The Bajuni people are a Bantu ethnic group mainly residing on the Bajuni Islands of Somalia and surrounding coastal areas between the port city of Kismayo and Mombasa area of Kenya and Somalia’s southern border.
Within the Lamu archipelago lives a marginalized Bantu community with less than 100,000 people that most people do not know exists. The community have remained true to its customs and traditions.
They migrated from Shungwaya(Somalia) due to conflict with the Cushitic communities, who pushed them from their native land to their current location. This tribe arose from intermarriages between Arabs and Africans many centuries ago, and with time, the Arabs influenced their cultural and religious beliefs.
The Bajuni principally inhabit the tiny Bajuni Islands in the Somali Sea. Many also traditionally reside in Kenya, mainly in Mombasa and other towns in that country's Coast Province.
The population's members trace their origins to diverse groups; primarily coastal Jareer a descendant of free or enslaved Bantus . And they trace their origins to the Khoisanoid hunter-gather groups, as well as later additions such as Arab, Persian and Somalis immigrants. Some also have Malay and Indonesian ancestry.
The Bajuni follow the laws of Islam to conduct their affairs. Almost all are Shafite Muslims. Their lives revolve around the mosque and daily prayer. In the course of saying five prayers a day, they also wash at least five times. Every Muslim parent insists on giving his child the basic Islamic education. A Muslim judge, or kadhi, handles the criminal and civil disputes of the community.
When a child is born, it is held up by the father, a friend, or a teacher, who recites the traditional call of prayer into its ear. From the moment of birth, the child is instructed in the basic teachings of Islam. Men are the working breadwinners. A woman's place among the Bajuni is usually within the home. She customarily leaves the house only to visit or to go to the market. Her visiting is done late in the afternoon when the housework is finished and the children are playing. The husbands like to gather at a men's meeting place or the mosque.
The Bajuni are traditionally fishermen and sailors. Some also pursue other trades such as metalwork.
A woman's place among the Bajun is usually within the home. She customarily leaves the house only to visit or to go to the market. Her visiting is done late in the afternoon when the housework is finished and the children are playing. The husbands like to gather at a men's meeting place or the mosque.
Children stay at home until the age of six or seven, when they are sent to the Muslim school. In school, they learn to read the Koran, perform daily prayers, and lead moral lives. Children are always the first to speak as they greet an elder with a kiss on the right hand. A young person always stands to offer his seat when an older person enters a room and is always the last to eat. A girl is taught to cook at about ten years of age. At puberty, she is no longer allowed to mix with boys who are not of her own household, and she can not leave the house without a female chaperone. When she goes out in public, she wears the traditional black, all-covering buibui garment.
The Bajun are believed to have migrated from Shungwaya due to conflict with the Cushitic communities, who pushed them from their native land to their current location. They engaged in fishing, farming and trade. The arrival of the Arabs to the Kenyan coast led to the community adopting the Islamic faith.
The Bajuni people collectively refer to themselves and are known as Wabajuni. The Bajun speak a language they call Tikuu, which is a form of Swahili. Although they are a mixture of Bantu, Somali, and Arabs, they still maintain themselves as a distinct cultural group.
Being an Islamic community, the Bajun practise and conduct themselves according to Islamic laws. Traditionally, however, they were governed by kings. A Muslim judge(kadhi) handles the criminal and civil disputes of the community.
Their weddings bring families together with music and dance, lasting for three days. Bajun weddings bring families together with music and dance, which lasts for three days. Women traditionally veil themselves from head to toe, while men cover their lower torso with kikoy fabric.
Due to their closeness to the Indian ocean, the Bajun economy has historically been largely dependent on the sea. Men were involved in marine trade, fishing, shipbuilding and making fishing nets. Some were sea captains, sailors and ocean merchants, while others practised agriculture. Women, on the other hand, traditionally weaved baskets.
Men are involved in marine trade, fishing, building boats and making fishing nets. They depend highly on the sea due to their closeness to the Indian ocean. On the other hand, women take care of the home and weave baskets for sale. Others are also involved in farming.
Their main foods are coconut, fish, and rice. Their daily routines are interrupted by prayer times, meals, and an afternoon rest.
The Bajuni today follow the laws of Islam to conduct their affairs. A Muslim judge, or kadhi, handles the criminal and civil disputes of the community. Traditionally, the Bajun were governed by kings.
Bajun music and poetry is a mix of traditional and contemporary art. The contemporary music sounds like a mixture of Indian and Arabic, while the traditional music is accompanied by percussion instruments and horns.
Their main foods are coconut, fish, and rice.
Men wear a Swahili spread known as kikoy, which is a piece of material wrapped around the waist like a shirt, and rubber thongs on their feet.
Bajun women wear discreet black veils with only their eyes visible to the world. Traditionally, a woman would wear a ring through the center of her nose, a gold disk in one pierced nostril, and several earrings through the tops of her ears. Today, these are regarded as unfashionable.
Traditionally, a woman would wear a ring through the centre of her nose, a gold disk in one pierced nostril and several earrings through the tops of her ears. Today, these are considered unfashionable.
They are Shafite Muslims. Their lives revolve around the mosque and daily prayer. In the course of saying five prayers a day, they also wash at least five times.
By 1960, Somalia (then known as Italian Somaliland) gained its freedom from colonial governance. Kenya gained its independence in December 1963.
The Kenya National Assembly Official Record (Hansard) contains several records of land ownership and rights discussions. This official record, dated Jun 24 - Jul 30, 1971 documents a discussion of traditionally Bajuni lands (Lamu, Kenya) and dissenting opinions as to ownership. In the official record of May 28 - Jul 4, 1974, there were questions regarding what government actually had jurisdiction over the Bajuni tribal lands.
With the downfall of the Somali government in 1991, Bajuni people experienced abandonment by both the Somalia and Kenyan governments. The Bajuni refer to this period as "The Troubles". This marginalization led Chairman of the Bajuni, Hon. Mohamed Ismail Barkale (Maxamed Ismaaciil Barkaale) to petition I.G.A.D. (Africa's Intergovernmental Authority on Development) for the lawful rights of the Bajuni people in December 2003, as documented at www.somalitalk.com. Barkale was made a delegate to the 2003 Somali peace talks, see 193. Hon. Mohamed Ismail Barkale List of members of the Somali Transitional Federal Parliament.