I have more than a passing knowledge of Gem because I am after all, a "ja-Gem"(member of the Gem community) or a "wuod Gem"( son of the Gem people). My folks are from the northern tip, geographically speaking, and from Kagola, clan wise. Geographically we are those sides of Yala, Jina, Anyiko, Sagam, Rawalo, Nyamninia, Ulumbi, Muhanda, Nyawara, Dudi, Maliera, Luanda Doho, Mutumbu, Malang'a, Ujimbe, Got Regea
Ndere, for people who are familiar with this part of Siaya District- but as I have pointed out several times, my particular village, which used to be part of Nyanza province is now in Kisa West in the Khwisero constituency of Western Province.Like I said clan wise, there are many of those that together comprise "Jo-Gem"-joKagola, jo Kathomo, jo Kanyikwaya etc. What is even more interesting is that many of the Gem people moved to the southern part of what some people insist on calling "Luo Nyanza" and if you go there, you will find a phenomenon akin to what you accost in cyberspace when it comes to websites, there are "clones" and "mirror clans" of Gem in what we (from this side of the lake) used to refer to as where "Jo-Loka"(people on the other side of the water) live. Like other parts of Nyanza, Gem has remained poor, marginalized and under-developed because of deliberate neo-colonial state policies from the "national "government in Nairobi that border on the criminally stupid. That is why scavenging Western missionaries can still go to Gem and harvest pictures like the one below after dishing out a few ephemeral charity hand-outs:
I am NOT going to trash my fellow Gem people am I now? I mean it is pure modesty which stops me from pointing out that we, the Gem people have contributed many accomplished writers and academics to the Kenyan national pool like Marjorie Oludhe-Macgoye,
Grace Ogot (ok she is really from Asembo, but we still claim her), her significant other, Prof. B.A. Ogot and a bunch of others.
Luos from Gem have a reputation for being very stubborn- some say also a bit conceited and slightly arrogant.
With that stubborn mindset comes a very independent spirit- and again I am speaking in very broad strokes because Gem has produced more than its share of collaborators, sycophants and sell-outs- including members of my own immediate family. Have you noticed that Gem MPs have to really sweat it out for a second term- just scroll backwards to the detained Wasonga Sijeyo to see how many actually got back to Bung'e the second time around...
Perhaps it may have something to do with the fact that Gem was one of the hotbeds and breeding grounds for the first ever Independent Church in Kenya- the Nomiya Luo Church launched by Yohana Owalo in 1907.
Here is a snapshot of Nomiya's founder, excerpted from that absolutely brilliant paper by Dr. Mildred Ndeda already linked above:
"...Yohana Owalo, the founder of the NLC, was a man with great experience within this new worldview. He got involved with the colonial government possibly as a porter when the railway construction was approaching Kisumu before 1900. He became a migrant labourer in Kisumu before proceeding to Mombasa to work for a court judge, Alexander Morrison. While in Mombasa, he had several visions and revelations that convinced him of God's call upon his life. The most spectacular one that completely transformed him came in March 1, 1907 when he was taken to the first, second and third heaven by the spirit. He saw various revelations in these heavens. He noted that the first heaven, the abode of men
was a remarkable place. All races of the world were attracted to it but the angels Raphael and Gabriel secured the gates. They allowed in the Arabs, the Jews and the Luo only because they had prophetic representatives. However, attempts by the Europeans (the Pope inclusive), the Goans and the Indian Bunyans were thwarted violently. They failed to meet the conditionalities. The second heaven housed numerous angels. In the third heaven he met the Godhead. God the father instructed Owalo to acknowledge that He was the only true God and beside Him there was no other. Nor shall there be any after me. But currently the creation has deviated into the worship of images. Go! Take a well-sharpened knife to circumcise all men. He who has an ear let him hear and adhere but leave the disobedient alone.
(NLC Prayer Book 1973; 118). Owalo was instructed to discard all human efforts to reach God (e.g. Holy mass). He was provided with a long cord whose other end was held by Jesus in heaven, to take to the earth. Jesus himself confirmed to Owalo that he was not of the same substance as God and so Owalo was to serve God alone. He was further instructed to take a long sharp sword and circumcise his adherents as a sign of distinction between his adherents and other Luo. After his heavenly experience, Owalo was deterred by Morison from starting his movement until he had acquired adequate education.Consequently he joined Catholic Ojola mission until it became apparent that his beliefs were inimical to the Catholic faith and sent away in 1907. He had a brief spate with the Muslims in Kisumu and was probably circumcised before he joined the CMS School in Nairobi in 1908. Later, he joined the Church of Scotland in Kikuyu by 1909. (Judicial 1/297 and Judicial 1/474, KNA). 11 In October 1910, he joined Maseno as a teacher but again his controversial beliefs became known and he was expelled in 1912, because of his avowed belief that Jesus was not of the same substance as God and his rejection of monogamy as basically a European idea and not a biblical one. He left Maseno to start his Mission to the Luo later (1914) renamed Nomiya Luo Mission. This was the first African Independent Church in Kenya.
-" from:NOMIYA LUO CHURCH: A GENDER ANALYSIS OF THE DYNAMICS OF AN AFRICAN INDEPENDENT CHURCH AMONG THE LUO OF SIAYA DISTRICT IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY AND BEYOND"By Dr. Mildred A.J.Ndeda, Department of History, Kenyatta University,
One of the areas where the Nomiya Church flourished was a part of Gem known as Ahono.
Today I want to talk about a daughter of Ahono who is currently hogging the news in Nairobi, maybe because of that stubborn (mixed in with a touch of Made in Gem conceit and arrogance perhaps?)
Actually today is not the first, or even second time I am speaking about the indomitable Ms. Orie-Rogo Manduli as you can see from this link to a very recent essay where I decried both the intervention of the state in the NGO sector while lambasting Ms. Rogo-Manduli and her NGO Council of Kenya colleagues for allowing matters to degenerate to that level without considering long term corrective measures earlier.
What is happening at the
is not just embarassing.
It is very, very dangerous to the future of the Kenya civil society sector- and perhaps NOT for the reasons that Amb. Orie Rogo-Manduli may be having in mind. The other day I stated, and I reiterate that statement, that the Kenya government should NOT be in the business of dissolving NGOs unless, of course it has come to the parlous state where crimes are being committed and funds held in trust( from funders who are in turn accountable to tax payers in Kenya, Sweden, Canada, the USA, Japan, Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Ireland and wherever else these "donor funds" emanate from)are in
danger of being sqaundered by dubious and devious felons lurking in this or that not for profit posh ofisi.
I hear what Ms. Orie Rogo-Manduli is saying when she loudly questions the legitimacy of Minister Najib Balala's recent order dissolving the council. What she says has a lot of merit and there was little to quible with what Macharia Gaitho was saying the other day when he uncharacteristically leapt to her defence.
In case somebody had problems opening the link with Ms. Orie Rogo-Manduli's statement, well, here it is in full word for word, not a semi-colon excised:
The NGO Council is established under Section 23(1) of the Non-Government Organizations.
The National Council of NGOs is a self regulating body which provides overall leadership to the NGO sector and the civil society.
The General Assembly is the supreme authority of the NGO Council. This body comprises of the NGO Council members who, essentially, comprise of the member organization. Among the functions of the General Assembly is to elect the Executive committee and Regulatory Committee and remove them from office when and if need arises.
The NGO Council has not had any official communication from the Hon. Minister concerning the alleged dissolution of the Executive and Regulatory Committees. I have learnt about it from the media.
It must be communicated clearly that:-
1. On behalf of the Members of the NGO Council I have heard from the media that the Minister has allegedly dissolved the Executive Committee and the Regulatory Committee. No official communication has been received from the Minister.
Indeed, the very existence of this NGO Council is to ensure
that the government, including its ministers, do not interfere
with or destabilize the operations of non-governmental organization.
The minister's power rest and are restricted to the NGO Coordination Board.
..Now i know u might probably be wondering na huyu ni nani?k i would kindly offer u an insight into the issue in this blog of yours on condition of anomity given my status. However a question everyone wonders what is the genesis of this wrangles?I will give you a perspective u r not likely to get anywhere trust me. Are u aware before Orie's term as chairperson some estimated 4.6 million shillings was missapropriated short of saying squanderd aka corruption occcured in circumstances that are questionable at the secretariat. Audit report in a GASS-general asssembly seemed to suggest so.The claims to this mone is spent were backed up by exobitant consultancy charges (by some individuals linked to certain senior staff -who have conveniently resigned+ their allies in the then executive commitee)as well as exaguratted cost for "all the usual capacity building workshops"}so up to now rather than this cartel of individual see a well functioning secretariat that will dig up this dirt and clean up this historical mess tha occured kwa jina ya watu maskini wanataka kuimaliza.Y would anyone pupport to run MDG programs to eradicate poverty whilst at the same time advocate 4 the minister to shut down the very organisation that could start eradicating poverty by means of employment to his fellow collegues ?Not unless kunamess anataka kuficha.we know this fella in has periodically initiated board wars each time he feels his dirty past is about to be brought out. Time will tell whether the truth will catch up with them i.e they can't hide that mess 4ever no matter how many files they burn....truth is this "crisis" thing is just but a smoke screen ile mambo iko behind this is even bigger . Hawa "sector elitists "that invaded the sector in the 90s' are coming to terms with the reorganisation of this sector to being one which has values and is professional. Truth is Manduli will come and go even if they bring angels we know what they did and they will not get away with it ..kumbuka the movie "we still know what they did last summer". We know their mode of operation lakini hukuli kitu na jina ya wananchi maskini wa Kenya and i let you get away with it."
One of the disadvantages of living outside the country and relying on the online versions of the country's newspapers to follow and analyse breaking news developments in Kenya has today is the realization kwamba unapunjwa na kugongwa kila sekunde, you are short-changed every second because not all the print news is covered online and sometimes very important interventions on radio and television never make it to cyberspace. Friends of mine who have been watching/listening to the above media told me that the NGO Council war migrated over there with Ms. Rogo-Manduli questioning the partiality of Oduor Ong'wen and alluding to his "Communist" underpinnings even as she seized on the NAK-LDP to accuse Najib Balala of having factional agendas even as she did a flip flop about turn from her rambunctious deliberations at Bomas to SUPPORT the Kilifi Draft implicitly if not explicitly, as you can also see from this statement Ms. Manduli has placed on the NGOC website. I am made to understand that Ms. Wahu Kaara and Prof. Edward Oyugi did rally to the defence of Ongwen and the rest of the Kenyan civil society sector now held hostage by the demagogic pyrotechnics of her Sartorial Eloquent Excellency. Somebody pointed out, I am told that it is a bit disingenous for Ms. Orie Rogo-Manduli and the other NGOC pugilists for raising their anti-statist cudgels when they showed absolutely no qualms about leaping to one arm of the state- the judiciary- when it suited them.
When all the talking is done, however, how on earth is the NGO Council of Kenya
ever going to climb out of this mess? The other day I was only half-joking
(which means I was partly serious) when I suggested that for a reasonable fee I was
willing to take a stab at it.
All joking aside, let me hereby waive any fees and offer this Good Samaritan Survival Package
from Montreal to bail out NGO Council of Kenya from its current woes:
I.Borrowing Ms. Orie Rogo-Manduli's own words, 1 member organization of the NGOC should invoke Section 11.2.I of the Rules and Regulations of the NGO Council of Kenyaand call for a Special General Assembly with six agenda items:
To allow this process to work, the grand-standing simply has to stop!
Ms. Orie-Rogo Manduli should stop holding the NGO Council of Kenya
RANSOM by barricading herself in their offices which she has practically
converted into a temporary dwelling. If she is a true democrat who cherishes
the principles of collective leadership, participatory decision making, mutual
accountability and inner democracy. On the other hand must curb its enthusiasm to
"Kamirithu" away civil society formations through unwarranted heavy handed
state inteference or underhanded civil society and NGO brewed
Dadaesque NGO coup de tats.
I am made to understand that some unsavoury, unscrupulous and thoroughly
unprincipled forces from the ruling coalition have seized on the wrangles of the
NGO Council of Kenya not only to settle old civil society sector scores but more
ominiously, rev up the ante of the NAK-LDP wars: Balala's order is now being
read in some quarters as an LDP gambit rather than a drastic ministerial intervention
sanctioned by the cabinet.
How either faction could possibly benefit from the fallout of the standoffs
at the NGO Council is something that completely stumps me.
I saw in the press about a month ago that Kenya is slated to host the 2007
edition of the World Social Forum. The Kenyan NGO and civil society sector
needs to come together and rise to the collective challenge of welcoming up to
300,000 delegates into Nairobi in what is truly going to be the biggest vote of
confidence in our civil society, an endorsement of our tentative democratic victories
and a manifestation of the rising profile of Africa in contemporary world affairs.
Surely we do not want to be bogged down in territorial pettiness and individualistic
preening and sulking when we all know that what lies ahead in 2007 will be a boon
to the Kenyan civil society, a potential public relations bonanza for the government
and of course a financial windfall for our hospitality, infrastructure,transport, tourist
and other sectors of the economy.
It therefore behoves us all to nip this NGOC kerfuffle in the bud, before it mushrooms
into a tornado, or worse, a tsunami.
Sincerely, beyond the words written on this blog, I am prepared to participate
personally, directly andlocally in finding a resolution to this conflict.
Kwani it is not as if we are locked in mortal combat with an invading
brigade of aliens from another dimension...