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Thomas Spear

renowned Kamba trader, was born in Kibwezi on the Machakos-Kitui border of eastern Kenya about 1790 The early nineteenth century was a period of rapidly expanding trade in eastern Kenya as Giriama and other Mijikenda traders from the coast traveled inland with cloth beads and other trade goods to exchange for ivory cattle hides and craft products At first they met Kamba hunters and traders at the periodic local markets held throughout Kitui but soon Kamba hunters and traders themselves began to travel farther inland to Kikuyu Embu Mbeere Tharaka and Maasai to acquire cattle and ivory establishing wide ranging networks of kin and trade partners with whom they did business By the 1820s Kamba traders were accompanying their Giriama partners to the coast and by the 1840s and 1850s they had come to dominate the long distance trade routes between the coast and highlands At the same time ...