I got elated yesterday when I was informed that ODM leader Raila Odinga was meeting Luo elected and nominated leaders -MPs and Senators. Details of the meeting is still fuzzy, and remain highly guarded. The meeting was however highly significant.
Luo leaders rarely meet as leaders of a single community discussing the affairs of that community. Â This is because, for long, Luos have never really had a ‘selfish agenda’. The struggle for political power by Luos has always been a inter-ethnic struggle; where Luos are ‘supported’ by other like-minded ethnicities across the country.
To Luos, the struggle for political power isn’t a community struggle, thus, political mobilization has never really taken the ‘for our community’ undertones which so pervades the Kikuyus and Kalenjins.
This ‘nationalistic’ approach to political mobilization tends to diminish the ‘we’. Hence, terms like ‘as a community’ does not exist in Luo political rhetoric.
While this is good for it shows Luos have no mutually exclusive need from the needs of other long suffering Kenyan communities, it has led to individualization of collective community experiences. Political happenstances which shock the whole community can only be felt at individual level, with the largest group being the close extended family.
What often bring people together are prominent funerals, like Orwa Ojode’s, Otieno Kajwang’s and Fidel Odinga’s did. But these were so sombre events to soberly discuss meaningful community issues.
The lack of communion as a community among Luo leaders has made it very difficult for consensus building. In parliament, I know a number of Luo MPs who don’t see eye to eye with each other. The younger MPs, especially, often feel chided, instead of being guided, by the older ones.
In fact, when a number of younger Luo MPs attempted to form a ‘community group’ to bargain for ODM vacant positions sometime last year, the older ones quickly lurched on it and accused them of being ‘rebels’. This was during the campaigns for ODM national executive officials. With accusations swirling everywhere, access to Raila became extremely difficult, leading to frustration and, occasionally, bitter words being exchanged.
Luo MPs since then have remained ‘lone rangers’, with each minding only his or her constituency. While Kikuyu MPs can hobnob each weekend across Nairobi kikuyu churches, telling their people the benefits of and threats to Uhuru’s regime, a meeting of Luo MPs will raise eyebrows.
It is in this backdrop