1.0. A Criminal Farce in Kakamega....
Let us begin on a very comical note. This is a VERBATIM report from the Standard newspaper(February 27, 2005)
An assistant minister and an MP almost came to blows in a bar at midnight yesterday.
Transport assistant minister
Andrew Ligale was forced out of the Golf Hotel in Kakamega by Ford Kenya MPs who claimed that he had no right to be drinking in their territory.
Yesterday, Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale and Malava MP and assistant minister Soita Shitanda were informed that Ligale, who had been campaigning for the Liberal Democratic Party(LPD) candidate, was drinking at the bar. They left Kakamega Sports Club with Ford Kenya official Yvonne Khamati and stormed into Golf Hotel to confront Ligale.
"Why are you interfering in my constituency? I want to teach you a lesson today!" said Khalwale.
"Why are you bringing LDP affairs to Western Province? This is a Ford Kenya zone," shouted Shitanda.
Shitanda later retreated as Khalwale went on to physically pull at Ligale. Ligale pushed him away.
After being pushed, Khalwale shouted: "Leave me this man. I want to floor him."
At this point, Shitanda shouted: "Khalwale tosha. Imetosha. You just hit once and retreat. Don’t continue. You are a respected MP."
"I will make sure that Ligale does not buy a beer here. He will do it over my dead body," shouted Khalwale.
Ligale was drinking whisky while Khalwale was taking a Tusker and Shitanda a Tusker Malt. "Khalwale! Please, behave!" Shitanda shouted as patrons abandoned their beers.
Shitanda held Khalwale’s hand as Khalwale pulled a fist on Ligale.
"I didn’t come for a fight, but dare me," said Ligale, who summoned his security detail as Khalwale ordered him to pay his bills and leave the hotel.
Khalwale was shouted down by the patrons as Ligale hurriedly paid his bills and left.
By the way, Bonny Khalwale's thuggery recently forced the Kenyan Vice President,
Moody Awori, who hails from Western Province to cancel a tour of that region after physical threats.
Memo from the Kenya Democracy Project to
Brigadier Ali, native of Bungoma and current Commissioner of Police:
We believe the Kenyan police have ENOUGH evidence to arrest Dr. Bonny Khalwale and charge him with conspiracy to commit assault causing grievous bodily harm. So what on earth are they waiting for? For the quarrelsome physician to actually fell a political rival with one vicious swing of a reckless rungu? Mshikeni sasa, before this dangerous maniac MURDERS someone!
2.0 A Showdown of Nyanza Cowboys in Aram Market
Here is a link to a story featuring a standoff between two cabinet colleagues-
The standoff in Rarieda constituency earlier today(I am starting on this essay at around 11:28 pm Saturday, February 26, 2005) is of course the latest skirmish in a series of political running battles between the two Luo politicians- one seen as a thorn in the flesh of the NAK establishment and the other seen as a suave counterweight to the LDP heavyweight.
Ironically, Raphael Tuju owes his political emergence to none other than Raila Odinga. During the NARC nominations of 2002, many ordinary people felt that Raila IMPOSED Tuju on the Rarieda electorate. As my younger and only surviving brother observed in an email from Kisumu (where he was then resident) he dispatched on 17th December, 2002, exactly ten days BEFORE the elections that swept NARC to power:
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 11:23:28 +0000 (GMT)
Subject:Re: MY POINT OF VIEW
CC:"Sarah Oloo" "Janet Okeyo"
Dave: Let me take this opportunity to thank you once
more, for the Buganas and taking your time to call me
twice, inspite of the expense and time difference.
As the saying goes BE GENEROUS, AND YOU WILL BE
PROSPEROUS. HELP OTHERS AND YOU WILL BE HELPED PROV:
11:25. I ask God to bless you and your family.
My point of view in regards to political situation in
the country is:-
· Kibaki is going to head the next government,
opinion polls has given him 68% to Uhuru 22%.
· There is going to be a power struggle for cabinet
posts, especially given the fact that they will require
more than two thirds to adapt Prof. Ghai's draft and
make it into a constitution. They will need, Nyachae's
“Ford People,” Orengos “SDP” and Uhuru's “Kanu” to make
· Your Pal, Dr. Willy Mutunga is the most likely
candidate to be our next Attorney General.
· Kibaki might be forced to get rid of some of the king
makers to establish authority. At the moment Raila,
Awori and Kalonzo are calling the shots.
· The cabinet he is likely to form will comprise of
respected intellectuals such as Prof. Anyang Nyongo, Dr.
Kituyi, Wamwere, Kirwa, Kombo, Balala and many others.
· Political heavy weights such as Al Haji, Shariff
Nassir, are likely to be left behind this time. You
remember Nassir was elected in 1974 after defeating
Mohammed Jahazi. He has been in parliament for over
· The only sad thing is that NARC lost popularity in
Nyanza, by the way they conducted their elections. So
many people who had won are overlooked, and unpopular
leaders like, Gor Sungu, Adhu Awiti, Job Omino were
given direct nominations. Koyoo won in Muhoroni,
George Onyango Oloo in Kisumu East, Owiti in Rarieda
and so on.
As one political scientist Prof. Wanyande, put it, if
you want to be democratic you have to be undemocratic
in order to establish democracy. We accept their
decision no matter how harsh they are for we are
desperate for changes.
Otherwise I expect very little changes in the first 5
years. Experience in Zambia and Malawi is a good
indicator. Zambia's economy is at it worst more than
a decade after the departure of Kaunda-the same goes
OTHER FAMILY MATTERS EXCISED
The dramatic show of force between Raphael Tuju and Raila Odinga was interesting in at least a couple of ways.
For quite some time, it had been next to impossible for Raphael Tuju to actually visit his own constituency on his own with persistent reports that there were people in his neck of the woods waiting to lynch him for his alleged dalliance with NAK and therefore perceived "betrayal" of the LDP. I remember writing an essay over a year ago, on the 17th of January 2004. I called the essay, Lift the Fatwa Against Raphael Tuju!
Here is how one Nyanza commentator, Leo Odera Omollo summed up Raphael Tuju's woes in an op-ed article published by the Kenya Times in December 2003 while this August 15, 2004 Standard report pretty much summarizes Raila Odinga's beef with his youthful former protege and upstart provincial rival.
Many observers noted the political symbolism of Mwai Kibaki sending Raphael Tuju, rather than Raila Odinga to lead the official Kenya government delegation at the inaugration of the Kenya-American first time senator Barrack Obama(whose own father was close to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga).
Since coming to office Mwai Kibaki and his NAK back room boys have deliberately set out to groom an alternative Nyanza power elite not beholden to the Odinga juggernaut in that politics soaked patch of Kenya. In doing this, Kibaki is merely following the nyayos of Mzee Kenyatta who had his Omamos, Ogutus, Mboyas, Okwanyos, and Okeros and Nyayo himself who had his Oyugis, Dalmas Otienos, Okiki Amayos and so on.
In his path to ascendancy in December 2002, Kibaki could not have relied on the old nemeses of the Langata MP scattered throughout Nyanza for these were all in KANU.
Ironically, the President and his handlers like Kiraitu, Matere, Muthaura and the like had to wait and feast on the very youngish middle-class professional and business elite that had anchored the Nyanza leg of the NARC relay team in 2002.
In a sense, with the growing autonomy of Raphael Tuju, Raila Odinga is getting his just desserts for ignoring popular and local democratic sentiments and imposing "jomeyo machamo maleny" on the Nyanza electorate. Let us not forget that Raila got some major flak for elbowing out the people's choice in Rarieda, Owiti in return for the suave NAIROBI based businessman and former TV personality, Raphael Tuju. Many people, including this writer were actually surprised that this apolitical technocrat was trying his inexperienced hand at politics and there is little doubt that without the political heavy breathing and heavy leaning from Langata, Tuju would have been mikono tupu not even making it past the stage of the initial NARC nominations.
Why did Raila Odinga groom someone who did not have a history of political activism to vie for the Rarieda seat? I have no personal knowledge of local Uyoma and Asembo politics, so I will just speculate that it had more to do with Raila's need for a Nyanza based Brains Trust/Dream Team of up and coming professionals, businessmen, academics and technocrats. Indeed, even though I am from the Western Province and Nyanza respectively, I knew of the existence of the Nyanza Professional Elite sometimes simply called the Luo Elite to specify that it did not include the Kisii or the Kuria elite from the same province.
Surely Raila Odinga must have known, because he is a savvy streets smarts mwanasiasa, that the class aspirations of the Tujus of the so called "Luo Nyanza" would propel them to the faction in the government that was tenaciously obsessed with private wealth accumulation-and that faction was not the LDP.
In this sense therefore, it is technically wrong to accuse Raphael Tuju of "selling out" to anyone- he is just pursuing his class aspirations openly and consistently and his political alliances are honest and consistent with his comprador bourgeois class aspirations. Tuju, already a self-made millionaire by Kenyan standards does not see anything wrong or criminal with joining the rarefied ranks currently populated by the Mois, Biwotts, Nyachaes, Njonjos, Kibakis,Karumes, Michukis, Wamaes, Sajjads, Meralis, Bayusufs, Aworis and dare we say it, the Raila Odingas.
When I was in Kenya in September and October 2003, I met several members of the Luo community who are determined to swell the ranks of the most affluent people in this country. Without mentioning any names, one of my good friends took me to see another pal of his who was putting the finishing touches on this palatial residence in one of Nairobi's most exclusive suburbs. The owner of the place had put a lot of his own hard won savings and gallons of his own sweat and tons of soil from his own hands on this property and anyone who had toiled that hard would have been justifiably proud that they managed to erect this edifice without resorting to any of the shady dealings that we now associate with the thievery going on in senior state circles. This real estate splendour provided the backdrop of a conversation between myself and my good friend, a veteran Kenyan political activist whose eyes were now locked on the prize of catapulting himself right into the comprador bourgeoisie. While at that location, I was introduced to a third friend who arrived in a sleek SUV with dainty cellphone and all the accessories of your uppity KUPPIE( my coinage to evoke Kenyan Urban Professional as opposed to YUPPIE- young urban professional) Perhaps in this context LAPPIE is even more apt-Luo Aban Profesonol... My nameless pal, who currently serves the Kenyan government in a distinguished capacity was for years a very close aide to Raila Odinga but is now seen as one of the insiders of the Raphael Tuju camp. When I asked him about this apparent rift, he said there was no rift, just a difference in perspective that had never been personalized.
3.0. The Politics of Development in So Called Luo Nyanza
The section title is DELIBERATE to berate those who juxtapose "politics" to "development" as if you can have "development" without "politics".
I will be using the following working definitions of "politics" and "development" throughout the remainder of this essay.
When I say "politics" I will be referring to all that deals with the way a people talk about, formulate and implement policies of how they want to run their lives at a local, provincial, national and even international level.
When I say "development" I will be referring to that people driven process of formulating and implementing a range of social, political, economic, cultural, technical, educational, infrastructure and other interventions to create a self-sustaining local, provincial and national economy that leads to higher and better standards of living predicated on a base of progressive moral, ideological, community and other shared values and beliefs.
Please do not bother googling for the above two paragraphs- they are my own, freshly penned and therefore open for scorn, derision and all the familiar knee-jerk reactions that my digital interventions provoke especially in the murky crevices of cyberspace.
Let us go back to the weekend standoff between Tuju and Raila at Aram.
Let us quote an excerpt from the Kenya Times story filed today by Fredrick Odiero:
CABINET Minister Raphael Tuju yesterday stormed out of a meeting that was being addressed by his colleague Raila Odinga in his Rarieda constituency, claiming he was being undermined in his backyard.
Before storming out, a fuming Tuju deepened the gap and mistrust between him and Mr Odinga by accusing the Langata member of parliament of undermining him by visiting Rarieda without informing him in advance.
The minister was also incensed by the presence of a Nairobi-based engineer, Fred Gumo, in Mr Odinga’s entourage. Mr Gumo is Tuju’s political nemesis who seeks to oust him at the 2007 polls.
Tuju was also not amused by the presence of members of parliament, Dr Oburu Odinga (Bondo) and Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem) at Aram trading centre in Rarieda where the Langata MP was addressing a Liberal Democratic Party, LDP rally.
The two MPs are Mr Tuju's critics from the region. Within LDP circles, Tuju is considered a traitor for his close links with the ruling elite and accommodative tactics towards Central Kenya politicians dominating the government, commonly known as the Mount Kenya Mafia.
Frustrated but composed, Mr Tuju who came to the meeting accompanied by 29 Italian water experts and bodyguards, did not arrive or leave without ceremony. No sooner had he arrived and greeted the Langata MP than he reached for the microphone to address the gathering.
Amidst applause from his constituents, Mr Tuju descended into a brief tirade, masking his anger with diplomatic language. He claimed that the Roads minister had not informed him about his intended visit to Rarieda in advance.
Because he was not briefed about the rally, Mr Tuju concluded that he had been “invaded”. “Etiquette requires that you inform your colleague in cabinet before you visit his constituency,” he fumed before he walked out on Raila.
But the minister did not leave without introducing the Italians who he said had come to sponsor water projects "to alleviate chronic shortages and build a mobile health clinic.” The clinic is expected to cost Ksh 12.5 million. It will consist of an X-ray and malaria diagnosis and treatment facilities.
The Roads minister however maintained that he was not undermining his cabinet colleague. Mr Raila claimed that he was at Aram trading centre at the invitation of local LDP supporters and members.
There is a point I want to make about this tense face off and perhaps Anderson Ojwang and Rashida Nakabuga writing in the February 27, 2005 edition of the Standard zeroes in on for me:
Apparently annoyed that a Cabinet colleague was visiting his constituency without his knowledge, Tuju cut short his tour and headed straight to the podium where he shook Raila’s hand, greeted MPs Oburu Odinga, Jakoyo Midiwo, and Nicholas Gumbo, who is reportedly being groomed to run against him.
Tuju then grabbed the microphone from councillor Omollo Kowii, who was speaking, and started addressing the gathering amid applause as Raila and his brother Oburu watched in disbelief.
Speaking in Dholuo, Tuju said he had not been invited to the function but found it "courteous to pass by" and greet people.
"I have come to the constituency with guests who are willing to fund various development projects and I cannot sit here and politic with you today," he said. Then Tuju asked: "Do you want clean water to be supplied to your homes and better health services to be given to you or do you want only politics, my people?"
There was resounding approval for Tuju’s projects. He then excused himself to join his guests and waved to the crowed as some LDP supporters chanted " Just go! Just go!"
Tuju's barb, directed no doubt at Raila Odinga:
"Do you want clean water to be supplied to your homes and better health services to be given to you or do you want only politics, my people?"
Was the manifestation, within the Nyanza context, of the simmering ideological feuds that has ripped the Kenyan government apart. We have heard the same technocratic utterances from the likes of Mwai Kibaki, Chris Murungaru and other NAK lynch pins. Tuju himself not too long ago haughtily announced that he would not attend an LDP retreat for largely the same ideological reasons.
What leaves me quite astonished with my mouth agape is the actual SILLINESS of the remark, if you think about if for more than a brief second.
If I use my working definition of "politics"(all that deals with the way a people talk about, formulate and implement policies of how they want to run their lives at a local, provincial, national and even international level.) and "development"(that people driven process of formulating and implementing a range of social, political, economic, cultural, technical, educational, infrastructure and other interventions to create a self-sustaining local, provincial and national economy that leads to higher and better standards of living predicated on a base of progressive moral, ideological, community and other shared values and beliefs), I TOTALLY FAIL TO COMPREHEND how Raphael Tuju thinks the good people of Rarieda can have clean water supplied to their homes and better health services "given" to them WITHOUT talking about the POLITICS of a democratic constitution, the politics of the devolution of powers, the politics of local control of resources, the politics of debt and debt forgiveness, the politics of structural adjustment, the politics of globalization.
"Politics", and again, if I use my broad working definition, is actually the sine qua non for "Development".
In any case, it is about time that politicians ceased seeing ordinary wananchi as pitiable waifs waiting to be showered by the personal generosity of this or that deep pocketed MP who may or may not arrive with a battery of foreign "experts" waiting to dish out their overseas manna to an overly awed local populace. Without taking ANYTHING away from the many DOCUMENTED initiatives of Raphael Tuju in Rarieda, one needs to appreciate that an MP cannot be seen to be a miracle worker on whose largesse the entire constituency relies on. It is this expectation of a one way dependency that is a catalyst for all those inflated salaries, perks and marupu rupu. While it is true that what the MPs are paying themselves is OBSCENE, considering what the vast majority of their voters get to subsist on, it is also a fact that the same constituents, including those WHO DID NOT vote for him expect at least ONE PERSONAL HANDOUT while that MP is still breathing- and more importantly, still in parliament. There is always the younger brother of so and so who is quite willing to be Mshehimiwa's guard, cook, shamba boy or goat's herd and the younger sister of so and who will be more than happy to be a secretary, a personal assistant or even a third wife or second semi-official ndogo ndogo.
Why then, are we shocked when read of scandals implicating the Mwirarias and Ndwigas? Who among the current sitting first time MPs does not want to be the next Mulu Mutisya, the next Simeon Nyachae, the next Shariff Nassir, the next Jackson Angaine who will have hundreds of people at his home or camped outside his office before dawn whenever they hear Mheshimiwa is around.
In early February 2005 James Onyango (no relation to the present writer) set off a fire-storm of political controversy carried on with vim and vigour. This was in the form of an opinion piece titled, "Luos Tired of Empty Talk" carried in the Kenya Times on the 5th February 2003.
For the purposes of my essay, I would like to reproduce the following chunk:
Indeed that is how the trend has been since Jaramogi failed to capture the presidency in 2002 and with the new dispensation where Kibaki was elected President and Raila allegedly promised Prime Ministerial post, hope had been growing that perhaps with the “powerful” post of prime minister for their take, Luo Nyanza was set to witness development. But at it stands now, it would certainly take another three to four years before any sensible and real talk on developing Nyanza took center stage. If anything the real Luos have never known any development since they are used to muddy roads, homes are without electricity and if you ask the why that is so they will aptly respond that that is how things should be.
If anything the current crop of leaders from the region continue to concentrate on nothing else but politicking at the expense of development to the extent that issues that revolve around development does not even excite the local citizens who have become addicted to the empty rhetoric by the lakeside leaders.
Granted that the leaders are united, it is imperative to note that they have never came out strongly as bloc to host any economic forum or constitute committees that could perhaps serve to help bring help to the region. The likes of MPs like Ken Nyagudi and his ilk that probably were voted in on a platform of economic restructure have also ended up being sucked in the symptomatic empty rhetoric while their constituents wait in vain to realize the pledges that were made.
But whatever the case it is high time that Luo leaders stopped hijacking funeral ceremonies and other similar occasions as political platforms to hoodwink their people that all is well when in actual fact Luo Nyanza continues to lag behind in development. The locals can no longer rely on fish as it was in the past since the fish population has drastically gone down and is no more. The lake has developed its won brand of politics and ecologically no longer supports a wide variety and huge amounts of food in the name of fish as it were due to increased levels of pollution from the towns and cities that border it.
Even though the cost of living is low, business in a major town like Kisumu is lukewarm with poor circulation of money since there are very few big size investments. This has let a number of many Luos who may have wished to stay and live in Kisumu and running their business move out to other towns like Nairobi and Mombasa.
HIV/AIDS is wreaking havoc with high number of orphans being left to fend for themselves at the expense of going to school to help reduce illiteracy and be better placed to gun for the dwindling employment opportunities in the larger republic. Luos used to post some of the highest numbers of students to study at the local universities in which many were going for professions such as engineering and medicine and one could find a lot of Luo doctors in the many public hospitals. Today, that is literally a history!
Yet in the face of all these, Luo leaders still believe they are untouchables whose failings should never be pointed out. Those who dare are subjected to the public wrath and could even be suspended or expelled from visiting the region.
Raila and his team are very shrewd technocrats himself being a civil engineer of repute and if they don’t work towards restoring the region’s lost glory in education and economic fronts then history will judge him and his team very harshly.
Luos are silently tired of the empty talks and chest thumping exercises which not only continue to eat into their precious time without helping them put food on the table but also reduce their lifespan as they take too much time thinking into stress about petty politics and wondering when the presidency or is it the prime minister would eventually come to the lakeside. These leaders must wake up and see the light!
James Onyango's piece was very widely followed especially on certain online Kenyan forums. I remember lurking, without letting out one squeak on a certain ad hoc email listserv a couple of weeks ago seeing Kenyans from the Luo community going back and forth on this issue. By and large, many, if not most of the people on that e-mail list echoed the sentiments of James Onyango.
As a non-Nyanza Luo from the Gem sub-group of this Kenyan nationality, I would like to weigh in also on James Onyango's opinion piece.
He makes many cogent points that are right on and do not bear being contested for their own sake-I am not one of those people who will automatically argue a contrary side just because someone else has said something.
For instance, in a recent essay of my own, I recounted how people in Gem were very frustrated with their MP, Jakoyo Midiwo who they accused of being engaged in "empty talk" while the people of Gem wallowed in poverty etc. I remember back in the early 1970s when I was living in Kisa Location and many of the people of Luanda Doho, Ukura, Muhaka and elsewhere would grumble that our then MP, Martin Shikuku representing Butere was famous as the People's Watchman at the national stage while very little tangible "development" took place in his constituency. My friends from Ugenya used to lob the same charge at their maverick MP, James Orengo saying that the mass action Mageuzi doyen was missing in action in Ukwala, Sihany, Uholo etc even though the respected Institute for Education in Democracy made the following observation in the last assessment of the constituency:
The residents of Ugenya think more of personalities and infrastructure. The incumbent James Orengo is an experienced politician and accomplished orator. Development record is not a factor in Ugenya as most constituents concur with Orengo that the government should develop all parts of the republic. They agree with their MP that the problems facing them are attributable to bad governance by the past and present KANU governments. Orengo has distinguished himself in fighting for reforms and engaging in concerted national action, the latest being a Motion of No Confidence in the government in October 1998. Although the motion never succeeded it is testimony to his determination and shows the mettle that ensured him a clear victory against an NDP onslaught in Luo Nyanza.
Ugenya as we all know is one of three constituencies in Siaya District. Here is how the socio-economic vital statistics of the district were summarized in a presentation to the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission by a delegation from the neighbouring Alego-Usonga constituency:
· Is the 6th most densely populated district in the province;
· Has a primary school enrolment rate of 80.9%, being ranked 2nd in the province and 17th nationally;
· Has a secondary school enrolment rate of 21.7%, being ranked 4th in the province and 25th nationally;
· Experiences the following main diseases: Malaria, respiratory tract infections, and HIV/AIDS;
· Has a 24.7% malnourishment rate of children under 5 years of age, being ranked 26th of 42 of the nationally ranked districts;
· Has 135 of 1000 of its live babies dying before the 1st birthday, being ranked 40th of 44 of the nationally ranked districts;
· Has a life expectancy of 45 years, being ranked 43rd of 45 of the nationally ranked districts;
· Has the lowest monthly mean household income, Ksh. 3,041 of all the 44 districts for which there are such statistics;
· Has a high absolute poverty level, 58%;
· Is on the edge of Lake Victoria. Much of its land is suitable for subsistence agriculture;
· Economic mainstay is fishing and peasant farming as well as mining of construction materials like stones. However, the water hyacinth in the Lake Victoria has affected fishing; and
· Has three quarters of its people having access to safe sanitation and over a third have safe drinking water.
When Luo commentators decry the parlous development status of large chunks of Nyanza, they are spot on.
When they start looking to MPs to be the angels with magic wands doing the miracle work of rapid rural transformation that is precisely the point where I think they take official leave of their common sense.
In so doing they buy right into the claptrap that Kenyatta, Moi and now Mwai constantly preached.
The sermon can be summarized in a simple sentence:
'Wacha siasa na ufuate nyayo ukitaka maendeleo." Rough translation- Forget politics and suck major political ass if you want your constituency to develop."
This stipulation is not only inaccurate, it definitely belongs in the STUPID and ABSURD column of DEMENTED KENYAN POLITICAL ADVICE.
Why do I say this?
One, because I believe that what have just said is true.
Less flippantly, it is because if you unpackage that dictum you find at its core one of the root causes of underdevelopment and poverty not just in Siaya and the rest of so called Luo Nyanza but all over the country.
What is that?
It is the official state FICTION that the keys to maendeleo are obtainable in a certain room in the State House where MPs go to supplicate themselves to the head of state, pleading with him, as if he(Mzee, Nyayo, Kiguoya fill in the blanks for the next Prezzo) was like a National Super Rainmaker endowed with powers of unleashing rapid socio-economic progress as a "reward" for sycophancy.
Unfortunately this fiction has been perpetuated for the last 41 years by actual neo-colonial state practice of "rewards" and "punishments" meted out in the context of a corrupt paradigm of top down presidential patronage system that decrees that roads, hospitals, schools, factories should only be built where state loyalists congregate- and even then, this did not prevent Baringo from being among the most BACKWARD sections of the Rift Valley and Gatundu not necessarily the richest section of Kiambu district. Today the people of Othaya are seething at an MP who has officially and very publicly snubbed them when they have demanded the same "development progress" he keeps touting in his myriad two faced speeches in other parts of the country.
In actuality the socio-economic backwardness of chunks of so called Luo Nyanza, North Eastern province, Coast and certain outlying areas of the Rift Valley have little to do with the political stances of ANY of the sitting MPs but more to do with the downloaded legacy of colonialism that is today used as a POLITICAL weapon by the comprador wishy washy elites misgoverning the country from Nairobi.
It would be useful for ALL political commentators, not just the Luo speaking ones, to EQUIP themselves with a clear ideological understanding of the dynamics of "development" when one is referring to a backward neo-colonial economy such as Kenya.
First of all, in the global scheme of things, Kenya is part of an Africa which is part of a marginalized underdeveloped South which is witnessing a growing gap with the avaricious, resource grabbing and short-changing North.
Secondly, we see the development of underdevelopment in Kenya being driven by the dictates of uneven development- in other words, even as Kenya as a whole continues to wallow in poverty, the overall national economy "develops" in an uneven fashion with certain areas "prospering" not because their politicians are yakking "empty politics" ladies and gentemen, but because of the demands of imperialism at local and sub-regional levels. There is a reason, for instance why Lokichoggio in remote north western Kenya is experiencing a boom town phenomenon, while Lodwar which is in the same northern reaches of the country is NOT. Lokichoggio is the Kenyan gateway to oil and resource rich southern Sudan and therefore a conduit not only for the NGO vultures and UN related expatriate parasites that swarm that conflict prone African state, but also a launching pad for the machinations of Kenyan based neocolonial and monopoly capitalist forays into a post-civil war Sudan.
Thirdly the lack of "development" in places like Ugenya, Alego, Gem and other parts of the so called Luo Nyanza is DIRECT PAYBACK for a very long established system of official state VENGEANCE by past and present Kenyan governments using a carrot and stick blackmail policies of rewards and punishments to keep Nyanza in check because this region of the country was seen to be a hotbed for MILITANT and PROGRESSIVE, PATRIOTIC politics that produced the likes of respected NATIONALISTS like Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, James Orengo and of course Raila Odinga. One must be a Luo in very deep political psychosis to turn around and BLAME this official system of central government NEGLECT- these near genocidal policies of specific ethnic and regional targeting on the very politicians who have been pointing out that some parts of Nyanza have not developed precisely because of deliberate stale policies to thwart development in Nyanza! I mean how unhinged does someone have to be not to see what has been instituted since the times of the KPU? All three presidents have boasted openly of using state power to keep Luos in Nyanza poor and in 2005 we witness young educated Luos on the internet the majority of whom witnessed these policies first hand turn around to blame it all blithely on "empty talk"? Is this how shallow we can get in our political and socio-economic analysis or can we get even more shallower?
I happen to hold on to an ALTERNATIVE analysis about poverty and underdevelopment in Nyanza. In fact, sometime in 2004, I devoted an entire full length essay to it. Instead of rehashing that digital contribution, let me just provide a link to that essay plus another link to some of the rejoinders and subsequent debates that followed the appearance of that essay.
In the very last section of that essay, here is what I offered in summary as a way out of the poverty and underdevelopment in Nyanza:
If one takes an objective look at the myriad problems facing Nyanza at the moment from poverty to AIDS indicates very clearly that A ONE TRACK MINDED APPROACH will NOT and cannot do anything to advance the progressive agenda in this part of the country.
We need to develop a multi-pronged team approach that carves out roles for both the national and regional government; policies that will have a place for the private sector, the civil society sector and even the so called informal economy; it is an approach which will be cognizant of Nyanza’s box in a box interconnectedness as planners look at the region, Kenya as a whole the sub- continental region, the whole Africa the South and finally the global economy.
4.0. What is at the Base of The Raila/Tuju Rift in Nyanza?
From the foregoing it is obvious that I do not share the facile reductionist view that the tensions between Raila and Tuju are between two politicians who hold on to different approaches to development- ati one(Tuju) prefers to do things while another(Raila) prefers empty talk.
If certain minds are getting rusty, when it comes to recalling the contemporary history of Nyanza mainstream politics, perhaps I can jump in, because I have discovered that there is actually nothing wrong with my memory.
Barely four years ago, there was a similar rift between politicians who like to "bring development" to Nyanza and politicians accused of "empty talk". Remember who the protagonists were?
Raphael Tuju was busy in his Action Aid offices at Karen so he was not even in the picture. But Raila Odinga was. Who was the other politician?
How quickly have we forgotten the rationale that Agwambo gave for his abject capitulation to the rancid Moi-KANU one party dictatorship? The big plus for the NDP's "Kopareson" strategy was that Nyanza politicians were tired of empty talk and now wanted to cooperate with the repressive neo-colonial regime ati to bring development in Luo Nyanza. Some of us did not buy that argument then when Raila Odinga was attempting to sell us that snake oil and we do not buy it now when Raphael Tuju is attempt to smuggle it past our throats again.
The fact of the matter is that Raila Odinga and Raphael Tuju have almost IDENTICAL views about how to tackle development in Nyanza-a largely technocratic top down elitist approach that is moored in affiliation with the key players in the state. Both are wrong in my estimation.
Incidentally, since I have already commented extensively on The Raila Odinga Factor in Kenyan Politics (from as far back as December 24, 2003) I am not going to say much more here on that favourite internet topic.
Let us remind Raphael Tuju and his NAK handlers that it was Raila Odinga who plucked Tuju from his Karen lair and thrust the reluctant businessman into the Rarieda limelight. Quite simply, if Raila Odinga had RESPECTED the DEMOCRATIC ASPIRATIONS of the Rarieda people, Raphael Tuju WOULD NOT be today sauntering, swaggering and prancing in Aram market, expatriate so called experts in tow boasting of how HE, is the godfather of maendeleo who has no time for "empty politics". It was the same "empty politics" which allowed him to rise mpaka sasa he is one of the rising stars on the national political scene in the country.
It is for this reason that I charge Raphael Tuju with political hypocrisy and crude grand standing as he poses as the leader of the anti-Raila forces in Nyanza.
Given the FACT that they are ministers in the same government, Tuju lacks the one thing that is guaranteed to Raila even though the latter DOES NOT ACTUALLY represent a constituency in Nyanza- a mass base in Rarieda.
It is true that the populist shtick he pulled in Aram on Saturday tugged at the rural heart strings of his impoverished constituents. But it was all PR and we do know that Raphael Tuju used to run a marketing and public relations operation.
The big difference between Raphael Tuju and Raila Odinga has to do with the fact that the latter, more experienced politician understands fully well that the key to the success of the kind of projects that Tuju is touting lies first and foremost in the POLITICAL arena. At the mainstream level, it is astounding that Raphael Tuju imagines that ANY kind of development can be sustained given the current constitutional dispensation in the country.
Without a new constitution that provides a legal framework guaranteeing local control, popular participation, regional autonomy, transparency and other democratic safeguards, development priorities in Rarieda and other parts of Nyanza will be skewed by the ramifications of more Anglo Leasing scandals and other instances of grand graft from the heart of the very cabinet that Tuju naively deludes himself to be holding the key to his political clout in Nyanza.
Raphael Tuju should understand that the credibility of the NAK wing of the Kenyan government that he is openly associating himself with is completely gone KAPUT. I mean, seriously jamani let us be honest:
Who seriously believes that a government led by Kibaki and populated by the ilk of Murungaru, Mwiraria and company can "bring development" to the people of Rarieda?
Why is that TEN MILLION Kenyans are facing STARVATION today?
Is that because of "empty talk"?
Whose empty talk?
When the likes of Tuju, Khalwale and other NAK mandarins criss cross the country touting a discredited agenda that would have Kenyans plod on without a democratic constitution are they engaging in empty politics or not?
One also needs to give Raila Odinga a public tongue lashing.
Since very few Luos think they can survive that feat, let Onyango Oloo do it now:
Agwambo Tinga Tinga we hope you have learned the lesson of IMPOSING your relatives, associates and sidekicks on the Nyanza electorate. Next time, stay away from Bondo and let the voters kick out your older brother Oburu because some people think he is actually useless- just like your cousin Jakoyo Midiwo in Gem. Your son in law Gor Sunguh( married to your niece) should face my namesake George Onyango Oloo in a free and open contest in Kisumu East without your interference. My fellow Kamiti alumni Adhu Awiti is reportedly very unpopular in Karachuonyo. Please let him go down to certain defeat the next time around. And even in Rarieda, stay away and let the people decide whether they actually like Raphael Tuju or not. I still believe that it was a mistake for you to campaign against James Orengo in Ugenya. Today he would have been one of your staunchest allies as you battle your rivals in NAK over the stalled constitutional review process. And on a more personal note Agwambo, stop surrounding yourself with SYCOPHANTS. There are people like Adongo Ogony and others who have been accused of being your stooges, yet these radical, anti-imperialists Kenyans( and Adongo is from Bondo like yourself) have never managed to get an audience with you to give you direct critical feedback. There is more that I, Onyango Oloo would like to tell you, but I will be patient until I have another chance for a face to face meeting- like we had in Toronto on Friday, August 25, 2000.
5.0. Conclusion: Raphael Tuju Cut His Political Throat at Aram
It is simply unbelievable that Raphael Tuju imagines that he will emerge from the PR gimmick at Aram unscathed. If Kibaki was more popular; if the funders were more sanguine; if the political crisis in Kenya was less acute, that grand standing would actually have catapulted Raphael Tuju to the heights very close to what pro-establishment sychophants from Nyanza like Tom Mboya and Robert Ouko achieved. Unfortunately the political lightweight and neophyte known as Tuju is NO TJ and does not command the charisma and personal popularity of Robert Ouko who we often forget was one of the most shameless worshippers of the same Moi dictatorship that eventually killed him. The lesson from Nyanza about political turn coats is a lesson that Raphael Tuju has not yet grasped- sooner or later NAK will drop him and seek an accomodation with Raila Odinga for NAK's own survival while his public snub of Agwambo is very unlikely to be erased from the minds of the folk who control the Tinga Tinga political machine in Nyanza.
This is James Onyango. I was surfing and then ayudo this blogger of urs. I have seen that you have reproduced my piece (unedited) I will reply to ur commnets later. But ur site is good. Wan kar achiel.
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