Migingo becomes a goldmine for creativity


Published on 15/06/2009

By Michael Oriedo

Having hogged the headlines for several months, Migingo Island is arguably the most famous acre of rock in the country today.

The outcrop takes pride of place in every discussion in boardrooms, matatus, at roadside gatherings, weddings and funerals in hamlets.

Creative minds have found it a goldmine of sorts. People are crafting phrases, analogies and allusions from the island to spice up discussion.

During a wedding ceremony at a church in Nairobi last Saturday, the presiding pastor likened the bride to Migingo.

He observed that like the waters around the island, which teem with fish, the bride was endowed with feminine beauty that would make two men fight over her.

These men, “one stubborn and another reserved”, he said, each claim she belongs to them. The stubborn man, the pastor said, insists on grabbing the bride, who ironically he found courting the reserved man, the groom.

The reserved man, the pastor continued, does little to defend himself. “He leaves his best man to talk for him. The man cites the number of years the groom has dated the bride and produces love letters they wrote to each other.”

Despite overwhelming evidence, the stubborn man remains adamant. Sensing defeat, narrated the pastor, “the reserved man asks the case referred to a council of elders.”

However, while the elders listen to the case, the stubborn man outrageously claims that the bride belongs to him from her waist downwards. He goes further to warn the reserved man to keep off his territory.

The witty pastor received thunderous claps from guests at the wedding. He cautioned the couple to avoid situations in their marriage life that would throw them into a Migingo kind of tussle.

Marketing gimmick

With the Migingo saga, the youthful preacher of about 35 drove his point home before uniting the couples.

To the pastor, the Migingo controversy is a script cut out of King Solomon’s story in the Bible. He told worshippers he was hopeful that the ‘king’s wisdom’ would prevail as the team of joint surveyors searches for the truth.

However, not only pastors spice their sermons with the name of the rocky islet. Traders too have found it spellbinding. To attract customers, some are branding their merchandise Migingo.

The craziest of all is a trader at Nairobi’s Muthurwa Market selling underclothes. The man has nicknamed his wares Migingo. While holding the underpants, he shouts for customers telling them that each ‘Migingo’ goes for Sh100.

Curious buyers familiar with the island’s claim to fame flock to his stall expecting something like fish only for him to confront them with pants.

Perhaps his marketing gimmick and choice of items to brand the name signifies how close the island is to the hearts of many Kenyans.

The island’s alluring name has also not escaped radio presenters. They are having a field day discussing juicy obscene topics as they allude to it.

“Ulipeana Migingo (Did you have sex?),” the presenter asks a female caller.

“Lazima nifanye survey kwanza, kama anapesa, sawa (I must assess him first, and if he has money well and good),” the animated caller answers.

Symbolically using Migingo, the broadcasters keep listeners calling in to discuss taboo issues that are best left to marriage counsellors.

As the saga about the island rages, so does Kenyans’ patriotism and creativity. “On my way to Migingo,” screams a line on a handcart in Nairobi. “My father is a Kenyan, my mother a Ugandan. Migingo is for the stateless,” sang a drunken man in Kayole Estate.

One hopes that this ingenuity does not end with the joint surveyor’s verdict. If anything, their decision should inspire more creativity.

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