Today, in 2004, they shot dead Dr. Odhiambo Mbai.
He was the chair of Select Committee on Devolution.
In 2004, devolution was one of the most contentious issues in the search for a new constitution. Vehemently opposed by Kibaki’s men and Kibaki himself, devolution was seen as cessation from the Republic.
But the hidden reason for Mt. Kenya’s opposition to this noble concept was the revolutionary approach to the sharing of the nation’s wealth; something that in 2004 was an exclusive stranglehold of Mt. Kenya.
The other reason was the direct challenge to an imperial presidency with all its attendant fiat that these new centres of power would lead to.
Dr. Mbai had earlier in the week at Bomas passionately presented the philosophical underpinning for this new concept of nationhood.
The arguments for devolution was won in 2004. What remained was how tenacious those opposed to devolution, and other fairer provisions of the Bomas edict, would go to make it not work.
They killed him.
And they scuttled Bomas.
And they carried their mannerisms and assumptions to Kilifi, whence, they drafted their version of the country, which, in 2005, they brought to the nation to pass a verdict on.
The verdict was clear.
Today, some 12 years later; the version of our nation that Dr. Mbai imagined in that conference in 2004 lives. It lives because after Mbai there was a new sense of urgency to give birth to this system that was scaring the hell out of Mt. Kenya reactionary elites and tribalists and the nation’s historical robbers.
There were compromises. There were gives and takes. But on devolution our side could neither compromise nor give.
As a young person who in 2004 could rush home to watch these things on TV, only eight years into 8-4-4, I cannot help feel the nostalgia of it all.
This devolution wasn’t a chap chap idea. It was fought for and against and on both sides are casualties.
Today, at Freedom Corner, UhuruPark, the 12th remembrance of Dr. Mbai’s assassination will be observed. The event isn’t just to remember the dead scholar but to confirm, 12 years later, that he was right and his killers were wrong.
The event is to place him in our nation’s capital as an an enduring monument of our collective resilience.
So if you will have time this morning from 9.00am, and you can join in this rare celebration, be there.
The event is a reminder to those still sympathetic to the killers of Dr. Mbai that the system they fought so valiantly to keep was defeated and relegated to the dustbins of history.
Those who still think they can scuttle this idea, those who imagine that if they frustrate equitable sharing of our country’s resources and sponsor negative stories in the country’s colonial era media houses that so much wastage is going on in counties and somehow this whole devolution ‘thing’ is not working and should be abolished, this event will remind them that we who support this system didn’t expect it to work in three years.
Give it 12 years. Give it 50 years. This system is as resilient as we who fought for it. It will endure and shame the naysayers.
I thank God I was of age in 2010 to vote YES!
Devolution is irreplaceable. It is immutable!
Come, let’s reason together.
Dikembe is an ODM blogger.