THE RIVER AND THE SOURCE
Akoko Obanda is a woman of many names and surprising flexibility. She stands out as an epitome of change and exudes a confidence and strength hitherto unheard of.
Her first name was Adoyo. She was given this name because of the time rather season she was born. It was the season when the plants were struggling with the knees of the farmers.
Her Second name was Obanda. Obanda is predominantly a male name but in this community, the dreams of ancestors were never taken lightly, hence she was named after her grand uncle who was famous for his medicines.
Her step grandmother did not hesitate to cast a spell upon this brilliant first born daughter of the great chief of Yimbo. Akello though dead, without children, wanted also a recognition. She fought for it through a bout of colic and fever that sent Akoko whimpering in agony until incantation unearthed the coded message.
She was not done, with her ambitious character, she quickly evolved into Akoko. The name became loud as the character.
With Christianity, Akoko was baptized Veronicah terminating a long journey of naming and character growth.
It is a humongous task to open up about Akoko. She is a phenom, an elaborate character whose struggles establishes a change embracing society that goes on and on despite the ravaging death.
Therefore, in summary, here are some of ADOYO OBANDA AKELLO AKOKO VERONICA’s character traits.
Akoko demystified her want on this world with two first peculiar words ‘Dwaro Mara’ which meant- ‘want mine.’ With this proclamation, Akoko shaped her world. She earned deep love from her father- chief Odero Gogni and her many brothers. She also earned pride and admiration from the people of Yimbo who saw in her a great woman with Great Spirit that they would use her in advising their own girls. When the suitors came calling, especially the men from Sakwa, with Whom Akoko’s father liked, she walked into the room with great courage that astounded the men of Sakwa.
She fought earnestly for her position in the society by confronting her Mother-in-law (Maro) after the Maro had called her a Jajuok. Her daring spirit did not wither before Otieno Kembo her brother in Law.
Akoko also wades into the waters of controversy when she reports Otieno Kembo to the DO and Subsequently to the DC for his disregard of her rights and greed.
Women of Yimbo had incorporated Akoko’s name in a saying that when sending children on errands they would tell them to run like Akoko-she of the flying feet.
Akoko had one primary Motto: that women ought to be hardworking because a hardworking woman would cover the shame of her lazy man but a lazy woman would disgrace her husband however hardworking he was (paraphrased). She therefore worked her and her productivity paid off with wealth unimagined that she had her own dam to water here cattle.
Allow me to quip into Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, in this book, Okonkwo works hard not to be as lazy as his father. This is unlike the River and the Source where the responsibility of wealth rests squarely on the womenfolk.
Akoko takes great risk of walking all the way to Kisuma to fight for her rights and her grandson’s birth right. She entrust her wellbeing as it were in the white colonialist. After securing her grandson’s position she takes on another journey to Christendom in Aluor and forgets all about her former love and home in Sakwa.
Akoko sees the future differently from others in her society. Her belief that the world as she knew it is changing makes her to resolve to confront Chief Otieno Kembo using the white administration. Secondly, she blesses Owour Sino to take on priesthood, she knew that the chieftaincy was not as it used to be and also reconciled with the fact that young people now had the decision making responsibility in their hands.
Were it not for Akoko, the milestones made could have remained a mirage. She is the epitome of change. She makes ground breaking decisions basing on the circumstances at hand. She is wise enough to read her surroundings and adapts. She is keen to detail and that is why, she brings to Sakwa much needed respect for women. She knew because of her lack of children, and her husband’s stubborn monogamy, her reputation would be ruined. Because of her bravery, she confronted her fears by going for the source of character assassination- her mother in law.
She makes her new relatives come to terms with the reality. She reminds them of basic truths that children come from Were, the god of the eye of the rising sun and that she has nothing of controlling that. Secondly, she makes them acknowledge the fact that, she cannot as a woman dictate her husband’s wants.
Akoko was full of love and adoration. This attracted a lot of love from her father OderoGogni and her Husband OwuorKembo. Her Brother Oloo too fell into this magical entanglement. She was very careful on how she showered her love to her husband that he took her as part of his unofficial counsel. This made the chief remain monogamous- a situation unheard of from this people. In her love for her husband, she made sure that he was given enough freedom to make his own choices; she says that she had not stood between the chief and his marrying more wives as was the want of the people of Sakwa.
Akoko was also careful on how she loved her children. She made sure that they grew up recognizing the value of hardwork and discipline. Obura is portrayed as a humble boy who doesn’t wield his power around because of his being the chief’s son. Nyabera is generous to a fault and as a woman, she is taught the value of hardwork. We can deduce that, Akoko showed tough love to her children given how strict she was that Obura had to run away from home- the only option he had given that he would not have been given the permission he so yearned.
As a widow with an infant Grandson, Akoko has to fight for the rights of her only surviving male. While fighting, she makes sure that the oblivious infant is kept away from harm.
Furthermore, she ensures that her remaining family receives the support they so need. She stands behind Owuor Sino’s decision to become priest and reprimands Nyabera when she displays paranoia on the impact of educating the girl child. We can see the impact of Akoko on the life of Awiti at her (Akoko’s) demise. She meant a lot to Awiti hence the painful reaction from Awiti when Akoko died.
Through her love and care, Akoko acts as a strong foundation in the lives of Nyabera, Awiti and her children and Owuor Sino, who look back at her life as a vital part in their wellbeing.