BY ERIC WAFUKHO
They say it is not good manners to be responding to elders when they speak but I thought a statement attributed to Hon Raila Odinga that the merger of ANC and Ford Kenya is tribal needed a response to help set the record straight.
#1. ANC and Ford Kenya are National Parties and not Tribal Outfits as alleged by Hon Raila.
A close check shows that ANC and FK have their membership and elected leaders from many parts of the country and it would be inaccurate at best and mischievous at worst to label them as tribal outfits.
While ANC got elected MCAs in Tana River , Marsabit , Nandi counties, ODM had none in these counties. In Lamu, ANC has more elected MCAs than ODM . Ford Kenya also returns that show a national outlook in elected leadership at grassroots level covering various parts of the country.
What would perhaps worry an ODM member like Hon Raila would be the fact that Western Kenya seems to be defining her own political journey away from ODM. A close check in Western Kenya shows that both ANC and FK gained great ground over other parties and that if this trend continues, the region is likely to be firmly an ANC and FK affair. Having a political stronghold does not constitute ethnic profiling. So when did these parties become tribal outfits? Both ANC and Ford Kenya came together in NASA and supported Hon Raila in his presidential quest. Was that a tribal card? Or are they becoming tribal simply because they have chosen to chart their own political journey?
#2. Advocating for unity of Western Kenya does not amount to Ethnic Politics
What Raila might not know, is that there is ac conversation going on in Western to help address the challenges of that region and to review leadership architecture and partnerships that move that region forward. ANC and FK are exploring how to accelerate the Western Region Investment Program (WEREP) which Musalia had helped formulate together with professionals.
Western is a region that does not need a lecture on unity in diversity. That region has virtually all communities of Kenya and it is seeking its centre of gravity in national politics and get it will. Unity of the whole has never been compromised simply because of units uniting. If Hon Raila is indeed committed to uniting Kenya, then he would have been the least to throw jabs at Western Kenya for seeking their unity.
#3. Ethnic Politics is not bad if it benefits the People
What do people really mean by ethnic politics anyway? Is there such a thing as ethnic politics in Kenya? Unless it means riding on the back of a community or people to get ahead and then jettison them midstream like extra luggage.
Communities and political parties come together under coalition agreement in the hope that those they give the mantle would have the character to honour their word. As such, communities make great sacrifice including voting for the candidates offered on the political party of the flag bearer as happened in NASA coalition. At no point do these communities think that their sons and daughters would be vilified as happened to Hon Wetangula.
Since it seems ethnic politics is important, then I am sure Hon Wetangula will work with his brother Musalia from Western to ensure that their numbers count for something. A handshake between Musalia and Wetangula is also a handshake and if it unites the region, parties and Kenya, then it also requires the right optics. My message to our doyen of Kenyan politics, Hon Raila Odinga is, sit back and watch Real Madrid take this cup from Liverpool but do not blame the Keeper.