Publishing Reward: An Old Man’s Gift of Chicken and a Hug

Let me tell you a story of an old man and his gift of chicken and a hug. Recently, I delivered a biography book I published (Dakta Okom) of a retired Ophthalmologist and clinical Optician and he rewarded me with chicken and a hug.

Dakta Okom is biographical story of grit, tenacity and resiliency of a man faced with generational abject poverty and his unwavering resolve to break ranks with his past and secure a date with prosperity using education as a weapon.

This project took three years of research, translation and transcription, crafting and weaving and publishing a book of an ordinary man with an extraordinary story.

“Son, I remember as a child every homestead had chicken but my father rarely had chicken in his compound. If he did, everyone knew it was a form of medical insurance for the family. It would only be sold when someone was sick and there was an urgent need for money to meet their medical bills,” said Dakta Okom.

“If we ate chicken, it was on occasions like marriage ceremonies and during the burial of a reputable person that was well attended.” Dakta Okom continued.

At that moment, I was facing a man with rings of tears in his eyes as his smiling wife-Filda looked on in amazement.

“Now, I will not die. My body may be cemented to the ground but Okom will be alive with you.” Dakta Okom said with a smile.

Dakta Okom gripped my hand and looked straight in my eyes and hugged me for the first time in three years.

The culture of hugging is a modern phenomenon in our culture. We embrace each other in very extraordinary moments of gratitude or when condoling.

Sometimes, we embrace one another to summon one’s resilience spirit to overcome whatever difficulty they are facing.

In a split second, it came to my conscience that Dakta Okom had just hugged me to say Thank You.

As it sunk in my consciousness, I remembered an uncle who once warned me never to hug my mother again.

Hugging in his upbringing had a sexual connotation and was culturally a taboo for grown up sons to hug their mothers.

In my professional writing career of a decade, I had never felt as satisfied and accomplished as I felt after Dakta Okom hugged me.

It was the kind of feeling money could not offer to a writer whose works just made an old man overcome the fear of death.

“Today, I reward you with chicken, not because I can afford it. I reward you with chicken as a blessing. I bless your life so that your writing may make you great,” said Dakta Okom, handing me chicken.

In the Acholi culture, chicken plays a vital socio-economic role in every homestead. For instance, whenever one paid a visit to his uncle; he would honor his nephew with chicken, an occasional delicacy to welcome the visitor to his home and the nephew would be offered the gizzard.

Traditionally, the gizzard is food offered in honor of a visitor and it was dedicated to the visitor with its full package of the chicken abdomen.

Uncles, in the Acholi culture, are custodians of blessings. Whenever one required a blessing to undertake a wild task or a lifetime milestone, he received blessings from his uncles.

During Acholi cultural marriage ceremonies, as part of dowry; a groom was asked to bring along chicken and a spear.

It is believed, you have brought a living thing that multiplies and you would be fed on it whenever you visit your in-laws in the future.

Chicken was also precious for its ability to keep time whenever it crows in the morning. It meant it was not only wise but intelligent enough to keep time.

Therefore, the blessing of chicken was for intelligence and wisdom as you carry along with your life.

Finally, as a biographer and memoirist, there is no better reward than the blessing of wisdom and greatness that comes from your writings.

The Writer is a Ugandan published poet (Hidden Scars), Co-Authored another poetic collection (Unsaid Words), a Memoir (My Mayor) and recently a Biography (Dakta Okom)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *