THE MILAYI CURSE


1 

Why Jamoko Talks to Himself

Many years ago, Jamoko’s grandfather was a very rich man. When he died, Jamoko’s father became a very rich man. Then when Jamoko’s father died, Jamoko became a very rich man. 

But if Jamoko was such a rich man, how is it that he now eats off Milayi’s table? 

That is why Jamoko talks to himself, my little child. He talks to himself because of changed fortunes: He talks to himself because of poverty. He talks to himself because of squandered wealth. He talks to himself because of a lost family honor. 

You see, my child, many years ago, Milayi’s grandfather was not rich. He was very poor. The Milayis ate boiled herbs without milk. In good times, they ate watery, bean soup and kuon (Luo bread). They ate meat only when a Milayi had been called to a Jamoko’s home to slaughter and skin goats or cows. As pay, a Jamoko would have a Milayi take home any quantity of animal gut. Goat gut. Yes, animal gut was a Milayi’s best meat. 

Milayi’s father was a poor man. But now Milayi is a stinking-rich man. 

But how is it that Milayi is now a rich man? 

Some people say that Milayi is rich because he worked hard in school; he became a lawyer, and then became a rich businessman. In a few years, he rose to become a local Member of Parliament (MP). He eventually would become a Cabinet Minister in the Nation. Milayi had brought a Minister’s flag to Jokamlai—and was the first among his people to do so. 

Others claim that Milayi learnt how to be rich from the Jamokos. Others claim that his wealth is from his grandparent’s luck. Yet others say that he became rich because of his wife, the Prime Minister’s daughter. A Milayi had become “man enough” to wed the Prime Minister’s daughter. 

Yet others claim that Father James O’Kilghor of the Mission made Milayi rich. But we know that Milayi is rich because of his good education. It is agreed that a Milayi could never have been rich, if the White man hadn’t introduced formal education in Kenya. Milayi could never have been married to the Prime Minister’s daughter, if the White man hadn’t turned the natural way of things upside down. 

Now, Jamoko is a poor man. But he rides in the backseat of Milayi’s Government Limo. What a scene! The White man changed things, allowed the Milayis of the world to become the Jamokos of today. 

They say that Milayi is rich because Jamoko is now poor. They also say that a Jamoko passed on his wealth to a Milayi, who was his neighbor and brother. 

My child, how? 

Do you remember the King who invited aliens into his Temple and led them in a tour of his bedroom and stores—showing off his fine silverware and gold, and boasting about his Heavenly Blessings, only to be dragged into captivity as a blind prisoner in chains? 

Jamoko met a similar fate to that of the king. He had brought Milayi into his home, and let the poor man see his wealth and the ways of the rich. 

Now, poor Jamoko dines with Milayi because that is where he is supposed to have been, if he hadn’t taught Milayi to be rich. That is the whole tale, my child. 

  

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