Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Reading is Life

It is summer, and we all should be picking up some book to read. Reading is life; get a book and start reading.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Not on My Skin (A Novel)

Not on My Skin by JR Alila is a novel whose time has come. The world simmers with hate served hot with bigotry, and nobody seems to know how to stop the vices because of political correctness. Unfortunately, whenever our human heroes open their mouths to speak, each word is meant to appease and divide at the same time.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Prof. Ali Mazrui (Binghamton University) Passes On

Prof. Ali Mazrui (The Late). May God give you eternal rest and peace. You came, dazzled the world with you verbal and mental brilliance, and for many of us Kenyan academic transplants in Central New York and the United States, you were a big tree under whom we often sought rest, shelter, sustenance and wisdom. Your family, the people of the coast, Kenya, Africa, and our alma Mata, Binghamton University, have lost a great mind, and their brightest star, but your wisdom in sound and print will for ever be with us. RIP.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

SUNSET ON POLYGAMY (A Tragedy: Cultural Practices and Disease Epidemics)

In Joseph R. Alila’s first anthropological novel, SUNSET ON POLYGAMY, marital cultural lore and spirituality combine to breed a tragic confusion in a land faced with a deadly new disease epidemic, with public debates raging as to whether the killer is ancestral chira (curse) or Acute Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

In this work of fiction, Joe Ochom, a young man testing his verbal skills in the art of seduction, soon realizes that corralling an educated girl (Megan) requires more than adorning his high school blazer in the marketplace. He proves cowardly—a weakness his principal competitor, polygamist Jim Kokech, is quick to exploit.

With his attention on Megan, Jim suddenly faces a revolt from his wives. Felicia, the first wife, resolves to punish him; she locks him out of her bedroom, just when they must celebrate the planting season as the principal “spiritual co-owners” of the home. Jim’s pastoral calendar comes to a sudden halt—reminding him that the Luo Mikayi—the first wife—is key to a healthy spiritual life in a home. The home enters a conjugal lockdown. However, the crafty second wife, Milka, comes to the rescue: she engages Jim in a believable romantic ruse that fools even Felicia. Wrought with jealousy at her female archenemy, Felicia yields to Jim—prompting a stampede for access to him. He is not having fun.

Baby boom! A year later, Felicia looks on in anger as the home welcomes three newborns, with Maria, Milka, and Nyapora presenting a child each to their shared husband. Felicia has reached menopause, but instead of embracing her new physiological reality, and aging gracefully as the matriarch of her home, she becomes angry at Jim and her co-wives. Struggling with a broiling bout of jealousy at her co-wives and nursing unpredictable desires of her husband, Felicia brews one immoral “romantic” mischief after another and nearly kills her husband while trying a cultic remedy to her marital problems. Depressed, Felicia flees to the Big City to escape the shameful spectacle she has become among the women of Korondo Ridge.

Korondo Ridge still has no rest: Gina—a young widow who has just delivered the body of her late husband, George Amolo, from the Big City—refuses, to the utter dismay of elders, to welcome any man into her bed, arguing that her husband died of “a strange new disease”. The elders refuse to listen, asserting that George died of his father’s chira (curse), which only the very wise among them could cleanse. Amolo protests, saying Malaria killed George. Concerned for the spiritual health of their Korondo House, the elders eventually convince Gina to enter a one-night “marriage” with a akowiny (a vagabond) “to settle George’s restless spirit.” Reacting to the “technical marriage,” men troop to Gina’s house to proffer their applications, believing the vagabond (like the Biblical scapegoat), has wandered off with the chira that killed their fellow warrior.

Tragedy! The killer malady the elders call chira is AIDS—the killer the Luo aptly nickname Ayaki—I loot you. Gina soon develops loose morals and dispatches one man after another to his grave, their wives in tow. Tragic: Ayaki kills people and chira with which it shares symptoms, gets the credit. Gina’s misleadingly healthy look, beauty, and longevity only add to the tragedy.

Felicia returns to Korondo Ridge amid the Ayaki epidemic in the land, but even the epidemic has not changed people‘s ways: men still embrace polygamy; men still inherit sick widows, and sure, Jim has married young Megan, capping his conquest over Joe Ochom (the narrator). But as the Luo of old said, the ferocious buffalo provides the hide for a brave warrior’s shield—Jim dies holding a toxic jewel, leaving behind a bitter lesson in vanity and immoderation.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nelson Mandela Passes On

Nelson Mandela passes on this day December 5 2013. South Africa, Africa, the World loses a son, citizen, leader, voice, defender of the weak and oppressed. Rest In Peace.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Wise One Of Ramogiland (a Novel)

In Joseph R. Alila’s spiritual anthropological novel, THE WISE ONE OF RAMOGILAND, the arrival of a colonial master in Kenya presents a new spiritual reality to a very religious people, who quickly adapt to the new spiritual situation in the land. Now, as a battery of “colonial forces” conspire against Africa's old way of life, wizards and prophets, who are losing clients of the ordinary kind to the new Christian houses of worship, quickly adapt to the new spiritual reality, even if it only means taking funny-sounding Greek names.

The heroine in this novel, Angelina Nyangi (The Wise One) is born into the new spiritual reality at the dawn of Colonial Kenya. Born prematurely to a family of minor Luo priests, Nyangi survives only because her young father (Rajulu) ignores the advice of his father (Adoko) to “throw the hono (abomination) away,” and he instead seeks help in a missionary hospital. Nyangi’s father, Rajulu, soon abdicates from the Luo priesthood and becomes a Christian pastor, thanks to the influence of his wife Rachel’s prayerful Christian life. Consequently, Nyangi grows up in a family under constant religious tension, pitting her grandfather, Adoko, the priest, on one side, and the rest of the family, who have walked away from the ancestral stool, on the other. Interestingly, Nyangi becomes a target of Grandpa Adoko’s rage because in her he sees himself—a priest—except she is a girl who would walk away with his “special ancestral talents” to the land of her future husband. Hence the new rage.

Talk of bedroom evangelism, like her mother, Nyangi marries a young Seer, but she has a “soft spot” for Christianity, and she soon leads her husband, Omogi the Seer, to take a baptismal vow and a “Christian name,” Mikael, to boot. But fate soon speaks, and Nyangi becomes a widow early into her marriage. Ironically, Nyangi, a clueless daughter of a Christian pastor, suddenly becomes the guardian of a priesthood, whose Stool is struggling to remain relevant in light of a strong Christian wave sweeping through the land at the dawn of Kenya’s independence.

Nyangi lives to be ninety-four years of age, acting a Seer’s role in Kamlai; she even counsels restless politicians and other (elitist) fortune seekers who are groping for space in the treacherous multiethnic, multiparty democracy. For decades Nyangi would walk with secrets of the lowly and mighty of her time, while she awaits the nod to transfer the Stool of Wisdom to son Thomas, who is anything but priestly in his conducts. If Angelina Nyangi’s longevity has become abusive, the seedy extramarital escapades of her eldest son continue to hang around her neck like thorny chalice, with which she has to bear.

Nyangi’s lifetime experiences remind the reader that modern religious dispensations might have robbed soothsayers and wizards of a lot of clients of the ordinary kind but not the important ones: She discovers that the new political and business elites love to have their ancestors’ “sixth sense” watching over their backs. She is their ancestral sixth sense, only she is a mere counselor, and not prophet.