Magendo & Survivalism
The issue of community relations across the Kenya-Uganda border can only be underscored within the specificity that appreciates both the international and domestic state-society dynamics defining its functionality. In regard to the specific relations between the Babukusu and the Bagisu peoples, it is not possible to restrict our analysis to conflicts. Both the Babukusu and the Bagisu communities who occupy western Kenya and eastern Uganda respectively have enjoyed a corporate past whose history transcends the current common Kenya-Uganda border. This past is manifested in the peoples’ common history of origin, migration and settlement in their present areas (La Fontaine 1960; Were 1967; Makila 1978; Wafula 2000, 2007). Besides similarities in language, semblances among these communities are found in such cultural aspects as codes of conduct, marriage customs, circumcision traditions and even folklore. The historical dynamics defining the relations between the Babukusu and Bagisu have influenced the nature of their social, economic and political interactions between themselves and with other neighbouring communities that include the Bantu, Nilotic and Cushitic groups. As Makila (1978: 46) has aptly argued, in relation to the Babukusu, ‘if they are the Abaluyia1 by virtue of their geographical circumstance, they are first and foremost members of a duplex community incorporating the Bagisu by virtue of a historical circumstance.’ Throughout the pre-colonial, colonial and post-independence periods, the Babukusu and the Bagisu peoples have maintained a fluid cultural zone along the common Kenya-Uganda border that is mainly informed by their strong historical ties.