Sweet 16: Why Kambas are ageless…like Ngilu, Kalonzo!

Radio queen Cess Mutungi turned 50 but looks 30. So does Esther Musila…here is the secret of their age defying looks…

18 till I die: Kambas are ageless. You can never tell how old a Kao chick is unless you check her ID card. Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu (above), 69, looks the same as she did when she became the first Kenyan woman to run for the Presidency in 1997. Is it genetics, environment, diet, lifestyle or plain old good biological luck?

By Kieran Ngendo

Contributing Writer/Lifestyle

Kambas have this ageless look about them. Think Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu. She is a cucu, but still resembles a moneyed mama just hitting 40. She is 69, shrugging to 70.

Radio queen Cess Mutungi turned 50 but can give 30 year women a run for their purses. So can fitness buff Esther Musila, wife of local gospel musician, Guardian Angel. She is another 50 year old Kao chick with toned hips of a 28 year old.

Most Kaos age with a baby face, a streak also peculiar to Kamba men. Think of former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka. He is 67, staggering towards 70 but looks 50. Dr Willy Mutunga, former Chief Justice is 73, but looks like the age mate of Meru Senator Mithika Linturi who is 52.

There is no other community so blessed with resilient, age defying bodies in Kenya

Slaying @50: Radio queen Cess Mutungi turned 50 but hardly looks a day above 30. Samson Muthui a preacher explains that Kambas are endowed with peaceful hearts and are thus ageless “because of our personality. We are not trouble makers but peaceful people and so we live longer compared to others. We try our best to avoid confrontation and anything that endangers our well being and health.”

What is it about Kambas and eternal youth? There is no other community so blessed with resilient, age defying bodies in Kenya.

 Is it genetics, environment, diet lifestyle or plain good old biological blessings? I mean, isn’t their staple diet, muthokoi, just mashed githeri by another name?

Surveyed closely, there are several reasons why Kambas are ageless. Those we spoke to singled out environment, lack of stress, affinity for lungula, use of herbs, honey and being a peaceful lot. Check closely, there is hardly any political violence in Kambaland in any election including the recent by-elections.

Kambas, especially their women, get married and can survive anywhere. Little wonder they’re found in Paraguay!

Guardian Angel: Fitness buff and wife of gospel musician Guardian Angel (right) is 50 but looks two decades younger. Muthui the preacher explains that “most Kambas don’t have big bodies and our small bodies play a big role in age resilience.” We are highly favoured in being ageless.”

Then there is genetics from ancestors who were famed long-distance traders which was how some ended up in Kongowea when slave trade came to an end in the 19th century.

To traverse rough terrains among strangers meant cultivating good relations with other communities. The Kambas are found in Paraguay where their culture still thrives. To date, Kambas, especially their women, get married and can survive anywhere, besides capacity for physical activities.  

Eating natural foods such as muthokoi has also been a good recipe for not aging

The stud: Former Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga is 73 but looks 20 years younger. Genetics plays a big role in ageing. From biology, lifestyle and diet, “anti-ageing properties are genetically carried from one generation to another,” says Justus Mutuku, the founder of Akamba Cultural Centre and Museum. This streak can be stretched to “the seventh generation and we are currently in the fourth. So, you will see more Kambas looking younger.”

Samson Muthui, a preacher, explains that Kambas are peaceful by nature and “peace is one of the most important things in our lives. There is a saying in Kamba that goes ‘ravens are many because of fear.’ We are one lucky community because our physical appearance is always attractive despite our age and that is something that makes us unique.”

Pastor Muthui also argues that stress and lack of peace reduces one’s lifespan “and that is the reason we avoid it at all costs. Eating natural foods such as muthokoi has also been a good recipe for not aging. It makes you healthy and live longer. God also gave us good bodies that are resistant to age. We also love keeping ourselves busy and this makes our bodies active.” 

Honey has anti ageing properties. Even bee venom has been clinically proven to reduce wrinkles

No ageing chap chap: Doesn’t Machakos Governor Dr Alfred Mutua (here with First Lady Lilian) resemble a college boy although he’s Senator Mithika Linturi’s age at 52? White colonialists banned beehives and honey production as kaluvu was used in traditional worship and the mzungus wanted to convert Kambas into Christianity. But use of honey has been good to Kambas and their ageless bodies.

Then there is honey for which Ukambani has been famous for. In fact, by the tail end of the 1890s, Kambaland was the leading producer of honey in Kenya. They not only used it for domestic use but also for trading and making kaluvu, their traditional beer.

Justus Mutuku the founder of Akamba Cultural Centre argues that “scientifically it has been proven that honey has anti ageing properties. The natural antioxidants present in honey help control wrinkles and fine lines on the face. Even bee venom has been clinically proven to reduce wrinkles.”

No other Kenyan community managed such long, perilous journeys

Melons good for your health too: Former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, like most Kamba men has an ageless body. Justus Mutuku says “honey is the secret to our ageless faces that make people wonder why we don’t age easily. We are big consumers of honey because we know the value it has in our bodies. There is a type of honey called Masyana/Mavisi the pupa – when Kambas went harvesting that was set aside to be eaten – by men – men who ate that were always sure to give birth to boys – then it always assured anti ageing – together with the pure honey.”

He adds that “honey is made from almost flowers of all plants – and today’s pharmaceutical industry relies on plants therefore when you eat honey you are treating yourself.”

Mutuku argues that it was this use of honey that made Kambas useful during long-distance trading, trekking from Congo to the coast during the famous ivory trade. No other Kenyan community managed such long, perilous journeys.

Honey is said to be better than Blue Pills when it comes to horsepower

Baba Mtu: Makueni Governor Prof Kivutha Kibwana has ensured his county has the best Universal Health Care in Kambaland. He is treated there himself. But on average, Kambas hardly suffer from debilitating lifestyle diseases. For all that Kenyans think about them, there are very low rates of HIV prevalence in Kambaland, according to the 2019 Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study. For proximity of their counties to Mombasa Road, most Kambas die from road accidents than diabetes, high blood pressure or other lifestyle diseases. The Study found that in old age, most succumb to liver cancer from years of consuming aflatoxin infested maize!

You might be wondering where their famed sexual athleticism comes into all these?  Well, honey is said to be better than Blue Pills when it comes to horsepower which is also in their genes, hallo!   

Patrick Muli, a trader, pegs the indeterminate age of the Kamba to ‘field events’ from the attendant appetite that keeps them fit, appear younger. “It’s like our staple food because we love it. Having it regularly makes us appear younger and lengthens life. A healthy sex life has been the biggest contributor of aging gracefully besides use of herbs and “Kambas know how to use herbs very well.” 

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