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Chagema: Luhya unity will only be realised if we bury our differences

By By Alexander Chagema | May 17th 2014

By Alexander Chagema 

On April 30, legislators from the Luhya nation met in Nairobi to map out their future political course. It was not news. Not once, not twice but on several occasions have they been pushing for this elusive unity to no avail.

Prior to the botched ODM February elections, the so-called Luhya unity diehards had hoped Mr Ababu Namwamba would lose in his quest for the secretary general post so as to trigger a massive walk out from the party. It is a wish (the loss) that was nearly granted and might yet come to pass. Those wishes were propagated by adherents of UDF who have remained loyal to the party, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that it is a ramshackle vehicle devoid of resilience.

Whereas we have been reading and hearing of ODM, TNA and URP, if only to keep the spirit going, UDF has not been heard of since the March 4, 2013, General Election.

It is only until recently that they started making perfunctory noises about leaving Jubilee, an alliance they never seriously belonged to in the first place.

Parties that form the Jubilee alliance include; The National Alliance, National Rainbow Coalition, United Republican Party and Republican Congress.

From whichever perspective one looks at it, Western politics are intertwined with those of Nyanza and that is why many Luhya leaders have been waiting for ODM to falter before they can muster enough courage to attempt to go it alone.

Former House Speaker Kenneth Marende halfheartedly tried to negate the prophesy by one of the Luhya sages that the Luhya would get the top leadership of this country through Luo Nyanza. The late Elijah Masinde did not, of necessity, imply it would be handed over like a baton. The implication was, perhaps that it would be hard to beat an organised and combined Luo and Luhya vote.

TNA and URP have proved that the tyranny of numbers in a paper democracy is a lethal weapon.

Amorphous masses can be whipped into whatever shape astute politicians want them to take even where no benefits accrue, as long as the numbers add up. Will the adage ‘once bitten twice shy ‘ have a bearing on the 2017 elections? United by a common denominator, Uhuru and Ruto pulled a surprise that surprised even them.

Are they capable of doing it again in 2017, having shown their ace card? They possibly could.

‘Luhya unity’ is a tired perennial song by the same failed choirmasters. A feeble attempt by feeble minded politicians to unite a people driven apart by vindictive leaders and cultural difference that mark others as enemies.

But society is rapidly changing and Luhya unity is not impossible to attain. It can only remain a far cry if the status quo in leadership and mindset prevails. The biggest enemy of Luhya unity is its crop of leaders who view each other with suspicion, mistrust and cannot stand the sight of each other.

In Bungoma and Kakamega, for instance, senators and governors cannot be trusted to stay in the same room without starting a fight.

Members of Parliament not only speak derogatively, they seriously undermine each other. Currently, by virtue of his position, the hopes of the Luhya lie on Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, one of the co-principals in CORD, the umbrella party in which ODM commands the majority.

But there appears to be a problem. Musikari Kombo is determined to fix Wetang’ula by hook or by crook.

Luhya leaders should give their unconditional support to Wetangula to facilitate the elusive unity of the Luhya that they have been unsuccessfully seeking for years. His party commands majority following in Western. With the doyen of Luo politics poised to quit, Wetang’ula could be elevated to more prominence. UDF party’s Dr Boni Khalwale’s sensationalism makes him popular, almost unbeatable in his backyard of Ikolomani, but that is just about it. He does not have the charisma to rally people around him.

Should Luhya unity be realised and residents register as voters in great numbers, it will not be a bed of roses for Jubilee in 2017 if they face a combined Luhya-Luo vote. There is no good reason for us to be bombarded with cries of stolen elections again.

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