This column picks up from where it left off on Saturday, July 19, 2014. In that piece, we introduced what many considered controversial. Throughout history, both innovative and unconventional ideas have always been deemed controversial.
Original ideas cause intense debates without which human civilisations would die. Fortunately, ideas never die. I have stated that Luos should emulate (not imitate) the Jews.
I never intended – nor would I ever want – the Luo to be inspired by Zionism, the State of Israel, or what a Canadian-based author, Jew and former Zionist, Gabor Maté, has recently called “the horrors and nightmares of Israel.”
That’s a distinction with a difference. My article was about how the Jewish people – not Israel - have undergone and overcome centuries of bondage, barbarism and dehumanization – from the Biblical slavery in Egypt; to the many years in the wilderness upon escape; to the Spanish Inquisition; to the Holocaust; and to McCarthyism.
They have done so through hard work, thrift, diligence, detail, consistency, discipline and self-criticism. The centuries of suffering steeled them. It forced them to become resourceful and innovative.
Over the years, they have continued to produce some of the world’s best thinkers, scientists, physicists, lawyers, inventors, creators, artists and entrepreneurs in all fields of human endeavours.
They have given us Moses (1391-1271 BC); Jesus of Nazareth; Baruch Spinoza; Albert Einstein; George Soros; and Noam Chomsky. As of 2012, there were about 12.4 million Jews around the world. That’s miniscule in ethnic global demographic terms.
Yet, more than any other single ethnic group, the Jews have produced 39 Nobel Laureates in Biology and Medicine; 33 in Physics, and 24 in Economics.
In the USA alone, they have founded, own or control all 23 leading TV, film and video production companies: Seagram, Viacom, Columbia Pictures, 20th Century, Fox, Time Warner, Disney, DreamWorks, ABC, Universal Pictures, CBS, NBC, RCA, Warner Brothers, Miramax, Paramount Pictures, New York Daily News and New York Times among others. Jews dominate leading academic, scientific, professional and learning centres globally.
They outnumber all other ethnic groups in the world’s wealth indices. Between 1916 to the present, they have produced eight US Supreme Court justices, including two current ones – Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Elena Kagan.
They have occupied all leading positions of influence in the US since confederacy except the Presidency. Interestingly, when The Jerusalem Post of Saturday, July 26, 2014, published what it called “50 Most Influential Jews” globally, it placed the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at number 3, after US Secretary f Treasury, Jack Lew, and Chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen.
The rest of the top places were taken up by rabbis, researchers, human rights activists and philanthropists – with a few politicians sprinkled here and there.
What’s the vital lesson here? That even though Jews value state power, they place a premium on their self-preservation and advancement as a group.
They know that those with political power aren’t necessarily the most instrumental in the preservation and advancement of their community’s interests. To them, Sheldon Adelson, the CEO and owner of Sands Hotel and Casino; Malcolm Hoenlein, the vice-chairman of the Conference of Major American Jewish Organisations; Adina Bar-Shalom, the founder of the Heredi College for Women; and Steven Spielberg, film director, screenwriter, producer and business magnate, are considered more influential than all those US senators, governors and Congressmen combined.
If Luos had the number of business magnates, entrepreneur billionaires, intellectuals, inventors, newspaper, TV, film and video owners as well as the number of Nobel Laureates the Jews have produced, they wouldn’t view the presidency as their nirvana.
Children would grow up with role models in every conceivable field. Accessing credit and finance for new enterprises wouldn’t require state intervention. Even state intervention wouldn’t require a referendum! Influence would be symbiotic.
Unemployment and grinding poverty among the Luo can only be alleviated by creating jobs through industry, technology, agriculture, modern fishing and the unveiling of high technological training and innovation.
Education, research and entrepreneurship, which Mr Raila Odinga and his rich friends, and funders can contribute to from their stashed billions, would help address issues of HIV Aids pandemic, high mortality rate, ow productivity, poor education and health standards in Luo Nyanza.
A genuinely selfless, visionary, pragmatic and committed national leader might help address these problems. However, such a leader doesn’t have to be a Luo. Issues of poverty, marginalisation and unequal development aren’t matters of ethnicity. They affect all citizens.
That’s why the Luo must change their perspective and attitude and start viewing life and success holistically. They must utilise their boundless energies and intellect to create an environment that would advance critical thinking, creativity and resourcefulness.
They must focus on socio-economic, cultural and intellectual empowerment, instead of persistently placing their hopes and energies in sectarian politics.
Mr Odinga was the Prime Minister of Kenya for five long years, and yet he did absolutely nothing to address the conditions of the poverty-stricken, the unemployed and the marginalised. If anything, the situation might have gotten worse for Luos during the grand coalition government.
Let us remember that despite his Luo heritage, the President of the United States, Barack Obama, has done close to zero for the Luo, and hardly anything worth writing home about for Africans and African Americans.
Notwithstanding that, however, we must acknowledge that Obama’s rise to the highest office in the United States will be an enduring symbol and inspiration for African children all over the world.
That symbolism wouldn’t have been realised if Tom Mboya, then only in his early 30s - and without the ultimate instruments of power – hadn’t initiated the ‘airlifts’ that took Barack Obama, Sr to the US, and resulted in the President’s birth.
There are tens of thousands of young people who benefited from those scholarships, and have been continuing to make the world a better place to live in.
In my considered view, Mboya’s legacy has been more outstanding than that of all East African presidents combined. It reinforces the point that pursuing the presidency with the hope that it will help address all the problems facing the Luo isn’t realistic.
Mr Miguna Miguna is a lawyer and author of Peeling Back the Mask: A Quest for Justice in Kenya and Kidneys for the King: Deforming the Status Quo in Kenya. [email protected]