Unity especially when it comes to voting is something that has eluded the Mulembe people for decades an aspect that has seen leading presidential candidates benefits from the same with each assured of a share of the rich Luhya votes. Unlike in other parts of Kenya, political consensus in Western has been elusive ever since the mobilization of political support along tribal lines intensified with the re-introduction of multiparty politics. However, in the last general election, President Uhuru Kenyatta got little support from the region with a majority favoring CORD leader Raila Odinga majorly as a result of a widespread myth that the Luhyas rise to the presidency will be precipitated from Luo Nyanza.
But with only 13 months left to the next general elections, things seem to have taken a different direction with the rising consciousness amongst the Mulembe people. This has seen cracks emerge in the Orange party which initially enjoyed a great support from this region with recently former ODM Secretary General and vice Chair Hon. Ababu Namwamba and Hon. Paul Otuoma respectively resigning from their positions.
But as expected, the tour has received different reactions with those who support ANC leader Hon. Mudavadi coming out to oppose his visit to Vihiga County which is his home. The ODM leader has also been forced to coordinate with the Kakamega governor Hon. Oparanya in ferrying supporters to these rallies, something that his co-principal in CORD Senator Moses Wetangula dismissed as inconsequential while appearing for an interview on one of the leading TV stations. With all this frustrations, the CORD leader could not hold it any more when he landed in Busia county, the home turf of both Ababu and Otuoma and went public insulting those pushing for Luhya unity as being “Wapumbavu’ which translates to being stupid.
One would argue that probably this was a slip of the tongue, but when you reverse events, you realize that it is in the same county that Mr. Odinga equated Luhya people to chicken that can easily be trapped. This was after his then Deputy in the Orange party Hon. Mudavadi left to pursue his presidential ambitions on a UDF ticket. Now one wonders for how long Raila is going to brand Luhya names for exercising their democratic rights and more so trying to unite like his own Luo tribe.
This takes me to why I also agree with those calling on president Uhuru to try taming his deputy’s tongue led by nominated senator Njoroge. The senator renewed his criticism of the deputy president when he went overboard in calling Luhyas ‘watu wa kumangamanga’ while speaking in his native Kalenjin language in Baringo county. Just like Raila, one would have taken this as a slip of the tongue but this was not the first time Ruto was insulting other leaders. He has done the same to Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka, Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetangula, ODM boss Raila Odinga, Former Cabinet Minister and his Political mentor Cyrus Jirongo and now Mudavadi. This one in Baringo, and therefore was not a slip of the tongue.
In pushing their political agenda, both Raila and Ruto must understand that Luhyas are no children of a lesser god to be insulted left, right and center. All that they are trying to do is create their own political identity and will no longer be used as doormats as it has happened previously. No amount of insults will cause them to support a candidate seeking to capitalize on their numbers. Just like Raila is a Luo brand, Uhuru a Kikuyu brand, Ruto a Kalenjin brand and Kalonzo a Kamba brand, Luhyas too are on a journey to create their own brand be it Hon. Mudavadi, Hon. Jirongo, Hon. Ababu or Senator Wetangula who has been looked down upon by his co-principal in CORD Raila Odinga by first skipping his presidential launch and then now visiting Luhya land without consulting him.