REMARKS OF RT. HON RAILA ODINGA, EGH, AT CONSULTATIVE FORUM WITH MAA LEADERS AND PROFESSIONALS; SEPTEMBER 12, 2021.
Let me begin by thanking you for convening this meeting.
This is the third meeting in the series aimed at creating a strong sense of unity in the country under the auspices of the Azimio la Umoja as we head to 2022.
We recognize the need to bring all the competing interests in the country on to one table and agreeing on how to tackle them, ahead of elections next year elections and beyond.
And nobody should feel ashamed that we are meeting as regions and even as ethnic groups. Kenya is made up of regions and ethnic groups with diverse and sometimes conflicting interests. But Kenya belongs to us all.
We must begin thinking of how to build a country where citizens and leaders are free to pursue sectional interests, but still put the country’s interest above their own. A country where one community or region does not gain at the expense of another.
A country where the Maasai get what rightly belongs to them and the Kikuyu get what they deserve too. It is possible to build that kind of country. It is what we have set our eyes on.
We are also doing this to create lasting unity and stability of the nation. We recognize that for prosperity and growth, we need unity and stability. No economic or governance model, however well crafted, can thrive in an environment of chaos, disunity and instability.
The Maa community has historically received a raw deal both during the colonial time and after independence.
You have unfinished issues of land, marginalization, human-wild life conflict, traditions you hold dear but that jeopardize your desire to march at the same pace with other communities, environmental degradation and poverty, among others.
The leaders of this community have decided that unlike during the Lancaster Constitutional Conference when representatives walked out in protest because they were getting a raw deal, this time round, and going forward, you must stay put and fight at the table where all communities are gathered.
I agree with you on this approach and you have my support. Indeed, you have always had my support, and you have given me your support in return, which I very much appreciate.
We are all concerned about historical and current marginalization of some parts of Kenya and the Maasai. That is why we came up with counties in the 2010 Constitution which others opposed. It is the reason we will continue to push for more funds and resources to be devolved to counties.
Had BBI gone through, financial allocation to Kajiado would have risen by Ksh6.3 billion from the current Ksh6.4 billion to Ksh12.8 billion.
Allocation to Narok would rise by Ksh5 billion from the current Ksh8 billion to Ksh13 billion. Samburu’s would rise by about Ksh2 billion, from the current Ksh4.6 billion to Ksh6.5 billion. Those billions that are on the verge of being denied to the Maa nation would work wonders in providing basics like water, dispensaries, hides and skins factories, slaughter houses, schools and roads, among others.
And that is why we are asking the Maa nation that we do not give up.
We must join hands and fight to the end.
We must begin working on interventions that will alleviate the deprivation this community has suffered.
We need to be prepared with emergency programs for the drought that hits Maa community time and again. The response readiness must include rapid delivery of food, water and medicine to affected populations.
We must be prepared for emergency responses to livestock diseases and provide the livestock keepers with hay when drought like the one now looming on the horizon strikes.
It is my hope that the government is currently making plans for these initiatives, including livestock off-take by the Kenya Meat Commission and borehole drilling should the situation demand. We appreciate the critical first step the president took recently of declaring a drought emergency.
That should enable the governments deploy all resources at its disposal and ensure timely and quick delivery of the relief supplies. We did it in grand coalition government where President Uhuru Kenyatta was Deputy Prime Minister and later Minister for Finance. I will be at hand to assist. In the meantime, we strongly appeal to our development partners to support the affected communities as they have done before.
We must however remain focused on long-term solutions that would lift the Maasai and other pastoralist communities from cycles of drought, floods, famine, poverty and marginalization.
That means we must be unapologetic in preserving our water towers like the Mau and the Aberdares and planting more trees to green the land and raise our forest cover. In the interest of pastoralists, we must preserve and protect the environment.
CS Tobiko and all your governors know they have my support on this matter.
Very soon, I will return to this agenda to green our land and restock our forest to safeguard livelihoods.
Maasai lands are part and parcel of our plan to transform rural Kenya. You are part and parcel of our plan for massive investment in rural infrastructure of access roads, reliable electricity, decent housing, clean water and good public schools. You are part of our plan for creation of rural cottage industries.
We must provide Maasai lands with reliable, efficient and quality health care services and provide efficient veterinary services.
Those keen to try crop production, and there are many, should be helped to do so. In which case we should be able to provide them with reliable agricultural extension services, tractor services, high yielding seeds, help them with reclamation of the land and preservation of water sources and everything else they need to feed themselves and the nation.
We must help the community access abattoirs and markets for their livestock and livestock products if we are to lift them out of poverty.
As I conclude, allow me say something about some two special groups: the Maasai women and Maasai youth.
In the end, the way out of the marginalization, poverty and myriad other injustices the Maa community continues to suffer, the way to help the community compete in the cash economy, is the education of the Maasai youths and empowerment of Maasai women.
No community can grow when its women are kept down and denied opportunities. No community can have a future when its children are not getting modern education that prepares them and their community for the future. The Maa nation is not going to be any different.
We must go all out and help Maasai youths access education. We must protect the Maa women and girls from gender-based violence, early marriages and cultural practices like Female Genital Mutilation.
We must go all out to empower and support Maasai women to go for political leadership at all levels and also increase their inclusion in government bureaucracy.
Maasai women need our help to attain economic empowerment. On their own, Maa women have made Kenya known for cultural ornaments like beads. But they have not benefitted much from it.
With government support, Maasai cultural ornaments could easily be a massive network of cottage industries in rural areas producing MADE IN KENYA ornaments and preserving Maa cultural heritage for commercial gain.
We must scale up investment in education of girls and all the youth in Maasai land in addition to investing in promoting skills and talents of the youth here.
We must strengthen both the formal school system and the mobile school initiatives among pastoralist communities as a means of increasing access to education.
We should consider affirmative action programs that force the government take the burden providing modern infrastructure and items like tents in case of mobile schools, solar power books, desks, toilets and sanitation, drinking water and meals from the shoulders of pastoralist parents and their children.
The challenges facing the Maa Nation goes to underscore just how diverse we are in interests as a nation. They underscore the more reason we need to come together on one table, listen to each other and chart a way forward as one people.
Let us walk together.
I thank you.