ONYANGO MIDIKA: WHAT MANNER OF A MAN
Updated: Jul 9, 2020
In order for you to appreciate why this action is etched in my memory, I have to give a thorough environmental scan of the Kenya by then. It is zillion light years from the Kenya Raila Amolo Odinga has brought the community and Kenya at large. You have to be patient and join me in early 1980s to understand how far we have had to come.
The Luo siege mentality will last long and the panacea will not be a presidency. Like all siege mentality they are easy to create but difficult to obliterate. That is why visionary leaders like Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, once they see them they try to put all stops to avoid them in the first instance.
There was a time in Kenya when a certain part of Kenya was systematically maligned by slurs so much that even multinational institutions joined the party of ostracizing members of the Luo community. The coup attempt just accelerated it or rekindled what was already in place. This was the period before the arrival of top administrator Hezekiah Oyugi on the scene. I am keeping the Oyugi powder dry because I will get to it next.
I recall during that period of Luo harassment there were two mentally challenged Kenyans on Nairobi streets. One was a young man well-built and probably in his late twenties. The other was an older harmless man and probably a war veteran who just marched in military strides in Nairobi streets. They were all conveniently banded Onyango. I have to admit that the military man was everything a Luo including his 6 lower teeth missing and accent. The younger one could have been a Luhya or a Kisii. Unfortunately when he took his clothes off his genitals betrayed him and in fact he once asked me for money in that Gulf Nyanza arrogant Dholuo accent, “Ani Omera miya pesa yaye?”
The harmless military man was always on the receiving end of the downtrodden homeless boys. “Wewe jaluo mtarudi pahali mulitoka” they would shout at him while pelting him with rubbish because he was very clean and a sharp dresser. Do you get the irony. The down trodden street boy was also indoctrinated to ostracize this mentally challenged man. The ones who could be shot and people celebrate thought a Luo was their problem.
Then there was the younger Onyango. At times he would strip naked and walk in full erection in Nairobi streets and at bus stops. Which was threatening because to any man or woman having a man near you in that state is a very threatening affair. And more so to men it was a mobile rape threat.
I understand the fear and dread this caused. However what was shocking was the newspapers
would join in condemnation that the man be transferred to Kisumu and nobody sees what is wrong with that. Even prostitutes enticing customers at Nairobi brothels in river road would shriek when Onyango passed by in that condition. I think you can now see how easy it was for American churches in the state of Mississippi to announce the lynching of African Americans during church service.
Even members of Maendeleo ya Wanawake, the so called liberalized urban women did not see anything wrong with this. No newspaper or public official saw what was wrong with the tabloid screams of return him to Kisumu until Salim Lone of Viva Magazine questioned the morals of such people.
“Does it mean that we have two Kenya or are the women in Kisumu used to such harm?” he asked in a hard hitting editorial in VIVA Magazine. That is when there was a stop to return him to Kisumu crusade.
The above example was at the low end of Ostracisation At the high and Institutional end of was even multinationals who are parented in countries with above board ethics but in Kenya were funding the TV show Vitimbi and Ojwang’ Hatari in addition to weeding their companies of Luo top brass. The TV show Vitimbi theme and narrative is the sort of theme that was long rejected in the western world because it painted certain communities in with very negative stereotype and helped institutionalize bigotry. It’s a deep seated institutional prejudice. Vitimbi the every Saturday family show at prime time was starring dim witted Luo man with stage name Ojwang’ Hatari. Ojwang’ was a coward, lazy, and not worth his salt man but married to a woman whose tribe you could not tell. In other words, cowardly lazy dim witted Luos versus the rest of Kenya. That is the narrative a Kenyan multinational sponsored to drip feed the nation from 6 year old child to an adult. In other parts of the world such ventures that gave the image of say happy go lucky black man were being criminalized, yet in Kenya the multinationals happily sponsored them.
This is the toxic bile where Hon Onyango Midika proved to be my hero. I don’t know Onyango Midika personally and have never been close to him as a person I have even been to less than a metre near him but has never shaken his hand because by then football rivalry meant that I keep away from him out of jealousy and envy. However back to parliament when he battled the Njonjos and the rest he was my hero.
He was my hero in that he never hid being a Luo. His looks, his dental structure, his girth, and finally his accent was like, “Here I am, take your best shot”. Onyango Midika was a classic Luo siege mentality. “You don’t like me, well I am not changing for you.’
Personally the climax which was gratifying was his exchange in parliament with some random Member of Parliament bent on making him a laughing stock. It just got refreshed recently when I discovered that actually dholuo words like “ratiglo”(reticulated), “Agwambo” (mugwump) are also words having the same meaning in English.
One day during a parliamentary session Hon Midika was on his feet. A certain Lamu MP, Hon Abubabkar Madhubuti was doing what the whole nation was being slyly encouraged by TV programmes like Vitimbi to do to a Luo. He was belittling Onyango Midika by mimicking every word in a Luo accent. Then the said MP stood up to ask an irrelevant question just to take part in slaying a Luo and he did it mimicking heavy Dholuo accent.
And Onyango Midika naturally snapped. With the house cheering the MP and jeering Onyango Midika, he got up to show them what a siege mentality is. “Iwinjo Honorable “Madhuchietha .........”. Or words to that effect
Word quickly passed around parliament that he had reacted with profanity and the speaker demanded Hon Onyango Midika withraw and apologise. I don’t remember Onyango Midika apologizing and neither did he withdraw the statement. .I was thrilled. “If we could only have more Onyango Midikas!” I thought to myself.
After 40 years I just discovered that that Onyango Midika was in his right not to apologise or withdraw. Shithousery is an English word to mean “gaining advantage by unfair means”, like Honourable Abubakar Madhubuti of Lamu was trying to do.
Did I say I was thrilled by Midika's action? I Iied because I am still thrilled.
Why am I still thrilled by Onyango Midika? I am thrilled because at that time you were even expected to apologise for being a Luo.