I have been on the road for nearly two decades now since I last left Lorogon. The exodus was not a departure by choice, but involuntary and full of heavy sorrow. But as we speak, the outbound stream of similarly ill-fated individuals, with bags of trouble like mine, has long ceased. There are no more involuntary departures anymore, not because my people have learned to control their wills but because arrogance and barbarism have triumphed and have established an empire where my old village stood. The last departure, either as an escape across river Turkwel (derived from a Turkana name Tir-kol meaning a river that withstands the wilderness) or in death, of the last handful and lingering group of my people happened many months ago. Now the inhabitants of Lorogon are not my Turkana people but the Pokots – yes, the lovely Pokot people.
I brave the long journey before me for I have come to terms with the stubborn fact that ease and rest are not for me, home is not for me yet. It is as if, as one commentator once said, the lights at the end of my tunnel have been switched off to save energy. Now what? I answer: for parched fugitive souls, only native springs can assuage their thirst and ache. And so, if we have to grope eternally in the dark in search of a passage for our return home, then grope we must. The feel of whatever objects we might run across in the dark tunnel shall be the light that guides our path and judgments. But must we also wait for this arbitrary encounter with unknown objects? No, thank goodness we don’t have to.
The passageout of our little predicament, though dark, is right before our eyes. My people, we have been left with no choice but to fight. Enough is enough. Usually when enough is enough, the necessary must take its course and must be of utmost preponderance.
We have been ejected violently from our homeland and violently we must reaffirm ourselves. My people, there are only a few droplets of blood left in us already; why should we not have the honor of using these droplets wisely, sacrificing them for our cause? Why try to save this diminishing kindred blood only briefly later to have it spilled by our murderers? Before us death and desolation stare. But after us, should we be swallowed up by death, should we never return home, lessons and legendary songs will be remembered and sung.
We will never find consolation in our retreat, in our hideouts, or in the libation we pour for the mourning of our departed brothers and sisters. There is no peace of mind and freedom in foreign places, be it in the Cherangani hills or in America, no matter how long we stay and how finely we assimilate. Useless consolation cannot be found in pretentious rituals. How can we expect to enjoy peace and freedom we are not accustomed to in the first place in these foreign places while at the back of our minds burns an imprinted image of a humiliated and disgraced Lorogon? How do we hope to appease our departed souls just by the libations of our hearts and thoughts without an appropriate answer to the cause of our departure? How can we, like the Israelites, sing Turkana songs in foreign lands?
Of all the escapees, we are the chief for collective loneliness and hopelessness. I hear for these essentials, peace of mind and freedom, to be truly acquired one must truly earn them. What can match these valuables better than our blood, sweat, lives, spirit and wit? War is the answer, my comrades. Too long have we been silenced, too long have we not acted and that is the main reason for our continual asylum-seeking. We must be chaos. If violence is chaos, then we must be organized chaos. Violence, as now consecrated, as our only true hope, is the only reasonable passage to this precious state.
Their, and I mean the Pokots, intentions are crystal clear. The mere fact that they have orchestrated and executed successfully their plan to expel us from our birthplace by all guns necessary speaks volume of not only their intent but also of us the escapees. Their plans could not have materialized had our fraternal cord been strong like during our forefathers’ time. We fell, because we first failed to mend our disintegrating communal bond. The numerous packs that we formed sometimes along clan and family lines, each warrior faction pursuing their own overblown interests, are the reason for our demise. We were fallen even before the Pokots’ assault. The external physical force was a simple signature on our doomed script; and if the Pokots were wiser, they would not have used these unnecessary and excessive fatal blows to achieve their ends. It was given even before they took it, and just a few blows would have sufficed. We have not only lost our homeland but also credit as the primary author of our fall.
What is this that I hear, that violence is wicked? Let them talk, for talk is cheap and our wound deep. If they tried to lick my wounds, then perhaps I might listen for a bit. But they can’t.
When avenues for recourse have been exhausted, when they have borne bitter fruits, and when our souls are forever furnaces of excruciating mourning whether waking or sleeping, then anything that can mitigate our state is welcome.
Morality is a convenience of the powerful. As long as we are not equal in power with the Pokot, they will never budge. The more we talk of moral approaches to reclaiming what used to be ours, the more we advance their egos and the more they become certain of our weakness and irresoluteness. Turkana, we are not a minority.
Their intentions are plain and clear, or tell me what my village occupation means? Turkana people, we are as good as dead. And while we are about to be dead anyway, we might as well die fighting for our cause. We might as well die, not in terror and flight, but in our homeland, fighting for the peace and freedom we long ago lost.
Let us put a stop to the horrors of our dreams, of the nightmares of our retreat. Neither bullets nor the wrath of the ICC (International Criminal Court) should cause us to give in to this fate. We might actually profit from gaining the attention of the ICC. Let our urge to re-embrace our motherland, to regain our lost peace of mind and freedom, be stronger than the rest. Let us fix the depravity within our fallen warrior tradition. Instead of individual priorities, let us be warriors with a common goal: our cause. Remember, our warfare is a super-moral warfare.
No one will judge us more harshly than our mothers who we have neglected. Why can they not, like other mothers in the world, live peacefully in their homes, in houses that their husbands built them? Why can we, their sons and daughters, not rise and fight at least for their sake if we do not mind our own fate? The time is now comrades. Now or Never!
To those who claim war is not the answer, well, give us a few more years and an answer will be mailed to you. I feel pity for the Pokot child born within the last few months, who thinks that Lorogon is his or her birthplace. Sorry but it is not. Good thing is, when we come to give your parents and you a lethal beating, we will also be re-educating you about your origins. Perhaps re-education will make sure that there won’t be a resurgence of violence between us. Since you do not want to listen now, I am sure with an adequate beating the lessons will be fully learnt, the lesson that your rugged hills along Ortum-Kapenguria road are your rightful place and not, double underline, Lorogon village and its environs. But if we must always fight each other, then so be it. It is better to live under the threat of an attack in our homes than in the riches and superficialities of foreign lands. Comrades: It’s Now or Never!
The dead do not reap anything from morals. Nor do they die for want of morals. It is only wiser to keep ourselves alive if we hope to be beneficiaries of morality and if we dream to live morally, if we so wish to be powerful. But what use is morality to the dead? And if you so want to remain “moral” at least you have an obligation to make your environment favorable for the practice of virtue. What use is cowardice in life? What better place can be found to rival our home, Lorogon? To arms my friends. We must return.
I Shall Return
I shall return again; I shall return
To laugh and love and watch with wonder-eyes
At golden noon the forest fires burn,
Wafting their blue-black smoke to sapphire skies.
I shall return to loiter by the streams
That bathe the brown blades of the bending grasses,
And realize once more my thousand dreams
Of waters rushing down the mountain passes.
I shall return to hear the fiddle and fife
Of village dances, dear delicious tunes
That stir the hidden depths of native life,
Stray melodies of dim remembered runes.
I shall return, I shall return again,
To ease my mind of long, long years of pain.
— Claude McKay