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How coalition of confusion was birthed 30 years ago

By Amos Kareithi | Jan 20th 2022 | 2 min read

Oginga Odinga centre and Martin Shikuku and Masinde Muliro compare notes before the Ford Steering Committee meeting at Ufungamano House [File]

We are living in interesting times. Opinions and political affiliations are as fleeting as desert winds. As the architecture of political affiliations intensifies, the fluidity gets fuzzier.

This reminds one of the tumultuous days in 1991, shortly after Kenya embraced multi-partyism.

This was a season of great expectations when a section of Kenyans hoped to break the shackles of a monolithic party system. Kanu, they vowed in the streets, amid protests and demonstrations, had to be kicked out.
For some time, a euphoric opposition-minded public believed that winds of change had finally arrived in Nairobi, and come December 29, 1992, State House would have a new occupant, and the country would indeed be free. A second republic would be born.

But this balloon of hope was pricked on December 6, 1991 - Split in Ford, the headlines read. The three words pierced the hearts of opposition members. The wheels of Forum for Restoration of Democracy (Ford), the vehicle they had hoped to board to their freedom, had been punctured.

Martin Shikuku had pulled the rug from under the feet of his peers when he assumed the interim chairmanship of Ford. Shikuku’s vice chairman was to be Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, while George Nthenge was to be secretary and Masinde Muliro treasurer. But Shikuku’s coup was swiftly crushed by Jaramogi and Gachoka who admonished the Butere MP for preparing a fictitious list amid accusations that he had been hired by Kanu.

From this point, the formidable pressure group that had almost taken over the government started imploding first by splitting into Ford Kenya and Ford Asili and would later mutate into Ford People. The much-awaited liberation by Ford on December 29 never came. Kanu slithered past Ford Asili, which came nearest, followed by Democratic Party while Ford Kenya was third.
Thirty years later Ford is still mutating. Ford Asili is dead and so are the founders who later became antagonists. Although some of its offspring have died, Ford K still exists although, unlike its lion symbol, its roar has been reduced into a purr, which was recently muffled further by the creation of Democratic Action Party Kenya.

Kanu, is still around, though a pale shadow of the monolith it once was.
Democratic Party overcame the curse of the 1990s and gave Kenya the third president, Mwai Kibaki, whose clarion call of Toka gizani yielded fruit after affiliating itself with the country’s first coalition, Narc. DP has since faded into darkness.

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