To my unborn daughter

Kenneth Jura | Kenya

My dear child let me take some few minutes to tell you what you will encounter in your new world. You will be taught in your Social Studies classes, it was called Geography History and Civics during my time, that there was Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, who died on 22nd August, 1978. He was succeeded by Daniel Toroitich arap Moi who during his tenure people got displaced due to  ethnic clashes. You might also be told that Kenya’s GDP was equal to that of South Korea and Malaysia way back in 1963!

My worry is that you may not live to tell this tale as I am not sure of your conception. I am not sure because one of my testicles was crushed during an inter ethnic violence because I was perceived to be the enemy of the other community. You ask the enemy? Yes I was viewed as the enemy because I do not come from the “correct community” your mother was thus chased away by my people as they thought that since she comes from the mountains, a land far away from here then she should as well be treated the same way I was. I tried talking to your uncles and kin that I had legally married your mum but they would hear none of it. As she ran away you were only three months away from getting to this harsh unforgiving world. A world that you are judged by which tribe you are from and what is between your legs than what is between your ears. Unfortunately she miscarried you as she ran.

If you could have perhaps lived, then I am not so sure whether you could have celebrated your fifth birthday; malaria, measles, or any other malady could be waiting for you round the corner to snap life out of your beautiful self.

Just before you take your last gasp let me narrate what happened many years back. It was in the year 2007 where a politician called Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki had a protracted dispute over elections. The previous felt the latter stole elections, what followed thereafter was sporadic violence that led to the deaths of over 1,300 people and a further 300,000 got displaced. It was not a good sight to behold as our country was literally burning. About your mother she did not manage to reach her home as news came in that she was hacked to death by a gang called Mungiki. My child I may not quite explain what Mungiki was or what it is but that is how your mother left this world.

As you close your eyes in death you may never know what your mother went through apart from what I have told you neither would you know what your friends encountered. Your grandparents wept uncontrollably upon being told that you took your last breath without them holding you and even taking care of you the same way they did to me.

There is however hope as your mum’s people want to come to the village to make peace. I am happy that all will be well as I will soon marry and have a daughter just as beautiful as you were and I will make sure that my people will not chase away this other lady whom I will marry but rather stay in peace until we come and join you.

Bye my beautiful daughter lots of love,

Dad.

Public interest or is it interesting to the public?

Kenneth Jura | Kenya

Herman Omiti | Kenya

The freedom of expression and information just like other rights and freedoms are not exclusive; there are limitations within which these rights and freedoms can be enjoyed. One of these limitations is the right to privacy. The constitution guarantees every person the right to privacy (Article 31). The question that has always been moot is how do we harmonize these two rights and freedom?

Last month, Conjestina Achieng – world number five female boxer, was featured on television in a not so good mental state. She was seen losing her mental sense one too many times as she muttered incomprehensible words.

The issue that arose was whether she consented to such intrusive coverage or could she have had the capacity to consent to such coverage in her mental condition? Obviously, she did not consent; then, was it in order for the media to air her story especially in her condition?

Did the media give prominence to the story because it was in the public interest or was it interesting to the public?

A school of thought in support of the media’s action was that since Conje is a public figure, a world boxing champion, thus it was in the interest of the public to know what happens to her. Whilst this might be a valid argument, there must be difference between what is in public interest and what is interesting to the public.

The other school thought that the media had over stepped its boundary in bringing out Conje’s private life to light which consequently can cause her family anguish and tantamount to putting them to public ridicule.

Supposing that it is of public interest to know her well being then where does the balance lie between her fundamental right to privacy, freedom of the media on one hand and the right to information on the other. Is it a right to know someone else’s private life just because he is a public figure?

These questions are significant, if one right is left to ride brakeless then it could easily stumble and run over the other; accordingly, all rights are guaranteed in the constitution.

This discussion may not be conclusively put to rest as to whether it was in the interest of the public to know Conje’s mental state or was it simply a story interesting to the public.

NB: The resultant impact of the story was however an excellent heed to a call.

L’héritage des femmes parmi les Luos

Kenneth Jura | Kenya

Quand nous discutions ce sujet au forum consultatif sur les bien faits contre l’élimination du VIH/SIDA au pays. Ce sujet étais discuté avec trop d’arrogance et aussi ignorance parce des participants ne comprenaient pas pourquoi les Luos avaient ce type de culture. Cependant, chacune culture a ses valeurs et traditions.

Après l’enterrement

Parmi les Luos, après avoir une femme a fait les funérailles de son mari elle est si permettre de porter le deuil et plus tard elle va choisir la personne qui va l’hériter parmi les beaux-frères qui sont mariés. L’héritier doit être marié parce que c’était obligatoirement. L’héritier est bien connu comme Jater.

Avant « des nouvelles » est donné au Jater, elle (la veuve) demanderait la permission de l’épouse de Jater à son intention d’être mariée, c’était rare pour un homme de refuser. Si la veuve ne trouve pas la personne qu’elle veut parmi les beaux-frères alors elle peut opter pour un étranger, quelqu’un qui n’a pas de relation familiale, celui est connu comme Jak Owiny. Jak owiny n’était pas si accepté parce des sages avaient le point de vu que c’était commercialiser l’héritage des femmes contre les traditions.

Les raisons et le monde actuel du VIH/SIDA

  • Continuer lignée familiale de mort. Un enfant né dans une telle union, si un garçon, il sera appelé du nom du mari défunt et si une fille alors la mère du défunt.
  • · L’héritier devait présider – go kom piny, des négociations dot des enfants du décédé et en plus son rôle est de gonyo dhok – la délivrance des vaches au fils du défunt dans au cadre du paiement de dot. Cela a été perçu comme une grande bénédiction et c’était exclusivement aux hommes. Une femme ne peut jamais gonyo dhok.
  • · Il devait protéger et aussi prendre soin de la veuve car le clan se méfiait des femmes impudiques.

La veuve devait être hérité, en effet si elle n’est pas alors, elle ne peut pas cultiver la terre parce que c’était une affaires des couples si l’un n’est pas là, alors l’autre ne peut pas ensemencer tout seul jusqu’au moment où elle est héritée.

Ce sont les très nobles manières qui constitue la culture qui est actuellement mal compris, comme de nombreux de gens y fait pour profiter et aussi de gaspiller la richesse laissés de décédé. Il  en a contribué de nombreux décès du VIH / SIDA, mais idéalement, il était pour le bien commun de tout dans la société.

La culture n’est jamais comparable ni examinée au regard de l’objectif de votre propre culture. Chacune de nos cultures devraient être bien  comprise et appréciée exclusivement, à la fin que nous soyons ouvert et de plus il faut que nous soyons intéressé à connaître nos différentes cultures pour le but d’éliminer les préjugés que nous avons pour se bien déplacer et être un citoyen national / mondial.

 

Wife inheritance among the Luo

Kenneth Jura | Kenya

When this topic was brought out in one of the consultative forum discussing the gains made in the fight against HIV/AIDS elimination in the country. It was discussed with sheer arrogance and ignorance as many who attended did not quite understand. However, in every culture there is something that stands out which makes a cultural practice unique – unique in its beliefs, values and traditions.

After burial

In the Luo cultural practice, after a wife has buried her husband she is then given time to mourn her departed husband later on she will choose an inheritor among her brothers-in-law who is married. He is referred to as Jater. He had to be married as being an inheritor was a preserve for those who are only married.

Before news was issued to the would be Jater, she (widow) would seek approval from the Jater’s wife of her intention to be inherited, on very rare cases would a man refuse. But if the widow does not find a suitable Jater among the brother’s-in-law then she can opt for a stranger – one who is not a relative, such a person is called Jak owiny.  Jak owiny would however not get approval of the clan members as it was viewed as an attempt to commercialize wife inheritance.

Reasons and the present world of HIV/AIDS

  • · Continue family lineage of the dead. A kid born in such a union if a boy he will be called the departed husband’s name and if a girl then the mother of the deceased.
  • · The inheritor was to chair – go kom piny, dowry negotiations of the deceased children and more over gonyo dhok – issuing out cows to the son of the deceased as part of dowry payment. This was seen as a blessing and a preserve of men only. A woman cannot gonyo dhok.
  • · He was to protect and take care of the widow because the clan was wary of unchaste women.

The widow was to be inherited because if she does not then she cannot till land as tilling land was done by couples so if one is not present then she cannot do it alone until when she is inherited.

These were very noble sage ways that constitutes culture which presently is misunderstood as many go for it to squander wealth left behind. It has further led to many deaths from HIV/AIDS but ideally it was for the common good of all in the society.

On the other hand culture cannot be comparable nor looked at under the lens of your own culture. Each of our cultures should idyllically be understood and appreciated exclusively as the more we open up and be interested in knowing our various cultures the less prejudices we have ultimately move towards being a national/global citizen.