After 70 years of absence from Luo Nyanza, a man whose life story is a ‘ndrama’, if not a ‘vindeo’ has swore not to relocate fully to his ancestral home in Siaya County, saying ‘his people’ are those in Subukia, Nakuru County.
Now, after a generation that watched and reminisced SM Otieno and Wambui, apparently; this is some history repeating itself.
Suffice to say, MzeeÂ Juma Omolo Swaga, 80, had separated from his home in Koru area in search for a job during the colonial days and was reconnected,70 years later, after an assistant chief traced him and invited his only remaining brother,John Akula Swaga, 89 to his Subukia ‘home’, a rural village in Nakuru County where the Luo man is being cared for by a Kikuyu community he now calls ‘his people’.
Mzee Omolo, alias â€œBachelor-Boyâ€, left his ancestral home in Koru area of Kisumu in the company of his elder sister in search of a job among the colonial settlers. As at now, it is not known when he moved to Subakia. However, from the encounter he has given, here is a man whose life has revolved around odd jobs – i mean jobs that require no ‘intellectual input’. He has been a house help, a cook, a spray man and retired as a supervisor on a settler farm.
His story has gone ‘viral’ among the Luo themselves; with the traditional north-south schism getting a new fissure to burst. A homogeneously political unit, the intra-luo relations, often hidden to the outsider by virtue of language, confounds, charms and annoys. In contestation often is the charge by “north nyanza Luos” that “south Nyanza luos” are the black children of the Ramogi house. But the ‘expatriate’ Mzee Omolo is a ‘northern nyanza Luo’, and the southerners are having a field day.
In a larger sense, Â Mzee Omolo’s story is a national story that has shuddered the old dogma of the Luo-Kikuyu faultlines. Here is a story which the two communities, divided by the politics of “us vs them”, find happy to share. It sounds like a fairy tale only possible in some creative innovations of the missing Bogonko Bosire. It is a “we are one” story.
Mzee Omolo is said to have spent his life on “life”; and at 80, have neither children nor a wife of his own; the three wives he married all left him. His brother, Mzee Akula, after receiving news that his younger brother is alive and well in Kabazi, Subukia, accompanied the chief to go see him. The two octogenarians wept for hours.
This is the juiciest part. Ordinarily, a luo man’s home is Nyanza. Whether you are Barack Obama or Ochongorio (Ochongorio is Luo for the ‘wretched of the earth’), you go back home when you are through with what took you away-be it work or leisure. But Mzee Omolo has other ideas.
“I came toÂ greet them for a day and return home. Kabazi is where my people are and I have no other home now. God gave me lovely neighbours who feed me, clothe and even built a home for me. This is where God gave me money to buy land and live,â€ he says. Mzee speaks fluent Kikuyu, looks like a Kikuyu; indeed, biologically speaking, he is a recessive luo and a dominant kikuyu.
He has already declined the offer to fully go back home, saying he will only pay his ‘ancestral home’ a visit, before he ducks back to Subukia, where his kikuyu community of the seventy years he has been alive inhabits.
â€œIt is okay to visit them in Siaya, but let them know Kabazi is home now and even if I die Kabazi will be my burial ground. These are my people and I know no other home,â€ he said.
A local church community mandated Mr Benjamin Gitau to search for Mzee Omolo’s relatives (which is interesting considering the man doesn’t think he has any relatives outside his kikuyu community) and the search ended when Gitau contacted the assistant chief of Mzee Omolo’s ancestral home in Nyanza.
Village church leader Samwel Ndungâ€™u, like many others in the community which has fed and clothed this old mzee everyday using both the community and church funds say he (Omolo) was one of them and they had united as a community and build him a timber walled iron house to replace the decades-old grass thatched hut.
â€œEven during the infamous ethnic clashes in 2007, Omolo never contemplated relocation. We assured him of our protection and we know he is one of us since 1965 when we moved into this farm,â€ Mr Ndungâ€™u told a Daily Nation writer.
This is a good story!