Author, Poet and Novelist Joseph R. Alila is a native of Kenya. A Chemist by training, JR Alila considers creative writing to be a natural consequence of the aging process. JR Alila has written extensively on his Luo people’s marriages and other cultural practices, criticizing where criticism is due, and shedding a sage’s light so as to put meaning to old traditions. JR Alila’s mournful caution against the practice of polygamy in the era of the AIDS and other viral diseases comes in “SUNSET ON POLYGAMY” and “THE THIRTEENTH WIDOW.”
Reflecting on his Christian journey, JR Alila has written extensively on pride, bigotry, prejudice and other moral shortcomings in the spiritual/cultural novels, “THE MILAYI CURSE,” “NOT ON MY SKIN,” “THE THIRTEENTH WIDOW,” “THE CHOIRMASTER” and “SINS OF OUR HEARTS.”
In his writings, Alila treats each of his characters as “the total person”—a writing style reflected in the novels, “WHISPER TO MY ACHING HEART,” “SUNSET ON POLYGAMY,” “THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: FROM THE SUDAN TO AMERICAN POWER,” “NOT ON MY SKIN,” and “THE WISE ONE OF RAMOGILAND” –all of which are informative anthropological treatises on people and their physical, spiritual, political, cultural, and social circumstances.
When Alila set out to write he had no voice or agenda. His objective was to tell stories about his Luo people and his experiences as a Christian, a Luo, an African, and a World Scholar uprooted from his home base to chase scientific dreams. But Ten Novels and Two Epic Poems (“RATENG’ AND BRIDE” and “THIRTEEN CURSES ON MOTHER AFRICA”) later, he finds himself speaking increasingly for the burdened and voiceless African women and widows, in particular (as in “THE THIRTEENTH WIDOW,” “SUNSET ON POLYGAMY,” and “WHISPER TO MY ACHING HEART”) whose yokes are the marital cultures and other practices whose original intentions were protective, but now turned spiritual death-traps from which there are no escape routes.
Alila has found his political voice in “RATENG’ AND BRIDE” (a word of caution, post, Kenya’s 2007 Presidential contest), “THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: FROM THE SUDAN TO AMERICAN POWER” (a historical-cum-spiritual fictional march of the Luo into the world’s only citadel of power—inspired by the Obama Presidency), and “THIRTEEN CURSES ON MOTHER AFRICA” (an Epic Poem of the theme: Africa is deluded with perilous crises, most of which are environmental or are due to amnesia, poor leadership choices, greed, and brother-on-brother conflicts, with Ebony the African Woman and her children bearing the brunt of their deadly consequences).
Ten novels and two epic poems later, in THE WISE ONE OF RAMOGILAND and “THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: FROM THE SUDAN TO AMERICAN POWER,” JR Alila comes out as a sage’s torch illuminating various aspects of the Luo journey, Luo cultural practices, Luo spirituality, and Luo thought.
Finally in the novel, “NOT ON MY SKIN,” JR Alila describes the American experience, consciousness and attitudes at street level, inside houses of worship and at the work place. This author, and native of Kenya, has come of age.