I will let you go Martha
By SYLVESTER OLUOCH
Published on August 3, 2009
Editor’s note: The staff and management of East Africa in Focus send our deepest heartfelt condolences to Sylvester Oluoch and family.
On that July day when the curtains fell of Martha Achieng’ Aol’s journey through the universe stretching over three decades, I lost some words that I have not found to-date.
I received news that I did not like from London at the break of dawn more than 5,000 miles away in Columbia, Missouri, displaced not only by the endless Atlantic waters, but unending stretches of land that form North America and Canada. To this day, I refuse to rate what the news that came from the queen’s land means to me, and I leave it to eternity.
Whoever said God chooses our relatives as we choose our friends was right. And what a coincidence that I made the same choice as God willed. Girlfriend, as I fondly referred to her, was a towering source of hope and a guiding light to me. She was the jewel I stuck far away from rust, with almost holy trust. Countless times Martha and I strode the streets of Nairobi , even the countryside, like twins, sharing deep passion and thoughts.
Martha was a case study in piety and judged situations on merit as she carefully separated events from their perpetrators. “You can change a bad person,” she reckoned, “but you cannot change a bad situation. Ka rach to rach (If it is bad, it is bad),” she would say. This was her stand on matters that saw many of us take partisan positions, even when facts dictated otherwise. She was the hallmark of arbitration.
Martha taught me that it was fine to laugh at your own misfortunes for behind them lay lessons. This was the only way to get out of them, she would say. Martha’s honesty was extraordinary. She handled other people’s money, better than her own – and I am a living beneficiary of that largesse of heart.
Martha is a case of the goose that brooded on golden eggs. She was a channel through which lots of help reached others. She knew how to pick her fights and put pressure exactly where it needed to be, and held it right there until it yielded the desired impact or it broke. She always placed her fingers on the social levers that had to be moved.
It is not often that a close friend and a relative for that matter says something good about you, for your friend knows all your scandals. But Martha sure said really good things about me – probably more than I deserved, and that is quite humbling.
Martha, Achi na – Siaya kababa (My Achi – Siaya, my father’s place), as you embark on the journey that is clear in our spirits, which our minds will never comprehend, fare thee well. Return to our father knowing that as long as I live, you will live, for in my life you are present, just as you are in the limbo of vanity. And I know hundreds others hold this true. I will remember the little things- the walks from Kengeles car wash to Madaraka Flat 21, the dances, the good times we shared, and the not-so-good times that we went through, even the manicures and pedicures I received as you waited and supervised. What a sister! What a girlfriend!