‘Gonya, gonya’ culture: Apologise, Luo women tell Obama sister


A section of women from Siaya County want ex-US president Barack Obama’s sister, Dr. Auma Obama, to apologise for insinuating there is a predominant “begging” culture among members of the Luo community.

Siaya County’s Mandeleo ya Wanawake chairperson, Patricia Apoli, says Dr. Obama’s statement was erroneous.

Ms Apoli added that the remark was meant to embarrass members of the Luo community.

The Maendeleo ya Wanawake chairperson defended women from the Luo ethnic group as “industrious” people, saying none of them has ever asked for a handout from Dr Obama.

She now wants the Sauti Kuu youth centre founder to apologise to members of the Luo community over the remark, which she made on Monday, July 16 during the launch of the multi-purpose youth facility in Kogelo, Siaya.

Ms Apoli’s gripe extends to how Dr Auma Obama oversaw the launch, saying the ex-President’s elder sister “privatized” the whole affair, ‘failing to recognise and appreciate Ida Odinga, Governors Cornel Rasanga (Siaya) and Prof. Peter Anyang Nyong’o (Kisumu)’.

Ms Apoli said Barack Obama should have been allowed to greet the residents of Kogelo, even if it meant just waving to them while driving off.

During her speech Monday, Dr. Auma Obama urged a section of her community members to shun a begging culture, which she christened as the “gonya, gonya” culture.

“Gonya”, a Luo word used in contextual manner, means “help me out”. In most cases when used, the statement maker solicits for cash.

Dr Obama, at the start of her speech, said she knew she would be criticised for her remarks.

(Writing by Sheila Jerotich)

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