MP Kitayama: Why I want Kuria hived off Migori

MP behind bill proposing additional five counties opens up on bid for independence

In Summary

•Cites longstanding injustices 

•Says their woes as a community became worse after the promulgation of the Constitution.

Kuria East MP Marwa Kitayama
Kuria East MP Marwa Kitayama

Kuria East MP Marwa Kitayama on Tuesday opened up about his push for the creation of five additional counties, citing historical injustices.

He said the bid was informed by the harsh treatment the minorities have been subjected to in the counties as currently constituted.

Kitayama is leading a team of five other MPs seeking changes to the Constitution to create Kuria, East Pokot, Mt Elgon, Teso and Mwingi counties.

He has drafted a bill proposing the devolved units be created, a legislation that is likely to kick up a storm when it will be introduced in the House.

Citing the case of Migori, Kitayama said they have come to the conclusion that the Kuria community will never get its fair share in the county government.

“We thought that we would do negotiated democracy to survive in Migori. It worked for some time in 2013 but we were short-changed by the dominant party and we lost out on what we thought we’d get,” he said.

“In 2017, we lost everything in terms of seats including those that we negotiated in 2013. They took everything and we got only one seat of the deputy governor, which was inconsequential.”

Kitayama said that even the nomination of Dennitah Ghati as MP in the last Parliament was out of her close ties with Raila Odinga, and had nothing to do with a share to the Kuria community.

The MP said they had banked on the BBI to address the matter but the promoters were disinterested when the community presented a petition to the task force.

“The promoters were disinterested and did not talk about it in the final draft. They only talked about constituencies and ignored us,” the legislator explained.

“I believe we have another opportunity. It is a good time to make the move. Since the amendments is a long process, it only makes sense to me that starting this early enables us to go through this process.” 

In an exclusive interview with the Star at Parliament Buildings, the lawmaker said their woes as a community became worse after the promulgation of the Constitution.

“Between 1992 to the time the Constitution was reviewed on August 2010, the people of Kuria were very happy. They were getting their resources and were managing their own affairs. Things looked good until the new Constitution happened,” Kitayama said.

He blamed their woes on the Committee of Experts decision to ignore five districts that existed, but were yet to be gazetted in 1992.

“When the new law was being drafted, they decided to pick the districts that were gazetted in 1992 but Kuria was left behind as it was operationalised in 1992 but gazetted two months later in 1993,” Kitayama said.

It was this criteria, he said, that several districts including Ijara, Teso, Mt Elgon, Mwingi, and East Pokot (presently Tiaty) were left out.

Kitayama said ahead of the creation of Kuria district in 1992, the community had been agitating for their rightful share of government.

“I have been to several meetings since I became an adult, every time our people congregate they talk about 'their situation'. We have agitated for anything of gain, good governance or anything to our advantage since independence,” he said.

“Even to be called Kuria was something that we fought for as the colonial rulers had written in all government records that we were referred to 'Watende' which is a small clan within a sub-clan.”

He said their leader in the pre-Independence era, Maisori Tumbo, negotiated for a constituency and a proper name for the community.

It was then that founding President Jomo Kenyatta allocated Kehancha Division, but the residents still reported to Kisii for government services.

“We agitated together with Homa Bay and we were then assigned South Nyanza which we went on for several years. It became very difficult for us to get services because of the distance, the language and the general boisterous personalities that our brothers have. The people of Kuria would feel intimated and felt ignored,” Kitayama said.

“It went on and after some time, we were able to get a district-Migori…we thought that it was closer to us, but then again with time what was going on in Homa Bay was perpetuated in Migori.” 

“We went on with the fight and got Kuria District in 1992…We got a DC and started to get our money as well as services. The agitation then stopped for some time.”

Kitayama told the Star that had the Constitution drafters considered all the former districts (52), the matter would have been sorted.

“Being a minority in the House, the people of Kuria found themselves where if they have to make noise, it is impossible for them to achieve anything. It was not possible for Senator Wilfred Machage (deceased) to lobby anything,” he said.

Kitayama said the route to amend the Constitution would go a long way to solving the issues “other than giving us the money and asking us to keep quiet.”

“For me to have taken this route I'm well aware that it is difficult but my primary responsibility is to represent the people of Kuria East. It starts with Kuria East, but of course with the proximity of Kuria West, they are speaking the same language,” the MP stated.

The Star has established that the legislative proposal is currently before the Clerk for further processing.

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