7 March 2016

Kenya: This Luo Legend Explains Perfectly Why Kenya Might Regret Its Treatment of the ICC

opinion

A Luo legend from the shores of Lake Victoria in the southern part of Nyanza goes that a poor man, Nyamgondho the son of Ombare, married a wwoman who later brought in a lot of wealth.

Nyamgondho eked out a living by fishing in Lake Victoria. He was the poorest of the poor, and his fishing net evaded every fish in the waters. Even the smallest fish like Omena would laugh at his tattered net and swim away. His clothes were tattered, his bare feet were all cracked up and dry and so was his fishing net.

One day, Nyamgondho went fishing as usual, but on this particular day, his catch was unusual. Wonders never cease, dear friends! Instead of fish, he caught an old ugly one-eyed woman. Her name was Nyar Nam (daughter of the Lake) Adikinyi (born in the morning).

Adikinyi was a gift from the gods. She brought good luck to Nyamgondho for soon his catch was handsome, and he became one of the wealthiest men in the village. In accordance with the Luo polygamous tradition, he married many wives and fathered many children. He became fat and acquired a new swag. The once isolated and quiet home came to life as children cried, laughed, danced, sang and played in the compound. His neighbours both envied and admired his new fortune.

Pride goes before a fall. Pride in its characteristic style visited Nyamgondho and claimed a place in his heart. He mistreated the woman and despised her. He became unreasonable and arrogant and started beating her every evening after having one too many. One evening after drinking heavily, he shouted unprintable insults at her. "Where is that useless thing that I married," he taunted Adikinyi. It was raining heavily. Nyamgondho fell into a deep drunken sleep.

Dark, heavy clouds broke from the sky, accompanied by angrier thunderstorms. Flashes of lightening struck several trees and homes. The gods were extremely angry.

The angry woman could not take Nyamgondho's insults anymore. She angrily and grudgingly walked into the floods, never looked back and disappeared.

One by one, all the things she had brought into Nyamgondho's home followed her - the cows, goats, sheep, chicken, dogs, cats, agulu (cooking pots), plates, cups, spoons and oluth kuon (cooking ladles).

When Nyamgondho woke up the following morning, he found himself sleeping in a puddle of water. He also found everything gone. His old faithful friends - poverty and misery -were back, waiting patiently at his feed on the wet, muddy floor where he lay. He gasped in shock and desperation as reality hit hard.

He followed after Adikinyi into the lake but it was too late. He cried out her name, begged her forgiveness, but she was gone. Nyamgondho followed his wife into the river and turned into a tree.

Enter the ICC

When Kenya went beserk after the 2007 bungled presidential elections, turned against her own children and murdered over 1300 of her own people, parliament thought it had made a great catch by marrying the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Kenya was poor in justice and peace when the ICC rescued her from a sea of chaos. Instead of fishing for legal ways to solve the bungled elections, angry supporters of presidential candidates fished for each other's head, evicted their neighbours and burnt their property.

After the ICC brought the two indictees - Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto - together and made them win elections by playing the Big Brother role, the two turned against the ICC.

In Nyamgondho style, the indictees and their followers became proud. Power went to their heads, and they insulted the ICC in unprintable words. They held arrogant prayer rallies and declared war on the international court. They abused the prosecutors and judges and declared the Court a kangaroo one. They lied and defamed the Court using state propaganda machinery and their presidential allies in other countries. They turned the Kenyan ambassador into a tricky hare. They intimidated witnesses, while some disappeared or died under their government. They flew as far as the Holy Land of Israel and disrespectfully offered to teach them how to insult the ICC. They even abused the new ICC court and the new cells that were recently built at a cost of over 200 millon euros.

In short, after mistreating the Court, they turned to the ICC in a drunken stupor and power and asked, "where is that useless thing that I married?" And like Nyamgondho, they felt that they could now do without the ICC and that they had enough money to buy and outdo justice.

The ICC continues to suffer Kenya's insults with grace, like Adikinyi. It has taken every vulgar insult and beating from the indictees (besides Joshua Sang) and their followers.

It may be interesting to see whether in anger, the ICC may decide to walk away like Adikinyi and carry with it all the good luck it brought onto the country. Will the ICC make Kenya suffer by unleashing more unsealed arrest warrants for witness tampering, perjury, or jailing Ruto and Sang after amending charges or restarting President Uhuru Kenyatta's case?

Will Kenya's abused and forgotten post-election violence victims become the poorer in justice and hope if the ICC divorced it? Or will they follow the ICC to The Hague and beg to be rescued from the river of chaos again? The poor victims keep crying, but when will the rich also cry?

Omwa Ombara is the pseudonym of an international journalist and author.

The opinions expressed here are those of their author and are not intended to reflect those of The Hague Trials Kenya. 

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