Obama Presidency: A Luo Spiritual Journey

JRAlilaTheLuoDreamers'OdysseyIn THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: FROM THE SUDAN TO AMERICAN POWER, (https://www.createspace.com/3373494;  www. amazon.com ), Novelist JR Alila’s theses is that six-hundred years ago, a Luo man’s rise to power in the western world was already a dream constantly visiting the mind of one boy known as Ajwang’ the Dreamer (Sunrise From the West Dream)—later nicknamed RAMOGI for his wrestling prowess. This Ajwang’s life would be full of perils as he became a target of killer human envy.  Ajwang’ would leave home early and live with wild animals so as to learn from nature, be part of a spiritual ministry of which his father and ancestors had been part, and polish leadership skills. Ajwang’ emerges is a total man—a man of the wild, a hunter, a fighter, a wrestler, a dreamer, a healer, and a priest with a wife a band of raiders and herdsmen (read cowboys)—a wise ”bad man,” and the great, great . . . grandfather of the Luo Nations now in Sudan, Uganda, Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and the Diaspora.

When Ramogi dies in the fifteenth century (17 generations ago) he leaves fifteen sons and two daughters in a thriving home. But the struggle for power was already on among his sons, even as he had forestalled rivalry by bequeathing to Podho —his eldest son—the STAFF and STOOL of LEADERSHIP, and to his Militant son Arua he had bequeathed the SPEAR OF MILITARY WISDOM AND MIGHT. Then there was the humbler Mudama Adhola who enjoys the father’s trust in matters of spiritual ministry in the clan (Priesthood), even as Podho enjoyed some of that too as the SPIRITUAL LEADER (Luo: Ker).

The Great Schism among the Ramogi sons over the much written about Arua-Podho conflict and tit-for-tat over a Spear and a Beadwas a spiritual struggle over Leadership (military, wisdom, and Spiritual power) with one rogue elephant as the troublemaker. Podho (father of Kenyan Luos) emmerges with All power(as a Ker)–leaving Arua Ocol as a  Powerless leader (a Labongo) with a dead child.

 Podho would pass on the Leadership torch to his youngest son he named after his father Ramogi. He called him Ramogi Ajwang’. He would leave him along the present day Kenya-Uganda border. With him were a number of cousins (Ager, Ogelo, Owinyo, ) from Adhola’s branch to protect the interests of young Ker as he matures to lead Luo conquests around Lake Victoria Kenya and Tanzania. Other waves of Luo migrations of the grandsons of Podho (and their cousins) spread across north and central Uganda complete the cast of Luo Nyanza over a three-hundred-year period.

Four rundred years latter, there would be a Cold War worldwide. But for the Luo who had began to play a pivotal intellectual role in a to-be-independent nation known as Kenya (A British creation), the war was very close to home. Kenya needed an informed educated elite, and America and Britain, on one side fronted the Western benefactor, while Soviet Union (and her eastern bloc) also were ready to train them.

Finding socialism closer to Luo philosophical thought, Mr Alogo Odinga—a former schoolmaster who had plunged into Kenya’s fight for independence, and had become Independent Kenya’s fist Vice President, and who had shunned a role as the Luo Ker (spiritual leader)–was sending young Kenyan scholars to the Soviet Union and her Eastern Bloc.

Mr. Tom Joseph Mboya (TJ Rateng’)— a young Trade Union Leader of the American school of thought (read capitalist)—was engaged in an AIRLIFT Program (Mboya/Kennedy Airlift), sending young Kenyan Students to the America’s. Barack Obama Sr was part of this program.

Now, both TJ Rateng’ and Ajuma Jaramogi, as grandsons of Ramogi, naturally believed in African Socialism (share with your brother). But events that followed soon after Kenya’s Independence would see these intellectual giants pull in different directions, and with them Luoland. Mr. Odinga left government and formed Kenya People’s Union, KPU (Motto: cham gi wadu = eat with your brother) a party that the Kenyatta goverment proscribed in shorter order, making a virtual one party state. Mboya Remained in KANU.

Grownups went with either man, even as Luo spiritual unity was never in doubt. Children would grow up in an atmosphere of crisis as one prominent Luo after another died under suspicious circumstances(including their fovorite son, Tom Mboya who died at the hands of an assassin in July 1969). The 1960s and 1970s were full of deaths in Luoland: a passenger steamship went under in Lake Victoria, killing a lot of well trained Luos; Lolwe Bus killed people on the Bridge on Rivier Miriu, Argwings Kodhek died; Mboya died. The Music of one late Musician, George Ramogi, captured this perilous period in a number of sad songs.

What emerged was a people with deep mistrust of the government—a posture that persists today. With Tom Mboya dead, Mr. Odinga remained as the only symbol of Luo Unity and opposition—with his role becoming not only political but also kind of spiritual. The Luo saw themselves in him and his leadership

It was in this climate of mistrust of the Government that Barack Obama Senior returned after his Undergraduate/Graduate Studies from the Americas. Even as a beneficiary of the Mboya/Kennedy Airlifts, he would not survive the lopsided polarization of Luo intellectualism towards the older Odinga as the symbol of Luo unity and Resistance. As the 1970s matured, every Luo, young and old, empathized with Odinga’s trials under house arrest whenever there was a crisis in the country. Mboya’s death and Odinga’s tragic exchange with Kenyatta in Kisumu in 1969 did not help heal the mistrust among a people who felt sidelined in their own country. Prominent Luos lost their senior government appointments whenever there was a political crisis involving Mr. Odinga. Luos were happiest whenever the Kenyan Government threw a Parastatal Chairmanship at Odinga, and their joy would vanish when he was fired for making an unpalatable political statement. During such frequent upheavals, Luo appointments as Senior Civil Servants would decrease to the extent that for decades often there were only one Luo (nominated) as a Cabinet Minister and one or two Permanent Secretaries appointments. The only thing the Luo would gather around in the 1970s to 1990 was a football club, Gor Mahia FC. No jokes kids. Gor Mahis FC was a kind of religion for the Luo man or woman, and perhaps a reminder of times past, when magicians such as Gor Kogalo ruled the spiritual landscape (Prime Minister, Raila (Agwambo) Odinga’s rise to prominence in the late 1990s to-date has seen Gor FC fanaticism among the Luo go down a beat!). An intellectual like Barack Obama Sr. would not escape the ”curse” of being a Luo during his time—it chased one to the workplace;  it destroyed families; only dreams would outlive it—the world has seen a Luo world Leader.

Some Luo prophets such Father Johannah Owalo of Luo Nomiya Church (Father Owalo Luonized Biblical Teachings to fit Luo spiritual understanding and monotheism) was dreaming about it close to 100 years before in 1913 (the most maligned dream in America and e-web). What we don’t know is if the late Barack Obama Sr saw the American Presidency of his son, Barack H. Obama, coming.

Now that is where creative freedom in historical fiction starts in JR Alila’s  THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: FROM THE SUDAN TO AMERICAN POWER (https://www.createspace.com/3373494). The author (JR Alila) has attempted to walk back and forth in history so as to create a narrative about the Luo experience–both physical and spiritual– as the “collective Luo he” journeys in history, dreaming—with “the dream” and its burdens carried in every generation by one “Ajwang‘” (DhoLuo Feminine name for a child: dumped, abandoned, left to their own, tried. The feminine form of the name is used because it is hope-sustaining and life-carrying— ensuring continuity).


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