- Tribe: Kamba
- Origin: Kenya
- Approx Age: Mid 20th Century
- Materials: Wood
- Dimensions cm: 29 tall x 27 widest point
- Ref. Number: 1006
A lovely simply styled Kamba Stool. This endearing three legged stool is carved from just one piece of wood, its three legs and dish shaped seat giving this stool from the Kamba tribe of Kenya its charming appearance. Stools of this type would have been for the elders of the village as a sign of prestige and wealth.
The Kamba or Akamba people are a Bantu ethnic group – or tribe – who live in the semi-arid formerly Eastern Province of Kenya stretching east from Nairobi to Tsavo and north up to Embu, Kenya. This land is called Ukambani which constitutes of Makueni County, Kitui County and Machakos County. In Kamba culture, the family is central to the life of the community. Before marriage, a man must pay a bride price (known as dowry), made in the form of cattle, sheep and goats, to the family of the bride. In a rural Kamba community, the man, who becomes the head of the family, undertakes an economic activity such as trading, hunting or cattle herding. He is known as Nau, Tata or Asa.
The woman works on the land she is given when she joins her husband’s household. She supplies the bulk of the food consumed by her family. She grows maize, millet, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, beans, pigeon peas, greens, arrowroot and cassava. Traditionally, it is the mother’s role to raise the children.
Very little distinction is made between an individual’s own children and the children of their sister or brother. Children address their uncle or aunt as tata (father) or mwaitu (mother). They often move from one household to another with ease, and are made to feel at home by their parents’ siblings. Grandparents (Susu and Umau) help with the less strenuous chores around the home, such as rope making, tanning leather, cleaning calabashes and making arrows. Older women continue to work the land as their source of food, independence and economic security.
The Akamba people’s love of music and dance is evident in their impressive performances throughout their daily lives and during special occasions. In these dances, the Akamba display agility and athletic skill as they perform acrobatics and remarkable body movements. Dances are usually accompanied by songs composed for the occasion (marriage, birth, national holiday) and reflect the traditional structure of the Kikamba song, sung on a pentatonic scale. The singing is lively and melodic. Songs are composed satirizing deviant behavior, anti-social activity or love. The Akamba also have famous work songs, such as Ngulu Mwalala, sung while they are digging. Herdsmen and boys have different songs, as do the young and old.