By Dikembe Disembe
No doubt the tragic death of Monica Amolo brings to an end – with finality – a kind of politics in ODM which has ensured the survival of the Orange party in an ever rebelling South. It does not, mark my words, sound the death knell of ODM.
I knew Monica Amolo a few years ago as a high school student when my father introduced me to her. She then headed a non-governmental organization based in Nairobi. The two, however, had a long political history which dated back to LDP days.
My father had been elected a councillor in Ndhiwa under the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) when Narc trounced KANU in 2002 Â and (I think) Amolo had vied against Orwa Ojode for the Ndhiwa Parliamentary seat in that election. She had lost.
When she lost the 2002 elections, she remained in LDP (Narc). She was instrumental in the 2005 No campaigns which defeated the Wako draft referendum. Testing the waters, she again vied in 2007 and again lost to incumbent Orwa Ojode.
The 2007 nominations, the worst in ODM history, was marred by violence and allegations of vote rigging. It also heralded the era of buying certificates. Justice Richard Kwach, then ODM elections board chair, did a shoddy job!
But ODM in 2007 was a ‘three piece’ affair and those who lost during nominations and came back with other parties in the Orange strongholds were swept in the elections Tsunami which followed in December that year. Amolo wasn’t one of them.
Monica remained a strong player in ODM grassroots politics and by 2010 was the de facto ODM face in Ndhiwa as Ojode had then ‘technically’ joined the government (PNU side) after being appointed an assistant minister for internal security.
It was Monica who first openly told ODM Party leader at a meeting in Homa Bay to kick Ojode out of the party. However, Raila had downplayed the matter, saying he had full confidence in the Ndhiwa MP, then serving as minister under his ‘nusu’ of the Grand Coalition government.
Monica herself had lost the ODM special nominations for parliamentary seat after the 2007 elections to party newcomers like Rachael Shebesh and Millie Odhiambo. Those on the ground believed Orwa Ojode, fearing being out-shined in parliament, blocked her nominations.
In the snap polls which followed Orwa Ojode’s death, she would again lose to civil society activist Agostino Netto who again retained the seat in the 2013 elections. Amolo still stuck with the ODM party, remaining loyal to party leader Raila Odinga.
Luckily, after the 2013 elections, Monica got a nomination as an MCA for Homa Bay county assembly where she was serving until her untimely death yesterday during the campaign trail for Moses Kajwang’, the ODM candidate and younger brother of Otieno Kajwang’.
Monica and the older Kajwang’ belonged to the same side in Homa Bay ODM politics – both were unquestioningly loyal to ODM ideology and party leadership. In fact, in the election which saw the older Kajwang’ elected ODM Branch chair, Monica became his deputy, much to the chagrin of their opponents then led by former Rangwe MP Martin Ogindo and James Rege among others.
Unknown to many people, the survival of ODM in Nyanza has not always been ensured by elected leaders, especially the members of parliament. Between elections, ODM survives at the grassroots as a result of loyal activists in the party’s women league, youth league, and other volunteers at the kijiji level.
Monica’s demise, like that of Kajwang’, brings to an end, literally, the era of Â Raila loyalists – a closely knit cable of veteran politicians whose relationship with ODM leader Raila Odinga dates back to over two decades ago.
Unlike most of the elected legislators currently from Nyanza who first joined ODM either in the 2007 or 2013 elections, Monica’s journey in politics goes deep into the NDP/LDP days.
In such politicians, the ODM leader, ever mindful of his true comrades, often reveal his political turns and bends. It was therefore not unexpected that in high octane political events often called at Raila’s opoda farm, from Ndhiwa, the ODM maestro has always called Ms Amolo.
Such was the level of confidence in a party activist to whom the ODM leader has lowered the Orange party flag to fly half mast. It is a big loss.
Monica was in the Â pioneering class of Kenyan women politicians after the re-introduction of multi-party politics in Kenya who could easily be mentioned alongside names like Charity Ngilu, Phoebe Asiyo, Prof Julia Ojiambo, Nyiva Mwendwa, Â Lina Jebii Kilimo among others.
For ODM and especially Ndhiwa constituency, the demise of Ms Amolo is a big blow to the advancement of the Orange ideology and a setback to the Canaanite exodus that we, followers of Raila Odinga, are engaged in.
Â Dikembe Disembe is a graduate of Bsc. Communications from Moi University and a political blogger for ODM/CORD. He lives online.