• Two years to elections, Nyanza has the handshake, Central Kenya has Kieleweke, the Rift Valley has Tangatanga, and Ukambani has Wiper, but the Coast has nothing because we are not united.
• As the 2022 election draws closer, Pwani has to unite more than ever before, and unity of purpose will build a house for the region and give it a clout.
On December 12, 1972, as Kenya marked Jamhuri Day in celebration, tragedy befell the Coast region following Cabinet Minister Ronald Ngala’s death in a road accident on his way to Mombasa.
Ngala was the undisputed Pwani kingpin, an A-list politician who had the interests of Coast people at heart and his legacy lives on long after his death.
The coastal people did not know this at the time of his death, but they were doomed to wander in the political wilderness for 30 years, before another leader arose who could match Ngala in influence. This was Emmanuel Karisa Maitha.
He was appointed to President Mwai Kibaki’s Cabinet as the Tourism minister, and with that, the Coast returned to the high table of politics.
Maitha died in 2004 and Pwani has delayed in identifying a kingpin (mgogo) to replace him. This has hindered the region’s ability to get a place on the national negotiating table.
What seems to be the problem? Governors Amason Kingi (Kilifi) and Hassan Joho (Mombasa), the top leaders of the region, who are supposed to fight for Pwani have gone mute.
But then, who said it has to be Kingi or Joho who becomes the next regional kingpin? Does it have to be a man? Why can’t it be me, Naomi Cidi, or Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa? Does it have to be a governor finishing his 10-year term? Certainly not.
I have said in a previous article that Kingi and Joho must go back to Pwani people and consult because they have the ultimate power to decide who will be the leader to represent them on the national stage. The two should not imagine they can sit behind closed doors and deliberate who among them should be the kingpin.
As the 2022 election draws closer, Pwani has to unite more than ever before. That unity of purpose will build a house for the region and give us the clout that gets us invited to the high table to negotiate for parastatal jobs, ambassador postings and even the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister positions.
How has the region placed itself to equitably negotiate, and sign an MoU like other regions have done in the past? How does the region move from the opposition side to sit in government? A leader is needed for this.
We have our own unique issues: The land question, historical and current injustices, water scarcity, failed industries such as the cashew nuts, coconut, milk and agriculture, which in my youth were vibrant.
The tourism industry, which is unique to the Coast, has been brought to its knees on several occasions. And how about the Big Four agenda?
It’s a no brainer that we need a mgogo. Look at history: Ngala sat at the high table and negotiated for the region, Shariff Nasir and Maitha were not only leaders who sat at the high table but also articulated areas of development for Pwani and made decisions for us.
They were men of the people and had the region’s interests at heart.
Ngala’s death left a leadership vacuum, which Maitha filled and championed the cause of the Pwani people, and demanded that they stop being marginalised. His death was a blow to Pwani. Nassir was charismatic and pushed the Coast agenda until he died in 2005.
As it is now, no one is making development decisions for us.
Two years to elections, Nyanza has the handshake, Central Kenya has Kieleweke, the Rift Valley has Tangatanga, and Ukambani has Wiper, but the Coast has nothing because we are not united.
We jump into people’s political vehicles, live in people’s houses and end up being divided and ruled. It’s hard to swallow, but it’s a fact.
I can’t emphasise enough the need for the Coast region to unite, produce a driver, a mgogo, as we prepare him or her for the 2022 General Election.
That is why Pwani needs a party that has its interests at heart and that is what USPK offers. USPK is a national party that seeks to unite, not only the indigenous Mijikenda, but all the other communities in the region and the country.
It is time for the region to stand up and be counted if it wants to play a significant role on the national stage.