It’s Time Luos And Their Leaders Held Dialogue

The biblical book of Kings records that Solomon, the wisest King Israel ever had, would dispense judgement even without witnesses. However, he still kept a committee of advisers to help him govern the land. When Solomon died his son Rehoboam took over, but unfortunately failed his first leadership test by refusing to listen to the advice of his father’s advisers.

The people of Israel had sought dialogue with Rehoboam and requested him to reduce the heavy load his father had placed on them. Rehoboam referred the request to his father’s advisers who told him to give the people a favourable answer and they would be his servants. Rehoboam ignored this advice and sought counsel from his age-mates who instead told him to increase the load his father placed on the people.

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The result was that Israel was split into two. Rehoboam was left with only two tribes of Israel: Judah and Benjamin, while the other 10 broke away with Jeroboam. Rehoboam’s belated attempts to reunite Israel failed.

The Luo community is different from Israel in many ways. The Luo do not have a monarchy, neither do they have a specific request to make to any leader. However, the leadership of Luoland has not behaved any better than Rehoboam. The people need to sit down with all their leaders to deliberate on the many issues bedevilling Luoland:

First, voter turnout has always been wanting, and the community needs to find out why. The immediate logic is that this is due to reduced competition after the party nominations. With only one accepted political party, many people assume the holder of its nomination certificate is already elected and there is no need to wait in long queues to vote.

It is also obvious that supporters of candidates who claim they lost unfairly will keep off poling stations in protest. There should be more than one party of choice. The Luos fought for multiparty democracy more than any other community, yet they are the only ones still waiting for their share of the cake.

Second, the dominant party’s nominations always end in disarray due to deliberate ‘mistakes’ by officials. This ends up in the losers getting the nomination certificates and the winners ‘boycotting’ the polls, which in turn leads to election of leaders who owe nothing to the electorate, but the ‘certificate-issuing authority’.

Third, distribution of leadership positions in Parliament to the Luos in ODM is so biased that out of the six positions available; Deputy Leader of Minority, Senate chairman of the Implementation Committee, nominations in the National Assembly and Senate, chairman and secretary of the Luo Parliamentary Group are half relatives of the party leader and the other half his close friends from Siaya county.

Fourth, heckling has become the order of the day for leaders who may have divergent views. It’s obvious that this is done by youth who’ve been paid. The latest victims are Governor Ranguma in Kisumu, Governor Kidero at Uhuru Park, Ken Okoth in Kibera and, lately, Governor Okoth Obado and President Uhuru Kenyatta in Migori. This is a primitive and backward way of displaying political intolerance.

Fifth, sycophancy seems to be the only way available to Luo leaders to get reelected. And this has led to the unhealthy competition of who will be seen to be the most loyal and protective of the party leader. Recently, when Ababu Namwamba looked like he was going against the party leader, there was a rush to call him names and ask him to quit by sitting Luo MPs, only for their party leader to embrace Namwamba. This is exactly what they did to William Ruto as he went away with 1.5 million votes.

Sixth, leadership by propaganda, where everything wrong is blamed on Jubilee, and any person with a divergent view is either a Jubilee mole or has been bought by Jubilee. So one wonders if Jubilee is trading in human beings. Why would Jubilee waste money buying people who will not deliver any additional vote to them yet they have the majority in both Houses of Parliament? Propaganda in Luoland has reached a level that even fundraising without ‘permission’ is classified as divisive.

Seventh, lack of proper participation in Parliament, citing tyranny of numbers is the most mediocre excuse I have ever heard from an honourable MP. We have always believed that the majority will have their way and the minority their say. Why are the minority not saying anything? Let’s hear their positions in Parliament so that the Kenyan electorate may judge them against their opponents, as 2017 is not far off.

The time for Luoland dialogue is now, in the interest of the community and Kenya in general.

Mwalimu Odoyo Owidi is chairman of Luoland Dialogue Initiative.


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