restricted access Prologue

From: Dying Voice

African Books Collective colophon
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Prologue Woi! Woi! Woi! Woi! lagokyok! Woi, where do we go? The early morning calm was shattered as mothers wailed for their sons who perished in the war. Bwo! Bwo! Bwo! Bwo we! Lagokyok (ye our children) what finished you? Are they animals or enemies? What killed you? What k….i…i……i….. A mother asked again and again as she fainted. Wui! Wui! Wui! Wui my husband! My Husband! Wui my husband! Where will I go? Ayoung woman lamented as she realised that she already was a widow. Iii! Iii! Iii! Iii! Iii! My father, my father! Woi! Woi! Woi! My father! A young girl cried as she remembered her beloved father whom she was to see no more. Bwo! Bwo! Bwo! Bwo we! Murenju (ye men). We thought you would make our land prosperous. Old men lamented, clapping their hands, “Who will defend our country now that you are gone?” Many young men were writhing in fits of anger. Some were rescued from killing themselves. It was one of those gloomy days. Dying Voice My three friends and I watched dumbly the mourning at our home of Kaptumek in Southern Nandi. We were the only survivors of the Kapkwambisi cattle raid. After calmness had been restored, the aged tribal patriarch, Telenges stood and facing the East, he prayed: Asis! Asis! Asis! Asis! Kasech kakisain Asis! Konech sopon Asis! Kakile oiyo Asis! Tukwech chuto1 I remember everything now as my mind is haunted by the events that took place a long time ago, when I was a young warrior. This was long before the salt coloured people had stepped into the Nandi country. Now I am so old that my weak legs can no longer support my body. I am left to crawl like a child. Of late my aged wife has been complaining that our house and bedding smell of urine. This is true. On most occasions as I start towards the door of my hut, I find that my bladder is already emptied between my bed and the doorpost. Sorrowfully, I crawl back to my bed. It is the bitter experience in my life. I never knew that a time would ever come that I would become like a baby. Can you imagine that my own sons, whom I brought forth from my own loins, have begun calling me Agui2 and their mother Kogo!3 18 _________________________________________ 1 God! God! God! God! Hear us, we pray. God! Give us health. God! We are sorry. God! Cover for us these remaining ones. 2 Grandfather 3 Grandmother “Agui, kogo has been complaining of late that the house smells of urine. What is the matter?” My eldest son is facing me about what he has heard from his mother. “You see, when I try to crawl outside, my bladder moves faster than my feet can. Should you blame me for this?” I asked while clattering my toothless gums. Of late my bony hands are tricky. They shake like leaves in dry season. Even getting a snuff is a problem these days. “If people were still going to the Land of Sheu, I would have gone there long ago than endure all this here,” I lament aloud as I remember what people of my age would have done then. I laugh to myself as I remember my grandfather. One day he said that he wanted to answer an urgent summons that he had heard. When asked who was calling him, he said, “So and so are calling me,” mentioning the names of his departed friends. “They are saying, ‘hurry, for the harvesting is at hand and various feasts have been prepared.’” The next day my grandfather and his other age-mates went to Sheu carrying millet flour and malt in baskets. Towards a precipice they went.And on approaching, they placed their loads on their heads, and began to dance moving backwards towards the precipice. All of a sudden, they slipped and down they rolled to the bottom.And so they went to Sheu, the land of the spirits, the country of the departed ancestors. I wish I too could depart to Sheu now. But it seems this is no longer possible. Times have changed. My mind has become like an old calabash filled with convulsing mursik.4 The haunting memories inside my mind are always rumbling. The calabash is already cracking. I do not know how long before the calabash breaks and I depart to the Land of Sheu. Prologue...


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