Seizing the moment

BY JACOB OKETCH

This is a unique book that illuminates the essence of success in family and societal development. The story of Canon Jeremiah Musungu Awori demonstrates that determination and courage are the cornerstones of success. Perhaps, this is the first book that I have read that tells the story of three generations of a single family in Kenya. Several thematic concerns emerge from this book;

Firstly, Canon Awori’s contribution and influence in the evangelization mission in western Kenya puts him in a class of his own. He was the first Anglican priest to be ordained in western Kenya and he was instrumental in the establishment of most of the dioceses in the region where he also trained many clerics.

Canon Awori was also at the centre of cultural revolution in the area; people who were hitherto accustomed to the traditional ways of life were suddenly confronted with Christianity which Canon Awori aggressively pursued. Yet, Awori himself became a Christian by sheer chance – his uncle Ayienga opted to present his nephew (Awori) instead of his own son, fearing that he would lose his ways by giving away his son to go for clerical training. It is this move that led to the transformation of the western region into a Christian society.

The book details Awori’s exploits in agriculture where he became a large scale farmer in various crops. He introduced many new crops in the region and thereby improved the nutrition of the region. It is because of this development that the canon was able to raise a large family without the dangers of opportunistic diseases afflicting members of his family.

Canon Awori was also a consummate administrator having trained at Jeans School Kabete.He was a member of the native council during the colonial times. With this knowledge, the canon was also able to effectively manage his vast farm which supplied agricultural products to a vast area in the region.

Perhaps, the most impressive aspect of the Awori family is the sheer size. Canon Jeremiah Musungu Awori and Mama Mariamu Awori were blessed with 16 children and 15 of them grew to adulthood. Infact, more than half of them are still alive. The family has since expanded and is in its third generation. The profile of the family is like an entire human resource division of a major company – boasting of all manner of professionals in its ranks; doctors, engineers, lawyers, geologists, journalists, pharmacists, professors, you name it. This achievement could not have been possible without the firm hand with which the patriarch steered the family.

Another unique feature of the amazing Awori family is the duality of citizenship of some members of the family. It is rare to find members of the same family belonging to different countries – some members of the immediate family of Canon Awori are Ugandans though they were born in Kenya. Since Canon Awori’s land extended to the Ugandan side, some of his children settled in Uganda. There was a time when one of his sons, Moody Awori, was Vice President in Kenya while another one, Aggrey was vying for presidency in Uganda with a probable likelihood of having the two brothers ruling the two East African countries. What a sight that would have been?

Seizing the Moment is a book that details the amazing story of the Aworis and how they have transformed the western Kenya region. But more importantly, it is a story of the essence of cohesion in a family setting. It is also a story of the development of Christian evangelism in the country. It also touches on the political evolution of the nascent Kenya. Reading this book will educate you a lot in terms of how Kenya evolved into what it is today. The meticulous recording of the large family’s professional profile by the authors is no mean achievement. This is a book you don’t want to miss reading.

Reviewer is author of Aphorisms and Poems of Light

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