By Dikembe Disembe
Though a single survey may not reveal much about the prevailing income inequality indices in Kenya, the politics of poverty has been associated with Luo Nyanza for quite some time now.
However, a new research which placed the four counties of Luo Nyanza as doing relatively ‘unexpected’ considering the often mainstream politics of backwardness and underdevelopment which make up the anti-Odingaism debate in regards to Luo Nyanza has sparked interesting conversation about the past.
For as long as I can recall, Luo Nyanza poverty has always been a political abstraction. At its root is the divisive politics of the Odingas – both Jaramogi Oginga Odinga (from Independence to the 1990s) and Â Raila Odinga (1990s to present) – with the derising term of Odingaism.
Ironically, even as critics accuse the Odinga family of being the major source of Luo Nyanza poverty by championing the community’s opposition stances, few can explain why the Odingas themselves Â are wealthy.Â Many claim some sort of political barter-trade where community balkanization has been used to bargain for that family.
Now there is a new research with totally bemusing results. Siaya County, the cradle of the Odingas, emerged top in Luo Nyanza and ranked 12 nationally. Kisumu, Homabay and Migori followed closely, ranking positions 17, 24 and 27 in the country.
Migori County, paradoxically, joined other top heavy spenders in the country. These included Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu, Kisumu, Lamu, Machakos, Nakuru, Kajiado, Migori and Kilifi in a descending order.
It is only worth noting that these are statistics. Numbers. But, these figures has often been used to tell disheartening stories about the ‘wealth of communities’ which, in my view, Â is empirically non-testable.
I’d rather people disbelieve statistics which point to ethnic wealth and ponder on regional wealth and the factors that contribute to the glaring inequalities among regional wealth.
In the coming weeks, economists will ponder on this new statistics, so will politicians and policy makers.
Kenya’s poorest counties which include Turkana, Wajir, Mandera, Tana River, Kwale,Â Marsabit, Samburu, West Pokot, Busia, Kitui, Makueni, Kilifi,Garissa, Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet and Taita Taveta will also have their fair reviews, including the fact that most are semi-arid with often violent security lapses, nutrition issues, etc.
But in Luo Nynza, it will be interesting to see how the new ‘hopeful’ information will be interpreted – may be, I foresee a lot of chest-thumping: ‘we told you, it was all politics’.