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The mythical GUDE!
Posted on Sunday, November 02, 2008 @ 12:08:17 CST by kwpnews


By Abdalla Alwi Bafagih


Every culture has its rich history rooted deep from generations of old centuries. Some come in the form of poetry, music, food, art, stories and etc. This story has been passed from generation to generation and it still continues to have relevance in present day events. This is the story of Roc (Hadithi ya Gude).


Many years ago before the coming of Europeans, Arab merchants, Indian and Persians, there lived two different communities separated by a river. These communities lived in harmony respecting each other for decades. Unfortunately, one day the area was hit by a shortage of rainfall and both these communities suffered as they heavily relied on the rain for their animals and farming. In addition rivers dried and thus their last source of water was gone.


As the conditions were becoming worse, the two communities decided to form an inclusive elder’s assembly to try and address the water shortage and seek any alternative solutions for their people. Four elders from both communities met and discussed several options, such as to relocation to other sites, but then they decided that was not the best alternative as there was no guarantee of not facing similar conditions as they were facing.

           An agreement was reached that both communities work together to erect a large tank which would be used to collect and store rain water in the future and would only be used when the drought season starts. They also agreed on a formula of how they would fetch water (water rationing), that is each community would be allowed to fetch water on alternate days and on equal capacity.

 After the meeting, the elders returned to their respective communities and delivered the news. Therefore, the job of erecting the big tank started in a unified mode. Men and women, the youth, adults and the old played different roles until the tank was completed. During the rainy season, the tank was filled to capacity and both communities continued with their daily routine, the river was flowing after the rainfall and the fields were green. Several months after the rainy season, the heat became relentless, heat wave and humidity filled the region and slowly the communities noticed the same trend; the river drying, the fields changing from green to reddish-brown, grasses and leaves started to die, and eventually drought became a reality.


The two communities that year were more optimistic for the preparation and the advice they followed from their elders of building a large tank which was filled with water. This arrangement guaranteed them to acquire water for essential use until the next rainy season. So the communities started to collect water on alternate days as per the agreed rations.


Then one day one of the communities whose turn had come to fetch water found out that their share for the day had already been fetched! Women with their clay pots on their heads returned to their households to report to their husbands and elders. The elders requested that they should not panic as tomorrow they would seek the elders from their neighbouring community and inquire why they used water in excess of their share?


The entire village was filled with anger and mistrust of their neighbours, but the elders engaged with the villagers and pleaded with them to calm down and let them address this burning issue with their counterparts later that day. The following day, the other community faced similar experiences as their neighbours; that their water share for the day had already been utilised. They too started to complain and pointed fingers to their neighbours, not knowing that they too had faced a similar incident.


At that moment in time, both communities who once had lived side by side for centuries, in peace and harmony, helping each other against invasion, hunger and drought were now accusing each other of mistrust and ready to fight each other. However, because of the elders, an emergency meeting was convened by elders from both communities and came up with a conclusion that both of them were not responsible for ‘stealing’ water.


 Who was responsible then? An agreement was reached that four youths from each community would form a scouting team whose mission would be to watch the area near the tank on a 24 hours surveillance shift. Once the shifts were arranged, the first two scouts one from each community selected a large tall Baobab tree and climbed on top each taking a clear view of the tank from different directions.





As the sun settled down on the west end and the county started to change to dusk, all of a sudden the scouts noticed a big dark cloud approaching from the north with speed. At first they thought it was a cloud but as it approached, they noticed it was a huge bird known as Gude. Legend in Swahili tradition had been mentioning that MaGude were once seen all over East Africa, Persia and the Middle East


As the Gude approached the tank it started to descend in a slower speed and aimed straight to the big tank and took a big dive. The scouts were astonished by this development; the Gude splashed water, bathed and washed its feathers by vigorously flapping both its wings in and out of the water. After few minutes it gulped litres of water and then rapidly flew away with speed and disappeared into the horizon. The scouts were amazed and quickly climbed down from the baobab tree and reported back to the elders. A plan was quickly put in place of how to deal with the Gude and both communities agreed to seal the top of the tank during the dry seasons and open it only during the rainy seasons to enable the process of collection of rainy water. Eventually both communities returned to their daily routine, living side by side, settling their grievances, through their respective elders.


The Moral Of the Story


Each community within our nation have elders who are wise and experienced in life skills and cultural knowledge. Yet not many of us utilise their services. We have succumbed to the western ways of living and governing. We should not be opposed to the western ways, but we should also not be against the preservation of some of our values which were once solid and worked well within inter and intra communities. In the story of Gude, we have learned how the elders are relied on charting the way forward when a need arises; their advice is heeded before any calamities.


In the western methods, it is after tragedies have occurred that commissions, court cases and reiteration takes place. Ignoring the elders over a period of time has created a vacuum within many communities and these positions are presently filled by politicians who generate emotions and incitements for their own political self interest.


In the case of Kenya, had we sought our elders’ counsel, Kenyans would not have suffered the horrors and atrocities that occurred after the elections. While the politicians are focused in creating a new constitution, we, should also revert to our traditional systems of resolving any inter and or intra communal problems.




The writer is  social and political commentator with a background in African and Equity studies, Mr Bafagih is a contributor to the Kenya weekly post

The mythical GUDE! | Login/Create an Account | 2 comments | Search Discussion
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Re: The mythical GUDE! (Score: 1)
by salum on Thursday, November 13, 2008 @ 20:31:08 CST
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This is a good story!

Thanks for sharing.

Re: The mythical GUDE! (Score: 1)
by mosubah on Sunday, November 23, 2008 @ 16:08:11 CST
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Nice story, well written



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