While struggling to find a possible topic to warrant a post today, I prowled on the web onto sites of famous writers whose dexterity with the English language is both humorous and unmatched. In a world where writers try to tickle emotions of their readers, few succeed with the prowess shown by the once famous Oyunga Pala found at oyungapala.com This is one man who when men cackled at the fear of expressing their distress of the women folk single handedly formed the greatest revolution known to man only as a column called Man Talk that used to run on Saturday Nation. Well, at his temple many men who were either knowingly or unknowingly seeking wisdom of dealing with their women and potential spouses crawled into this cave and with dimly lit torches and occasional tin lamps sought for answers like hidden treasures. These men would stumble on skulls and carcases of what many believed to be previous visitors who failed to crack the puzzle that was the answer. Crazy enough most men who walked into the heinous cave that soon became a controversy never got answers for their problems rather they found a cocoon in which they would laugh off their grievances. He was akin to a chief who wore a waist cloth made of python intestines , above which was an unmistakable protruding katumbo from the numerous calabashes of gruel he got as appeasement offering from men and women alike who sought his wisdom. Occasionally he would stumble on a wineskin or young beautiful woman whose father thought this chief was the perfect man for. Well in those days women knew their place in the society and it was in the kitchen and next to their men in bed. The days before these we know was ruled by men who never sought the counsel of their women on whether or not the grass thatched house was sufficient for the twenty something children. He never took kindly to any of his women raising their voice against his. He never got involved in scuffles between his newly wed wife and other wives, in fact he watched while his older wives formed a coalition against the new arrival and waited for the day when like every political party such associations will surely break apart. One woman will defend themselves saying that the new wife was from their village, another will befriend the new wife to find out why their husband spent more time at her hut. Yet others in their common hatred for each other will form one woman organisations. Such was the society that Oyunga Pala’s Man talk column created and he was the defacto leader as in his days long before the online frenzy, one’s grievances were never addressed by the writer and the dedication required to write a grievance in proper handwritten grammar and spelling, in the most presentable fullscap then walk the 10km to the nearest post office only to find it was closed for lunch time break. One would then have to wait for the next 2 hours before they buy an envelope and a stamp to post this letter which will arrive at the nation centre with a trail of others. Chances are most grievances were cast in the waste basket and their contents cast away like the dedication involved in making them. Oyunga would probably never know an issue was raised about his style or conclusions and as such his legend grew faster than his arrogance. Many who thought he was witty were lost in his mastery of the art of communication which consisted of carefully calculated jokes that left ribs cracking days after his advice. But that is what made him stand out, in a world where many men sought answers for their problems he made them realise that not all problems deserved a solution rather that most were just a test for one’s patience and sense of humour.
While in still in school I would seek for a copy of Saturday nation as if all the things I needed to know lied there in. I worshipped him and he was one of those guys I used to quote much to the displeasure of the occasional unattractive adolescent girls who let me touch their breasts. Then, there was a belief that in order for one’s boobs to grow quickly they had to be touched by a man. And thanks to the man who started this myth and my overconfidence my hands knew a lot of pointed tips.
My obsession with this guy made my start writing my own share of man talk wisdom, which truth to be told weren’t as witty or funny. In a world of strong friendships, a good friend of mine, who happened to have read these pieces, would teasingly call me ‘The next Oyunga Pala” an action that seemed to tickle my brain. Truth be told, I was so pissed when one day I prowled the pages of Saturday magazine and read a piece by the replacement boy Jackson Biko and felt something missing. Don’t get me wrong, Biko is a good writer-funny and all, his writings have their own musings and skill that, forgive my honesty, are incomparable to Oyunga Pala’s but he’s not Oyunga and that doesn’t work well for him. In a media dominated by writers whose different skills are unique, Oyunga stood out as the guy who even the almighty Philip Ochieng could not dare correct. Philip Ochieng is the kind of guy who, suppose he was in a movie he would have been Spartacus, the rebel who defies his master and points out his mistakes. His brevity in doing hitherto unspeakable things like correcting the Queen of England in her use of her native English language would find a definition in a word far much precise and daring than Brevity. And like most Kenyans who are avid readers of his column, I haven’t made tail of his work. You could say he’s that good or that the only reader who understands his work is probably the overly educated PLO Lumumba.
So I wasn’t amazed when my next door neighbour who’s one of the anonymous readers of my blog asked me whether Oyunga is my inspiration. I have been doubting that for days while I worshipped this Oyunga Pala I would unconsciously plagiarise his style and work so this question worked as the much needed wake up call. Being a writer is something that comes to me naturally but as much as I want to be a good writer I would hate comparisons with legends such as Oyunga Pala or Charles Onyango Obbo. So in the coming weeks my readers will witness my experimentation with different writing styles until together we find a new niche that is both fun for me to write and them to read.
I hope this literary journey makes us better friends and even if we finally come back to the place we all started, lets be different in the way the journey and our retention level deems fit.