One time I sat down with a Kisii elder and sage of sorts. First, He took me through a lengthy discourse on the Gusii heritage. From cultural heritage, Christianity and so called civilization through the Queen’s education, culture and taboos to the advent of the white man and his opium of conquest of our motherland.
I was mesmerized as I floated most of the time and in my naivety but i stayed quiet as the old man in his late 90s trembled in his speech. Sometimes he will doze off and will ask me where we were in the conversation. Maybe due to his old age.
He spoke on pre-independence deals, how he and Moi were members of Kadu and how Kadu borrowed Kanu one of their best, Moi. He spoke on Majimbo a Kadu ideology and how Moi tried it in the District Focus For Rural Development but the centrist within Kanu sabotaged the whole system now known as devolution.
The old man, a teacher spoke fluent English. Vocabulary after vocabulary. He could use metaphors for the interest of originality but frankly I floated most of the time. He spoke on how Jaramogi Oginga Odinga changed his Christian name to look African. He spoke on how Jaramogi left presidency in “bed”. Alleging that Jaramogi was a boyfriend to the late Margaret Kenyatta and it was her who persuaded him not to be the prime minister of the Republic of Kenya at Independence. Something I kept thinking and researching to know the truth!
He asked Jaramogi to wait for the release of Kenyatta so that they can have a befitting wedding. Jaramogi fell to that trap unknowingly. The reason why Kenyatta spared Jaramogi during the 1969 Kisumu confrontation which left scores of luos dead. He spoke on how history repeats itself and how Raila did what his father did to hand over power to the Kikuyu elite in 2002.
The old man after a 45 mins nap, continued to narrate how Mzee Nyachae was duped by Raila in 2002,but he squarely blamed Mzee Nyachae for being naive to have failed to heed his advice in 1997 when he asked to run and position Omogusii in his rightful political place in the Kenyan political place.
Back then he said the squabbles and petty jealous between leaders caused Omogusii the Vice presidency after the resignation of the late vice president Murumbi and the late Mzee Kenyatta preferred the late James Nyamweya then a powerful Minister to take over. However, Mzee Nyachae and the late Lawrence Sagini failed to endorse Nyamweya. (A story for another day). He further took me through the rites of passage of Omogusii had and what their significance it had in the society.
Marriage and circumcision
He spoke heavily about circumcision, marriage, and burial ceremonies and taboos. He educated me and informed that there were no “circumcision’ of girls (Female genital Mutilation) in the Abagusii culture from time immemorial till over hundred years ago when women protested and demanded to be “circumcised” so that they can be treated specially just like the boys. Then it was resolved that they too should be “touched”, symbolically to pass through that rite,”ogosarwa”() and not “okwaroka”…
Wondering why the old man will spend all this time, coughing, dozing off and on to lecture me. He winded up his lecture by telling me that unless the sons and daughters of Mwanyagetinge wake up and reform we will be assimilated like the Suba of South Nyanza. Which at times I concur with him as experts have warned over the extinct of the Gusii language.
I was tempted and got courage to ask what he meant. He asked me whether I was circumcised. Which I answered to affirm, I Was.Then he asked me which year well I answered .He further asked whether I was circumcised by a man or woman. I answered by a man.
The old man now went further and his conversation turned to an inquisitive approach. Asking many literal questions about me. Did you circumcise your children? When did you do that and how did you do it? Was is similar to the one you passed through? I answered in the negative.
The old man took a deep sigh and mumbled words…I could hear him say see, see. He dozed off left me wondering. I sat there looking at him with deep thoughts. I sat pensively. After 30 minutes he “woke up”. He asked me to listen very careful.
He said and I quote “you and your young generation have forsaken the ways of your forefathers, you have aped the so called modern civilization, you circumcise your sons in hospital using women nurses, you don’t sing for them as their forefathers”, he said harshly.
Political leadership and community leadership are sold to the highest bidder. You move from one funeral to another in a day bringing bad omens to your family against the will of our forefathers”,. Our forefathers are offended and the wrath of God has befall this generation”, he said as I sat keenly.
At that time I was numb, felt like I have been hit by lightning. As a spiritual man, he spoke of prophet Hosea. “My people perish for lack of knowledge”.
He posed ” what difference does it make between a young Kisii boy circumcised by women nurses in hospital and an old Luo circumcised in the same hospital by women nurses?” I didn’t have an answer. I asked him why all this lecture to me.
I have told you what I have been told to tell you. I hear you want to be President of a sick and corrupt country, God help you. Immediately he called his grandson, took his walking stick in one hand and held his grandson and off he went. I stood up dumbfounded. I thought it proper to pass this insight to you the sons and daughters of mwanyagetinge to decipher this message and if you find it worthy, and useful act in your small way. My simple and old episode for you brethren.
The piece is Authored by Kennedy Mong’are. National Liberal Party Leader and Immediate Former Nyamira County Senator. The views expressed above are not those of Gusii star.