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Opinion: Pakruok and why Luo Women make the worst Mistresses


It is Friday! Why am I announcing that as though it were newsworthy?  It is because  Fridays are my “recycling sewing days”: the day that I use the materials available, to make a totally different clothe. Too bad, I do not have a sewing machine now. I have second hand denim blouses that I am planning to give a new look like the one I am wearing below. Even in tailoring, we need to embrace Circular Economy and its benefits. Let us recycle. Not everything that we wear has to be made from brand new fabrics.

Here is a better view of my “Suit” taken by my mobile phone sometime back. I need to apologise to Okinda, my photography lecturer.

Now y’all need to pray for me to just get serious with my clothe line. My friend— ex model, web developer and blogger Damaris Muga— is almost hitting the roof because in two years, I have not given her pictures so that she can complete making my e-commerce site.

So, I recently updated on my Facebook page, my mother and I were never best of friends. The other day Damaris and I sat in her house talking about why we now we miss our mothers long after they died. When we were young, we thought they were too melodramatic. We didn’t know that without that drama, we would never have turned out to be the kind of women we are nowadays, you know women who have something to give back to the society.

My mother, Rosemary, was the type of woman who would pick a machete and chase her brothers-in-law out of her compound. After that she would announce rather victoriously, in her very tiny frame, An Nyar Olonde Japuonj, jathieth kendo nyar Gi Otieno Daktari. Anyalo nyuako nu teee agou teeee (I am the daughter of Olonde the teacher, a nurse that can heal and also sister to Otieno the doctor. I can put you all together and beat aaaaall of you). That is called Pakruok (Self praise). From a Luo woman’s perspective, it is what we must do so loudly to drown the noise around us that always seeks to put us down.

My father, a gigantic figure towering over her, would giggle as she made her declarations and later in her absence we would crack jokes and imitate her. Peculiarly enough, my paternal grandfather loved my mother—his daughter in law— so much despite her chaos that when she died the old man mourned for moooonths. I avoided going near him because he would see me and start asking “who will be steaming my vegetables now that she is gone?” Grandpa had ulcers, a condition mum managed from the first day she was married into that home.

Now, aged 28 and 11 years after her death, I am not surprised I am just as combative, confrontational and sometimes violent as she was. While I do not make apologies for that, I do not wear it like a badge of honour. Believe me, war and the negative energy that comes with is not a cup of tea I love taking. As I remember every incident, I am slowly learning to understand why my mother turned behaved the way she did. Interestingly, it never stopped the whole village from always counting on her to look after them. They feared and loved her somehow. If she didn’t, I and many girls in the village would have ended up being one of those girls who have three children at 20 with no skill that can get her a job and lowly esteemed that she would not even know what to do to bring up her children or take care of a family.

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