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  • Writer's pictureStephen Osieyo

CAROL FLOWER- The Curse of a woman's tears.

Updated: Jun 28






Wek lok ma iwaco ni ibimara, obed adaa.

(let the promise you made to me to love me, be true)

Wek lok ma iwaco ni ibigwoka, obed adaa.

(let the promise you made to me to protect me, be true)

In iwaco ni ibimara, wa itoo baa

( you promised to love me till death)

In iwaco ni ibigwoka, itwo weng.

(You promised to protect me even when am sick)

Icika wilobo baa

(you promised me earth)

Wek wii opoo, icika wipolo

(you remember that you promised me heaven also)

____________________________________________

This song has gone to the  core of a Luo sacrileges. Sometime back I remember my mother warning my older siblings and cousins not to go around wooing girls by promising them marriage. “Use whatever tactics you have even lies, flirt, money. Spoil her with gifts but never promise a woman marriage just to  win her”!


Why? Because such a pledge goes direct to into the heart of their hearts and she will die with it .


Obango, Koko ser uru to wek chiko nyako ni ibiro kende. Onge chien malich ma ohingo pi wang’ nyako ma chwer to dok I chunye nikuop nene ingere kend aye iweyo” (Obango, Koko do not flirt with a girl by falsely promising  marriage. There is no bigger curse than the tears of a girl/woman that flows backwards down to her heart.).

 

Kend ni biro rochore” (If a woman sheds such tears for you, your life/married life will never blossom), says my mother.


Then when we thought we were safe in city, Fashionable Michael Jackson comes up with the same line(Don’t go breaking young girls hearts- Billy Jean 1983).


The who is who of this mischief makes a remarkably interesting read. The point is that the dread with which my mothers and older auntie issued this warning drove fear in us. It is the same with this song by Carol. I listened to it several times. I am not an Acholi speaker. In fact when I told Carol what I thought she was singing, she burst out laughing. However the fear and the terror is there. Why could I feel it when I do not understand Acholi? It is because Carol brings it out so clearly in her voice.


The voice and the way the song comes out of her body is terrifying and you can literally feel the body hair crawl on your skin. You can hear in her vocal cords  air navigating out of her vocal cords  jumps out of the studio to you wherever part of the world you are listening to this song.


Carol sings this song with all  her body and soul and wherever part of your body it reaches, you can feel her anguish. You can feel every little pain in that song. Every syllable turns to a reminder of betrayal.


Then she comes for more. Icika wilobo baa aaaaaa oooh ooohooh.

 

She does that oooh oooh like someone who has stepped on burning embers or burning makaa /charcoal and is hoping away  with the pain.

 

And when you think Carol has hopped away for good  especially if you are like me who lived  the dread and later witnessed the devastation of the lives of my relatives  and do not want to recall the song.

Now Carol comes back like a hunter coming back to put an animal out of agony. This time she takes the fight out of this world, out of space and out of sight, right to the headquarters where there is no appeal. Carol Agenorwoth takes her case to the chambers of ruoth (God).

 

Wek wii opoo, icika wipolo

 She finishes it off with a whimpering iiiii iii ii ii  eeee eee to completely finish you . Or to finish you completely

 

Verily I once wrote that someday lyrics will be like Kabasele Ochieng’s. I lied. This young lot are simply extra-terrestrial when it comes to composing and singing their lyrics.

 

Every time I listen to this song with my mother’s dread in my mind, I get breathless. Maybe because I saw at first hand and in the front seat the doom that awaits people who falsely promise girls marriage. I breathe fast, my mouth gets dry but I still replay the song just to hear my mothers warning being delivered in powerful melody.

 

I think at times I was just losing direction. Let me introduce this singer. Carol Flower is from Republic of Uganda. She is part of the ONE LUO project. It is no longer politically correct to refer to her as Acholi. So will say she was once Acholi by tribe. About 20 years ago the Luo nation resolved to do away with such clan names, so that words like Acholi, Alur, Padhola, Nuer, Madi are obliterated. Such words  did not serve any purpose but stood in the way of progressive cooperative economics, culture preservation and political might. This are the sort of lines that make Africa to be down trodden.


Carol joined the rest of the team to Kisumu to participate in the project. Her contribution is the song that haunts me. Who is Carol Flower.

 

In the beginning

Carol Flower  was born in Kitgum which is 2 hours drive from Gulu. She comes from a family of seven siblings and  she is boxed in their as the fourth child. There are three boys and four girls. Unlike most of her Kenyan counterparts, Carol did not grow up in institutional  or structured singing groups like churches and schools. This makes her singing very fresh because it is not straight  jacketed in the European style. Which is good because this is what Senegalese president Leopold Sedar Senghor preached. It is also the recommendation Director Ray Lema of Zaire State Research Bureau produced as a recommendation for President Mobutu Sese Seko on cultural revolution. For a period of 7 years from 1971-1977, foreign music was banned in Zaire now Congo. That is how Congo was able to shed off colonial instruments. Artists limited the use of brass to restrict African instruments. First came the famous cavacha style. A percussion based on African authentic music.


The Democratic Republic of the Congo took like a duck of water with bands like Bella Bella, Lipua  Lipua, Shama Shama mushrooming all over. Other groups took to the legendry African choral/vocal singing. It is what gave rise to soukous and bands like Zaiko, Wenge etc. The current Congolese music as we know it today even if it is falsely known as rumba is a complete divergent from the Latino rumba. Thanks to President Mobutu’s authenticity or Africanisation that locked foreign music out of Congo and keeping the purity of local  music the way we can feel it in  the singing of Carol Flower aka Carol Agenorwoth. We are all benefitting from such protectionist policies.


The first time Carol did proper studio work is when her name was put forward  to the organisers of ONE LUO project. She was as green  as they come. Even though she humbly concedes to making mistakes, she did learn fast. That is if at all she made mistakes, Carol born  as Carol Agenorwoth says it was a revelation and fortunately her parents were happy for her to take this path. Meeting a sea of multitude of Luos speaking a different dialect was the high point for her in that pilgrimage to Kenya. Seeing people who just gave you a welcome even preserved for neighbours because you were a blood bond separated 1,000 years ago was very emotional to Carol.


Professionally she had to learn fast when working with Javan McAjudo. Carol says, “McAjudo like all top top artists is a stubborn perfectionist. But if you are ready to learn, he throws all the skills at you. He is that generous when you show that you are birds of the same feather always seeking perfection. Carol was so satisfied with the whole trip she is ready for the next part.”


Carol talks about the usual challenges and  enablers taking advantage of  female artists in the Uganda scene. She thinks the Kenyan market has the advantage of being big, however  the new world order of the internet  and social media has balanced out that. Personally, Carol does not like being compared to an artist who maybe is  in another music genre. It is like sowing seeds in your head that you must change.


The lack of a manager and financial issues is a big challenge but Carol is determined to make a career out of music because she already has the support of her parents.


It is for this reason she has unending good words for  ONE LUO project. The organisers of the project  are not into music because they want money in return. These are people who use their personal resources because they believe that an  artist needs a helping hand out of this shark filled waters. More specifically Luo artists must be supported .


Do Luo women artists need a ringfenced support. Carol says, “definitely”!

 

I support.



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