SEEING BEYOND 2013 - LUHYA POLITICS
The game in Kenya is “Us” against “them” and every other tribal outfit has mastered this game except Luhya-land. People keep wondering why and some excuse it for being democratic. However, let us face it, how can one uphold democratic principles in a country whose DNA is divide and rule. There are tribes that have mastered this; they own the state machinery and by dividing others they surely rule.
It all started with Kenyatta senior who entrenched the politics of patronage and clientilism. Patronage was inward looking i.e. using state to prop our own. Clientilism was outward looking i.e. getting clients who are maintained through tokens to keep given tribes under arms; all well wrapped. Moi perfected this and turned the state into a regime perpetuation machinery. When Kibaki came, he carefully used astute professional principles well fused with patronage and clientilistic approaches. The state backed tyranny of numbers win by Uhuruto in 2013 goes to show how perfected patronage and clientilism based politics is in Kenya.
For a long time, the Luhya have been a contented lot. It is generally said that Luhyas are cooks and watchmen who love food a great deal. In Luhya land, we have mastered the politics of the stomach. We do not see beyond the stomach and as long as we are eating then it is okay. When Wamalwa Kijana was fighting against Moi, the son of Mudamba and Wetangula were busy eating and it was all okay. When the son of Mudamba joined Raila in the fight against Kibaki, Kombo and Weta were eating and it was okay. When Wetangula joined Raila in the run up to 2013 (for personal survival), the son of Mudamba and Eugine was eating from Uhuru’s plate and it was okay. This stomach driven politics explains our situation.Like any cook, we real love good delicacies; we real love nibbling. Unfortunately, unlike others, we are ever nibbling at the expense of our own brothers and sisters. We never look out for our brothers and sisters and consequently, we miss out on opportunities to have our impact as the second largest community.
Like good watchmen, we are always keenly watching. Unfortunately, instead of watching others and their moves, we are very busy watching our own brothers just in case they also come to eat what we are eating. We are very jealousy of what is in the brother’ plate; we scrutinize and gnash our teeth ready to tear in and lay bare. While we are busy watching our brothers and checkmating them, our real opponents in the real match cheer us on and we miss the opportunity to checkmate them.
We are very greedy in the face of food and we do not know when enough is enough. We are good at binge politics; we just do politics for the sake of politics and do not know when to say I have had my fill. It is for this reason that every Wannabe in Luhya-land wants to be president, to be king, to be the big man. At the moment, we are standing on a precipice. Our people like good sheep are seeking guidance. They are ready to crown any king, as long as he will be their king and provide just some semblance of leadership. It is for this reason that some strongly believe the otherwise abhorred Wetangula is the Messianic Moses.
I am of the opinion that Luhyas will remain in the dark for two or more decades to come. We are a confused house; confused due to the inward looking ego. Like low self-esteemed people, we are overly critically of our own but very accommodating of outsiders. It is not surprising that a Luhya vehemently criticizes Eugine Wamalwa for being a flip flopper and yet embraces Raila the doyen of Flip Floppy politics. It is surprising, that a Luhya aggressively criticizes Mudavadi of being slow and non-decisive and yet we were the greatest cheer squad members for one Mwai wa kibaki. It is surprising that Luhyas think Cyrus Jirongo is a conniving and shrewd man who is not worthy of leadership and yet gleefully support Ruto who worked so well with Jirongo and is known for his hand in Land Grabbing etc. It is funny that Luhyas think Wetangula is a shrewd-selfish politician who can not be trusted, yet they trust Uhuru; a man who has mastered the art of under-table deals while putting on PR shows in public.
Going into the future, we just need to stop cooking and watching each other. Instead, let us unite in watching and cooking up traps for the others. Stomach politics led to Mudavadi missing his grand opportunity to cannibalize Raila. There was a time, the stage was ripe for Mudavadi to stage a nice coup in ODM; and the Luhyas were backing him. Then he moved away from the people and started below the table deals that led to him becoming a Demon. There was a time Eugine was the man to watch; and in every forum we cried and begged that he moves with the people – he chose to put his stomach first and out danced himself.
Fast forward to end of 2013 and our leaders have an opportunity once again to dream Luhya Unity. Luhya Unity is a very big cake and they can share it comfortably and we shall question none of them. It is possible that Kombo, Wetangula, Marende, Ababu, Eugine, Jirongo and any other Luhya leader work together. When Mudavadi or Eugine who are not voters in Bungoma De-campaign Wetangula, what exactly are they doing? Doing the bidding of their Jubilee masters? If they truly believed in Luhya unity, how about them saying Wetangula and Kombo are brothers, let the people decide. They could be returning the favor Wetangula did them in the past, but who ever gained from the politics of revenge?
It is possible to have a united Luhya front in Kenyan politics. It starts now, let our leaders stop trying to cut each other to size and focus on how to cut a share of the national cake for their community. They have a choice to make; it is possible to have a vehicle that is systemic as opposed to individualized. By systemic we mean a political party that is not under the control of any one leader. In case Wetangula wins the senatorial by-election, he is enjoying the good will Mudavadi enjoyed during his rebellion days in ODM. He should lurch at this opportunity and provide leadership. Let him start to build a vehicle that threatens ODM in CORD. Some may think this is not possible but just look at the number of politicians supporting him in his re-election bid then you will agree with me that if he puts his mind to it, he can do it. CORD is definitely set to disintegrate but while it lasts, it can be used to coalesce like minded Luhya leaders and others from other regions. If it is done well, then maybe we shall be in bargaining position come 2017.... If our leaders stick out their necks as a united front in 2017, the Luhya Presidency may just come early enough. Can these leaders see beyond their stomachs?