By Guest Blogger
Did handlers of President Uhuru chose a wrong date for his Nyanza tour?
Yesterday outside Uchumi House, along Aga Khan walk, Â a group of Luo city political pundits gatheredÂ at the same historic spot where Luos meet to discuss ‘home and away’ politics.
The top political issue was Uhuru’s planned visit to Nyanza that will culminate in a full cabinet meeting in the forgotten Kisumu State House (lodge). In the shadows, an uncomfortable historical happenstance is getting folks jittery. That’s 1969. Kisumu Massacre.
As usual, the visit was both welcome and unwelcome. Already, it has been vigorously discussed in vernacular FM stations, especially Radio Ramogi, where callers were unanimous that the president is coming to whitewash his involvement in the 2007 post election violence and hog the Luo community – the biggest beneficiaries of the Mungiki mass killings, rape, forced circumcision and charring and plunder – and whom Uhuru is accused at the ICC of facilitating and financing.
While Uhuru then as Finance Minister and now as President has done ‘everything’ to compensate and resettle the Kikuyu victims of post-poll violence, the Luo, Kisii, Luhya and Kalenjin victims remained largely forgotten.
For Luos, Luhyas and Kisiis, the pain was double, as the integrated IDPs also happened to have been the sole breadwinners of their rural folks, and their ejection from Naivasha, Nakuru, Limuru, Tigoni and other areas which Mungiki infested in 2007/08 completely rendered them financially and socially derelict.
But it is the time choice of Uhuru’s visit to Kisumu – officially – that has caused the current panic.
History has it that President Jomo Kenyatta visited Nyanza in the same week 45 years ago and bloodily changed the political landscapeÂ of Kisumu when locals ‘rejected’ his ‘arrogance’ and ‘disrespect’ of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. The two had fallen out two years earlier, or so.
While Kisumu outlived that generation’s ethnic suspicion to vote another Kikuyu – Mwai Kibaki – Â all to the last man in 2002, the events of the last decade, where a homeboy – Raila Odinga – has been cheated in an unfulfilled MoU once, Â rigged out of two elections, and the continuing ethnicÂ exclusivistÂ tendencies of the current regime, Uhuru is a man locals are suspicious on. Being a son of Jomo has only helped add to the narrative of dispossession that so pervades this region.
“He unnerves me. His visit, in October, is wrong, sounds so ’69 October,” said a contributor in yesterday’s memetics. Another claimed that even popular and very loved politicians from outside the region never visited Kisumu in October.
“JM never came here in October till he met his fate in 1975. He was a very popular politician here,” said an older discussant, referring to the then powerful Nyandarua legislator, Josiah Mwangi Kariuki.
Why do people get stuck in history? May be, to just remember the glorious dead. The world over, the are commemorations of ugly historical ordeals of communities and societies which to outsiders may seem ludicrous, or even annoying.
Unconfirmed reports reveal President Uhuru is aware of these vaunted anger and has decided to ‘visit’ Kisumu at a later date. However, the president’s Luo handlers are getting agitated. Many are believed to have struck lucrative deals to ‘handle’ the President when he comes.
A well-known Kisumu wheeler dealer is said to have received over sh1 million to marshall residents to ‘turn out in large numbers’ to receive the President. The same man, and a URP operative, are also said to have secured hundreds of youths to demonstrate in Kisumu with ‘development placards’ to show the head of state that Kisumu is yearning for a new kind of politics.
While residents aren’t particularly hopeful about the President’s visit, reports are the whole tour will have no ugly incidents, unless choreographed by the planners.
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