Swahili language popularly used today in Kilifi and the Coastal regions.
The diversity of these people goes beyond their history and culture into their religion. The most popular religions are; Islam, Christianity, and the African Traditional Religion (ATR).
While change has come to the Mijikenda, they have maintained many of the beliefs and practices of their traditional culture. They adhere to many beliefs that were derived from their traditional religion, which was a form of ancestor worship. An interesting cultural taboo, they practice to date is the Kaya Taboo. It prohibits the cutting down of specific trees in the area. This has seen the preservation of several rare and endangered plant species.
The Kaya of the Kambe People
Located near Rabai church, Kaya Kambe Shrines 1 of 7 sacred groves that intertwine the biodiversity of the coastal forest and the rich cultural diversity. Due to their importance to the local community, the area around the shrines has remained practically unchanged to avoid damaging the kaya.
Social taboos, enforced by the kaya elders, regulated activities that could damage the kaya forests and sacred places; according to oral tradition. Cutting trees, grazing livestock, and collecting or removing other forest material was strictly forbidden within the Kaya.
Villagers stayed on traditional paths to avoid disturbing vegetation and secret sites. The only permitted activities were the collection of medicinal plants and the use of forest materials to build ritual structures.
A code of behavior, emphasizing decorum, respect, and self-restraint, also protected the forest. Those who broke the rules typically paid a fine of livestock or fowl, which was then sacrificed to placate the offended spirit. Illness and other community misfortunes often were attributed to an offense not confessed.
Modern age Kambe tribe
The Kambe people have developed socially and economically and embraced civilization.