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Dick Oneko is being dishonest by calling ODM a ‘Luo’ party


On September 28, 2016, Dickson Oruko Oneko wrote an opinion in The Standard that amounted to a public apology for his decision to join the Jubilee Party. As the current MP for Rarieda, where Dick’s father served as our second MP between 1992 and 1997, I find myself constrained to make a rejoinder.

Oneko’s apology was unnecessary because, among the rights and fundamental freedoms every Kenyan citizen enjoys are political rights.

Mr. Oneko seems to suggest the reason he chose Jubilee is because of Mr Kenyatta’s quest to use it as a vehicle to unify Kenyans. But unity cannot be delivered through lip service. What Mr. Oneko seems to have forgotten is that Kenyatta has now been our president for close to four years. That’s more than enough time to walk the talk on national unity.

I encourage Mr. Oneko, and those who think like him, to read Lee Kwan Yew’s book, ‘From Third World to First’, or Prince Mohamed bin Rashid Al Makhtoum’s ‘Flashes of Thought’, to get a glimpse into how visionary leaders, in very different ways, achieve real and meaningful national unity.

Yet it is even more disappointing that Mr. Oneko wades into intellectual dishonesty. By suggesting that the common thread of KANU which gave birth to independent Kenya was a foundation built on ideology sounds more like refusing to read some famous letters and speeches Ramogi Achieng’ Oneko (his father), wrote in the 1960s.

When Oneko Senior abandoned Kanu for KPU, his biggest concern was Jomo Kenyatta had betrayed the cause of the struggle. This is a view he expressed eloquently in his resignation speech from both Kanu and the Cabinet. Indeed, betrayal of that struggle was demonstrated in a very cruel, and rather inhumane way when Jomo Kenyatta detained Ramogi Achieng’ Oneko without trial for the mere fact of choosing to align himself with KPU.


Even after his release from detention after over six years, Jomo Kenyatta did not as much as meet Achieng’ Oneko up to the time he died in 1978. Friends indeed!

It took Daniel Arap Moi to rehabilitate Oneko Senior to public life by appointing him Kenya Film Corporation chairman in the 80s. Therefore, Dick Oneko is being dishonest and bent on disgorging obvious facts by calling ODM a ‘Luo’ party.

ODM is more popular in Busia than Siaya. In Mombasa County, the assembly cannot even have a Leader of Minority because all MCAs were elected on ODM tickets. Yet in Siaya County, three out of the 30 elected MCAs came through parties other than ODM. It is false to suggest Nakuru town was primarily populated by Kikuyus at independence. That demonstrates very shallow understanding of the causes of the perennial land tensions around Nakuru.

Dick Oneko should know if he was to seek an elective post in Nakuru today, the current demographic realities would make it a lot harder, if not impossible, for him to be elected than it was at the time Kenya attained independence.

He has every right to join Jubilee Party, and we are all obligated to defend that right even if we do not share his views. But it cannot, and must not, be at the expense of blatant distortion of historical facts.

Most importantly, Uhuru Kenyatta does not need a political outfit to unify Kenyans. All our president needs to do is fully and meaningfully embrace the seventh paragraph of the preamble to our Constitution which recognizes the aspirations of Kenyans; ‘for a government based on the essential values of human rights, equality, freedom, democracy, social justice and the rule of law’.

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