CHANTS LUO DIRGE

Raila steals the show with 'true African' send-off for Moi

He brandished his fly whisk six times above the body

In Summary

• He chanted a powerful Luo dirge punctuated with ‘giyo’, a traditional performance reserved for very important people like a king. 

• At first, Raila appreciated the Christian way of giving the late a befitting send-off but insisted that Moi also deserve a to be mourned as a true African. 

ODM leader Raila Odinga eulogises former President Daniel Moi at kabarak University grounds.
AFRICAN SEND-OFF: ODM leader Raila Odinga eulogises former President Daniel Moi at kabarak University grounds.
Image: ANDREW KASUKU

ODM leader Raila Odinga on Wednesday stirred mourners at the burial of former President Daniel Moi with his traditional Luo dirge. 

The Luo mourning song is the same one performed by the doyen of opposition politics Jaramogi Oginga Odinga in 1978 when Mzee Jomo Kenyatta died. Raila electrified mourners, leaving them in stitches and livening up what was a sombre ceremony. 

The opposition leader stole the show when he started chanting a powerful Luo dirge punctuated with ‘giyo’ — a traditional performance reserved for very important people in society such as a king.

At first, Raila appreciated the Christian way of giving the late a befitting send-off but insisted that Moi also deserve a to be mourned as a true African.

“He has been mourned as a true Christian. Remember when they went to Lancaster House, they went wearing a monkey skin walking there and wazungus (white people) looked at them as they looked strange with Jaramogi," Raila said.

The opposition chief, who confessed to having reconciled with Moi, then reached out for his flywhisk, moving the mourners with his well-calculated traditional performance.

"Yawa par uru loo, loo wang’e tek. Eee wuoyi gima ichamo emari, gimodong’ to kik igen (Death has no mercy. What you have today is what you can count on, for you don't know what tomorrow will bring)," he mourned, adding "Jowi! Jowi! Jowi!”

Jowi is a Dholuo word for buffalo. And to cap his version of African send-off for the country’s longest-serving President, Raila slowly brandished his totem six times over the casket where the body of Moi lay, signifying great honour in the Luo tradition.  

Earlier, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko found himself in unfamiliar territory after arriving late at Kabarak ground, the venue of Moi’s burial ceremony. The embattled county chief arrived several minutes after President Uhuru Kenyatta and tried making his way to the main dais where the President and other dignitaries were seated.

But security officers blocked him, cutting short his trip. Left with no option, the governor stood on the sidelines for some minutes, as if pondering the next move, before finding himself a seat amongst MPs and other leaders.

Protocol dictates that once the President arrives at a function, no one else is allowed in. That was, however, not the case with Raila who, despite arriving late, joined President Uhuru and other dignitaries on the main dais. Raila was accompanied by his elder brother Oburu Odinga and wife Ida.

Moi’s last ceremony was also witnessed by a long list of national leaders, including Chief Justice David Maraga, speakers Justin Muturi (National Assembly) and Kenneth Lusaka (Senate), former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, ANC boss Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetang'ula.

A host of governors, senators and members of the National Assembly also attended. 

Edited by R.Wamochie