Sometimes last year, the following areas were accorded the status of towns by Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, as per the Kisumu County Gazette Notice Number 1913 and dated March 1, 2019, and through section 10(1) of the Urban Areas and Cities Act; Ahero, Muhoroni, Kombewa (Seme) and Katito in Nyakach.
It got me wondering why Governor Nyong’o could not recognize the headquarter of Nyando Constituency which is my hometown. Awasi has a rich history and a big population. It is also a transit town on a major highway; Kisumu-Nairobi highway.
At the same time, Awasi is a major trading hub for both Luos and Kalenjins since its strategically located on the border between Nyanza and Rift Valley provinces, hence the name Awasi Border.
But most importantly, and why I think Awasi should be granted town status, is because of the Legendary Luanda Magere. When you are driving down from the highlands of Kericho and Londiani there is silent history that is usually discussed about the Legendary Luanda Magere.
Luanda Magere was a mystical Luo Hero who is still celebrated among Luos when they discuss in folklores and fireside chats and when they want to instill encouragement among their kids.
The long and short story of the Great Luo Warrior as documented by Google Arts and Culture as sourced from Kenya’s National Museum, Luanda Magere was the son of Sidho, Kano plains. His name Luanda means “fierce rock” or rock that builds. Tales are told of his unearthly powers and skin of stone. His body was indestructible no spear or arrow could pierce him, they could just bounce off during a war between Luo and the Nandi community.
The Nandi community feared him because of his mysterious nature since he would kill hundreds of them without getting injured or hurt. It is said that a majority would flee back to their homes lest they become a victim to his powerful shield and spear.
However, in a conniving manner and to make Luanda Magere stop raiding and killing, the Nandi Community gave him one of their beautiful girls. One day, it is said, Luanda Magere became ill and his first wife was not around to nurse him. He then called his second beautiful Nandi wife to cut his shadow and administer the herbs. That was the beginning of the downfall of the mighty Luanda Magere. She was shocked when she saw Luanda bleeding as she cut and administered the herbs.
On the same night, the sly Nandi Wife sneaked out of the compound and went and informed his people of the secret she just discovered. They attacked the same night but because Luos were good at fighting at night when they always out-maneuvered them. But when it was almost dawn and the Nandi were getting outmatched, one of the Nandi warriors remembered the secret and struck his shadow with a spear. Luanda Magere fell on the ground, died, and turned into a stone.
The place he died which is less than two kilometres from Awasi is revered and many people come to perform rituals and prayers. Growing up in Awasi I was told of hunters who went and sharpened their spears and arrows on his stone to enjoy a lucky day of bountiful hunts.
In that perspective, Nyong’o should grant Awasi the status of a town and erect the Statue of Luanda Magere at the interconnection road of Awasi and Muhoroni. This will not give the town its glory but also make it one of the tourist attraction centres.
The shrine should be modernized and beautified for tourism purposes. Kisumu County and Kenya Tourism Board should look into this.
This rich history should not only be preserved in our museums but it should be experienced.
Similarly, this should be replicated nationwide as we identify our heroes and heroines and erect statues in their memories for purposes of preserving our culture and our African history.
It is unfortunate that most of our African children only identify with American heroes and heroines that they see in the cartoons such as Captain of America, Spiderman, Superman, Batman among others.
(The writer is the Director of communications at Usiku Games)