Friday, January 23, 2009


I am Joseph R. Alila, the author of Sunset on Polygamy (ISBN 1424166845).Sunset on Polygamy is the first of six novels and two collections of poems that I have written. This novel speaks to the sociological, spiritual as well anthropological underpinnings of governance, courtship, marriage, polygamy, remarriage, conflicts, death and disease among the Luo of East Africa. I have also addressed how these aspects of life affect the understanding and management of the New Disease epidemic (read AIDS epidemic) among my people (the Luo).

As a social critic, I believe that my role is to blow the horn, to warn, to praise, to mourn, and to ask questions whenever there is an emergent cultural problem. In this role, I have tried to be an innocent presenter (and sometimes an active presenter) of facts as I see them, and calling human folly what it is.It may come as a surprise to some of my readers that my female heroines (Felicia the Nyadendi, Nyapora, Megan and Gina) tend to influence the destiny of their homes and husbands and a whole people. But this is a natural consequence of the fact that, among the Luo, marriage is a spiritual institution, and the woman is at the center of worship within the home. When polygamy is factored into the marriage equation, marriage becomes one complex religious institution with its own dos and don’ts. Now, when the ethical references and goalposts are frayed and weakened by social decay, marriage in general (and polygamy in particular) becomes a complex deathtrap in the face of emergent disease epidemics such as AIDS. When the symptoms of AIDS are confused for that of chira (deadly curse), the tragedy of our human folly becomes immeasurable.


By Joseph R. Alila



Dear Mr. Joseph R. Alila

The institution of marriage was never attached with the notions like love. It is basically for keeping the human race going on. However the mutual corporeal pleasure and culturally defined cohabitation would result in consolidation of the emotions between the men and women involved in the acts.

Until the end of era of flock marriages--wherein a flock of women were allocated to a flock of men--ended, the concept of 'spouse' was an alien one. In India before seven thousand years, the concept of one woman and one man relationship was devised and defined as the only legal one. It can be read in the oldest book available, ManuSmriti.

In modern time, with the spread of importance of the individual freedom, any-gamy other than monogamy must have no social sanction. And that would eradicate most of the dangerous possibilities, the disease and all, that you have referred as fatal to the humanity.

Naval Langa

JR Alila said...

Thank Mr. Langa,
In my culture, not long ago, a senior bachelor would come home one night to find a woman in his house, thanks to the ingenuity of his cousins.
Marriage brought responsibility. To my people, being married was a sign that a boy had become a man. The bachelor was technically a boy however old he was.
Yes, procreation and continuity of bloodlines is a an objective in marriage. An impotent man had a wife; his kin would run his home in the night and father his kids. In this way, the cousins made sure that his, blood through their blood, bore his name.
Marriage brings some order in the business of love.

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