The Courageous Al Hassan Joho, tops list of 2022 hopefuls. Photo Courtesy.
By Nelson Guga
MY LUO NATION: People who understand the Luo Nation’s psychopolitical structure know that Dr. Miguna Miguna, the NRM General, is in the making. Well, the unfolding political development and endless controversies surrounding Dr. Miguna are not good news for individuals, mainly political leaders and their followers, keen on maintaining the status quo and the political establishment in ODM. It cannot be lost on observers that there is no chemistry between Raila Odinga, the ODM leader and arguably the latest defector to the Jubilee Government, and Dr. Miguna. The bad blood between the two is the result of latter’s scathing attack on the former Prime Minister in his tell-it-all book: Peeling Back the Mask.
Be that as it may, the Luo Nation is facing interesting times going forward. First, Raila Odinga who has been at the center of the community’s political formation for over three decades is facing his sunset. His advancing age, though a natural process, has erased his chances of ever becoming Kenya’s president. The sacrifices and the emotional investment that the community has put in the making of President Raila have not paid off nor has Mr. Odinga’s historic handshake on March 9 showed any promise. It is undoubtedly an agonizing moment for the community.
Secondly, there are no clear signs of a political heir apparent within the Odinga family hierarchy. The scions of both Mr. Odinga and his elder brother Dr. Oburu Oginga have not expressed overt interest in the community’s politics let alone the country’s, and it is unlikely that they will command any considerable influence in the community’s politics even if they debuted. Unlike his scions, Mr. Odinga had taken an active role in the country’s politics when he was hardly 40. The lack of a clear successor within the rank of the Odinga family may not be a good thing for a man who has straddled Kenya’s political landscape like a colossus and for decades.
Third, the current crop of Luo politicians appears to lack vision and an understanding of what post-Odinga political dispensation may offer. They also seem to be ignorant of the Luo political psyche. It is unlikely that the Luo community will cease to identify with leaders who exhibit courage, might, and exuberance. As Mr. Odinga takes his quiet exit, there is talk about the community rallying behind Deputy President William Ruto’s quest for the highest office on the land or Mombasa Governor’s Hassan Joho’s possible presidential bid. Like Odinga, the two politicians possess what the Luo believes is the essential quality of a good leader: Courage!
But something is missing! Kenya’s politics is ethnocentric. There will be a local gap in the community’s leadership when Mr. Odinga bows and whoever will replace him will have to embody that fundamental quality of courage. The Luo community won’t allow a ‘coward’ (I don’t know what that word means in the political context it has been used lately) to fill Mr. Odinga’s ‘holy’ shoes. Cowardice is not Luoism. Too much humility is not Luoism even though history has rewarded it. In this context, I hypothesize that Dr. Miguna Miguna is a potential Luo ethnic kingpin in the post-Odinga era.
Dr. Miguna casts a rare image of what constitutes the Kenyan politician. In fact, he is a significant departure from the quintessential Kenyan politician. Unlike any politician in recent history, Dr. Miguna has exhibited unusual courage that is primary in challenging the status quo. He has a clear conviction of the kind of a nation he wants. On many occasions, he has been an unapologetic critic of electoral and social injustice. Unlike many Kenyans, Dr. Miguna is, arguably, the only remaining vocal Kenyan who believes that the Kenyan dream can still be reclaimed. These audacious qualities have earned him both friends and foes, but have identified him with the Luo political psyche.
Dr. Miguna’s brazen and bare-knuckled approach to political events puts him on a higher pedestal to take the Luo leadership mantle. But this is hypothetical. How he achieves this dream will depend on how he plays his cards going forward. As they say, the best soldier is he who knows when to retreat. With a peerless intellectual acumen, reckless audacity, clarity of thought, and a penchant for political utopianism, I hope Dr. Miguna lives to become the building stone that the builders rejected.