Galantu Lukhu clan of the Borana tribe in Marsabit County takes great pride in their association with deadly snakes.
The clan has a mythical attachment to snakes and is entirely depended on by other clans in Marsabit to charm snakes that invade their homes.
Mzee Duba Tache from Manyatta Chorora is a known snake-charming practitioner who has extraordinary powers to tame a snake using his saliva.
“All the members of the Galantu Lukhu clan are endowed with the snake charming capabilities, though mine is well known in the entire Marsabit and beyond since I have made it my full-time job,” Mzee Tache said.
He also orders snakes to either calm down or disappear into the thicket.
He can tell whether the snake is willing to be caught by observing its head nods. Only one nod is in the affirmative while three nods mean the snake is unyielding and is ready to bite.
He then takes the encroaching snake from people’s residents and returns it to the thickets and orders it never to return to the human habitats.
He explains that their exceptional powers are hereditary and are passed on to every male child born in their clan.
All male children do not need any rigorous initiations that culminate in them becoming fully-fledged performing snake charmers since they are already born with the powers.
The training begins at two years, children are then taught the ancient ways of snake charming by making known the dos and don’ts till they are ready to take up their roles as the next generation of snake charmers.
Even wives married to their clan are also introduced to the tradition so long as they are willing to be part of it.
However, the daughters born in this clan are not introduced to the tradition lest they take it with them to their newly found homes among other strangers.
According to the snake charming tradition of the Galantu Lukhu clan, one is not permitted to eat chicken, eggs, or even meat from the cow’s ankle or heel.
Whoever defies the taboo loses all the powers of charming snakes.
When our reporter was called upon to witness how Mzee Tache performed his magic he nearly got petrified at the sight of the horrifying reptile.
The sight of being 5cm away from a poisonous snake has a horror-striking sensation.
We witnessed fast-hand how he whipped away a deadly puff adder from under old iron sheets behind a client’s house.
He spat on the snake, and it was immediately rendered harmless allowing us to even hold the bucket the snake had been plunged in.
Mzee Tache then walked briskly carrying the snake in the bucket and finally ordered it to disappear into the nearby thicket.
He detailed that the tradition of snake charming in their family and clan, in general, stretches back over 100 years.
He revealed that even his late father Tache Huqa was also famous for his mysterious powers which attracted even the Western world.
His father toured various countries such as Uganda, Sudan, and Somalia courtesy of his snake-charming powers.
Mzee Tache boasts of healing many residents with snake bites, some of whom were on the verge of getting their limbs amputated or even dying.
He adds that he is sometimes invited by even medical doctors in the region to help save lives where conventional medicine fails.
Not only does he serve Marsabit residents, but he also receives some patients as far as Nairobi.
He is a great champion of wildlife conservation, especially the snakes, and sternly warns residents against killing snakes or there will be retaliation from other snakes.
He insisted that he never charms snakes for financial gain and dutifully carries out his duty of serving and saving humanity.
He only accepts money, coffee, or tobacco as tokens of appreciation as his culture dictates.
We reached out to the Northern Conservancy Area of KWS Assistant Director Godfrey Kebati for his comments on the impacts of Mzee Tache on environmental and wildlife conservation in vain.
Mr Kebati wanted to be given enough time for consultation about the matter.
“We need more time to see how we can handle the matter,” Mr Kebati said.