LOST MARRIAGE RITES
First published in 2016
Copyright © Gerald Malinga 2016
All rights reserved.
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ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
Gerald Malinga was born on the 31st December 1983 in Toroma mission hospital In the then Usuk County, to the late John Alfred Ocen and Margret Malinga. He went to pioneer primary school, Teso college Aloet, ntinda view college, Bukedi college kachonga and later to a tertiary institution for a medical laboratory practitioner course. iii
THE LOST MARRIAGE RITES is a play that the playwright has used to depict the original true marriage culture of the Iteso speaking tribe/ people who inhabit parts of the Eastern and North Eastern regions of Uganda.
After carrying out research, the playwright discovers that, some parts of the original norms to be followed when a daughter and son get married are no more. Except a few of the cultural practices are still high on the agenda.
It has however been noted that the Christian faith and the modernity that the western world have come with have brain brushed the common man and made him to believe culture as barbaric and backward.
The lost marriage rites were greatly practiced before the massive cattle raids of the 1980s, mostly because the Iteso economy was doing well and they had a lot to feast on during marriage ceremonies. The common man never believed in anything apart from revolving his thinking within his culture and the cattle.
The playwright discovers that the whole procedure is dramatic and tries to depict it in form of this play entitled, the lost marriage rites.iv
Success in whatever we do is sometimes catapulted by those who honestly wish us well. However ,it is on this note that I would like to recognize a few of my good friends who did not hesitate to support my cause towards the publication of this play.
For the great support rendered, I would like to convey my special thanks to the following:-
Honorable Alupo Jesica Rose Epel, woman member of parliament katakwi District and Minister of Education and Sports,Dr Akobye Winnie and the staff of Baylor Soroti,Mr. Omagor Benjamin,Mr.Ocaatum Peter and lastly Madam Shabnam Olinga.
Thank you my brother David Omeke for the honest moral support you have always willingly rendered. It has kept me strong amidst any storms that have come my way.
Without forgetting my elder Mzee Okwakol William Obukan , thank you for the great wealth of ideas you have willingly rendered.
To the editor of my play ,Mr Oboi Paul Head of Department English Language Teso College Aloet,thank you for the tireless effort you rendered towards this masterpiece.
Lastly ,I would like to thank my elder sister and God mother in Christ Apoo Susan for always being with me in prayer. Thank you and may God Almighty bless you.v
This play is dedicated to my daughters; Gloria Amongin and Precious Susan Malinga. You are my blessing from God. The reason I tirelessly work hard. 1
EPAJA- Elder son in the home
OKWEREDE - Father to Epaja
ADIKINI-Sister following Epaja by birth
IJALA- Epajas’ cousin brother
APESE- Okwerede’s younger daughter
OKOIK- 60 year old admirer of Adikini
OTEGER-Final husband to Adikini
TIKOL- Adikinis’ mother- in- law
BULASIO-Adikinis’ father- in-law
(Men and women)- Members
OLUPOT-Epajas’ clan elder
OPESEN-Otegers’ clan elder
OMAIDO invited guests who hurl insults at Adikini.
AMEDE- Adikinis’ friend
OTELU- Friend to Epaja
OJEGELE- Otelus’ father
ONAC- clan brother
THREE OTHER WOMEN
OTEGER’S four men 3
ACT ONE, SCENE ONE
The curtain rises on five little grass thatched huts made of mud and wattle that surround an empty courtyard. To the right a bush covers what appears to have been a huge kraal now empty and engulfed by shrubs. To the left only two emaciated goats lie tethered to the poles supporting one of the huts. Just then, a door to one of the huts opens and as if prompted by the other, another door opens and a tall dark skinned young man, about 19 walks out swiftly to meet an elderly bald headed man.
Enter Epaja and Okwerede.
EPAJA; Papa, papa, I greet you this morning.
OKWEREDE: Good morning my son, what could be bothering you? I see you have not even taken the goats to pasture.
EPAJA: Papa, I have not been sleeping lately. Something seems to be eating into me and I fear I might soon run mad.
OKWEREDE: My son, remember the sheep that kept quiet when the goat Made an alarm got eaten by the hyena. Speak my son, or in Silence you might indeed get eaten up.
EPAJA: Papa….. you see….. you know….ahem.. boys have grown up from this village. My friends have married women, Otelu now has a wife, even if her mouth is long and sharp like that of a rat, and he is enjoying her, no enjoying life with her 4
OKWEREDE: What do you mean my son? So, you have woken up this morning only to start abusing other people’s wives and later admiring how they are enjoying their lives. When you point a finger at someone, four other fingers will point back at you.
EPAJA: Papa, I don’t mean that! I am trying to say that, Otelus father Ojegele has married for Otelu a wife and I would like also a wife.
OKWEREDE: (in bewilderment) Eh! Eh!- eh! My son what are you saying?
EPAJA: (seriously) you have heard me papa . I want you to marry for me a wife.
OKWEREDE: (Carries his hands in disbelief and moves into the house and mutters to himself) Ayaya ya- ya my son Epaja now wants a wife, when we have almost nothing to eat. The famine is becoming severe. People from the neighboring villages have begun marrying off their daughters in exchange for food and a few animals to feed them. What shall we have to eat in this home if his sisters’ bride price is taken away immediately by his woman’s people? This is more like the hunter who put his fingers in a leorpard’s anus. It all smells of trouble.
EPAJA: (emphatically) Papa, you are my papa, you have to marry for me a wife, you have to marry for me a wife (rolls out his bicycle with a rather tattered cushion on the carrier and rides away)
(Okwerede inside the house with Epajas’ mother Asioto)5
OKWEREDE: Have you heard what your son Epaja has said?
ASIOTO: (turns over lazily on the bed and yawns) What?
OKWEREDE: (irritated) don’t pretend you didn’t hear me , your son is demanding that I should marry for him a wife and yet the only animals we have got are those skinny little goats on your verandah.
ASIOTO: look, I have a lot more to worry about like the hunger gnawing at my entrails. Did not your father marry for you me when you demanded him for a wife . The lion reminds everyone that he is king by his roar.
OKWEREDE: (sadly) But there were animals then.
ASIOTO: it still remains your responsibility to marry for your son a wife. (Curtain falls) 6
ACT I, SCENE 2
The curtain rises to show a village path and shortly, Epaja appears energetically riding his bicycle carrying a male passenger . He reaches a reed gate and the passenger instructs him to stop. He is given 1000=.
EPAJA: Thank you my boss.
PASSENGER: Not at all. Remember to pick me up tomorrow.
EPAJA: I will be right at your door step even before the dew dries on the grass. (exit passenger. EPAJA Picks out his wallet, and then begins to count his coins/money)
This money is too little; at this rate will I really marry Akello’s sister? I need to mount pressure on this ipolon. Ana cheza cheza na mimi. Let me see if my gorgeous one is at home. (rides hastily whistling to a common love song. He reaches a homestead and gets off his bicycle and shouts) Otelu, my best friend, are you at home?
AKELLO: (stoops out of the kitchen) Epaja, was it not you who took my husband to work yesterday? Has he suddenly returned?
EPAJA: sorry, I forget so easily. Eeh…. Is she in?
EPAJA: Your sister of course…. the lovely one….. The wonder of Toroma village. Tell her to bring for me some water.7
AKELLO: (shouting) Akiror, are you not hearing? Someone is dying of thirst. (Akiror walks out of the house carrying a cup of water and gyrating her hips from side to side, she curtsies as she hands over the cup to Epaja who drinks the water )
EPAJA: Aaah so cool, how I wish you were with me all the time so that I can enjoy all your services.
AKELLO: (sounding infuriated) stop wishing, simply go and tell your father to prepare dowry and she will be yours.
EPAJA: (embarrassed) I am working on that, my sister-in-law. I am working on that. Thank you for the water though. (rides off with a tempo in the direction of their home and finds his father just coming out of the house. He breaks and parks suddenly)
EPAJA: I greet you papa, good morning.
OKWEREDE: I greet you my son, how is work?
EPAJA: (seemingly upset) work is not ok, besides, I would like to know what your plans are concerning what I told you.
OKWEREDE: Ok- ok concerning a wife
EPAJA: Yes, yes papa (smiles)
OKWEREDE: (Keeps quiet for a moment, looks up at the sky, then talks) Let me first discuss with your mother and then we shall get back to you. My son ,the ajon that tastes good is brewed for a long time.(exit both )
(for a while, the stage is left empty but for the family 8
engages in the routine of waking up, getting busy, and closing the doors ,to show passage of time, then after about a month Epaja opens the door and walks to the middle of the courtyard)
EPAJA: (Murmurs to himself) Papa has kept lying to me for almost a month, this time I want a definite answer.
OKWEREDE: (opens his door and upon seeing, his son tries to get back inside the house and murmurs) He is in a wifey mood again today.
ASIOTO: (packing and re-ordering her plates and saucepans) Are you talking to me?
OKWEREDE: He is in a wifey mood again today.
EPAJA: (noisily) Papa, you come out, you have lied me two times, this time I want a wife papa, papa, I saw you running back inside the house, don’t pretend that you have not seen me.
OKWEREDE: (Drags himself out and looks at his son, then speaks) My son, I have discussed with your mother, ok let me call her. Asioto, Asioto (silence) ok.. .. I have decided that tomorrow, I want us to sit for a family meeting and then we discuss the issue of your marriage. All your two sisters, your mother, me and you should be present. As you know , during a beer party, everyone has to put their straw in the pot of ajon.
EPAJA: Papa, tomorrow I will be punctual. Tomorrow let it not be a lie again9
OKWEREDE: No my son, we shall make it tomorrow.
(early the next day, patches of morning light illuminate the homestead, a shadowy figure carefully opens a door, his hoe and panga held in one hand, he then stops suddenly in his tracks)
ASIOTO: Where are you going my husband? Did I not hear you telling your son about discussing his marriage today? (Silence, as the shadowy figure Picks his tools and walks out of the house)
EPAJA: (Comes and finds his mother sweeping the compound, while other sisters are washing plates) Mama where is papa?
ASIOTO: My son, your father woke up very early this morning that he was going to clear the fields, now that these rains are about to return
EPAJA: (He begins shading tears while speaking) Ahh……… I want a wife. This time papa is hiding again.
- Aaaah- aaaah –aaah- aaah- I want a wife.
Aaaah-aaah-aaah-aaah- I want a wife.
ASIOTO: (Looks at her son, and speaks). My son calm down, I will handle him on that matter.
OKWEREDE: (After work decides to stay in the woods until evening) Now all these problems, this son needs’ a wife, I have nothing absolutely to give him. (Tries to come back home in the afternoon, peeps and sees his son then runs back into the woods)10
OKWEREDE: (Comes back home hen dark and enters the house) How are you my wife?
ASIOTO: All is not fine, your son has been crying the whole day.
OKWEREDE: (Eating food in silence) We shall see tomorrow.
EPAJA: (Begins crying in dark) Aaah-aaah-aaah I want a wife.
OKWEREDE: So it has come to this. Epaja my son is crying for a wife. The ulcer that kills a man begins as a thought. Asioto my wife, let us go out and talk with our son. By the time we come back to sleep, we should have got a concrete solution to that problem. (Okwerede and Asioto open the door and ,come out with a lamp,two chairs and a mat)
OKWEREDE: Epaja my son,you can now stop crying. (Epaja wipes his face and stops crying) Aaah-aah I said this morning, we would meet but I delayed from the field and a lot of issues kept me away.
EPAJA: What issues? Is it not hiding away from me?
OKWEREDE: I am not against you starting your own family, but the circumstances have changed. Look at that empty kraal, how many cows were sprawling in it before the cattle raiders took them all. It does not, however, mean that I won’t do all it takes to get you a wife of your own. Our people say that a man who goes to sleep with an itchy anus will surely wake up with smelly fingers. That is why we are here, we do not want to sleep with a problem in our minds. 11
(looks to his wife who nods reassuringly) Mama Adikini, do you remember that old man Okoik, the village chief of the neighboring village who had come to pay me a visit six months back?
ASIOTO: The one who was laughing at the top of his voice and when I asked who he was, you refused to tell me ?
OKWEREDE: Yes, you have got it right; He had actually come to express his interest in our elder daughter Adikini.
(Flash back is played showing Okwerede and Okoik seated under a shade seriously)
But because of his advanced age, I had to silence the whole issue. You can see how huge Adikinis’ body is. A very massive body, but she is just a young girl of sixteen years. All the same, I am now compelled to send him a letter tomorrow inviting him to come and make arrangements to marry Adikini. We may not only need cattle as bride price but grain and food stuff that could keep us during this famine. Imagine we have been surviving on porridge plus one meal a day. If I was not a hunter of big wild rats and rabbits, source would have become a problem. One day when I saw there was nothing to eat, I decided to start trapping cats at home then roast them from the bush, I would come back home confidently that I had caught a rabbit
ASIOTO: (Pretends to begin vomiting) What, what? You have been feeding me on these cats at home. No wonder that’s why cats disappeared from home. Then you would just say that other wild cats had strayed them away from home (then continues spitting)
OKWEREDE: Yes cats did disappear because of that, but we did not die. When there is no meat, the lion eats grass. 12
None the less, tomorrow we shall send Epaja with a letter to Okoik and the following day he should be here.Are you getting me my son Epaja?
EPAJA: Yes papa, I will do that.
OKWEREDE: Your problem will now be solved have a good night. (exit all apart from Epaja)
EPAJA: (enthusiastically) I will now get a wife. Akiror will be mine soon (he murmurs continuously until he finally sleeps off.)
The curtain falls 13
ACT ONE, SCENE THREE.
The curtain rises on five little grass thatched huts made of mud and wattle. This time round , it is clear that a lot of effort was put in making them look better. To the right the bush that covers what appears to have been a huge kraal has been cleared. At the center of the courtyard are two makeshift grass thatched tents facing each other. seats have been arranged in rows in both tents. Okwerede is seen pacing up and down. Shortly, his face lights up as Epaja runs towards the main footpath.
OKWEREDE:(tactfully stands further away from the approaching persons) You are welcome Mr. Okoik. Thank you for responding to my invitation.(motions him and three others to the seats)
Mr.OKOIK: I was eagerly waiting for this day more than anybody else.
OKWEREDE: Hei Epaja, can you call your mother so she can help with making swift every activity at home. Are all the girls around? I am mostly interested in knowing about Adikini , the elder one.
EPAJA: I am going to make sure mother comes, as for the girls they are all there. Adikini is in the kitchen
ASIOTO: (comes and kneels a distance away) You are welcome chief Okoik and your team . I hope your journey was well.
OKOIK: Thank you my dear. We did sojourn without any problems. I do hope all is well with everyone.14
ASIOTO: God has kept us well, my son.
OKWEREDE: Please mama Asioto, as per what we had discussed, it is time you called Adikini, so we can tell her to get organized so that in a weeks’ time the bride price is paid.
ADIKINI: (Accompanied by Epaja, not aware of the meeting) Papa I hear you need me here.
OKWEREDE: Yes my daughter. But first sit down. Our people say that no matter how hot the dry season, the rains will always come. We have seen you grow up, but never at any moment did we think you would attract the attention of men so soon. Without wasting any time let me bite the bitter root and spit it out because by so doing I will receive healing. My daughter Adikini, that gentleman right here with us has come to ask for your hand in marriage and it is prudent that we seek your considered opinion over the matter.
ADIKINI: Papa papa I don’t think I am ready to get married right now.
EPAJA: (completely astonished) Whaaat ! How insolent, moreover in front of everybody.
OKWEREDE: Calm down my son, I wasn’t talking to you. Now Asioto, go with your daughter and talk with her as I discuss a few details with my guests here. (Adikini and Asioto walk to the back of one of the huts as the men engage in animated talks)
ASIOTO: (Impatiently) that is not how to behave in front of visitors15
ADIKINI: Mama, I am not ready for marriage, let alone marriage to such an old man.
ASIOTO: (imitates her satirically) Not ready for marriage! Look, what are those? Aren’t those big breasts? The best time to get married is when they are still standing upright. Wait and see who will marry you when they fall like pawpaws.
ADIKINI: (breaks down into tears, then emphatically) I am not marrying that old man . (suddenly ,jumps away from her mother’s grip and scuttles into the bushes)
ASIOTO: (shouting) Where are you running to? Come back! (she walks back to the meeting) the girl has scampered into the bushes like a hunted antelope. (the men burst into laughter)
OKWEREDE: (still laughing) she is indeed a hunted antelope. It will take a skilled hunter to track her down. The chase has just begun.
OKOIK: Hunting is no easy fit; I will pursue the antelope until it is finally ensnared.
OKWEREDE: That is the kind of huntsman I like to work with. Asioto , bring us adere make sure the water is hot. Come here Epaja, your sister has not gone far away keep checking in the neighbouring homes especially with her friends. (the curtain falls as the visitors are served ajon first in adere and later in a pot) 16
ACT ONE, SCENE FOUR
The curtain opens on a visibly scary background. A bushy scene with tall trees and underneath one of them is Adikini crying. She wipes her tears and begins to sing occasionally sobbing.
This African marriage
I am only young to marry an old man
I am only sixteen yet he has grey hair
Am like selling myself to cross generation sex
He’s not a man of my choice *2
A Flute carries on with the tune, while she continues walking up and down with tears flooding her eyes. She then kneels down and starts wailing in the woods. Evening approaches, eventually darkness finds her in the woods and exhausted, she walks slowly up to her friend Amede’s hut, whom she finds cooking.
AMEDE: what a surprise! What brings you to my hut this evening?
ADIKINI: It’s a long story. (starts crying)
AMEDE: My dear stop crying, tell me what’s the problem?
ADIKINI: My father and every one at home are trying to force me to get married to an old man,and that is why I have run away because I can not in any way accept it.
AMEDE: it’s okay. Now that you are here, where they don’t know, you can hide inside my house for a week and 17
let things cool off. In case you see that man coming to your home again just run away. 18
ACT TWO, SCENE 1
Adikini comes back home after a week and meets her father at the compound
OKWEREDE: Where have you been for all that time? You embarrassed us before Mr. Okoik the chief.
ADIKINI: Papa, I cannot accept to marry that old man and besides he is not my choice
OKWEREDE: You should get prepared to get married when suitors come for you. I can no longer take care of women fit to be men’s wives in my compound
Curtain falls 19
ACT TWO, SCENE TWO.
The curtain once again rises on the five little grass thatched huts made of mud and wattle. This time too , it is clear that a lot of effort was put in making them look better. To the right the bush that covers what appears to have been a huge kraal has been cleared. At the center of the courtyard are two makeshift grass thatched tents facing each other. seats have been arranged in rows in both tents. Okwerede is seen pacing up and down. He seems more agitated than he usually is. He calls out.
OKWEREDE: Asioto, I hope this time around you have convinced her. Remember the chief has never returned even when we thought he understood.
ASIOTO: I have done my level best my dear husband. But children of nowadays are very unpredictable.
Enter Oteger and four other men
OKWEREDE: You are most welcome our dear visitors. With peace do we welcome you to this humble homestead. Please take your seats.
OTEGER: Thank you my old man.
OKWEREDE: Our people say that mudfish will only swim when it rains heavily somewhere. What my son brings you to my home?
ADOME: (He clears his voice) Uhh-huhh my name is Adome, son of Mzee Oboi of Kusuk village and I am the spokesperson of this team. Your mention of mudfish is 20
spot on. There is a good reason that brings us here. In your homestead there is a flower. A flower whose sweet scent we smelt from as far away as Kusuk. We have come to ask your permission to pick that flower so that its good scent can fill our son Oteger’s home.
OKWEREDE: Well, my son ,the path to the well is perfectly known. He who follows it gets to the water. You have followed that path and now you are here. We welcome you to this home once again. One thing though, this home has many flowers, which flower do you intend to pick?
ADOME: The people of Kusuk have seen and heard about your daughter Adikini and it is for her that we are here.
OKWEREDE: (recalling) ooh is that the reason your aunt was here three weeks ago, talking to Adikini and her mother. Well, my sons you know how all this works. For now, we will eat and we will talk to the flower you want. If everything is ok, then we will make arrangements for the marriage ceremony. Later that day after the visitors have gone the whole family is eating the remains of what the guests had eaten.
OKWEREDE: Our people say ‘Ipejok enyamere’. When visitors come, the whole family feasts. Look how we too are enjoying what our guests left behind. Besides they left behind enough gifts to keep us going for over a month. Now Adikini, what do you make of the young man’s proposal.
ADIKINI: Papa, let me first think over it.
EPAJA: Think over what? 21
ASIOTO: Behave my daughter.Why do you have to jeer at your brother all the time
ADIKINI: I don’t want that man; he is not of my choice
(begins crying then runs inside her house leaving the rest outside wondering)
OKWEREDE: My daughter, can you come back outside, we need a word from you before this day ends.
ADIKINI: (Comes out crying and runs away from home)
I am not coming back to your home because you are forcing me to get married.
OKWEREDE: My son Epaja, this time I am not accepting that foolishness. Can you prepare the best stick with your cousin brother Ijala so that we can teach Adikini a lesson she will never forget.
EPAJA: (seeing Adikini right ahead) You think you can run faster than us, can you come back, stop! stop!
ADIKINI: I don’t want. leave me alone (as she shouts)
IJALA: Here are the sticks.
EPAJA: Let us pull her home, so that everyone lands a cane on her
ADIKINI: You will kill me, but I don’t want to get married, you will kill me, you will kill me, eeeeh, eeeehhh, oeeeeehh eeehhhhh! You leave me alone. (She cries). 22
EPAJA: Papa, we felt that you should be the best to begin caning her.
OKWEREDE: Bring those sticks so that I can teach this one a lesson.
ADIKINI: (screaming) Papa you are killing me, but I don’t want to get married, please leave me alone, please don’t kill me with all those sticks.
OKWEREDE: All the sticks are over but you still don’t want to get married.
EPAJA: Papa, I and Ijala have got a good idea we believe will work. We are going to dig out an anthill, deep enough to swallow her, so that termites teach her a lesson.
OKWEREDE: It sounds a very good idea. please hurry and dig the anthill, she should not be picked out of the ant hill unless she accepts to get married to Oteger.
EPAJA: Yes Ijala, hurry up with the spade so that we remove the clay. These termites are so big that they will teach her a lesson.
IJALA: Let me take over the digging, I see you have over worked.
EPAJA: It’s now deep enough to swallow that stubborn Adikini. Continue provoking the ants, meanwhile I will go and alert papa that the hole is ready.
OKWEREDE: I Hope you have finished digging the anthill up to the right depth? 23
EPAJA: (breathing heavily) It’s ready and we should position her in before the termites go into hiding.
ADIKINI: (screaming frantically) Leave me alone, I don’t want to get married, leave me alone leave me alone!
OKWEREDE: Ijala, leave that work then you come and help us to carry this stubborn pubescent into the anthill, she is weighing heavily, despite the famine.
IJALA: Papa, let me take over from you, two of us can carry this one
ADIKINI: (squealing and kicking) You people want to kill me, I don’t want to get married, I don’t want, I don’t want.
OKWEREDE: Tie her up perfectly before you drop her inside beginning with the legs.
ADIKINI: (defiantly) I will not accept, I will not accept even if you drop me inside that ant hill.
EPAJA: Adikini thinks she is stubborn enough, carry her very first and we leave her in the hole of biting warriors (they push her into the anthill swarming with angry red ants)
ADIKINI: (as the termites begin to bite) I am dying, I am dying, these termites are killing me, it’s like fire is in this hole, I have accepted to get married. I have now accepted to get married to Oteger. He is now mine, please get me out of this hole. The curtain falls. 24
ACT 3 , SCENE ONE
The curtain this time rises on six little grass thatched huts made of mud and wattle. This moment, they look much better than they previously were. They have all been painted with red clay and coloured drawings of flowers inundate the outer walls. To the right, the bush that covered what appears to have been a huge kraal has been cleared. At the center of the courtyard are two makeshift grass thatched tents facing each other. Seats have been arranged in rows in both tents. This time round, Adikini is seen darting here and there in great anticipation. Smoke billows out from the kitchen as Asioto shouts instructions to a group of gossipy women. An akongo band is busy testing its instruments and practicing newly composed songs.
ENTER: Oteger,Bulasio, Tikol, fifteen other relatives, Okwerede, Asioto, Adikini, Epaja, Ijala, Clan Elder
CLAN ELDER: Dear kinsmen, I am happy to announce that our guests have met the conditions for stepping into our compound. I now welcome them to our home. (The in-laws walk in as women ululate) Dear guests, you can now take your seats. (The guests sit in the tent directly opposite to that of the hosts) may I now invite the spokesperson of the guests to join me in the middle of the courtyard. (Adome walks briskly to join him)
ADOME: Thank you so much for inviting me, I was beginning to think that the host fears the firepower of the people of Kusuk.
CLAN ELDER: Before you begin blowing your own trumpet, let me ask you, what brings you people here?25
ADOME: Now my dear elder, in Kusuk, we have many schools that is why before we came we wrote you a letter explaining why we were coming. I have a copy with me here. Should I read it for you? (the whole gathering bursts into laughter)
CLAN ELDER: In Kusuk, you still use paper! For us here we are computerized and we expected an E-mail, which we didn’t receive so can you please tell us what brings you here because your letter might still be in Soroti post office. (A thunderous laughter envelopes the whole gathering as the hosts clap approvingly for their sharp elder)
ADOME: (amidst gasps of laughter) well…well… I accept defeat. Let me tell you why we are here. (Begins speaking full of feeling)
Do you not see
Do you not notice
Do you not realize
That we have come for Adikini
See it from our smiles
Notice it from our gifts
And realize it from our suits
(Then the negotiations begin. Oteger’s clan selects a team that goes to the newly built hut to agree on the bride price to be paid. Adikini’s people at one point walk out in protest as what Oteger’s people are willing to offer is well below their expectations. The two sides do not communicate directly but the two spokespersons keep informing each side decisions made by the other)26
CLAN ELDER: (To Adome) relay this to your team. Our final position is that, your clan is expected to pay a bride price consisting of ten head of cattle, 15 goats, and two hundred thousand shillings for the mother,two hundred thousand shillings for the father, one million shillings in cash our daughter will be yours. (Adome proceeds to his team and is seen presenting this information. A heated discussion follows until finally some form of agreement is arrived at. He then joins Adikini’s clan elder and whispers)
ADOME: My clan members agree with your proposals. They, however, would like you to convey to your own members the difficult circumstances prevailing at the moment. Our people rebuke stubborn children by telling them that inyami nat eul. In this case we are not stubbornly refusing your demands but have an offer which we beg you to accept. We shall be able to pay a bride price of eight head of cattle, ten goats and we shall see how to get the money. However, from the time our son expressed interest in marrying a wife up to today, we have been gathering the bride price for his marriage and that is the number of cattle and goats we have right now, see if your members can accept this proposal so that we do not waste a lot of time.
CLAN ELDER: Remember I am also a messenger. (Sets out to where his negotiating team is waiting in anticipation. He tells them the position of the guest team and there seems to be disagreement in their faces. The elder walks back to Adome and speaks) my members accept the number of animals you have brought but seem concerned about your silence on the money.
ADOME: (consulting his notes) we are not silent about the money. Instead we are offering the following: One hundred 27
thousand for the mother, one hundred thousand for the father and five hundred thousand as the cash to accompany the dowry. Our people say that it is the selfish in-law who pays all the bride price so that his wife’s people have no excuse of visiting him. We are not selfish, but even then, we will pay everything to the last cowry shell in the near future.
CLAN ELDER: You speak well my son. Let me present your position to the rest of the members. (walks back to his team who this time round nod in agreement, comes back to the waiting Adome) my members have accepted your proposals, rally your members so that we can go and see the animals you have brought. All march to the back of the kraal where several cows and goats are grazing. Adikini’s people inspect each animal assessing both size and quality. Once everyone is satisfied, Oteger’s grandmother approaches to conduct the handover ritual.
ADULESI: (With a ritual stick and the herdsmen to perform the first rite ). Herdsman, can you drive those animals to me for handover.
HERDSMAN; Ok ,my old mama Adulesi.
ADULESI: I strike this animal to represent the rest that our clan gives to your clan in peace, may the new wife of these clan be able to produce both boys and girls (everyone strolls back to their seats and the spokespersons announce that all is well. shortly, a series of girls are inspected by Oteger’s aunts to see if Adikini, is among them. Finally amidst ululation and shouts of jubilation, the aunts pick out Adikini and she is tasked to identify for the guests her husband to be .Oteger hides among his friends becoming painstakingly difficult to find. ultimately , to her relief, she sees him and 28
takes him to her parents who show their acceptance of him)
OKWEREDE: As the father to Adikini, it is now time for me to confirm to you my kins men and in-laws that Adikini, has accepted to get married to Oteger. My daughter Adikini, you see that delegation, they have all come to take you today. That table in front of every body’s eyes has a wad of notes. If you have accepted Oteger as your husband, it’s high time you demonstrated it by picking it away. Have you accepted Oteger as your husband?
ADIKINI: Yes I have accepted him as my husband. (she goes and picks the money amidst shouting and clapping)
CURTAIN FALLS 29
(After four month of Adikinis’ pregnancy, she is taken back to her fathers’ house for a birth blessing.)
ENTER: Adikini, Tikol, Adulesi, Bulasio, Oteger, eleven men and woman members from Otegers’ clan, Okwerede, Asioto, Clan head
OKWEREDE: After getting a message from you my in-laws that you were coming for the first birth blessing, I knew I had to prepare a he goat for this Ritual Birth Blessings. For now my son Epaja, untie the best and biggest he goat, slaughter it and pick the fatty membrane surrounding the sac holding the intestines, it shall be dressed on her when leaving this place.Melt out that fat my daughter early in the morning tomorrow and fry it with the meat we shall give you to take
EPAJA: I will do as you say.
All are now gathered under the two tents. Food has been served but before anyone can eat, Okwerede speaks.
OKWEREDE: As a tradition that we have to follow, our daughter Adikini is expected to take the first bite of the meat before us, followed by her own mother, then the mother in-law accompanied by the old women of Kusuk clan.
ASIOTO: My daughter Adikini, I have prepared food at the door of your birth for you to take the first bite and we shall follow.
TIKOL: Adulesi and two other female elders, I brought 30
butter, my ritual stick I was given after initiation into my husbands’ clan, let us scrap the backs of our ritual sticks to contribute their fragments into this melted butter.
ADULESI: We all have to accompany our new daughter in-law to eat immediately after she has tested the food so we can immediately initiate her in to a birth blessing.
Everyone joins in the meal and after they have all had their fill each and every one prepares for the blessing of the womb and birth to be conducted by Oteger’s grandmother.
ADULESI: My new daughter, this butter and the power from my cleansed stick, I smear to you, I pour to you so that you produce well.
TIKOL: My new daughter in-law, the baby you are carrying should become a blessing in our home, I smear and impart you the blessing of giving birth as a woman.
OTHER OLD WOMEN: Our daughter, we smear this butter from the authority given to us as married women of our clan, we bless you to give birth safely.
ASIOTO: My daughter, by word of mouth, I bless you to give birth safely, I cover you with this fatty membrane, I wish you a safe delivery. Walk with it until you have reached home then remove it. Don’t forget to melt that fat and cook with it the goat meat I will give you very early tomorrow morning.
CLAN ELDER: Today has been a proof to all of us the two clans that our daughter Adikini is not barren. At this juncture I would like to crown this whole event by wishing her a 31
blessed birth. We expect Adulesi the grandmother of the clan to lead the way, meanwhile Adikni with her fat dress cover follows, then other women of her new clan and lastly the men.
(Women carry meat on calabashes.They crown it all by cooking their meat in the morning)
(nine months after the blessing of birth Adikini gives birth traditionally by the help of her mother in-law and Adulesi to a baby boy)
Enter Adikini, Tikol, Adulesi Bulasio, Oteger
OTEGER: (Knocks at the door). Mama Tikol, my wife is feeling labour pain.
TIKOL: My son, you grandmother is a traditional birth attendant, I am coming with her.
OTEGER: Hurry, she is screaming.
ADIKINI: My husband why did you do this to me? (she cries). This baby wants to kill me, my stomach,is hurting.
TIKOL: My daughter, this is a moment you have to cooperate with us. Grand mama Adulesi, the baby is coming. I see the head coming out.
ADIKINI: The baby is paining me.
ADULESI: Push, push, push 32
BABY: (comes out crying) Gneeee ngeee ngeeeerr ngeeeer
OTEGER: Eh ! The baby is crying.
BULASIO: I wonder if it’s a boy or a girl.
ADULESI: My grandson, you are finally a father to a son. Congratulations.
BULASIO: Congratulations. I can now go and sleep; I will see the baby tomorrow
ADULESI: My son Bulasio, good night. I have finished putting the brew in the pot so that it coincides with the naming of the baby three days from now.
TIKOL: My son, congratulations. I have to join your grandmother in making the brew for the naming ceremony. Make sure you wake up Adikini very early in the morning to take millet porridge.
First morning after birth.
Enter Tikol,Adikini and Adulesi
TIKOL: This fire should be set right in front of your door and porridge cooked in a small pot. For three days the first thing is to take fairly hot porridge in the morning. With soft foods during the course of the day
ADIKINI: I cannot take in hot porridge; I feel it will burn my intestines.
ADULESI: My daughter, you need to take in something that will re-waken the intestines. We want you strong in the 33
shortest possible time. By the third day of taking porridge in the morning you should have regained strength. We need you to begin eating heavy foods in the shortest time so that baby milk is generated very first.
NAMING BABY AFTER THREE DAYS
Enter Adikini, Tikol, Adulesi, Oteger, Bulasio, Okirigi, Omaido,Otelu, Acen, Akol
ADULESI: My daughter Adikini, according to our tradition, you are supposed to carry your baby at your door entrance during the naming ceremony.Bring for me a calabash containing the local brew Ajono in it, with a groundnut shell
TIKOL: Oh my daughter, here I am with local brew in a calabash and a ground nut shell.
ADULESI: My dear clan members, it is now time for us to call the different names of our clans per person meanwhile I make a command to the new member to suckle the breast. My dear clan member Okirigi can you start calling your chosen name.
OKIRIGI: Give the son my name Okirigi.
ADULESI: Okirigi, can you suckle the breast.
OMAIDO: Name the baby Omaido.
ADULESI: Omaido can you suckle the breast.
TIKOL: Name him after Bulasio the grandfather. 34
ADULESI: Bulasio, can you suckle the breast.
(Baby gets hold of the breast and begins to suckle.Every one claps hands with joy and happiness. Incantations follow.)
TIKOL: May you live long my grandson to see the goodness of this world.
ADULESI: My daughter Adikini, open the baby’s mouth and we drop the local brew that I have scooped using this groundnut shell.
ADIKINI: (Adikini opens the baby’s mouth) baby, be a man open your mouth.
ADULESI: My great grandson Bulasio, may you live long, to be a good man of the clan, a great man in your society.
OKIRIGI: Uhuu-uuhu, our new bull Bulasio. Uuhu-uuhu. Grow up and may God almighty bless you into a tough man of the clan.
CURTAIN FALLS 35
CEREMONY OF THE NEW CLAN TOTEM
Initiation into full woman of the clan
Enter: Adulesi,Tikol,Bulasio,Oteger,Onac, Okirigi
BULASIO: My dear kinsmen and in laws, we are here today to officially make our new wife into a full woman of honour. Today she will undergo the ceremony of the new clan totem, she will have to be ritually initiated to be able to posses the ritually blessed stick known as ESAS. I am aware of the old mothers who are going to ritually bathe her with butter and the back of the blessed stick scrapings but I am not aware of a real hunter among us who can throw a spear once to kill that bull standing over there. Who can do that by spearing once.
ONAC (CLAN BROTHER): I can do it. I once killed a lion in the jungle with one thrust into its body using a poisonous spear.
BULASIO: in this case we do not need a poisonous spear. We just need the bull speared, then skinned and cooked in a pot without salt. Is anything missing?
ADULESI: Yes my son, you have forgotten something. The cooking stones should be enclosed using clay, leaving only one entrance facing the woman’s house meanwhile the pot boiling meat should be tilted a bit to face the opposite direction. It is an abomination for the soup to drop into the fire. A calamity will occur that can lead to barrenness. A few stone pebbles have to be crushed and mixed well with 36
groundnut paste to be eaten by the women taking part in the initiation ceremony. Millet bread should be mingled with salt less meat soup.
BULASIO: My son Onac, can you pick up that spear and prove to us that you are a hunter.
ONAC: OK my elder.
(He picks up the spear while everyone looks on, then throws and pierces the bull once)
BULASIO: You are a true hunter. Meanwhile my son Oteger, I would like you to mobilize boys to skin the bull so that all the other procedures follow.
OTEGER: Yes I will be there.
All gather under the tents awaiting the coming of the women
Enter: Adulesi, Tikol, Three other married women of the clan.
ADULESI: My daughter Adikini, food is ready. You should again be the first to taste then we follow so that the initiation begins. The rest of us should be organizing cow butter in our calabashes mixed with the scrapings of the ritually blessed sticks.
ADIKINI: (Food is served at her husband’s door for her to eat as she murmurs)
I wonder why all these rituals are being performed.
TIKOL: Old mother and fountain of our clan, now that you are the eldest among the women, please lead us in the initiation so that we can follow in your footsteps. 37
ADULESI: Ok, let me commence.
(Adulesi picks up her calabash filled with butter then walks straight to Adikini).
ADULESI: Please undress and remain on a petticoat. My daughter, I smear you with this butter as a sign of blessing .May you be a treasure to this clan. May you be a multiplying factor.
TIKOL: (ululates) Aiyiyiyiyiyi. You are the treasure of this home. Be a good woman and serve this clan diligently.
Woman One: Aiyiyiyiyiyi. I bless you with this oil and may the lord give you peace in our clan.
Woman Two: The new princess, the multiplier, the beautiful one of our clan. I bless you to live in peace.
Woman Three: I bless you to be a uniting factor in this clan. Produce and let us feel the love of children in this family.
ADULESI: As tradition instructs, it is now time for me to hand you the mantle of the Totem of our clan and from today onwards, you cease to be under instructions of your old clan Totem. You are now under the Totem of this clan. Daughter now listen carefully, I give you my first instruction. In our clan we do not eat wild deer and now you shall not eat it until you die. When you meet a wild deer, you are supposed to drop down in its honour until it crosses the road.
Now here is my second instruction: In-laws should never touch one another inform of greeting, never share a shade and always be far away from one another. An in law should never drink water from that home .In case you see an in- law 38
before him or her seeing you from a far, branch away into the bush.
All those restrictions can be reduced after the beer party a ritual meant to bring unity. I now hand you this stick as a mantle of honour like other married women of the clan.
(THE TWO CLANS APPLAUD)
ADULESI: To wrap up our ceremony,it is now time for us who have seen weaknesses from our new wife to raise them so that she forever remains a good wife to the clan.
AKOL: To be honest, one day our daughter finished cooking and never served me food .The following day it worsened, after seeing me from a distance she decided to carry her food inside the house and came back to pretend like she wasn’t eating before .Please remove selfishness.
OKIRIGI: I paid a visit to this place at one time and this daughter covered a plate of food underneath her wrapping cloth. Please we do not want selfishness in our clan.
TIKOL: Our daughter is ever dirty, not washing her clothes and hardly bathes. This daughter of ours also has a back as hard as timber. She doesn’t like gardening. Even in the garden she keeps standing and yawning.
BULASIO: Every time my daughter mingles her millet bread, it never tastes ready and I always get a running stomach and so I want her to learn to cook well.
OMAIDO: I once found this daughter of ours quarrelling 39
with her mother- in- law. She is totally not different from a chatter box. Please learn to respect your elders.
OKIRIGI: I paid a visit to this place at one time and this daughter covered a plate of food underneath her wrapping cloth. Please we do not want selfishness in our clan.
OPESEN: As the Clan Elder, it is my obligation my dear daughter to wrap up this ceremony. We are pointing out your mistakes so that you can get rid of them. We do not hate you.
(Adikini, looking betrayed and helpless, like one without a mouth to retaliate had to sulk in silence. It was evident her eyes were teary)
Other books by the same author:
THE DEAD MAN ROARS
TOBIAS, ESTHER AND THE RATS, FIRE ESCAPADE
A childrens story,
Available only in digital/ebook version;