She was a midget of a girl, a hunchback who attracted dislike even from her own sister Simbi. Simbi was the beauty of the village while Nakitumba was the embodiment of what suitors did not want to see; small in stature, weird, and nosy.
But the gods know how to balance their mercies on humans. They gave the diminutive one high levels of intuition that she surprised everyone with her insightfulness. Beautiful Simbi remained the desirable one. She turned away many suitors who flocked their homestead salivating at her symmetrical features and dutifulness.
And so, when one day, three handsome men came home to seek Simbi’s hand in marriage, and she gave in with little resistance, Nakitumba’s instincts ran wild. She observed them keenly. As the guests were served meals, Nakitumba would slither into the thatched roof of the dark hut. Watching the guests eat, she noticed they opened their mouths too wide and swallowed the plates.
Nakitumba warned Simbi against getting married to kamanani (ogres). But Simbi was infatuated and accused her sister of being jealous. When was settled, dowry paid and she moved into her husband’s home, it was Nakitumba’s strong instincts that saved her sister Simbi from being eaten by ogres.
This narrative, told among the largest ethnic group in Bungoma, is cemented in the psyche of the people. The people had watched and listened to then Deputy President William Ruto and saw an insightful Nakitumba, ignored and harassed because he saw beyond the surface. He became a Nakitumba-they decided to stand with him.
Today, the people are smelling what looks like the fruits of their decision last year. Last week, President Ruto went on a five-day tour of Bungoma, Kakamega, Vihiga and Busia counties. This was the first ever working visit to the region, since his inauguration, after the August 2022 polls. Out of the five-days he toured the region, he spent two of them with us in Bungoma.
Bungoma people gave him more votes compared to his opponent Raila Odinga. As the president met and greeted the people of Western, one issue stood out; his efforts to revive collapsed sugar mills in the region. Aside from establishing structures to solve sugar woes, the president also pledged a number of goodies for the region, ranging from recreation, health, education, housing, trade as well as improving transport network.
The people of Bungoma are now excited because of what President Ruto promised to deliver. Some of these projects had remained ideas for long, even before my first term as governor (2013-2017). They include the Bungoma County Aggregated Industrial Park at Sang'alo, a 300-bed capacity Mother and Child Bungoma County Referral Hospital, Chepkurkur TTI in Kopsiro, Mt Elgon and Naitiri TTI in Tongaren. The president also promised to upgrade Sang'alo to National Polytechnic status, and do a complete face lift in and around Sang'alo Polytechnic.
The President said his administration will construct 500 hostels for students at the Polytechnic and student ICT Hub at Sang'alo with a free wifi installation and also complete the Dorofu-Musikoma Road.
In addition, he promised to write off Sh500 billion owed by Nzoia Sugar Factory, buy new machines for the mill, and build capacity for Nzoia Sugar which has the largest cane nucleus in the country.
The completion of Misikhu-Brigadier Road, expansion and upgrade of Malaba and Lwakhakha border roads to bitumen standard as well as construction of eight new modern markets at Webuye, Bukembe, Chebkube, Chwele, Naitiri, Cheptais, Malakisi and Mateka will also be god-sent. ICT centres will also be set up in all the 45 wards of Mt Elgon sub-county and the Chepyuk squatters settled.
Indeed, our decision to see a Nakitumba in the then Deputy President Ruto, now Head of State, due to his tribulations, was the right one.
The writer is current Bungoma Governor and former Speaker of the Senate
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