Why Luoland rose up against the Odingas in ODM polls

Written By Michael Maunda on Monday, January 21, 2013 | 8:50 PM


Friday, January 18, 2013 is a day Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga may want to mark in his diary.
It is the day Luo Nyanza woke up.

National television beamed images of angry Karachuonyo youth tearing Mr Odinga’s campaign posters and chanting pro-TNA slogans.

Kenya Elections 2013
A young man sensing that Mr William Oduol, the people’s choice for Siaya governor, might be short-changed in the ODM nominations in favour of Dr Oburu Oginga, the PM’s elder brother, warned on TV: “If Raila lets us down, we shall let him down.”

NTV reporter Larry Madowo, who has been covering the nominations in the county in the past three days, posted a telling tweet: “A mother just stopped me in Siaya town: ‘Bwana Larry, tell Raila Odinga that the fact that we’re poor does not mean we’re stupid.’”
Politicians passing themselves as close allies of the PM’s were voted out amidst an angry wave of anti-Odinga sentiment across the land.

To make sense of these events, one has to consider the fact that until recently the picture would be very different.
The Siaya man would be hero-worshipping Raila, the Karachuonyo crowd would be declaring its willingness to die for Raila, the Siaya mother would be singing Raila’s praises, and the politicians would only need to pass by a trading centre to deliver fake greetings from Raila to earn the party ticket.

Chances are that the PM will publicly dismiss Friday’s events as another storm in a tea cup.
But privately he’ll be hurting and asking himself how it came to this.
Well, he won’t have to look any further than himself and the people around him for an answer.
The current rebellion is a culmination of a simmering resentment against an evolving Odinga hegemony and his patronising of Luo politics over the years.

There is a growing perception that voters in Luo Nyanza don’t go to the polls to elect their leaders but to help Raila select his friends. It is not by accident that the ODM nominations were particularly flawed in the Luo Nyanza counties.

The informal power wielded by Mrs Ida Odinga, the PM’s wife, in ODM Elena Ceausescu-style has also alienated a section of party faithful.
If the people had somehow come to tolerate the patronage as a small sacrifice for the party leader, their patience has lately worn thin in light of what they consider attempts by the Odingas to go for broke.

Word on the street is that in this election alone, at least five members of the Odinga family intended to run for various seats in Nairobi, Siaya and Kisumu.
For a man who partly owes his popularity to the notion that he is a political enigma, the PM’s high-profile role in the coalition government also served to remove the mystery.
Even among his most ardent supporters, there have to be some who look at him and think of the scandals at his office discussed in WikiLeaks and Miguna Miguna’s Peeling Back the Mask.
jkotieno@ke.nationmedia.com