Thursday, December 25, 2008


Hi ,
I am Novelist and Poet Joseph R. Alila. My wife asked me this morning to remember you, my readers, this X-mas. Happy Holidays, to you my visitors too! I wish your a literary 2008!
Reading reminds me that I am still alive! Being able to talk or sing reminds me that I am blessed with a tongue, and can verbally communicate. Being able to write is a sign that I am still functional.
I hope you add WHISPER TO MY ACHING HEART ( or ) by Joseph R. Alila to your Must Read List. The book has a new cover, and a new formatting. Like its sister novels, SINS OF OUR HEARTS (, ), and THE MILAYI CURSE (Lulu ( ), this book talks to our humanity. They are relational novels, and are about us and our daily neighbors, and how we relate to them, and why we need to oil our relationships for our mutual benfit. The writings remind us that mutual silence and prejudice are a curse and a cancer to good neighborliness. Read. Talk one to another.
Have a good 2009.


JR Alila

Monday, December 22, 2008

I am Kenyan: A word of Caution in Poetry

Here are some lines of poetry dedicated to the upcoming anniversary of the bungled Kenyan Presidential Election of 2007, specifically mourning those who lost their lives in the tragic events that would follow. The country is moving ahead with reforms, thanks to a few brave men and women who heeded Dr. Kofi Annan's call for peace and reconciliation at the negotiation table, and the efforts of two men, Kriegler and Waki whose commissions gave us report recommendations on the way forward. Prime Minister Odinga and President Kibaki must be commended for their courage to stand against partisan interests, and stake out their personal honor for peace and Kenya.

But Kenya is for Kenyans not a few individuals. A new constitutional arrangement that serves all Kenyans, big and small, rich and poor, man or woman, able-bodied or physically challenged, will only be a reality if all Kenyans insist on it--not as tribes but as Kenyans. Parliament has set the process in motion, and what document comes out of it must be seen to be Kenyan and by Kenyans.

Fellow Kenyan

I am Kenyan,
My mother is a Kikuyu
And my father is a Luo
My great-grandfathers
Were Kamba and Maasai;
Now you are telling me
To leave Narok, Kisumu,
Nyandarua, Kakamega and Nakuru
And go back
To my ancestral land:
To which ancestral land
Should I return?

Fellow Kenyan,
We always shared
in our poverty and misery;
Why then have we turned
One against another?

Fellow Kenyan,
Will this destructive war
Help us extricate ourselves
Out of the quagmire
Of filth and poverty in which
We have found ourselves?

Fellow Kenyan,
This wasteful war
Won’t quench your child’s hunger
Neither will it provide
Any decent shelter
To my child;

Fellow Kenyan,
This wasteful war
Won’t put food on your table
And neither will it
pay my house rent;

Fellow Kenyan,
This wasteful war
Won’t pay your bus-fare,
Neither will it buy
My child’s malaria medication.

Fellow Kenyan,
Yes, the tribe
Is part of our DNA,
But Dear Kenya—
As imperfect a vessel as it is–
Is part of our existence;

And So, Fellow Kenyan,
We must refuse
To be tagged with such divisive,
And self-serving labels as
A Luyia lawyer,
or a JaLuo Judge;

A Kikuyu cook,
An Ishimus in-keeper,
A Maasai mathematician,
A Mjikenda magician
or a Gusii gunsmith;

A Kuria cleric,
An Oriek orator,
A Borana banker,
A Somali swordsmith,
or a Teso tax-collector;

Because when hunger
Struck during the last drought
Kikuyu, Luyia, and JaLuo
in Nairobi; We all starved;
And pangs of hunger
And incidents of malnutrition
Did not discriminate
On the basis of tribe;

And if the tables
were full in Woodley,
Runda and Muthaiga;
And empty in Mathare,
Korogocho and Kibera;
It wasn’t because
Of anybody’s DNA.

So, Fellow Kenyan
Why tag me with a label
Which cannot put food
On the table
For my starving daughter?

Why tag me with a label
Which can not buy
Badly needed medication
For my sick child?

Why tag me with a label
Which only has value
To a geneticist?

Fellow Kenyan,
What happened to the Kenya
We used to know
That now you laugh
Through my tribulations,
And can’t suffer my pain
Because I am a Turgen
And you are a JaLuo?

From RATENG' AND BRIDE (A POEM)By Joseph R. Alila

1438251092 / 9781438251097

Friday, December 19, 2008

WORLD FOOD CRISIS: The African Woman and Her Children

Over one year ago, I published the Poetry Collection "THIRTEEN CURSES ON MOTHER AFRICA, BY Joseph R. Alila ( " One of the thirteen curses was poverty including lack of food; another curse was wars, and the greatest victims under both curses were African women and their children. I dedicated several pages in the poetry collection to the precariousness of the Sahel where desert threatens marginally wet areas; where the Dar fur war is being fought.

Now with the world food crisis looming---thanks to modern man's desire for Bio diesel at the expense of using arable land to grow grains to specifically feed humans and animals---the African woman---that almost-fixed feature of the rural African landscape---and her children, are now caught in the crossroads of the war between food sufficiency and "going green" on our roads. It should not be an either or situation!Poetry can be green!

JR Alila

Thursday, December 18, 2008


As the friendship between the little boys matured, Charles Milayi would start to exchange visits with Thomas Jamoko.
At first, Milayi’s mother protested when she learnt that the young Thomas Jamoko was coming to visit her home. She was a widow—a poor widow. She had one cooking pot and less than five earthen platters and bowls. Like their grandparents, the Milayis still used crocodile scales as spoons. Mrs. Milayi had exactly one bag of grain she hoped to last until the next harvest, which was three months away.
By contrast, the Jamokos could serve lunch to two hundred people and still be on their feet. They had hundreds of metal spoons and fancy chinaware. The Jamokos had so many cattle that, often, some cows were not milked. That is how rich the Jamokos were.
Food aside, for clothing, Consolata Milayi had one dress, and Charles Milayi only had the school uniform for his clothing. That is how poor the Milayis were.
"Milayi, you like bringing trouble on us. We have no oil with which to cook for your spoilt friend"
"Be fair Ma. Tom is just like me. He eats everything I eat," the little boy complained.
"Milayi, since when was this Tom Jamoko like you? He is a Jamoko. He only eats meat. And look at you. You don’t have a shirt on your back, and have no trousers on your buttocks. How can a Jamoko be eating what you eat?"
"But he is my friend, Mama," responded the boy in tears. For him, Tom was the dearest friend outside home.
The boy was right. They were real friends. The young Jamoko occasionally gave him an old set of school uniforms, pencils, and some new book to read. Milayi had sported the donated uniforms even though they were a size or two too small for him. Meanwhile, whenever Jamoko’s old uniforms suddenly would disappear, his mother would assume that her careless son had lost them in the playground.
"No, I do not want you to cry, Milayi. It is just that you have to know that a poor man does not walk in the same party as a rich man," Mrs. Milayi implored her son. "Charles, a poor man goes fishing for food, while a rich man goes fishing for fun. Haven’t you watched the Jamokos as they fish along the Kuja? They return part of their catch back to the water. And a rich man hunts the buffalo for its horns and skin, as poor folks struggle over its meat. The Jamokos behave like Father James, the White Priest, who fishes for fun."
"Mama, we are not poor," the boy responded in a very sure and measured tone, all to the total surprise of his mother.
"What, Charles? We are not poor? Yet we eat beans and arrowroots most of the year? Yet, you have no shirt with which to cover your back?" his mother had responded after a brief pause. She surely was surprised by the boy’s remark.
"Didn’t Father James say that poverty is only in a person’s mind, while wealth resides in one’s heart? You think we are poor. In my heart, I feel rich," the child had waxed amazingly wise, taking his mother aback in the process. She would for some long minute stir her bubbling pot of red-millet porridge in silence.
"Milayi, now, you want to cause trouble with your strange ideas. Father James never said a thing like that," she had declared hoping to silence the boy.
"But that is what the story of the Rich Young Ruler is all about. Mama, you were there when Father James read the story?" the Grade Four schoolboy had said, again sending his mother’s head spinning. The young boy had a rather strange perspective on life. Mrs. Milayi was convinced that modern schooling was turning her little boy into some kind of wise adult. "How can poverty—her obvious poverty—be wealth?" she wondered in silence.
"Now, go to the river and bathe. It is getting late. And don’t imagine that you are rich. Charles, you are poor. You are very poor. One of these days you will bring shame to this house by inviting the Minister’s Daughter for lunch," his mother had dismissed him, using bathing in the river as an excuse.
The boy of strange wisdom left for the river, with his dog named Tom, in pursuit.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Milayi wondered what she would cook for the rich man’s son. Inwardly, she was intrigued and touched by the wisdom coming out of her son’s mouth: poverty is only in a person’s mind, while wealth resides in one’s heart. These words of her young son appeared to have given her the courage to face the day. She instantly resolved to entertain the Jamoko boy.
Thomas Jamoko did come.
Mrs. Milayi treated the two boys the way little boys should be treated: "Boys eat potatoes and vegetables and cassava. That is what they dream about in their sleep. In their sleep, most boys never dream about some meaty dish. A boy wakes up with cooked cassava or potato in his hands," she had persuaded herself to believe. And she could have been more right than wrong. Most boys of those days loved sweet potatoes. Encouraged by these thoughts, she cooked potatoes as well as she could.
The two boys ate the sweet potatoes on the grass under a shady tree in front of her house. Then they enjoyed some ripe guava that nature provided in abundance. Potatoes and Guava, kind of an odd mixture, isn’t it? But if they became constipated on that day, Mrs. Milayi would have taken that as a sign of good feeding.
Mrs. Milayi was too ashamed to have allowed the "rich boy" into her meager abode that even lacked a three-legged stool.
Between rounds of sweet potatoes, the boys played some marksmanship game—shooting at domestic lizards and hedgerow birds with homemade bows and arrows.
Later that day, Thomas Jamoko returned to his home, truly believing that the outing had been a special adventure. Kids are kids, rich or poor.


Novel by Joseph R. Alila)

Saturday, December 13, 2008


The African woman is lionised in several poetic verses in Alila's "Thirteen Curses on Mother Africa," (Lulu Books ), perhaps justifiably so: The African woman is largely localized, often passed by rural-urban migration, yet she must feed, protect and mould the character of her son only to lose him to the corrupting influence of urban life. The African woman must continue to walk 5 miles to the spring for water; must till the same piece of barren land of thirty years before; she must feed her orphaned grandchildren the way she fed her children, only with even fewer resources. The African woman must face the vagaries of wars, weather, disease, hunger, dictators and poverty---often alone, as her husband is either inebriated, lost to some urban center, or simply overwhelmed by his situation.

JR Alila

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Otin looked past Apiny to his stepbrother, who continued to eat unconcerned, with his eyes set on Apiny as if daring him (Otin) to touch her. Otin wondered why nobody had addressed him. The silence was noisy and uneasy. His stepbrother was eating as if nothing was going on. But even without the childish noises he occasionally made, and the workings of his teeth against tender goat ribs, Magundho’s location and silence should have been a loud-enough announcement of his presence.
And there was Apiny who continued to give Otin that sympathetic, motherly look only a mother could have given.
Then a voice told him,
"Otin, my son, it is time to move on. You are a young man with a lot of life ahead of you."
Magundho coughed again, forcing Apiny to turn around and face him. This time, she wore a mother’s stern look on her face— the kind of look reserved for a child, who was about to dip his fingers into a bowl of special soup reserved for his father. Magundho stopped eating, wondering whether the woman was about to give him his marching orders for being rude to Otin. Wasn’t he, Magundho, the impostor between two lovers whose relationship had lasted for more than three decades?
Otin looked at the two gray heads engaged in nonverbal confrontation, then smiled as a voice told him,
"My son, this is the way of a widow; she neither has scruples to pick, nor bounds to obey; no man, however long he stays in her arms, can claim to own her. Wake up, my son; leave her alone; move on; go to your wife and children."
Otin left without a word.
"Magundho, I don’t appreciate your being abusive toward Otin," Apiny broke the silence. It was some five minutes after Otin had left.
"He deserved it. He should have read the signs outside instead of entering here like a bull on heat," saying so, Magundho went back to his meal.
"Men! O Men!" Apiny Nyodero whispered—wondering whether the eating elder behind her was a better bet for the future than the retreating, youthful father of her children.


A novel by Joseph R. Alila.

ISBN 978-1438207513

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Here are some cool pictures and sites of LUO anthropological interest. They offer a peek into our past as Luo peoples worldwide. Looking at the ELDERS, I see a Free People being forced into a European style of life and adornments. Most of the people in these pictures have that searching, distant gaze and stand stubbornly erect with their defiant chins up! That is a Luo. Free. Sure. Curious. Proud. Defiant.
A cool site though; dedicated to a EVANS-Richard.
JR Alila
Tags: luo, anthropology, sunset, polygamy, milayi, curse

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


The disgraced Kenya Electoral Commission headed by Mr. S. KIVUITU is being encouraged (with cash) to quietly leave town.