Clan rivalry takes centre stage as ‘Mulembe’ leaders eye posts

Thursday, July 29th, 2021 00:00 |
Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi addresses the press after a past meeting of leaders from the Western region. Photo/PD/John Ochieng

Dennis Lumiti

The sub-tribal and county politics in the Mulembe Nation are taking centre-stage as aspirants position themselves for the next elections.

The battle for political supremacy in the restless community has re-emerged with leaders from the different counties and sub-tribes exchanging bitter words ahead of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit from Sunday.

Governors led by Kakamega’s Wycliffe Oparanya have united against Amani National Congress (ANC) chief Musalia Mudavadi and his Ford-Kenya counterpart Moses Wetangula who are treated as the de facto leaders of the community.

There is also a third-force led by former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale.

Oparanya and Khalwale hail from the influential  Kakamega County and separately believe it is the turn for the county to stake its claim in the western region leadership in next year’s elections.

Western region

Oparanya, on the one hand, will be exiting the governorship but still wants to control politics in the county and the entire Western region.

Khalwale, on the other hand, is eyeing to become the kingpin of not just Kakamega but Luhya community at large.

Mudavadi hails from the Maragoli sub-tribe in Vihiga County while Wetangula is a Bukusu from Bungoma County.

Leaders from the two sub-tribes have dominated Luhya politics over the years.

These include Mudavadi’s father Moses Budamba Mudavadi from Maragoli, Masinde Muliro, Elijah Mwangale, Michael Wamalwa and Musikari Kombo are  from Bukusuland.

Kakamega has the highest number of voters at more than 750,000 as at 2017 but leaders from the county feel they are being taken for granted.

“I supported Michael Wamalwa and Musalia Musalia Mudavadi and I believe it is my turn to earn the fruits,” said Khalwale who is eyeing the Kakamega gubernatorial seat.

Khalwale is Deputy President William Ruto’s pointman in the county but he appears to be targeting something more than the governorship.

The former senator hails from the Idakho sub-tribe that dominates Ikolomani Constituency.

Oparanya is a Marama from Butere and has declared his interest in the presidency on the ODM ticket.

Busia, which produced the likes of John Osogo, Prof Julia Ojiambo, Moody Awori and Amos Wako, appears to be also soul-searching especially after being edged out from the political backbone of the Luhya Nation.

Mudavadi and Wetangula are united under the One Kenya Aliance. But critics say the duo has always pushed for development in their communities and counties at the expense of the other sub-tribes.

Elders and other leaders from the community, however, said yesterday that the community should discard sub-tribal and county affiliations if they expect to win the presidency next year.

“We should borrow a leaf from Mt Kenya and Rift Valley which have united yet they are just autonomous communities,” said former Cabinet Minister Burudi Nabwera.

Nabwera, who is a member of the Luhya Elders Council, said the community should embrace “Luhyaism” more than their sub-tribes.

The Council Chairman Philip Masinde urged Luhyas to not only embrace one another but also reach out to other communities in the region such as Tesos and Sabaots.

He said it was healthy that the Busia governor Sospeter Ojaamong is a Teso and that he expected a Sabaot to be Bungoma governor some day.

Former Cabinet Minister Musikari Kombo echoed the sentiments and termed sub-tribal inclinations as backward.

“What profits you to call yourself a Bukusu or Maragoli? Does it add value? Let us unite and we shall ascend to the presidency. The Mulembe Nation is one family,” he said.

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