THE PRE-REQUISITE LUO INTERNSHIP: PIDI
When I was seventeen years of age I flirted with thoughts of joining the US Armed forces so that I can sail all over the world as a marine. My wild dreams was rekindled by the army’s recruitment flier, “YOU NEED EXPERIENCE TO GET A JOB; AND YOU NEED A JOB TO GET EXPERIENCE. AT THE US ARMY WE GIVE YOU BOTH!” The comical part is that in a national aptitude test conducted nationally for vocational skills, I scored extremely highly for the formally tutored subjects including English and maths but failed lamentable in basic skills in automobile mechanics. I could not even tell dry steering from reversing a car. I thought driving a car without petrol is more harmful to the car than driving a car without oil or water. In one question I answered as if to mean car seats should be made to face the right door so that I can check on the rear car. My failure was so spectacular that they sent out test inspectors all the way to East of Los Angeles, California to find out if I was a normal human being. It was a relief when they found out that I was just a new arrival from Homa Bay School, Kanyada South Nyanza with a Mexican sounding name.
I am telling you this story to underscore the role of work experience in real life. Most Americans knew the answers because most had grown up handling cars and were driving at the age of 17. Well they should have tried me in Ugenya Chang’aa distilling skills with Ukwala police combing the area.
Even though the army advert was about career work experience, as human beings we need certain skills to start us off. Say how to operate a microwave, how to boil water. It is still possible to find people so unskilled that they can burn boiled water-overcook tea.
Every normal human being has a chance of engaging in sex. And having sex creates the possibility of giving life. It makes sense that the very first internship a Luo child had was babysitting- Japidi. Boy or girl, every child of my generation babysat their second follower. As I was the second last born, I baby-sat my elder sisters second born (he is a Doctor with real Kenyan degree). I was so good my sister made me babysit 2 more after school.
In many instances unless one is at the bottom like me japidi took over the role vacated by their sibling that they follow. We all took pride in pidi. We grew up even taking sides with the sibling we baby sat. Taking excuses for them. Lying for them. Handholding them when they start going to school. And like me followed it up by catering for their schooling. The bonding between Japidi and the recipient sibling even took spiritual proportions.
And there many benefits to be derived from pidi. Some that involved the community and raised clans. Marriages, clans, suweho, character referencing were all better benefits from pidi. The best mothers, teachers had exemplary record of pidi. We will get back to teachers and tutors which was the inspiration for this post.
Pidi built one’s patience, temperament, tactical skills, and at the end the ability to watch growth and appreciate the art of building and creating. So that even a difficult pupil or employee can be turned around to be a joy to work with. I am happy to count at so many careers that I helped shape and so many career football players that are having wonderful happy families.
Pidi also built all that goes with domestic and institutional administration and management. In some communities including the Hebrew it led to their upgrade into house wives. A staple of Luo clans illustrates that despite the slurs against descendants of jopidi many Luo clans like the insanely intellectuals of Gem Kojuodhi clan, the Phd littered Karachuonyo clan were built from the houses of jopidi. Its a system that served us well in the past even if unpalatable in todays world. It made the Luo empire the biggest empire stretching from South Sudan to the hills of the Congo Empire.
However unlike ordinary work experience, pidi has had peculiar challenges. Some of the deterrents could be environmental and some self-infected factors.
In normal work experience, one could change careers. Say from a stenographer to a bookkeeper. This kind of career change was not available to Japidi because at one time one will need to raise their own family. The need to babysit one’s children was therefore a necessary drive to rush to a work stint in pidi but at the same time made it a burden.
Unlike work experience, poor performance was not available. In work experience, you could fail and extend your work experience. In Luo pidi, there was only one phase. If one fails, the record follows them forever.
Say if a child dies even from unrelated causes, the Luo beliefs tied ill luck to the Japidi. It means that should they later on experience anything to that infant mortality then the experience as Japidi will be inferred. Even suitors and match makers would flag that incident.
And those are not the only issues. Japidi lived by so many ethical orders that could be picked easily. I cannot list all of them in such a small post. But say the taboo of going for a short call while holding the baby. This was considered a social misnomer from Japidi. How was it detected? The baby would get skin rashes, something called orianyanja and the likes. And if you reason scientifically, this was basic hygiene and control of infections. So Japidi had to personally adhere to such stringent orders.
Still some were common sense, like sitting out with the baby at dusk.
Ramahino or Mafundu
Mahino or mafundu was detected at this stage of pidi internship. How one punished the baby, could be keenly observed by the elderly at home or even the mother who notices that the baby is still whimpering. A mother would examine the hidden parts of the baby, whether they have been pinched in the armpits. Records of mahino it is believed followed japidi for life. This is because ramahino or mafundu does not shed these traits. It never goes away.
If say japidi was ramahino deep in milambo Nyanza and then ended up taking a teaching job far removed from Kadem in say a school at Yala in Siaya, the traits of mahino would show very easily in say how they punished their pupils.
It is for this reason that the Luo internship was used to match-make by suitors, as red flags when assessing character. These traits if visible during pidi would even be used to exclude a man from tero/lako (wife inheritance) or suweho as the clan would not putting the widow in harm’s way or the bride/groom in a marriage from hell.
Evidence of Pidi internships.
Its undeniable that the yester Luos have produced the best career civil servants. Those who lay down their lives for others and turn the other cheek. It can be said the yester Luos were also academicians and tutors. Some of these skills came from years of the first internship.
Arguably Luos are the best advocates in Kenya. This evident in the long careers in trade unions and political democracy advocates. Fighting for people who cannot fight for themselves has been the red flag for the people of Nam Lolwe basin. And it is usually done at no self-reward. In politics, trade unions, welfare groups, community hosting and chaperoning the people of the lake have excelled. The who is who roster is composed of many Luos.
If pidi gave so much in community preparedness, why has the community given up on pidi internships to create a trail of single parenthood, selfish lifestyle and brutal teachers of our pupils.
HINDRANCES TO PIDI INTERNSHIPS
I received numerous explanations and not excuses. None or the respondents wanted to excuse this but they gave out explanations.
1.Modern economics- As explained above, one baby sequentially baby sat the second follower. It was clock work. No questions ifs or buts. However early school and boarding from the age of 4 means that this necessary work experience has been dispensed with and replaced by unequally half-baked house help tasked with all manner of house hold chores- social internet has emerged of all manner of abuse from physical to sexual. At what benefit. Well at the benefit of a baby spending time sleeping in the mat at the day care.
2.Law of averages- for this internship to work well the sample size must be big. It is not going to work where the size of the Luo family has been reduced to 1 or two children. Even if you extend it to 3 children it means only the first born is going to gain from internship. In other words, we will be back to the US Army recruitment flier at the opening paragraph.
3. Modern economics- The family unit is being ravaged by economic deterrents. Even if one has a family member available to babysit, the demands of both families working means that both parents have to work full time with unforgiving working times.
4. Western Lifestyle- The eroding of our culture by the colonialists is just beginning to take real effect. What our masters did not tell us is that the reason why slave trade and slavery was so difficult to eradicate was because our own mothers’ aunties were babysitting and even breast feeding all over the west at silly cost if any. Because the African slave was adept at pidi.
Workplace Diversity and Equal Opportunity
In western Europe pidi has been recognised as necessary part of the society. Apart from maternity leave and the protection of parents at maternity, employment laws in Europe have introduced various schemes like flexi working times, salary top ups and baby care schemes to ensure that the child received as much pidi as is possible before the parents goes back to work. It may not work perfectly but the initiatives are there.
Such welfare schemes are necessary in any community and the most democratic society cannot turn their back on the least fortunate. In addition, the tax system is a re-distribution of income to bring some level playing field to a community. The government employment tax code is such a distribution that rewards only the currently employed. It is careless of future employees of the nation of past employees of the nation. That is why in many western nations there is a greater emphasis on taking care of the future income tax payers by making sure that all kinds of internships or work experience that creates order in a society are funded. In Luo Nyanza, pidi internships cannot be overemphasised.
The spirit of county governance was to ensure that legislation is localised to every locality. If school going age is too early and is denying a community from the benefits of a culturally irreplaceable internship, then it is for the local governance to advocate for amendment to take into account our local circumstances. What is the use of embracing some education structure that is not fit for purpose and we end up with brutal teachers who cannot even transmit the very basic community child diplomacy?