Dearest cousin Barack Obama, I was so touched, moved and delighted to see you in Santa Claus 2018 with sick children from Children's National, in Washington it triggered in me a deep and fraternal affection, distant cousin which convinced me that Santa Claus did not exist only for children. And here is also for you a "Gift of Nubia" to answer one of your old questions of youth on your origins, if and only if you have not already had the answer since ...
To those who do not know our good and old Luo traditions, I must apologize straight away. And I think particularly of the American people from whom you are maternally born and many other Western readers for who African traditions in general are the domain of the unknown, if not the archaic. But for an African like me, although he knows about other cultures or has been impregnated, good traditions are never archaic nor retrograde. It is by virtue of these that I can not, and must not address you as Vous. Under any circumstances! Those who would be shocked by that would eventually deign to forgive me, because simply the vouvoiement does not exist among us Luo. Indeed, our ancestors, the Luo, made no difference between a man and a man. Whatever his age or his function. And nothing has changed till today.
In my very first open letter addressed to you on November 7, 2012, I made a point of explaining the origins of your name Obama by writing this: « Obama is composed of two names: Ouoro which has been transformed in Horus (god falcon in Greek) and Bama or those who do the traditional Luo initiation ritual. Ouoro whose elliptical shape is O was the symbol of the power of the time of our ancestors, the Luo. Even today, every leader or president of the Republic is called Ouoro or Wollo. At the time of our ancestors, Wollo or Ouoro combined political function with religious function. Hence the Bama following the name Ouoro or Wollo. In fact, Obama which elliptical shape is Wollo-Bama or Ouoro-Bama. If I have to conclude without going into details, it means that your ancestor from whom you inherited this surname was the leader from who the whole tribe had to sacrifice to the traditional ritual of initiation and passage into adulthood. Here is, dear cousin, for the little story ».
I must, however, point out that while Obama‘s function was closely linked to the leadership of the tribe, Ondo or Ouondouo or Wondouo were specifically attributed to a member of the tribe who was automatically the father of the « Child-King » called Ouosso or Wosso or Osso only on the occasion of an initiation ritual during which this Child-King was the flag bearer.
Since I know that you have Luo origins, I have always called you my dearest cousin. Not just for a joke, but because we are actually cousins of our ancestors, the Luo. There is no doubt about it. All the Luo (the Luo people include several branches), in addition, are from the large group of Nouer or Nuer from Sudan, the ancestrally and eternally rivals of the Dinka. The legend would like that the Dinka is the elder and the Nuer the younger. And, between the elder and the younger, the agreement was not always cordial. This is another constant found in the different founding myths of the peoples of the Nile Valley and which, unfortunately, finds a resonance today in the conflict in South Sudan through the internal war between President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar.
My dearest cousin, not only do we both belong to the same tribe or lineage of the Luo, but to the same sub-branch of the Noun-YoLuo or Noun YaLuo or simply YoLuo or YaLuo. In 2014, at Aké Book and Arts Festival organized in Abeokuta, Ogun State in Nigeria, by Lola Shoneyin, the daughter-in-law of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Wole Soyinka, I met, by a happy coincidence, our dear cousin Christine Asir Otieno. She is from the same village of Kogelo as your family and works at the BBC (besides being my cousin, she’s my sister too), and we spent time talking about things and others, including the history of the Luo that must be written, indeed. An unexpected but very relaxed meeting of two cousins separated by the vicissitudes of the past and the history of ancient Nubia. To my sister and cousin Luo, I explained the story of Luo migration from the same Sudan to present-day Benin Republic as your own direct ancestors went to present-day Kenya.
The history of Black Africa can not be deciphered as simply and easily by oral or archaeological sources as many try to make us believe. It has its secret codes which are made of linguistic elements, rituals, objects, and so on which constitute, in fine, a kind of DNA which must first be decoded before accessing it. Whether one is African or not, it’s the same thing. This is not only true for people outside the African culture.
I did mention Obama, Otieno, Kogelo and I would like to add Onyango, Alego, Sigoma, Ogelo, Otondi, Obongo, Okoth, Oyipo … all of them are Luo real names that no Natemba (Noun-YoLuo or Noun YaLuo his original name) of the present-day Benin can not have difficulty to recognize. As long as he knows his traditions and his own history. Only at the very first consonance, a Luo knows that he is in the presence of another Luo, because they are eminently tribal names. Hence, a person may be of African origin, he can not, by any way, have access to the history of another tribe (note: African historians henceforth prefer the word « lineage » to the word « tribe »), even for his own tribe as long as he does not have access to the codes. A fortiori a person of non-African culture, and whatever his erudition, even when he’s well received in the environment where he undertakes his research. It would still be necessary for the Elders to open the doors of secrets. This is the whole complexity of historical research on the past of Black Africa.
For almost a decade now, I have had the same speech about the Dravidians of India against many Indianists (fortunately not all of them…) and sometimes though unwillingly. However: the latest archaeological research tends to prove me right about the character of black miscegenation predominantly in the peoples of southern Dravidian-speaking people in India. With a distant origin closely related to ancient Nubia not only by the objects or the material culture but also and especially the language and the oldest history of the country. As evidenced, moreover, the genetic tests on the man of Rakhigarhi and which show as we can read in this article of Radio France Internationale (RFI) India: in Rakhigarhi, an archeological discovery that disrupts everything « … the first Indians to have formed an urban civilization would be more like those dark-skinned beings of the South. And the tall, light-skinned Indians would only be immigrants who arrived after this wonderful period of genesis. » (Editor’s note: 4500-year-old DNA from Rakhigarhi reveals evidence that will unsettle Hindutva nationalists: https: //www.indiatoday .in / magazine / cover-story / story / 20180910-rakhigarhi-dna-study-finds-indus-valley-civilization-1327247-2018-08-31). Or read this other article from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC):
How ancient DNA may rewrite prehistory in India: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-46616574 ns_campaign=bbcnews&ns_mchannel=social&ocid=socialflow_facebook&ns_source=facebook
This digression done, my dearest cousin Barack Obama, at the time when I was writing you for the first time, I was barely discovering you with your formidable electoral campaign. I was one of those millions of people who had been deprived of sleep in Africa to know the epilogue of this campaign wich lead you to the White House, you who is not quite white therefore, to say. As I have always said and repeated, it was not because we expected you to take money from the American taxpayer to come to help Black Africa, that was so far from our enthusiasm. It was simply because you were incarnating – and although water has flowed under the bridges – you still embody a certain image and a certain hope that living together is possible in our current human societies, indifferently of skin color, origins, confessions, etc. And I assure you at the same time that I want my readers to believe me, it is not because you are my dearest cousin that I flatter you … You know well that among the Luo, the sycophancy has no right, because it’s considered as a crime formerly, the sycophant being liable to banishment, even!
I had the great pleasure to read, in this year 2018, Les rêves de mon père the French version of your autobiographical book entitled Barack Obama Dreams From My Father. I have already made a criticism and I will not repeat myself here, at the risk of lending the flank to those who seek the slightest flaw to tell us that the Luo have changed since the founders of the brilliant and extraordinary Egyptian civilization. I have no doubt about it. But their life principles have not changed much. Indeed, in these years when you were doing your quest for identity in your youth, I came across a passage that could not leave me indifferent. Since I have been working for years now, as much as I can, to say like this Mexican proverb: « They tried to bury us. They did not know we were seeds. «
On pages 83-84 of the French version Barack Obama Dreams From My Father, you say this:
« Un samedi, je me rendis à la bibliothèque publique proche de chez nous et, avec l’aide d’un vieux bibliothécaire à la voix rauque charmé par mon sérieux, je dénichai un livre sur l’Afrique de l’Est. Sauf qu’on n’y faisait aucune allusion aux pyramides. En réalité, les Luos n’avaient droit qu’à un court paragraphe. Je découvris que le terme « nilote » décrivait un certain nombre de tribus nomades originaires du Soudan et établies le long du Nil Blanc, très loin du sud de l’empire égyptien. Les Luos élevaient du bétail et vivaient dans des huttes de boue, mangeaient du maïs, des ignames et quelque chose appelé millet. Leur costume traditionnel était un pagne de cuir. J’abandonnai le livre ouvert sur la table et sortis sans remercier le bibliothécaire ».
I have to tell you that you thought very well by looking in your African roots for any link between the Luo and the pyramids of Egypt. Now, my dearest cousin Barack Obama, you can go back to the library or Kogelo to continue your research if you feel like it.
For my part, I say, I persist and I sign that it is the Luo, who left Sudan (former Nubia or Kouch Land), who founded what will later become the brilliant and extraordinary civilization of Pharaonic Egypt, the one who built the pyramids. And here I would like to invite publicly who thinks the opposite to the debate. Only then would I release my « Joker » in the pure Luo tradition. By summoning our ancestors, the Luo, at that occasion. Because it turns out it can not be more important today than yesterday to deconstruct some misinterpretations or falsifications before it is definitely too late.
The descendants of these ancient Nubians and ancient Egyptians have not completely disappeared from the surface of the earth. They are still alive in Black Africa through new peoples. If I talk about it with reference to my own people, the present-day Natemba, It ils because, when all the others have melted into the new religions or into other cultures, they are the ones who have kept the most inveterate traditions of their country of origin. Languages first. Anything that got me very early at once intrigued and fascinated. Better, in the opposite to what many believe, their languages have not evolved much and remain just as intelligible with the ancient languages of the Nile Valley. And that is all that definitely calls into question the long and vain attempt to falsify the history of ancient Egypt as a « Negro-African » civilization to use a somewhat polemical expression nowadays (Editor’s note: African historians now prefer the word « Black African » to the word « Negro African »). Finally, since the present debate is around the restitution of cultural property stolen from Africa by the West, I hope that we will not forget to include in this perspective the unequivocal or implied restitution of Ancient Egypt to Black Africa. We have taken note and given due credit!
By Marcus Boni Teiga
This article is translated from the the original version in French: LETTRE OUVERTE A MON TRES CHER COUSIN BARACK OBAMA : Tes ancêtres, les Luo, sont bel et bien les fondateurs de la civilisation égyptienne