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WHY AMANI COALITION IS HARD TO SELL IN WESTERN

Saturday, February 2, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY IBRAHIM ORUKO

Musalia Mudavadi and Eugene Wamalwa have joined hands to form a political alliance they say will give Kenyans a wider spectrum of choice during the March 4 general election.

Christened the third force, or horse, Amani Alliance was formed during the joint UDF, Kanu and New Ford Kenya Delegates’ Conference to counterbalance the Jubilee Alliance and Coalition for Reforms and Democracy's rollercoaster in western.

During the January 4 event at Bomas of Kenya, Wamalwa stepped out of the presidential race, endorsed Mudavadi's bid for the presidency and declared the 1.4 million Luyhia votes out of reach for presidential candidates outside Luyhialand.

The two leaders further declared that the Luyhia nation will henceforth not only speak with one voice, but vote for one of their own as well.

The launch of the alliance came shortly after both Mudavadi and Eugene had been humiliated and hounded out of Jubilee Alliance even though the two represent the political face of the Luyhia community.

The fact that the two could be hounded out of Jubilee with the political cost to Jubilee, says something about the place of the Luyhia people and the value of their vote in national politics.

It must be noted that at the time both men were being ejected out of Jubilee, Uhuru and Ruto were openly courting Charity Ngilu and Najib Balala probably because they consider them of political value than Mudavadi and Eugene

Though buoyed by impressive numerical advantage in national census, the Luyhia elite has failed to define its interests in national politics, making it amenable to humiliation and manipulation as the case of the two in Jubilee.

Oftentimes, the Luyhia elite has come out as timid, gullible and cheap in national discourse. From radio and TV talk shows, parliamentary debates and even political campaigns forums, the Luyhia elite has surrendered to the Luo, Kikuyu, and of Kalenjin elite and are comfortable playing the cheering role.

While this character has a historical flavour to it, the current political elite, led by Mudavadi, Eugene, Cyrus Jirongo and Musikari Kombo et al has made a mess of the situation by allowing themselves to be manipulated by lesser politicians like Ruto and some bureaucrats like Nick Wanjohi.

It is a historical fact that the Luyhia elite avoided Kanu and opted for Kadu at Independence. While the reasons can only be speculated, it is believed that this elite opted for Kadu out of fear of domination by the Luo and Kikuyu as Kadu was considered a party for the small tribes. Even with their numbers, the Luyhia did not lead party and was happy to acquiesce themselves in the small tribe mentality.

It was at that time that the seed of inferiority complex and small tribe mentality was planted in the minds of the Luyhia nation. Whatever your opinion, it is indisputable that the Anglican Church of Kenya has lost its moral compass in the reform movement ever since Eliud Wabukala took over a couple of years ago.

The church has since lost its glory and it can scarcely be compared with the days when the likes of Alexander Muge, Henry Okullu and Manasses Kuria ruled the roost.

Wabukala was among the individuals who opposed the enactment of the current constitution. Few remember this because the ACK was only part of the crowd having lost its role in the din of the excitement of the evangelical movements.

When President Kibaki appointed Eugene to the Justice ministry, it was a scheme to neutralise Education minister Mutula Kilonzo who was adamant that Uhuru and Ruto could not contest the general election due to the crimes against humanity cases they are facing. It was not that Kibaki loves Eugene.

The fact is that in Eugene, Kibaki saw a more malleable politician than Mutula. Indeed, Eugene's first task was to declare that the two will contest and summed up with diluting the original draft bill on Leadership and Integrity Bill.

The formation of the alliance therefore has thrust the Luyhia people into the mainstream of the Kibaki succession as pundits expect the outfit to eat into the Luyhia vote, deny the other dominant alliances an outright win and force the election into a run-off in the hope that Mudavadi and Eugene can dictate the direction of the of the runoff.

That is why the two men have camped in the region, literally, preaching the gospel of Luyhia nationalism in the hope they can convert the fragments of the Luyhia nation into a solid voting bloc.

There are those who say the duo is injecting siege mentality in the minds of the Luyhia people in the hope that they can stoke the embers of Luyhia nationalism and reap the fruits.

To have their way, they attribute their tribulations in the hands of Jubilee stalwarts to the region's perceived political disunity and challenge the community to rally behind them if it has to earn respect in national politics.

The task is proving insurmountable because the Luyhia masses alienated by the half-hearted and timid displays of their elite in weighty national discourse have opted to chart their own path.

This is why the two leaders blame outside forces for what they perceive as the community's political problems, including years of underdevelopment.

Through Amani, therefore, the two hope to trigger a sense of Luyhia irredentism. They believe that mobilising people through fear can arouse the long-lost Luyhia nationalism and rally the community to their cause and enable Mudavadi run away with the region's votes.

In other words, the forces behind Amani are branding it as a tool of Luyhia nationalism, even though this scheme is meant to save the duo's blushes from the humiliation they were subjected to by Jubilee.

What is raising eyebrows in western Kenya is the newfound solidarity between the two politicians and the efficiency with which they have gone about campaigning for their cause.

There are those who believe that the two are taking the community up the garden path because little over three months the two leaders were busy undermining each other.

When late last year Cotu's Francis Atwoli herded the Luyhia political elite to Masai Serena with pleas for a compromise candidate, it was Eugene who vehemently opposed the move, seeing it as a scheme to hoist Mudavadi to the leadership of the community.

Eugene not only gave the parley, attended by Mudavadi, Moses Wetangula and Cyrus Jirongo, a wide berth, but he made it clear that he would step down for no one and that he was in the race to the end.

But even as he sat down to sign a deal with Jubilee, in which Uhuru offered to step down for him, Mudavadi was aware that one of Uhuru's victims was Eugene.

Mudavadi was well aware that Eugene had been cheated out of Jubilee, but he went on to sign the deal with the same group probably thinking that he was pulling a fast one on Eugene.

Amani is the product of the experience of the two leaders during their liaisons with Jubilee. Their attempt to blame the Luyhia masses for the tribulation under Jubilee is an exercise in futility and amounts to an attempt to shirk responsibility for their own gullibility and probably because of lack of resources or charisma, the Luyhia elite has failed to define its interests both at local and national level.

Much as it is competitive in qualitative terms, it has failed to stamp its authority in national discourse and has surrendered to both the Luo, Kikuyu and of late the Kalenjin elite.

Even with the numerical strength, only second to the Kikuyu, they have failed to exert its influence on national discourse and they are comfortable playing second fiddle to other tribes.

Mudavadi's decision to blame local disunity for his own manipulation by Uhuru has introduced new facts on the ground. Mudavadi will have a problem tilting the cause of voting in the region due to his personal character.

He has inspired the Luyhia people less during his long political career that spans more than two decades. His botched deal with Uhuru has portrayed him as a freeloader, lacking the gravitas to lead from the front.

The common, and indeed simplistic view, is that the Luyhia nation is a politically divided community. Purveyors of this theory, which has been cemented by both Musalia and Eugene, have cited the inability of the Luyhia people to vote for one of their own to justify their view.

However the Luyhia masses have remained on the right side of history whenever it has mattered most. In the post- Kanu era, the Luyhia people have remained with other Kenyans even though they didn't receive direction from any known political kingpin.

The two general elections and the two referendums on the constitution have shown that the Luyhia people have a mind of their own and do not need a magic wand to play politics.