Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Man in the Mirror

Long long ago in the Balubanga Kingdom of the Abandu people of Western Kenya, there lived a Mighty King by the name Guyuguyu. Omwami Guyuguyu was famed in all of Abandu land for his ruthless bravery. He had led his army across all of Abandu land and those Chiefdoms that wouldn't co-operate with him were vanquished by his army but those that paid allegiance to him would be incorporated into his Kingdom. At seven feet tall, Guyuguyu was a hugely built and well chiseled warrior who would intimidate any opponent by his stature alone. He had been a great wrestler too and had floored every opponent he faced in the popular omunyikha wrestling matches.

It so happened that during a raid on the un-cooperating chiefdom of Abasonga, Omwami Guyuguyu’s son Ogungo was hit by a poisoned arrow sent by the enemy. Ogungo the King’s son died from this fatal strike. Omwami Guyuguyu mourned his son honourably and after the forty days of mourning were exhausted, he led his army blazing into the Abasonga chiefdom and when he was done, all the Abasonga females were slaves of the Balubanga and all the males were carcasses.

This raid to avenge his son’s death was so brutal that Omwami Guyuguyu’s name spread like wildfire. Musicians composed endless songs about the vanquishing of the Abasonga. The wind too, it carried the stench of the rotting Abasonga carcasses to the end of the earths. None of the surrounding Chiefdoms wanted to cross Omwami Guyuguyu’s path anymore.

Since Guyuguyu’s ferocity had spread fear all around, he did not need to do raids anymore. His reputation preceded him. All he needed to do was to send his messengers accompanied by a few warriors to any Chiefdom and they would return with whatever he wanted be it taxes, workers or volunteers for his now mammoth army. This made Omwami less and less active. He mostly spent his days feasting on Nyama Choma and traditional beer. 

There would be a feast in his palace every other day and the palace officials and visitors would be treated to sumptuous meals, flowing beer and subservient women from the conquered Chiefdoms. This lifestyle soon had a toll on Omwami Guyuguyu. His muscles became fatty, his height seemed to have diminished, his belly was overflowing, his cheeks became chubby and his once thunderous voice was now reduced to a shrieking whisper. 

Upon the advice of his eldest and most respected wife Ng'inabandu, Omwami Guyuguyu summoned Ogirinyo the revered wizard. He asked Ogirinyo to commune with the ancestors and find out why Omwami looked different in the mirror. After throwing his cowrie shells in the name of the gods, Ogirinyo advised the King thus:

‘Omwami Guyuguyu, your mirror and all the mirrors on our land have been bewitched by your enemies to make a false impression of how you look. Only the true mirror of our God Were Khagaba Rachar hidden in His cave atop the Namalo hills can give the true picture of how you look. You must journey up the Namalo hills to see your true self in Were’s mirror and order that all the mirrors on the land be covered and put away for they are bewitched. The gods also demand that before the journey is complete, no feast should be held in Bulubanga.’

So for the first time in months, Omwami Guyuguyu set foot out of the palace gates. On this first attempt, he could not walk beyond the walls of his village. That short distance left him panting and gasping for breath and he had to turn back and try again on the next day. Ogirinyo kept urging the King day after day and after some time, he was able to walk past the village walls to the fields beyond but whenever he felt like he could walk no more, he would turn and walk back to the Village.

Namalo hills are the sacred seat of the Abandu people and one had to walk for almost 25 kilometers to get to the sacred hills. The Abandu always made yearly sojourns to the hill to worship their God Were Khagaba Rachar. As days went by, the King gained more strength and resolve to reach the top of Namalo hills in order to look at his true self on Were’s mirror. Each day he walked further and faster towards the sacred hills and at times had to run all the way back home in case he couldn’t make it home on time.

One night Omwami summoned Ogirinyo to the palace and told him that he was sure he would reach the hills the next day. With excitement, the King told Ogirinyo how he had walked so far that he had seen the sacred splendour of the Namalo hills in the horizon. He asked Ogirinyo to set out with him the next day so that they could look at the King’s image in the gods’ mirror together. 

That night, Ogirinyo sent off two of his trusted helpers with a huge mirror to the Namalo hills and instructed them to place the mirror in one of the chambers of Were Khagaba Rachar’s caves.

On the next day, the King set out on his self-discovery journey with Ogirinyo in tow. Since he had been walking to and fro almost thrice every week, he had formed a habit of leaving very early so on this day they left at 4.00 am in the morning. As they walked along, Ogirinyo was impressed at the King’s speed. Omwami Guyuguyu even joked that with Ogirinyo’s slow pace they might get to the hills on the next day.

As Ogirinyo struggled to catch up with the agile King, he couldn’t help noticing how the King’s spring had come back. All the chubbiness had disappeared and the muscles were showing again. He had become lighter, leaner, tougher and faster. The sheer determination to reach the top of the hill had made him push himself out of his idling ways making him walk and walk days on end. And most importantly, it had stopped the daily feasts at the palace.

After walking for what seemed like an eternity, they finally arrived at the foot of the holy Namalo hills at 3 pm. The climb up the hill was even faster than the journey itself. Ogirinyo could feel the King’s urgency to look upon himself in the mirror of the gods. At long last they stood at the innermost chamber of Were Khagaba caves atop Namalo hills infront of God's true mirror. And for the first time in several months, the King looked at himself in a mirror. All the laziness and fatness was gone. King Guyuguyu the warrior was back and the true mirror of the gods had spoken.

©2015 Otiato Opali.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Woman Reborn.

Where she would worry about her physical state -
Her health, her looks and a reputation that’s great,
Now she tends to her soul’s health
And through prayer she seeks spiritual wealth.
She is a woman reborn.

She used to hate her mistakes
Seeking to live a life devoid of heartbreaks
Now she welcomes her shortcomings
As an opportunity to perfect her failings.
She is a woman reborn.

A strong woman does not show her fear
But a woman reborn shows courage when facing her fears
She doesn't face her difficulties by the bravery on her face
But by her belief in God’s grace.

She is a woman reborn
Journeying into a future unknown
Trusting not in the firmness of her stride
But in the presence of God by her side
For she doesn't seek strength to finish the journey
But through finishing the journey, she seeks to gain strength.

©2014 Otiato Opali.

(This is a commissioned poem. I was asked to write it, it didn't 'occur' to me as my poetry usually does.)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Rich people and large amounts

What makes one great? Is it the fact that their deeds are great or is it because people think their deeds are great? Social Media has become a tool with which we can lie, boast or dream of how perfect our imperfect life is.  

Mark 12: 41-42
. . . many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

'Live until you die!'

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Though I might look like your common guy next door, there's more to me than meets the I. If you get the chance to meet the I, you will find out more about me.