When I shared with you my thoughts here on the eve of Luo Festival, I wasn’t just protesting for the sake of it.
I believe Luo Festival as presently being hosted is nothing but corporate thuggery of Luos which takes advantage of our ‘love for good things’ and our ‘propensity to brag’ – nyadhi – both in good times and bad times.
Luo Festival is one event which, if managed well, can be the single most important event in the Luo community calender.
The festival, rather than just hosting musicians and comedians at Carnivore to entertain Luo middle class (lower middle class, ‘middle’ middle class and upper middle class) should be an ‘opportunity for recognition’ and ‘banter’.
Luo Festival should be that evening when the ‘who-has-been-who’ of the community in the previous year assemble in a ‘hopeful evening’ for the ‘shout-outs’, for the recognition.
The festival should be serious thing in an easy evening. It should be a celebration of the artistic expression by members of the community in the various and expansive fields.
The Festival should be our ‘red carpet’ event; where we take stock of who was who, who has been who, who is who, and; more importantly, who will be who.
The Festival should be a tourism event, where as a people we market our region as a tourist destination: its food, culture, endowments, animals, trees, former human beings etc.
The festival should be an education event, where we know who has published, which teacher is teaching well, and which school is manufacturing good boys and girls to the national pool. Both biographical and academic, some good books and papers have been authored by Luos, and the community need to keep these in its archives.
The festival should be a political event, where we recognize, dead or alive, politicians and non-politicians, jurists and clergy, those Luos whose stubbornness, courage, resilience and love has ensured the survival of our our community in the form and shape it is today. Men who kept at bay those who attempted to trample on our cherished values: fair play, kindness, honesty; this idea that people shouldn’t steal from the government; this other idea that a freer democratic Kenya progresses faster than a dictatorial fiefdom, strangled by machinations of dubious electoral arrangements where winners lose and losers force themselves on power, in the end, mismanaging not only the economy but every single aspect of the nation -security, education, health, agriculture, human rights, free speech, etc.
The festival should serve as an opportunity for whoever is in charge of the community to tell us what next and how; what has been achieved and what must be achieved, for it appears at no point is the Luo community seem to have no ‘plan’ for the future as now.
The festival should be a women event, where the struggles of the Luo girl and woman is appreciated, and the progress assured and sustained.
The festival should be a youth event, where energy meets passion.
The festival should be a media event; where the best journalist is credited for powerful stories advancing the general progress of the community, not the Kisumu bureau guys whose stories are filled with which ODM politician fought who, in whose funeral and why; and who is is accusing who of being a mole. It is them who have turned Luo politics into a ceaseless war of words, feeding the country an idiotic narrative of the Kavirondo.
The festival should be an appreciation event; where we thank profusely those allies whose friendships and partnerships have impacted the community in irreversibly fundamental ways.
The Festival should be an entrepreneurial event, where we fete those few industrialists and business magnets amongst us, for we know only them will eventually turn our ideas -including this – to real products, beneficial to us, empowering us, and not ripping us off.
The festival should be, as it is now, an entertainment event; where people meet to get entertained and mingle and eat and refresh and live.But more than all these, it should be where new talents are announced and old rivalries renewed or resolved. The Luo festival should be the festival of the storyteller, the humourist, the poet, the instrumentalist, the songwriter, the footballer, the rugby guy, intellectual and the vagrant.
The festival should be a sombre event, where we bow down to pay last respect to one glorious dead, whose life was worth associating with, at community level.
The festival should be a scandal; where tabloids get bad stories to write; stories of lewd escapades.
Increasingly, political correctness in our country is making it difficult for people (apart from Luhya politicians and kikuyu/meru elders) to gather together as ‘a community’ and ponder about the progress of the past, present and future. This is not just about Luos only; but others too. People should celebrate the little trials and triumphs that they feel part of, whether it is for a third president or the 100th medal winner.
The Luo Festival must and will transition, for change is the only constant thing and necessity mothers invention.