NYADANDE: The last authentic Waya and Migogo
MARGARET NYADANDE 1935-2021 There is this chapter in the bible where a disciple faces the grilling from Jesus Christ the son of God in his very last days on this earth. If we had an audience with a resurrected Waya, I think all of us would just have one question to ask. Let me rephrase how we would take turns seeking assurance that Waya loved us.
Ombanyo: Waya, do you love me? Waya: Chot Rambo, Chot Agola, Chot Aoko, Chot Ajwang' nyar Oduma, wod ber ogwalo, I love you and you know that I love you? John wod Awino: Waya, do you love me? Waya: Chot Were, I love you and you know that I love you? Sami: Nyar-othieno, do you love me? Waya: Ombok Winga- bade-chal-ororo, I love you and you know that I love you? Othieno: Waya, do you love me? Waya: Nyadida, I love you and you know that I love you? Rebecca: Mama, do you love me? Waya: Arebi nyathina, I love you and you know that I love you?
Awino: Nyar Othieno, do you love me?
Waya: NyaBoro Nango, I love you and you know that I love you?
NyaKano: Waya, Do you love me?
Waya: Nyar Oduka, nyar Awasi, I love you and you know that I love you?
Koko: Waya, Do you love me?
Waya: Anderea Poche, I love you and you know that I love you?
And the list would go on and on and on. This is the sort of inquest I imagined we are all facing. My aunt Waya was like that. Now that she is gone you have the feeling that you were loved the most and inside you need that assurance that you are the undisputed no 1 in her life. And it did not matter whether you gave her nothing. She still loved you the same. She was like the sun. Whether you are standing or sitting down, you get the same intensity.
I never quite knew I loved her that intensely until one day after I had drifted away, a dying relative came up with that cheap shot terminally ailing Africans of the 1990’s used to pull. Without reasoning I just jumped up and found myself covering Waya, “You don’t touch this one, Don’t talk about Waya like that”.
And every one was shocked at my readiness to violence to protect her when we are in a simple and basic dialogue/gossip are is common with Luo palava.
That is when I surprisingly discovered my love for her that I never knew existed. You know how sometimes you think your relative is yours and you don’t have to say I love you or sorry. Waya was a true Luo migogo/auntie. A Luo auntie is consular office. You know what they say of diplomats- A diplomat is someone who tells you to go to hell in a way that you smile going to hell. Waya did not quite do that but she had a feel good factor that made you feel you are the only undisputed no 1 in her life.
Working in my brothers Accountancy office where she settled for years after she was widowed at a poetic age, she radiated goodness working with John Kosieyo. And since Kosieyo and Partners was rendezvous in town where all relatives converged in Nairobi up to 1990, every kin had a welcoming Waya always waiting in the office. Officially she was a staff member but she spent most of her time doing consular role. In Italian words she was the consigliori for all my brethren and clansmen. Always speaking with a drawl and soft voice despite the most challenging situation. And we had challenging uncharted waters on urbanised cultural issues. There was this time a young lady tricked my cuz that “an-nene-mama-obiro-koda and is therefore marriageable in Umira Kager”. And Waya walked that extremely emotional and sensitive path gingerly until the matter was resolved without causing pain. And then there was also this one where a wod-Nya Urang’ married four ladies at one go! And Waya walked that minefield until matters were calmed and it was down sized to one wife. And there was this one where a cuz tried to spill the unnecessary truth at a burial. Again just through calm diplomacy Waya calmed the simmering waters and the matters were laid to rest. And comically we had this guy who thought a nyaGer can be damaged goods just because she was a teen mother. Again Waya firmly but gently convinced the the eligible bachelor that there are no damaged goods in Luo brides. "Don't come walking too tall." The list is countless because spending decades in one working station is not even allowed in government ambassadorial role.
And as a Luo migogo, Waya lived the envoy’s life. The traditional Luo migogo was the real networker. And in this role waya would also continuously and perennially re-introduce marriageable parties between her marital clan and maiden clan. Always head hunting for either side. Or should I say bride hunting. And Waya did this excellently. We can account for several real marital unions on either side that sprouted from Waya’s hands.
I am just glad that she left that ability to love in the hearts of Okinyo, Ouko and a Rebby. Ooh and she also left the seeds of petite frame with a Rebby to remind her where they all came from. The light complexion from my grandfather she left with all the kids to always light their path. And even if she kept my grandfather’s height for herself, she at least gave them the legs from Umira Kager girls. Most of all she gave them that calm aura. You can annoy Okinyo Dorcas and she could be seething inside her but in her exterior she is all smiles. Rebecca forgave me 50 years ago and it has been a real forgiveness because she cannot even remember. I have tried everything to remind her of that juvenile transgression but honestly she cannot remember. And that was Waya forgiveness.
And she kept the relationship alive regardless of who you are. Do I want Waya’s character on anybody. No No No No. It is not easy being Margret Nyadande, if you truly know her. It is practically impossible to be Nyadande in this cynical world of today. That her heart carried all this long can be because of one single reason.
Next time I am asked if I know of an African philosopher- a person who lives the life style they believe and preach- I will say yes I do. Margret Nyadande nyar Othieno ka Omuga ka Osieyo of Umira Kager of Ukwala born 1935 and 2021 lived and practised the life she believed in despite extreme pressures to deviate from goodness. And she lived contented in a way she loved. I never say goodbye because I don't know how to.
Just another true story from Luo women on the frontlines