Novelist JR Alila


I am author Joseph R. Alila, a native of Kenya living in Schenectady, New York, from where I have penned thirteen novels and two epic poems. My poetry and verse address a variety of areas of the human experience, and you are welcome if you love writings that go beyond the mundane of daily life. I’m a chemist and teacher by training, and I for a while considered my writing as something recreational, something I did to pass time (as was the case in the lost scripts of the staged plays, THE FRUITLESS TREE and WHAT A HUSBAND, written in the 1980s). Thirteen novels and two poems later, learning the art of writing on my feet, the literary bug has bitten me, and friends and fans say that I’m a good novelist with strengths in the narrative and analytical forms and with a penchant for stinging dialogue. I laugh at such suggestions, but the readers may be right. Sages long gone were right in their observation that writing is like wine: an author’s output gets better with his or her age, where the wine in a bottle gets better with time in the cellar.

I started writing about what I knew well, and that was telling stories about life in a traditional Luo home, in which I grew up before I flew to national and then multinational diaspora destinations to pursue scholarly dreams. I have written extensively on my Luo people’s polygamous marriages and other cultural practices, criticizing them where criticism is due and shedding a sage’s light to put meaning to old traditions. My mournful caution against the practice of polygamy in the era of the AIDS virus came to light in SUNSET ON POLYGAMY and THE THIRTEENTH WIDOW.

My writings have tended to be anthropological–treating my subjects as actors or victims of their social, spiritual and physical environments and times. The novels, WHISPER TO MY ACHING HEART, SUNSET ON POLYGAMY, THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: FROM THE SUDAN TO AMERICAN POWER, NOT ON MY SKIN, BIRTHRIGHT (A LUO TRAGEDY), THE WISE ONE OF RAMOGILAND, MAYA, and lately A FISHY MATTER and REBELS are informative anthropological treatises on peoples and their physical, spiritual, political, cultural, and social circumstances.

I must admit that when I set out to write my earlier novels, for example SUNSET ON POLYGAMY, I had no voice or agenda. My objective was to tell stories about my Luo people and my experiences as a Christian, a Luo, an African, and a world scholar uprooted from his Luo home base to chase scientific dreams abroad. But fifteen novels and two Epic Poems (RATENG’ AND BRIDE and THIRTEEN CURSES ON MOTHER AFRICA) later, I find myself increasingly speaking for the burdened and voiceless peoples wherever they are in the world:

I speak for the African women and widows (in THE THIRTEENTH WIDOW, SUNSET ON POLYGAMY, THE MILAYI CURSE, WHISPER TO MY ACHING HEART, and REBELS) whose perilous yokes are the marital culture and practices whose original intentions were novel, and protective (as in WHISPER TO MY ACHING HEART, REBELS and THE MILAYI CURSE), but which cultural practices turned spiritual death traps, from which they have struggled to escape.

I have found a mournful political voice in two of my works: In RATENG’ AND BRIDE, I visit with and relive, in poetry, Kenya’s tragic 2007 Presidential contest, pointing at errors from which the nation hasn’t recovered). In the epic poem, THIRTEEN CURSES ON MOTHER AFRICA, I mourn increasingly dependent Africa, which has become an old shadow of its pre-colonial self. Africa is inundated with perilous crises, a lot of which are due to amnesia, nature, poor leadership choices, greed, dictatorships, and brother-on-brother conflicts, with Ebony (the African Woman) and her children bearing the brunt of the deadly forces.

In THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: FROM THE SUDAN TO AMERICAN POWER–a novel inspired by and about the Obama Presidency–I endeavor to make a tortuous historical-cum-spiritual fictional march of my Luo people from their slow fifteenth-century times in Old Sudan to East Africa, only for one of us to occupy the world’s only citadel of power. If some of my predictions came to pass, they must be taken as illustrations of what thoughtful fiction (science or literary or otherwise) can achieve.
Collectively, in the novels, THE WISE ONE OF RAMOGILAND, THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: FROM THE SUDAN TO AMERICAN POWER, and BIRTHRIGHT (A LUO TRAGEDY), I shed a sage’s torch, liberally illuminating various aspects of the Luo journey, Luo cultural practices, Luo spirituality, Luo politics, and Luo thought. No wonder, my literary breakthrough novel BIRTHRIGHT (A LUO TRAGEDY) has been a classroom text in African Anthropology and thought in universities.

Finally, the novels, NOT ON MY SKIN, THE AMERICAN POLYGAMIST, SINS OF OUR HEARTS, THE CHOIRMASTER (A SPIRITUAL TRAGEDY), and MAYA, I explore our day’s very dynamic American experience, consciousness, and attitudes at street level, inside houses of worship, and at the workplace, through the eyes of diaspora wanderer.

My readers are right, my literary journey no longer is recreational; like aged wine, it has come of age, to quote sages gone before us. Welcome, sample it, and however it tastes, let others know, and holler here on amazon.

The Luo Dreamers’ Odyssey: A Novel for the Time


THE MAN, A BLACK MAN, sat behind the Ageless Desk, reading from a pile of odd news clips that the web-crawling boys and girls of the Communications and Propaganda Bureau had fed him earlier that morning. He scribbled remarks and question marks around the paragraphs as he read a publication titled One Man’s Improbable Journey, which had summarized the circumstances of his history-making political feat. His morning reading completed, he picked up a basketball ball from a six-ball rack he kept by his side and threw it effortlessly into a practice bin set five yards away at a corner of the office. Satisfied, he reached for a world map, a ‘globe,’ on his desk, turned it anticlockwise and stopped with his left fourth-finger pointing at a spot near Juba in southern Sudan. He visibly shuddered with his finger still on the volatile region of Sudan. With tremulous hands, he traced a direct line from Juba to Kisumu, Kenya, and continued his trace to Nairobi, then stopped for a minute of meditation. Remembering that his Kenyan father wasn’t alive to celebrate his triumph, his left eye betrayed a teardrop.

Reining in the sudden bubbling of emotion, the man turned the globe clockwise as he traced a line from Nairobi, Kenya, to Anchorage, Alaska, symbolically re-enacting, in spirit, his late father’s flight in what Kenyan historians call ‘Mboya Student Airlifts,’ and the Americans call ‘Kennedy Airlifts.’ He stopped in a reverential pose, remembering that he was a product of the airlifts, and that both of his parents never lived long enough to witness his history-making triumph.

Turning the globe anticlockwise, he traced a line from Anchorage, Alaska to Omaha, Nebraska, his political home base, then onward to Washington, D.C., the seat of world power, and stopped. Lowering his head, the man volunteered a silent prayer “Lord, give me the wisdom to know Your will; give me the power to execute Your will; give me the courage to stand with the weak and poor; give me the voice to speak against evil; Lord, protect me from my desires; Lord protect me from my friends.”

That the words “Your will” had come from his mouth surprised him—a man not known for much religious fervor. Even if he had any guilt on his tongue, the words IN GOD WE TRUST that greeted his eyes from a polished brass plaque before him—reminding him that he was the President of the United States of America—assuaged him.

Standing up, he picked up a second ball and executed another scoring throw, inhaled deeply, and then said in an emotion-filled whisper, “I’m one damned lucky black man.” Again, the man known for his cold detachment while under pressure betrayed another teardrop. The frequent welling up of emotion that morning surprised him. It was unlike him, the man who joked that among his Luo people, men don’t shed tears at funerals; they don’t wail either, they sing war songs instead. Any observer watching that morning would have taken the seven-feet-tall man to be a volunteering-basketball superstar grading mediocre sophomore essays in a middle school. But this was President Hank Hassan Ajwang’, a black man from Alaska, the first black President of the United States of America. Ajwang’ was on his first full day at work in the Oval Office.

The man had watched him that morning. Ziki, the White House Chief of Staff, had wished to see the president, but had retreated on realizing that his charge was in a prayerful mood. Something about the scene had bothered him: the president was tense, even using the globe as a prayer-aid. As Ziki retreated to his office, he gave the man he now served as White House Chief of Staff a knowing bye on sanity. Ziki rationalized that even the unflappable Ajwang’ had the right to feel overwhelmed by the challenges promised by the Presidency of the United States of America.

There had been challenges along the way: the toil of a two-year campaign, and the unusual odds that had marked Ajwang’s candidacy.

Ziki, who had served as Hassan Ajwang’s Communications Director during the campaigns, understood the broiling public scrutiny his boss had endured, and he knew the toil in emotions the up-and-downs of the campaigns had exerted on his man. Then there were the toxic myths and innuendos to have visited his candidate under the glare of the insatiable 24/7 instant news cycle, fired by the intrusive electronic mass communication media of the day.

Retreating back to his office, Ziki rambled in his heart, “Give the man a break; he was the unlikely candidate, who beat all the adversities put on his path, to become the President of the United States of America. Let him pray in whatever way, in whatever language, and for as long as he likes, on this first day at work. He needs it before he confronts the mounting uncertainty in the world. If he breaks a glass window in the Oval Office with an angry basketball, the taxpayers can pay.”

Sure, President Hank Hassan Ajwang’ had come to power in a world at war, and during a period of worldwide hunger. He took his oath as the leader of a world under great economic distress worldwide.

In Kenya, the land of his late father, hunger stalked mothers and their children as cornmeal disappeared from the shelves—thanks to a mushrooming cabal of virtual briefcase millers overnight—and whenever cornmeal was found, it was more expensive than meat. In Zimbabwe, political leaders still held the people hostage, as mothers scavenged for wild roots and herbs to feed their emaciated babies. In the Middle East, Gaza was a city under rubble and rot, thanks to an on-and-off battle between two cousins fighting for land. In Congo, Darfur, and Somalia, women and children hadn’t known peace in generations, as women continued to bear their sons in chaos, some of whom married amid chaos and died amid chaos. In Rome, Paris, Berlin, Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, Moscow, and London, the stock markets had collapsed, turning royalty and millionaires into paupers, overnight.

Yet the world had welcomed Ajwang’s Presidency in fetes and balls because in him desperate mothers saw the hope of their infants, and millionaires saw the security of their gold and diamonds; the world celebrated his triumph because it was as historical as it was improbable.

Ajwang’s election to the office of President of the United States of America was as odd a chance as the sun rising from the west, to paraphrase a Luo dream. Here were the odds: Fact, six hundred years before, his Luo people had no permanent homeland; they were semi-nomadic clans fighting their way out of the Sudan southward along the shores of the River Nile, as they searched for the next suitable land and pasture for their cattle. Fact, six hundred years before, his American ancestors were still in Europe; six hundred years before, Columbus and other seafaring nuts, were not born yet. Fact, when Ajwang’s father left Kenya in late 1950s to study in the United States of America, the East African Nation was still a British Colony.

Fact: no black man before him ever held the seat in America—a majority-white country that had enslaved black generations before him.

So even in twenty-first-century America, Ajwang’s victory had busted long-held myths and attitudes on race and political leadership. That he won by a landslide meant that the electorate had seen him through a social prism that filtered off race, and left only the person and his word. His victory meant that the electorate had peeled and examined him, layer-by-layer, and reduced him in their minds to the essence of what man is, which is the quality and worth of his words.

That he was born in the faraway State of Alaska among people who played by their own rules of existence, was an extra hurdle he had to surmount in order to reach the hearts and souls of the majority mainland American electorate. Ajwang’s hurdle was the higher, given that his father was an alien, a Luo, born in Africa. In the minds of the pundits of his nation, he had too fresh an association with aliens to become the President of the United States of America.

When his pundits from the Caucasian side of his ancestry were through with analyzing him, new and unexpected hurdles would pop up on his political path—these were hurdles in apathy and doubts among his brethren of color. There were whispers of discomfort with his candidacy in churches, barbershops, and salons patronized by his brethren of color. Their concerns were of two types: First, was Hassan Ajwang’ like them at a human level? Was he black physically and mentally? Did he think like them? Did he suffer their pain, given that none in his known lineage ever experienced slavery as its subjects?

Second, was the political reality check: Would the young man from Omaha, Nebraska, lead the charge and bear the heavy burden to fulfill Dr. King’s Dream? That was the big question in every black person’s mind. They also had doubts about Ajwang’ because past politicians of color had tried and come far short in their courtship of the presidency. Was the relatively young, soft-spoken poet, and community activist, from Omaha, Nebraska, made of the tempered steel required for the tough fight ahead of him? These questions bothered every man and woman of color in barbershops and salons nationwide.

Ajwang’s brothers and sisters of color were also challenging him publicly to discard his intellectual nuance, and sharpen the edge of his poetry to the point where these brethren would say Amen at every stanza, even if he did so at the risk of alienating his white constituency.

In churches, barbershops, and salons in the land, Ajwang’s brethren of color had wondered aloud as to whether he would prevail in his presidential quest in a land in which subtle and obvious racial schisms still existed, and social integration was still a work in progress. They wondered aloud as to whether the soft-spoken poet and lawmaker from Omaha, with neither the fire-spitting tongue of a rap star nor the damning quotes of a religious preacher, was the man to deliver them to the shore yonder.

Ajwang’ would prove them wrong. The allure of his soft poetry would win where his brethren of color had demanded fiery rap rhymes. Ajwang’ would sit at the citadel of world power—a power on wings; a power greater than the one, which his fifteenth-century ancestor, namesake, and fellow dreamer, Ajwang’ the Dreamer, was shown.

Yes, Hank Hassan Ajwang’ was a damned lucky black man.

Just when President Ajwang’ started to wonder why the Chief of Staff hadn’t bothered him with the day’s public agenda, there was a knock on the door.

“Mr. President, do you’ve a moment?”

“Of course, Mr. Chief of Staff,” President Ajwang’ responded without any complaint for having been distracted from an interesting line of thought. “The First Lady of the United States of the United States is here to see you in her role as a public advocate for White House Staff.”

“What is amiss on Day One? Jeez! Ziki, hold her off a minute as I put on my jacket,” the president said before adding, “Tim, I want you to read this essay once every week for the next four years. Pass it around to all of my staff; it should act as a constant reminder of the improbability of our journey as an administration headed by one lucky black man kept sane in the hands of a wonderful First Lady, who happens to be black, too. Ziki, we promised the people gold and diamonds; the people expect nothing less!”

“Mr. President, with due respect, the campaigns are over. It is time to govern, and you won’t run a country by listening to every rant off the blog.”

“Mr. Chief of Staff, I just gave you the First Presidential Order to execute; the year two-thousand-and-twelve is less than four years away.”

“Order received, Sir!”

“Tim, this one is easy to do: I need a real basketball net installed at that corner.”

“Mr. President, you want to trash the Oval Office?”

“Tim, do your job, which includes keeping the president sane.”

Just then, The First Lady of the United States strode into the Oval Office.

“Good morning, gentlemen!” said The First Lady of the United States.

,p>“Tim, excuse us,” the president ordered his Chief of Staff.

“He beat me to your office, Mr. President?” said The First Lady of the United States.

“Well, he’s the Chief of Staff.”

“The power structure has to change in this place.”

“The roles are contained . . .”

“Sh . . . !”

“Why did you do that? There is a video feed from this office.”

“Have a good day, Mr. President. Some overworked White House Staffer won’t scoop The First Lady of the United States in this place. By the way, your good friend, the Chief of Staff, bribed the cameras,” Linda Ajwang’, The First Lady of the United States, said and left the oval office.

“Jeez! Who knew that the woman, who beat me up at my own game, and secured me within my own skin twenty years ago, would be the first black First Lady of the United States of America?” the president whispered to himself in reference to an event that had changed his life, and made him secure in his own black skin. Until then, he had been chasing after a nonexistent, metaphorical white woman, who only existed in his dreams. On that day two decades before in Omaha Central Park, Omaha, Nebraska, one clever black woman caught his wandering spirit and wouldn’t let go until she successfully had guided him into the house of power and pearls.

The new leader of the free world put the romantic thoughts behind him, and for the second time that morning, stared at the bust of his favorite past President, posted at a corner of his desk. After some five minutes of reflection on the life and times of his political idol, he whispered, “Abe, how were you able to balance your life as a President? How were you able to hold a national crisis in one hand and creativity in the other, and still follow the desires of your heart and the rigors of family life?”

Just then, two courting doves in beak-to-tail formation made two quick diving passes by his window, reminding the president of what is socially common among animal species, namely, language of communication, active relationships, play, and procreation.

A knock on the door, brought the president back to the present.

“Mr. President, The First Lady of the United States of the United States will be receiving her neighbors in a few minutes,” announced the president’s Personal Assistant.

“O tradition! I’ll be out in a minute, Sam!”

How did a black man from Alaska become the first black President of the United States of America at a time of great military and economic perils worldwide?

Destiny.

Hassan Ajwang’s story was part of a long tale, which had journeyed across the globe, traveled some tortuous six-hundred years, outlasted colonization and human bondage, and brought down many racial barriers.

Six hundred years ago in the Sudan, Ajwang’s black ancestors were nomadic people following the Nile, inching incrementally southward ahead of the encroachment of the Sahara against their livestock. Their flight south would be hastened by a new threat in a new religion and complicated by internal family conflicts.

Leading and guiding the flight south were men who rose to the occasion and acted when the challenges of their times demanded courage, and challenged personal honor, common wisdom, and established tradition. The mention of their names sent shivers down the spines of fellow men. Each would etch an indelible mark on their time, and leave permanent footprints for fellow men to follow.

Leading in the odyssey out of the old Sudan was a dreamer, a nomad, a man of the wild, a man of rare wisdom, a man named Ajwang or Ramogi. Ramogi (the wrestler) was a man guided by his dreams, a man of courage, who never blinked at danger, and the father of all Luo nations, from Sudan to Tanzania.

Hassan Ajwang’ would live the dreams of his famous Luo ancestor. Though Hassan Ajwang’ was born to meager resources, he would be schooled in the Athenian tradition, would volunteer in the service of the poor, but he now mingles and dines with the rich of his time; he’s a man for the times, who wields Spartan Power in his hands and debates doubters at the Citadel.

His Luo people call him The Ajwang’. In their minds, he’s the promise in their long and storied journey that dates back six centuries. They see in him their rendezvous with destiny, and a prophecy fulfilled, and not just a historical accident.

There was a dream and there were many dreamers.

Source: Joseph R. Alila’s “THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: From the Sudan to American Power.”

ISBN 13: 9781441483119.

http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-R.-Alila/e/B002QD5TDM

Joseph R. Alila (Novelist, Poet)


I’m author Joseph R. Alila, a native of Kenya living in Schenectady, New York, from where I have penned twelve novels and two epic poems. You may not have read my poetry and verse that address a variety of areas of the human experience, but you are welcome if you love writings that go beyond the mundane of daily life. I’m a chemist and teacher by training, and I for a while considered my writing as something recreational, something I did to pass time. Fourteen publications later, learning the art of writing on my feet, the literary bug has bitten me, and friends and fans say that I’m a good novelist with particular strengths in the narrative and analytical forms and with a penchant for stinging dialogue. I laugh at such suggestions, but they may be right; it may be true that writing is like wine: the creator’s output gets better with his or her age, where the wine in a bottle gets better with time in the cellar.
I started writing from what I knew well, and that was telling stories about life in a traditional Luo home–in which I grew up before I flew to multiethnic, then multinational diaspora destinations. I’ve written extensively on my Luo people’s polygamous marriages and other cultural practices, criticizing them where criticism is due, and shedding a sage’s light in an effort to put meaning to old traditions. My mournful caution against the practice of polygamy in the era of the AIDS virus came to light in SUNSET ON POLYGAMY.
My writings have tended to be anthropological–treating my subjects as actors or victims of their environments and times. My novels, WHISPER TO MY ACHING HEART, SUNSET ON POLYGAMY, THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: FROM THE SUDAN TO AMERICAN POWER, NOT ON MY SKIN, MAYA, BIRTHRIGHT (A LUO TRAGEDY), THE WISE ONE OF RAMOGILAND, and lately MAYA are informative anthropological treatises on peoples and their physical, spiritual, political, cultural, and social circumstances.
I must admit that when I set out to write my earlier novels, for example SUNSET ON POLYGAMY, I had no voice or agenda. My objective was to tell stories about my Luo people and my experiences as a Christian, a Luo, an African, and a world scholar uprooted from his home base to chase scientific dreams abroad. But fourteen novels and two Epic Poems (RATENG’ AND BRIDE and THIRTEEN CURSES ON MOTHER AFRICA) later, I find himself increasingly speaking for the burdened and voiceless peoples wherever they are in the world: I speak for the African women and widows (in THE THIRTEENTH WIDOW, SUNSET ON POLYGAMY, and WHISPER TO MY ACHING HEART) whose perilous yokes are the marital culture and practices whose original intentions were protective, but which cultural practices now have turned spiritual death traps, from which there is no escape.
I’ve found a mournful political voice in two of my works: In RATENG’ AND BRIDE, I visit with and relive, in poetry, Kenya’s tragic 2007 Presidential contest, pointing at errors from which the nation hasn’t recovered). In the epic poem, THIRTEEN CURSES ON MOTHER AFRICA, my message is that increasingly dependent Africa is an old shadow of its pre-colonial self; Africa is inundated with perilous crises, a lot of which are due to amnesia, nature, poor leadership choices, greed, dictatorships, and brother-on-brother conflicts, with Ebony the African Woman and her children bearing the brunt of the deadly forces.
In THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: FROM THE SUDAN TO AMERICAN POWER–a novel inspired by and about the Obama Presidency–I endeavor to make a tortuous historical-cum-spiritual fictional march of my Luo people from their slow fifteenth-century times in Old Sudan to East Africa, only for one of us to occupy the world’s only citadel of power. If some of my predictions about the current American Presidency seem to have come to pass, they have to be taken as illustrations of what thoughtful fiction (science or otherwise) can achieve.
Collectively, in the novels, THE WISE ONE OF RAMOGILAND, THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: FROM THE SUDAN TO AMERICAN POWER, and BIRTHRIGHT (A LUO TRAGEDY), I shed a sage’s torch, liberally illuminating various aspects of the Luo journey, Luo cultural practices, Luo spirituality, and Luo thought. No wonder, my literary breakthrough novel BIRTHRIGHT (A LUO TRAGEDY) has been a classroom text in African Anthropology at an American University.
Finally, the novels, NOT ON MY SKIN, THE AMERICAN POLYGAMIST, SINS OF OUR HEARTS, THE CHOIRMASTER (A SPIRITUAL TRAGEDY), and MAYA, I explore our day’s very dynamic American experience, consciousness, and attitudes at street level, inside houses of worship, and at the work place.
My readers could be right, my literary journey no longer is recreational; like aged wine, it has come of age. Welcome, sample it, and however it tastes, let others know, and holler here on Amazon.com.

 http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-R.-Alila/e/B002QD5TDM

The Choirmaster (a spiritual tragedy)


In Mud Valley Church, the evangelizing wonders of the Church Choir have become both a blessing and a minor headache. The growth in card-carrying membership and church attendance explode overnight. That is the blessing. The headache is the charismatic but unassuming Choirmaster Michael whose artistic gifts are key to the phenomenal church growth. However, as the women with available daughters fight to outdo one another in monthly dinners for the choirmaster, things become a little worldly. But even after Pastor David seals the marriage between Michael and one Eva Joseph with the urgency of Samuel the prophet, Choirmaster Michael’s outreach ministry becomes a bother to the Church Board, when the Treasurer reveals that the Choir is funding most of Mud Valley Church’s budgetary needs. The Choirmaster has grown bigger than life, and the Church Board is left wondering, “What would happen should the choirmaster leave?”  
When Choirmaster Michael’s marriage to Eva would hit rock bottom because one Jane Caleb would not let him be, Pastor David discovers that Mud Valley’s spiritual and moral problems are more organic and deeply ingrained than the perceived threat from choirmaster Michael. Young Pastor David faces a historical moral issue, and he must decide whether to confront Mud Valley’s historical demons or seek a transfer to clearer spiritual waters.

 

The Many Media Twists of the OBAMA Story


The last couple of years, we have seen a lot of tabloid-grade pseudobiographies by people who claim to have dug into history and discovered another “sad” aspect of President Obama’s childhood. Only the content of the claims are not new. The latest snippet claims that his parents thought of putting him for adoption.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/07/barack-obama-adoption-father_n_892205.html

For me, a man who has struggled with the more fundamental historical, philosophical and spiritual aspects of this man’s improbable Luo journey, I feel great pain for him whenever I read another screaming banner about another aspect of his parent’s life. Yes he was raised by a single mother; yes he grew up in Indonesia among a people unlike him; yes he played basketball in a Hawaiian High School, yes he dreamed and did everything on earth through Occidental and Columbia and Havard; yes he found his voice as a Black man amid the struggles for South African Independence; yes he had a father he never knew, and the said father was a polygamist like most of his Luo contemporaries; yes he has cousins and stepsiblings many of whom are scholars like him, a few are unemployed. But these snippets do not define the person of President Barack Obama; they define you and I, American or not; they define any humanity, except they are louder because Mr. Obama is The President of the United States, and that is the point and intent of the various authors in pushing juicy headlines about their books.

My advice: If you want to know Mr. Obama the man, read “The Audacity of Hope” and “Dreams of My Father.”

If you intend to understand the workings of the Luo mind that raised the “tragic figure” known as Barack Obama Senior, why not start with the allegorical historical fiction novel, “THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: From the Sudan to American Power;” because then, truth, hearsay, myth and prophecies are served, “Luo style,” in one huge bowl for the probing mind to sort out. When you are through reading “THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY” then you’ll know that, in this man of our times, you are dealing with a complex historical figure who cannot be defined by individual snippets of events in the past. http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-R.-Alila/e/B002QD5TDM

The Chiomaster


In Mud Valley Church, the evangelizing wonders of the Church Choir have become both a blessing and a minor headache, as the growth in card-carrying membership and church attendance explode overnight. That is the blessing. The headache is the charismatic but unassuming Choimaster whose gifts are key to the phenomenal growth. As the women-folk with available daughters fight to outdo one another in monthly dinners for the Choimaster, things become a little earthly and scarery. But even after Michael is finally crowned with the urgency of Samuel the prophet, his outreach ministry becomes a bother to the Church Board, whose membership are left wondering, “What if the Choimaster leaves?” when the Treasurer reveals that the Choir is funding most of Mud Valley Church’s Budget.

 
 

The Luo Dreamers’ Odyssey (From the Sudan to American Power)


In the historical novel, THE LUO DREAMERS’ ODYSSEY: From the Sudan to American Power, a journey that started more than five centuries ago in the Sudan, has ended in the White House . Along the way, a child and a troubled dreamer, Ajwang’ the Dreamer (a.k.a. Ramogi) survives the knife of ire of a man robbed of his bead of wisdom. The sons of Ajwang’ must part ways with a child dead between them because of vengeance over a bead and a spear. Centuries later, an orphan must “develop wings,” fly out of Colonial Kenya to Alaska, and plant his seed, a boy, and dreamer, named Hassan Ajwang’. This boy lives to be the President of the United States of America. 
In the historical novel, author Joseph R. Alila pens, yet another drama of life, of survival against great odds, and of victories as improbable as the sun rising from the west.