The Power of The Atwoli Legacy to Western Kenya Communities

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli

Many questions have been flying hither and thither why the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) boss Francis Atwoli went that far in efforts and expense to hunt for a favoured personality to become the spokesman for the communities of Western Kenya.

Many have already gone on record to criticize and vilify him for taking that noble historic step that saw Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Wycliffe Musalia Mudavadi emerge the winner of two other potentials Moses Wetangula and Wycliffe Oparanya.

The scientific research route that Mr. Atwoli took despite the baseless criticism leveled at him was the best option considering the fact that conducting an electioneering process would have been more expensive and too cumbersome to effect.

Therefore if Kenyans can every other day accept opinion polls conducted by commercially oriented opinion pollsters like the Ipsos among others, the University of Nairobi’s commissioned research by Mr. Atwoli is even much better and realistic.

Indeed the veteran trade unionist who also hails from the Western Kenya region was making history in hunting and achieving what has been elusive for a people of more than 6 million to get since independence yet they have the numerical power to make a great impact on the destiny of the nation.

The worst aspect of the whole business is the fact that because of the perceived divisiveness of the region’s communities they have for decades been abusively exploited and rendered virtually irrelevant in the national political dispensation, interests and destiny simply because they are considered that they can never unite and speak in one voice like other communities.

The communities of western Kenya apart from the populous Luhyia tribe with its 18 sub-tribes includes the Teso, Terechi and the Sabaots all of which have so much inter-married adopted each others’ languages, traditions and cultures to the extend that they are hardly distinguishable from one to the other.

It must not be forgotten that since the 1950s the search for the communities’ unity and spokesman to articulate their single voice has been relentless starting with one of its own respected leaders the late Moses Amalemba through the late Martin Shikuku, the late Masinde Muliro, Elijah Masinde, Moses Mudamba Mudavadi among others, but it remained a virtually non-existent pipe dream.

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It goes without saying that the region has seen its sons struggle to the second highest office in the land of the Vice President starting with Musalia Mudavadi who was literally forced to shelve his ambitions to vie for the Presidency in 2002 to be the shortest serving Vice President to Moi and running mate to President Uhuru Kenyatta at his first attempt for the job to succeed Moi on a Kanu ticket but lost to retired President Mwai Kibaki.

He was immediately followed after that year’s elections by the late Wamalwa Kijana as Kibaki’s Vice President and upon his death succeeded by Moody Awori becoming the third Vice President from the Western Kenya region – Mudavadi from Vihiga, Wamalwa from Bungoma and Awori from Busia counties but all had failed to unite the communities effectively.

Ironically the most populous and largest county from in the region Kakamega from where the President of the workers’ unions Atwoli hails from has never produced a politician to ascend to the second highest office of the land.

Therefore it is from this background that what the workers’ President did was long overdue if the numerical power and unity of the region is going to be rendered highly relevant in fighting for their rights to access the national cake.

And not just being rendered irrelevant and third class citizens to be exploited by the so called self thumbing Wandu wa Nyumba nene (People of the big house) and the Kalenjins who come a distant third in numerical strength of the country’s communities.

Indeed Mr. Atwoli must have recognized the fact that unless something drastic was done to change the perennial status quo where the Wandu Wa Nyumba nene and the Kalenjins have persistently exploited at benefited from the communities disjointed and fractious voting tendencies to the presidency they would be doomed for exploitation forever.

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The biggest irony being that yet they have the numerical power not only to determine but most important to change the destiny of this nation forever once their spokesman with the support of the rest of the leaders consolidates this numerical strength into a highly powerful and deadly voting bloc that has been elusive for decades.

Not that this is an impossible task, but it is indeed highly achievable as was first publicly exhibited when the whole communities of the Western Kenya region rebelled against Moi and his Kanu after forcing Mudavadi who had rebelled to play second fiddle to Uhuru Kenyatta as Moi’s choice successor – that rebellion spelt the end of Kanu in the entire region.

The same communities again and again demonstrated their capacity to vote as a powerful voting bloc in the first constitutional referendum which they rejected en-masse and it had to go back to the drawing board and when the second referendum was conducted, they voted for it as a bloc that resulted into the new Constitution of the Republic of Kenya 2010 promulgated the same year in August.

Therefore, attempts for that unity and a spokesman in the previous years having been roundly condemned as tribal were only deliberately calculated to ensure that these communities remained constantly divided to be exploited at every electioneering year where they would always be short-changed and relegated to third class citizens otherwise those detractors should explain why the existence of the decades old GEMA and KAMASTUSA groupings – the former largely perennially exploiting the Embu and Meru cousins.

Indeed the possible emergence of the Nyumba Nene Ya Mulembe is already sending deadly shockwaves particularly in the GEMA and KAMATUSA outfits who have always benefited from a heavily divided Mulembe house otherwise united it makes a formidable adversary.

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This is already being exhibited by the persistent desperate forays into the region by President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto with pockets bursting with cash to buy out some of the regions leaders, particularly Members of Parliament to sell out their communities.

The best examples that have already come out to the public domain with these Jubilee manipulations, intrigues and outright buy outs are former ODM Secretary General and Budalangi legislator Ababu Namwamba, Bungoma county Governor Ken Lusaka, cabinet secretary Eugene Wamalwa, former cabinet ministers Musikari Kombo, Noah Wekesa, Fred Gumo including a host of MPs who are reportedly bought outright to defect to Jubilee.

Atwoli the Kenyan Worker’s President must have recognized all these facts and moved fast to save whole communities who for decades have been enslaved to serve the greedy interests of others when they are capable of shaping and determining the destiny of this country.

He must have come face to face with the realities of the desperations on the ground for the ordinary Mulembe communities on the ground as he went from one community to another to consult with elders and people from all walks of life to be able to determine what must be done.

Indeed the biggest challenge remains in ensuring that the hungered for unity is totally achieved considering the fact that Jubilee and its operatives with their financial might are still determined to keep these communities in perpetual slavery with the biggest target group being the Bukusu mostly from Bungoma and Trans Nzoia counties.

What must not be forgotten is the fact that where there is a will there is a way and with a united force nothing is impossible after all Kenyatta and Ruto are not nationalists but personalities thriving on the power of their tribal unities then why not the communities of western Kenya that should eat their (Uhuruto) monies but remained focused and determined for the big seat.

-Additional Reporting By Musa Radoli





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