Rift Valley political supremacy battle takes centre stage at Mark Too burial
By Titus Too and Fred Kibor
| January 10th 2017
The Rift Valley political supremacy battle between Deputy President William Ruto and Kanu chairman Gideon Moi played out yesterday at the burial of politician Mark Too.
Of important in the battle is the direction the region will take in the August General Election.
The funeral of Mr Too, who was nicknamed 'Bwana Dawa' for his exploits in his heyday in politics, offered a platform for heavy politicking that also saw President Uhuru Kenyatta recall the pivotal role the burly politician played in shaping his political journey.
However, it was the political showdown between Gideon and Mr Ruto that took centre stage at Too's Maziwa Farm where thousands of mourners turned up to bid the politician farewell.
Even after African Inland Church presiding bishop Silas Yego's warning against political remarks, leaders spoke their opinions out as some stated that the late Too had left behind a political legacy.
"Mark Too was a politician and he would turn in his grave if we fail to talk politics," joked nominated MP Oburu Odinga.
Using a mix of Kiswahili and Kalenjin, Jubilee and Kanu took the battle for political supremacy in the vote-rich region a notch higher as the country braces for a General Election in August.
Former ODM chairman Henry Kosgey set the stage for the heated debate when he said, "2017 is already a done deal because the Kalenjin nation will rally behind President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto."
Mr Kosgey said the region would rally behind Ruto in 2022, stating that they would consolidate votes from Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot counties.
He described Too as a diplomat, a peacemaker and a successful politician who had no grudges against anyone.
"Too could mediate and make miracles happen by bringing together leaders or preaching peace where there was trouble," said Kosgey, who also said it was Too who ensured that he got a job after he was rigged out in the infamous 1988 'mlolongo' voting system.
"We in the North Rift are not about to change and actually, we are there because of 2022. It was me who coined the phrase 'Tuko Pamoja' as the Jubilee slogan during the prayer meeting in Nakuru," said Kosgey.
Former Cabinet minister Nicholas Biwott said the region would remain in support of Uhuru and Ruto, and urged them to tour the North Rift more often.
"When history is written, Too will be remembered for stepping down in favour of Uhuru whose star rose until he became the Head of State," said Mr Biwott.
Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago claimed the DP was the preferred Kalenjin leader to succeed Uhuru.
"We are more close to power with the DP and we cannot gamble with it. We shall rally behind Ruto come 2022 when the community will back him. President Kenyatta is like a lactating dairy cow that is about to dry out in 2022, and his deputy is like a heifer that is about to calf; and we will benefit from the milk," said Mr Mandago.
Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi said the region was solidly behind the Jubilee government.
But Gideon, who is also the Baringo senator, criticised the Jubilee leaders' remarks, saying he was not responsible for any disunity among the Kalenjin community.
"I have been hearing that there is a leader among the Kalenjin. To my understanding, it is the responsibility of the leader to convene a meeting bringing all divergent issues and ironing out any misunderstandings," said Gideon.
He warned the Kalenjin community against following Jubilee Party blindly, and scoffed at his critics whom he advised to first ensure they got the ruling party's nomination, to the laughter of mourners who understood this to mean the imminent fall-outs in the party primaries.
"On a light note, Kosgey, Mandago and other leaders seeking Jubilee nominations, I pray for you but if you fail, come to Kanu. I, Gideon Kipsiele the son of Moi, I will not split the Kalenjin. Leaders should tell Uhuru the truth while seeking votes," he said.
In an apparent reference to Ruto, the Kanu chairman said leaders should humble themselves in order to command others' respect.
"Before seeking votes, they should tell the people about the progress of school development, employment for the youth, prices for agricultural produce, and infrastructure, because voters are not cheap," said Gideon.
The senator caused a stir when he asked residents to confirm the dictionary meaning of the term 'hustler' as commonly used by some leaders in the region.
"You are not actually hustlers as claimed, but you are sufferers," he said.
When Ruto spoke, he said the community would get what they wanted through Uhuru's government.
The DP said he was well read and was using the experience gained in former President Moi's government, adding that they had worked hard to achieve the present system.
"I wonder why some people would like to look back and wait for failures that are the opposing parties. Leaders should set their goals as we did when forming the present government," he stated.
Uhuru said: "Much has been said here about politics, but I do not understand because it has been in Kalenjin. We want to build one nation where we will not leave anyone behind. This is the legacy that Too left. We need to be united and leaders, including Jackson Kibor, Kosgey and Biwott have led the way by championing unity."
Uhuru eulogised Too as being pivotal in his political path when he agreed to relinquish his parliamentary nomination in his favour.
Several senators, MPs, MCAs and top civil servants attended the funeral in Kapseret, Uasin Gishu County.
Small and mighty, old and young rub shoulders at Too's send-offSome flew, others drove, rode, cycled or walked to his homestead to pay their last respects.
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