OCHIENG: Raila must deal with extreme ethnic arrogance

By Philip Ochieng

By Philip Ochieng

How powerful is the secretary-general of The National Alliance (TNA), President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ruling party? My answer: I do not know.

Yet it enthuses me to hear that a party associated with the Kikuyu — a community so maligned nationwide — has latched onto a Luo individual as one of its central policy-makers.

What does it matter whether the man won the post in an open election or whether the party’s organisers simply latched onto him as a matter of strategy?

In our political history, national leadership has been a contest between these two ethnic communities. So it would be admirably hard-nosed for the Kikuyu leadership to woo Luo votes in this way.

It doesn’t matter how many votes the TNA official brought with him from Nyanza and such other redoubts of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) as Western and Coast.

What matters is that such an initiative is what may add an ort to our objective national quest to outgrow the tribal cocoon in which our politics has trundled for so long.

It is what might educate Kenya’s electorate into moving away from its globally degrading ethnic considerations to graduate rapidly into the realm of ideas and ideological considerations as the only genuine gauge by which to latch onto leadership during elections.

That is why I will be greatly more enthused when the TNA abandons the tribal strategy that now characterises it and all our other political parties as election vehicles.

I will be a hundred times happier when the TNA regroups under a recognisable set of social ideas relevant to the whole country and tries to sell itself nationwide on the basis of those ideas.

So why do I despair? Because, away from Central Province, in my own native Nyanza — in what is the home base of what alleges to be an opposition party — the leadership is now openly trying to close the door on all other ethnic communities by asserting that some of the party’s offices can be held only by Luo individuals.

Yet the ODM leaders who spew forth such bilge water from their mouths claim to be doing so on the basis of loyalty to Raila Odinga.

How can that be? What kind of thoughtlessness is this? How did so many individuals who find it so difficult to think out of the box worm their way into leadership positions in that party?

If the mere idea of Raila Odinga’s occupation of State House already evokes such negative passion among certain important ethnic communities, how do you hope to sell him to those communities by declaring that members of those communities cannot vie for leadership positions in the ODM?

If Mr Odinga is to remain the ODM’s presidential candidate, then by far the most important task facing members of the party’s central policy committee is to work out a new strategy for wrapping Agwambo in brand new public relations clothing to be able to sell him especially in Central, Eastern and the Rift Valley provinces.

Even I think that Mr Odinga’s rule might make a real national difference one of these days. That is why I despair at his own apparent refusal to deal effectively with the extreme ethnic arrogance and belligerence which drive all his supporters all the way from the ragamuffins of Gor Mahia to what masquerade as university brains.

For that kind of behaviour cannot endear Mr Odinga to other communities. Indeed, it might even begin to alienate him from the thinking members of the Luo community itself.

But one thing is certain. If the ODM continues to think of itself as a Luo party or the TNA as a Kikuyu party or the United Republicans as a Kalenjin party or Wiper as a Kamba party or Ford Kenya as a Luhya party — and so on ad infinitum — we shall never become a united and prosperous nation.




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