“the chatter of a man with ashed skin was thick in the African sphere of village politics and discussions. a decade or so had only just elapsed since the white-man had set foot on the Kenyan shores of Mombasa. years later they had infiltrated the regions that they found fertile within the flourishing borders of what we now call Kenya. Kisii highlands were high up on the list of such fertile habitable places…” Stella went on and on to explain the events that transpired a few years before she was even born.
she recalls the story of her birth as it was told to her by her mother one too many times over the dieing embers of charred wood which had ,only an hour or so ago, cooked them an evening meal.
her name is Stella Maris Ombui and she was born in winter of 1962.she will never go down history for winning a Nobel prize or discovering the cure to a deadly disease. in the eyes of society she will never measure up to the stature of women like Wangari Maathai or Cleopatra or Hildegard of Bingen. all her childhood she was brought up in the backdrop of poverty. her mother, a staunch Catholic, brought her up with the bible in her right hand and the rosary in her left. she grew to be prayerful, obedient and patient.
years went by and she has morphed into woman hood gracefully. she has seen it all. the loss of her parents. the rejection of kin and in-laws. the death and burial of a first, second and third child.
One time she told me that when i was born, she had to sell bananas she had just plucked from the farm to buy me medication.she told me that if ever she had seen a glimmer of hope for a better tomorrow it was in my eyes. that each time she would hold me and i would look her in the eye and smile, even in the middle of adversity, poverty and hunger; she lived for the smile i gave her each day.
she is my friend. my mother. my hero.
she has taught me that a man can be gentle. should be gentle. that a man should listen. that he should pray. that a man not surrendered to the will of God cannot harness the love of a submissive wife. she has taught me that a man is only truly a warrior when he is gentle.that my story is not mine to keep.my story is not truly mine unless it brings a smile on a wounded soul.
she has taught me that the weight of all my troubles, pain, tribulations and worries is at its very least when i am on my knees seeking the face of a God who lives in unbounded worship.
” my son…in the few years i have lived thus far…one choice i never regret having made was following and seeking God from the very vibrancy of my youth”
i remember this one time when i was on midterm in form two and she sat me down and said something that stuck to date…”the purity of your youth is a treasure in your old age that cannot be compared to anything, gold or otherwise…but the sins of your youth will mock you and your descendants to the forth generation even unto death and beyond…i will not be able to make your choices for you anymore than i am able to bathe you but know this… that you cannot afford to assume that you are young and have enough time to fool around…”
she, together with my father, has molded me one day at a time into a responsible citizen, a caring brother to two sisters and a future spouse to someone.
and isn’t that what the world needs? good people…molded to the finest fiber of humane humanity?
she is now fifty three years old . the grey hairs on the sides of her scalp are proof of the years folded under her chin. her eyes have a steady gaze about them that seems to recount how much history they have seen repeat itself.
My name is Robbin Omeka and Ombui Stella Maris is my friend. My mother. My hero.