The latest media reports indicate that the Deputy President William Ruto is planning to visit the Luo Nyanza to woo and rally voters behind his presidential bid ahead of next year polls. This brings to fore the question. Is Luo Nyanza ready for him?
For me, I doubt. Allow me to explain why by first sharing my personal experience. In 2007, I contested the Githurai civic seat and the Luos residing and registered as voters in this ward fully backed by candidature during the campaign.
Whenever they invited me to meetings including those meant to raise funds for funerals, clear the medical bills and support needy students from poor families, I always turned up and give my contribution. In these events, the speakers would shower me with praises, with some fondly referring me as ‘Mhesimiwa’.
Come the day of election, I was shocked when I realized majority of them did not vote for me. Before voting, they would get some briefings from their elders and other members, who were well conversant with politics of the day.
This time the language will change. They will speak to them in Luo dialect, directing them on whom to vote for.
Don’t take me wrong. I am not here to paint Dhuluo in bad light. The political brokers and operatives from other communities would do the same, luring the voters to vote in support of their favored candidates.
In my case, one of the luo voters would later make a candid revelation. We were told that you hailed from Kikuyu community, not a Kamba as the name seemed to suggest. For this reason, we cannot trust you to champion our political interest if you become our councilor.
The other issue was that you were not a member of ODM party and so it was hard to know whether you religiously believed in Raila Odinga’s vision and manifesto. So, we ended up voting for the ODM candidate.
Given this background, I can say without fear of contradiction that the DP is walking the same path. In Kenya, the luo community is known for its undivided loyalty in support of Raila and readiness to the pay the ultimate price if this is what it will take for him to have his way.
Yes, I have lately been listening to the narrative of DP allies. Given his age and ‘failing’ health, Raila is no longer active and does not have the energy needed to govern the country.
If they planning to list these as ‘his weak points’ and use them to make entry into Luo land, I want say that they will be in for a rude shock. Luos will firmly stand behind their defecto leader.
Reason? They know the DP was one his main tormentors during the reign of former President Daniel Arap Moi. We recall that Raila was a leading light during the clamor for Kenya’s second liberation. He fought alongside other veteran leaders such as Kenneth Matiba, Charles and his father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.
For Ruto, his political journey started when President Moi picked him from the University of Nairobi to lead his presidential campaigns in 1992. With Cyrus Jirongo, they formed a lobby group called YK’92 which used all tricks in book- hook and crook-to ensure that Moi was re-elected. Since then, Ruto became Moi’s ardent loyalist until when he retired in 2002.
As a born again Christian, allow me to say this. It is wrong to capitalize on one’s health issues. Just like you, Raila was created by God and he is Kenyan. God gives and takes away life. When your time comes, it won’t matter whether you are young person or old.
On age, we have some many old leaders across the world running their respective very well. The other day, the Americans elected Joe Biden, 78, as their President. In Africa, most of the countries doing well economically and furthering the course of democracy are led by leaders who are in mid or advanced age.
Joseph Mutua Ndonga is a Political Analyst and Blogger