Friday, August 19, 2016
Happy Birthday to Someone I Know Well
I turned 56, today, Friday August 19, 2016.
Happy birthday to me, David Onyango Oloo.
It was not always obvious I would live to see this day-and for that I say thanks.
I could have died in a hail of GSU bullets on Sunday, August 1, 1982, when as a very naïve first year University of Nairobi undergraduate I was among a throng of enthusiastic students trooping past the police headquarters fists shaking, arms waving, screeching pambana! power! at the top of our young hope filled lungs.
I could have passed away at Kamiti Maximum any year between 1982 and 1987 when I was incarcerated for “exciting sedition and disaffection against the Government of Kenya by law established”.
Who knows? I could have gone the way of Githirwa wa Muhoro, my fellow political exile who died in Toronto in February 1994; Mwakudua wa Mwachofi another comrade who died in Wisconsin in July 1996; Kariuki wa Gathitu, Gupta Thiong’o, Njuguna Mutahi, Bantu Mwaura or many of the dozens of my friends and comrades who have rejoined the ancestors in the intervening decades.
So once again, I am grateful to be alive today to celebrate my fifty sixth year on planet earth.
Two and a half weeks ago I was at the open grave where a beautiful, ever smiling intelligent twenty-three-year-old third year Moi university student was being lowered to her final resting place having finished her battle with leukemia.
my niece, daughter of my younger brother was given a very teary, fond farewell by my sisters, cousins, aunties, uncles and other relatives, while her two sisters were crying their hearts out, writhing on the red lateral soils of Luanda Dudi village, determined to depart to the afterlife with Linda while their father Washington Oloo, stood stoically, clutching a cross and a bunch of flowers, waiting for the inevitable mound to cover the casket of his beloved second daughter lying next to our father, our sister and two brothers, Linda’s mother and sister who proceeded Linda.
Last week my mother-no, not my biological maternal parent who was claimed by breast cancer on December 9, 1980, but the eighty-two-year-old mother of my first cousins Ayieko, Okello, Adhiambo, Oloo, Mudhune, Akumu and spouse of my late father’s late eldest brother Omole was interred in Yala, Gem.
I still cannot forget
how she wailed and sobbed, weeping uncontrollably, with her daughters, my late mother’s brother Walter Ombiro Wandolo and my father’s youngest sister Joyce Ohwenya next to her on that cloudy day in November 1982 when her nephew David Onyango Oloo was whisked off by baton wielding askaris to begin his five-year sentence.
So today is kind of sour and bitter because just yesterday I received a text message from Opondo Kakendo on the outskirts of Sega, Ugenya that his thirty-four-year-old son was found near Ukwala murdered by unknown thugs. I spent years at Kamiti with Opondo who was an ex-military man jailed by the Moi regime in the aftermath of the abortive coup.
Still today just underscored the under ending cycle/circle that is life.
I was musing the other day with my younger sister, the Durban based Janet Okeyo ruefully as we recalled the birthday parties we never had or knew from our doting father and devoted mother- parents who would rather put us in the best schools, buy us the most expensive text books rather than throw away good money on something as frivolous as a birthday bash. Tomorrow we are converging at my youngest sister’s Ruth Awuori’s house in Donholm where my siblings are throwing a delayed dinner bash for their big brother’s fifty sixth earth day occasion.
I am mighty glad that I am still a militant radical and committed socialist today. I did not go the way of other former Marxist-Leninists who are today disciples of
Reagan worshippers of
Spivak Chakraboty and
Michel Foucault at some post-modernist pagoda, dreaming of evolving into Kenyan versions of
Dangote and Buffett.
I am proud that Jukwaa- the online discussion platform that I founded eleven years ago and the Kenya Democracy Project, Masharikki, Kenya Sizzle and the plethora of blogs I started in WordPress, BlogSpot, Tumblr, Google + and other social media places are still going strong.
Offline I still hold fast to the activist web mail provider
Rise Up which exhorts all of us to get off the internet and spill on to the streets.