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MUMIAS was originally Mumia's, one of the more important upcountry centres, capital of the Luyia speaking mini state of Wanga, and well established by the middle of the nineteenth century at the head of an important caravan route to the coast. King Mumia, who came to power in 1880, was the last King of Wanga. He inherited an army of 10,000 soldiers, half of whom were dispossessed Maasai from the Uasin Gishu Plateau known as the Kwavi. It was this army that was largely responsible for the smashing of Bukusu resistance at Chetambe's Fort fifteen years later.
Even at the beginning of Mumia's reign, Europeans were beginning to arrive in the wake of Arab and Swahili slavetraders, who in turn had been settling in since the 1850s with the full accord of the Wanga royal family. The first was Joseph Thomson in 1883, and by 1894 there was a permanent British subcommissioner or collector of taxes posted here.
Mumia had always welcomed strangers, and he allowed the slavers to continue their work on other groups of the Luyia (notably the Bukusu), but he was unprepared for the swift usurpation of his authority by the British, whom he'd assumed were also there to trade. He was appointed "Paramount Chief" of a gradually diminishing state and then, as an old man, was retired without his real knowledge. He died in 1949, aged over 100 years, and with him the British had succeeded in destoying Kenya's first (and only) indigenous, up country state, almost without notice.
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