Luhya unity should be about Kenya’s advancement

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020 00:00 |
Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli.

Many a time, the petty and irritating subject of Luhya solidarity has been bandied around as a regular pastime. 

The casual argument regarding so-called ‘Elusive Luhya Unity’ has been that if the community consolidates their numerical strength for electoral pursuit of power, they will guarantee their socio-economic advancement in Kenya.

Those deliberations have never factored in corresponding arguments why members of the Luhya community remain among the poorest in the country in spite of abundant intellect, fertile soil and favourable climate, in addition to outpouring of sporting and entertainment talent.

That is also despite the geographical region they  inhabit neighbouring Kenya’s largest trading partner, Uganda, linked with only one tint tarmac road.

Currently, Kenya has a major challenge at hand: how we need to recover from ravages of Covid-19. Subsequently, this is linked to other problems Kenyans face.

How are we to put food on tables; how are we to revive industries; how are we to empower small businesses; how are we to ensure better healthcare, or education? 

Being a Luhya should mean much more than blessings of ethnicity and traditions sprouting from what was previously known as Western Province, now encompassing Kakamega, Vihiga, Busia and Bungoma counties, in addition to their Trans-Nzoia neighbour.

It should mostly be about how to develop a healthy and educated individual able to be a productive member of the greater commonwealth of Kenya just like his or her fellow citizens.

Luhya unity is as much a local community issue as it is a national one. Aside from the convention that solidarity should be based on an individual’s ancestry in the four counties, it should not be forgotten there are Luhyas who reside outside these borders. 

What should be made of people who despite being of Luhya lineage reside in other counties? Are we to say they are less Luhya? 

How about our fellow citizens of other ethnicities? What would mobilisation for purely political reasons on the basis ethnic exclusivity mean for them?

Do we think they are amenable to continued political domination or otherwise at the expense of the hopes and dreams of their children?

Even if identity has been the key to opening the doors of power, the evidence is clear that it is not the best pathway to ensuring Kenya is a wealthy, working country that considers the overall wellbeing of all its citizens.

So, what should Luhya unity mean in such a context? Coming together is a good thing in itself. However, it should be for the right reasons.

Struggles of the Luhya people and as Kenyans at large, relate to a common desire to achieve the full potential of our country and the shared destiny of creating a successful African State. 

The unity of the Luhya in the emancipation from poverty should be linked to shared struggles with members of other communities and Kenya’s redemption.

It should not make the mistakes of the past in advancing symbolic tribal kingships at the expense of national prosperity.

Rather, it should be a signal of the new community relations between the Luhya, as a heterogenous ethnicity, and a gesture of national harmony with others in the creation of secure townships, clean neighbourhoods, better cities, well maintained roads, excellent schools, efficient hospitals and more productive economies. — The author is a Revise Editor at People Daily Email:[email protected]

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