• Stephen Osieyo

OJWANG’ HATARI: A DANGER TO LUO FAMILY UNIT

Updated: Oct 11




There is a very pedestrian social media attempt at redirecting the community towards wealth creation with the mantra of “Buy Onagi; Build Onagi”. The underlying assumption is that from directing our markets at ourselves we will prosper and in that prosperity we will steer away from wasteful opposition politics of the last 70years. I have no problem with that even if it ignores the bigger market in other neighbourly communities. I also have no issue with that even if the prosperity is not directed at manufacturing. My problem is that this mantra does not address the biggest threat to the so called Onagi- The unrelenting destruction of the Luo family unit. Anything that erodes the family unit must be stopped and all shall be added unto us.


The world over the most powerful communities are the ones that make deliberate steps to protect and secure the family units and subsequently the communities. Take for example the Christian denominations. The most powerful denomination is the rich and all powerful Catholic church. Not only are they rich in numbers, the Vatican is also rich financially and they are feared. We can argue into how they acquire their wealth; however, the Catholics are the most domineering in a family unit. In a Catholic marriage, the intruder is arm-twisted to convert to Catholicism. In that way, they not only keep their number but they add to their number.


This trend is also very common of the most powerful communities the world over. The Asian communities do not marry out of their own. Take for example the Indians who have taken over all the corner shops in the UK. They have now dominated the top level of the medical world. Surprise surprise they marry within. In that way, a doctor ends up marrying an Indian doctor and if not a doctor they marry within the Indian community not an English. This guarantees that the investment in producing that doctor is kept within the community in addition to the skills acquired. Should cooperative economics demand then harnessing of the skills is readily available.


The same tradition is observed with Bengali, Nigerians, Jews, and basically all the dominant communities who have taken over a particular industry. In fact, as for the Asians like Bengali and Pakistani, they have this syndicate that any marriage must pair a diasporan and a non-diasporan. So every summer they all migrate to mother nations to marry Pakistani brides or brides groom and bring them back to the UK. This has the effect of reducing unemployment in the mother country and increasing diaspora remittances back home.


The undocumented syndicate here is that wealth circulates within the community be it Somalis, Greeks, Jews, Turkish or Polish both in demography. Is this the same of the Luo community?


The Vikings of the Nile,

The ancient Luos used exactly the same tactics to expand beyond measure. Of the 3 sons of Sinakuru, Odongo (Kalenjins, Turgen, Elgeyo), Opiyo Dhiang’ (Lang’i, Maasai), it is Podho (Luos, Acholi, Alur etc) who are the most populous. Podho descendants conquered larger acreage and is spread in 6 countries of eastern Africa. Aluru alone in DRC/Uganda have a population of 2.5Million. How did the river Nilotes do what highland and plain land nilotes could not do? These Vikings of the Nile believed in expansion of the empire. Like the Vikings, their main occupation from 1200AD-1900 AD was to conquer dominate and capture women and children to be part of their Luo community. Theirs was not to enslave but to keep on algebraically expanding their number. And that chain marriages to expand the Luo the population is even vociferously defended by even a modern biographer Peter Firstbrook in his book, The Obamas on how the sun never sets on US President Obama family from the far east to Hawaii. So Obama Senior acquiring other wives while the other marriages subsisted was not bigamy or cheating but a natural order of things and what is expected of a Luo man to expand Luo dominance.


This plus other traditions that a Luo child belongs to the man, there is no divorce in Luo land, the right to sex by a Luo woman (dwaro riya) ensured that children were welcome even if not sired by the man. The conventional eyesore incidences of unheard children of Luo men showing up at burial to mourn their departed shared father is more of a ritual as well as spiritual. But mostly it is a tradition to keep on swelling the Luo numbers. What has changed?


The scrambling of the Luo household can be attributed to many factors including, new economic order, long years in career development, urban migration, World Wars, a general population decline, Aids scourge and Lake basin poverty among other things. However as introduced earlier the wealth erosion is also directly related to the decline in family units especially when members of the Luo community choose to marry outside the Luo community. And specifically if it is the well-equipped male child that the Luo spent so much showering with investment to strengthen the community. And here in lies my gripe with Ojwang’ Hatari Vitimbi TV show.


Ojwang' Hatari and Vitimbi Impetus.

Ojwang’ Hatari was a character in tv show that would not have been aired in any tv station in the western world from late 1970’s. Such TV shows profiling one section of the community were written off abruptly because they profiled those communities. The list is long but TV shows like, Good Times starring the unwanted JJ Walker character just had to go. And so were Different strokes and any TV show or film that profiled a section of the community.


In Kenya Vitimbi starring Ojwang Hatari which was sponsored by Welcome K Limited, a pharmaceutical company was always on Saturday prime time viewing with the whole family watching. The main character Ojwang’ Hatari a dyslectic, dim witted coward Luo was acting besides a non-Luo of un-prescribed ethnic community. The physical appearance of Mrs Ojwang’ was of a non-Luo. Yet every Saturday the reputation of highly skilled Luo community was being dragged through the sewers and replaced with an Ojwang’ Hatari character who could not construct a full sentence. The smart overdressed Luos with English suits in the tropical heat and Luo ladies with their elaborate ethnic ear rings was now replaced by Ojwang’ Hatari who could not put the right shoe on the right foot. There was even this pre-show advert where the brave and fearless Luo in all trade unions was replaced by a coward Ojwang’ Hatari who could jump on to a table at the sight of a cockroach. To top it up this Vitimbi Luo was assigned a wife who apparently was the brain of Ojwang’. The eloquent Luos of Achieng’ Oneko, Tom Mboya and all those pompous Luos were replaced a tv Luo who when faced with a simple question and answer conversation could not reason out but either scream or utter wololo yaye. That is the image Ojwang' Hatari in Vitimbi injected on every young Kenyan on prime time tv. That was the regular weekly onslaught on the Luo profile of the Luo man in the 1980s youngling


And this is the damaging repertoire that was drip fed to a young child growing up every Saturday prime time viewing before a popular football made in Germany show or BIG League football. While such a despicable show was banned in the US for profiling a section of the community, Welcome K Ltd, a US company, welcomed a show that unrobed all that there is about a community whether deliberately by the Kenyan or not. But Welcome K Ltd must have known what they were doing. Why? Would they employ a sex offender just because they are in Kenya? The grapevine had it that multi nationals were being hand helped to get rid of Luos in their employment after the 1982 turn coup attempt where the community were greatly implicated to hide the mischief of the real designers of the coup. True even the Court martial dished a constant 25year jail term to Luos found at fault while other tribes hardly got 10 years’ jail terms.


Impact on the Child

The current lot of male child choosing to marry out of the community were probably toddlers after this lot that watched in school or were at the wrong end of the Ojwang’ Hatari joke. If they worshipped Ojwang’ Hatari in Vitimbi or not, they saw their star marrying outside the community. They are likely to marry outside the community and it would not be a Nilotic or a Lake basin woman who reminds him of what he should run away from. Further to that he would probably look for a woman who accepts him without the he man role expected of the Luo man but a wimp and an excuse for a man to go and settle with far away from Luo land. And some say look at any high profile man married out of the community and fail identify a male character because in place is a comic of a man. If A Kisii or Luhya woman would lure them near the lake, then sorry wrong number. And for me I lay this spurning of the Luo woman and draining of the Luo wealth mostly at the door step of Ojwang’ Hatari Vitimbi show. How about the female child? The Luo woman has never been thoroughly examined for the break-up of the Luo family unit. But that is for another day. My gripe with Ojwang’ Hatari Vitimbi show is that it put on this young Luo woman ‘s head that their men are spineless and dumb. We are talking of pairing such a young woman with a young Luo man whose head has already been turned by the same TV show. Any feeble attempt by the Luo woman to steel up the man like all women do all over the world will be an excuse for him to walk away from courtship or even marriage on to the arms of you know who. Your guess is as good as mine.


In addition to that we are talking of a young Luo man who heard all the taunting in school, or the domestic taunting how your father is this and your father is that. They probably do not even have the wits to retort, if we are all useless why do these non-Luo women scram towards us the moment we step into college? Why? Because they are a beaten lot in character from tv show, playground and now at home.

The foregoing is a concoction of less inter-Luo family units which in turn means that the returns from the hard earned investment into the Luo family unit will find its way outside into Nairobi urban area. Don’t forget that the non-Lakeside Luo wives never settles on the Lake side. A white man will marry a Luo woman and come to settle in deep Karachuonyo or Alego Kaluo but not these non-Lake side Luo women of Kenyan urban centres. Verily I say unto thee the end of the world will come before they settle with a Luo man in Luo land. And these are the sort of Luo family units that make non sense of Buy Onagi- Build Onagi.


Cultural strength. The strength of any community lies in its cultural strength as depicted in Luos for over 1000 years or in communities that stick to their own. Buy Onagi build Onagi must begin from Marry Onagi Build Onagi. Any subscription to Ojwang Hatari Vitimbi sermons will render our efforts useless.

I will not accept that Luo women are the most difficult to live with because most of the Luo men married outside the community are henpecked to the nest and it is a common knowledge. On the other hand, if Luo men were difficult to live with then they would not be "a catch" for women from other ethnic communities all over the world, so much that prerequisite exemption of male genital circumcision is waived by the invading spouse.


The false image of a Luo woman or man as inspired by such like propaganda will only help in the complete erasure of the Luo family unit. It is not helpful to reject a Luo man that Luos are primitive and marry into a community where you will kneel for all his relatives and still will never see his home because you are really not a wife. Just like the Luo man who claims Luo women are bossy only to run into the arms of a woman who hen pecks them and claims it is civilised and European-like does not make sense.


In summary those who have fallen too much into the Ojwang’ Hatari Vitmbi script need to retrace our steps. Any cultural revolution must begin with Marry Onagi: Build Onagi.


Marry Onagi: Build Onagi

I particularly admire the new Luo Bachelorettes whether in the Diaspora or Kenya. Their rush to do what the men don’t do in Lake basin area from former North Nyanza, Central Nyanza, South Nyanza and Kisii just underscores that women are the perpetrators of culture. They convey the culture. A Luo woman will think 3 times before marrying outside Luo land and if they do they are likely to drag their men back to Luo land. A Luhya woman will do the same and drag the Luo man back to Luo land.


But most of all it is the woman in any community who is the conveyor of culture. It is the woman who raises responsibilities. That is why the most corrupt public servant was a model child at home in front of their mothers. It is the same reason why reckless Luo men will favour to marry outside the Luo community as there is no prefect for Luo culture to remind him of his responsibility at home like paying school fees, dispatching dher oyuma, dhi nindo liel, caring for nephews, drinking responsibly. Those flowers don’t care what they Luo man do as long as they give money, donate brain power or warm the bed. When the time comes she will pick her walking stick even at 90 years of age and go back to her people.


It is therefore the Luo woman who must un leash the charge of Marry Onagi- Build Onagi by first extolling the virtues of marrying their own no matter how bent. No community is built without the their woman. The Luo woman must lead the rise of the Luo family unit by foregoing a lot of the loopholes of the man and vice versa. We either hang in together or we just hang. As custodians of culture whose names are engraved on every Luo Nonro (sub-clan), the Luo woman must take ownership of the community and show leadership by developing a thick skin to current Luo men's shortcomings and at the same time tutor their sons as to the essentials of a good Luo husband. Boys listen to their mothers because they are deeply in love with their mothers. The next generation of Luo men will then turn out to be real Luo men. The Luo woman must do whatever it takes to redirect the prodigal son of the lake to Marry Onagi-Build Onagi by any means necessary.



 

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