Ten Reasons Why Uhuru Kenyatta’s Nyanza Trip May Have Been Cancelled

Last week, Uhuru Kenyatta’s scheduled 3 day tour of Nyanza province was cancelled by the Office of President. Although Kisumu County Governor Jack Ranguma attended a meeting at the Office of President to discuss details of the meeting and even outlined the development projects Uhuru was set to address, the tour was

Okoth Osewe

Okoth Osewe

unceremoniously cancelled without rescheduling. The cancellation has since generated multiple theories and speculation especially in social media as online propagandists attempt to decipher the code that could explain why kamwana could not show up in the land of fish mongers where Baba is regarded as the President. Jokes aside, what are the probable reasons why Uhuru Kenyatta’s Nyanza tour was cancelled at the eleventh hour?

1. The trip was being organized when Baba was away giving lectures in the United States. Whether you like it or not, the presence of Uhuru Kenyatta in Nyanza province when baba is abroad could automatically have been construed by Baba’s supporters as an “insult” to Baba. This perception could have worked against Uhuru because it could have created the impression that after stealing Baba’s presidency, Uhuru was now seeking to undermine him in his absence at the very center of his political base. The consequence could have been unforeseen security risks posed by Baba’s supporters who were likely to seek chaos of sorts at any political meeting or gathering where Uhuru was the chief guest.

2. The last time Uhuru was in Nyanza, he was in Migori County where he was not just shouted down but also pelted with shoes by rowdy youths. In the glare of cameras, Uhuru miserably failed to calm the group of youths who were heckling him and throwing objects at the main dais. In the end, the President had to be surrounded by his security before being whisked away in what was probably the most shameful public scene Uhuru has ever been exposed to since he was sworn in as President. Compared to Kisumu County, Migori County is remote and is not popular for political hooliganism. It is notable that Baba was not at the meeting. Uhuru’s Nyanza tour may have been cancelled because of fear that if youths in Migori could make life difficult for Uhuru and cause him to be whisked away by security, what can the hard-core and die-hard Baba’s supporters at Baba’s biggest political base do if they were convinced that Uhuru’s trip was designed to undermine Baba in his absence?

3. Within the Republic of Nyanza, 99% of inhabitants believe that Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidency represents the second denial of Baba the seat of President through election rigging by Mount Kenya Mafia cartel. Under the circumstances, the wounds of the second stealing of Baba’s Presidency in Nyanza (especially Kisumu) have not healed. If the trip could have continued, it could have amounted to rubbing pilipili into a festering wound that was created by the stealing of Baba’s presidency in 2007. To bring the point home, one has to quote the Baba supporter who wept on TV after Baba’s appeal case on Presidential ballot was thrown out by the compromised Willy Mutunga led Supreme Court of Kenya. As he held a piece of paper which he claimed was “evidence” that election was rigged, this now famous supporter declared that “Nyanza is not Kenya” before giving Uhuru an ultimatum that he should never step foot in Nyanza (Kisumu). Although this man has no possibility of stopping Uhuru from visiting Nyanza, his words quietly resonates with the sentiments of millions of Baba’s supporters who believe that the rule of the Mount Kenya Mafia cartel had killed democracy in Kenya, destroyed elections as a legitimate method of changing governments and replaced elections with the will of the mafia.

4. Since flag independence in 1963, and because it has constantly been perceived as the seat of opposition by every government, Nyanza province has suffered both political and economic marginalization by the three previous regimes of Uhuru’s father Kenyatta, Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki. After presidential election was stolen in 2013, the people of Nyanza (just like millions of Kenyans) believed that during this era of devolution, resources would filter back to the counties from the Central government and that the issue of further marginalization on political grounds will not come into play. After Uhuru took over power, his Jubilee government has been spending more time frustrating devolution by starving the counties of the much needed funds for development. For the people of Nyanza, this starvation of funds is just but the continuation of the policy of stagnation, both economically and developmentally. Uhuru’s posture that he is touring Nyanza to “promote development projects” in Nyanza when his government is frustrating devolution is seen in Nyanza as a bluff. For this reason, his safety cannot be guaranteed especially if the trip does not have Baba’s blessing. Could this be why the trip was postponed by Uhuru’s security which advised against it?

5. If Baba has a huge following in Kenya, a fair assessment would place his support in Nyanza as “fanatical” where he is seen as a political messiah whose mission is to liberate Kenya and Baba knows this. Since he came to power, every Jubilee attack dog has been set (politically speaking) to maul baba. In the previous regime, Mwai Kibaki was Baba’s equal and although they had a similar share of “retirement benefits” after leaving Office, Baba is yet to get his share from Uhuru’s government although Kibaki continues to enjoy the red carpet, state security, a half a billion retirement home, an office among other goodies.   On the other hand, Baba has no State security and the seriousness of the situation became apparent when a miscreant made his way close to Baba with a bakora and caned him on the back, an ugly incident which was captured on camera. When Uhuru is coming to Nyanza, he is principally coming to meet Baba’s supporters. How does he expect them to treat him with dignity when he is treating Baba like a cockroach? It is akin to burning the koran then attempting to address Muslims in a mosque! Of cause! Baba cannot be equated with the koran and the analogy is only for example purposes. Can Uhuru survive the “fatwa” that was declared by Raila’s crying supporter?

6. In 1969 soon after Uhuru’s father, Jomo Kenyatta, killed Tom Mboya  (the brilliant Luo politician who was tipped to become President because Uhuru’s dad was aging), Kenyatta travelled to Kisumu to open the “Russian Hospital”. During the ceremony, a verbal altercation ensued between Jaramogi Oginga Odinga (Raila’s father) and Kenyatta. What ensued cannot be detailed here but in summary, Kenyatta ended up hurling dirty insults at both the late Odinga and members of the Luo community. “Nita wasiaga siaga kama unga… kuma mama zenyu” (I will crush you like floor… the vagina of your mothers), he said at which point stones begun to fly. The end result was that Kenyatta was stoned and the paramilitary, which accompanied him, had to open fire on the crowd as Kenyatta was whisked away to safety. A dawn to dusk curfew was then declared in Kisumu. How is this incident relevant to the cancellation of Uhuru’s Nyanza trip?

Sad as it may sound, the fear within Uhuru’s security is that the 1969 drama could replay itself especially if Raila Odinga is not involved in Uhuru’s trip. In the 1969 scenario, Jaramogi felt betrayed by Kenyatta whom he had helped by securing his release from detention so that the old man could become President of Kenya. After he came to power, Kenyatta embarked on a land-grabbing spree and political assassinations before adopting hostile positions which forced Jaramogi to resign from his position as Vice President to form the Kenya People’s Party which Kenyatta banned and then converted Kenya into a one Party dictatorship.

In the case of Raila, Uhuru Kenyatta came to power by stealing Raila’s Presidency after which he denied Raila his legitimate retirement benefits before sending Jubilee attack dogs to try and belittle, pour scorn and humiliate Raila. Now, Uhuru is not only frustrating devolution after failing to deliver on every election promise but is also trying to kill the Raila instigated Referendum which is in the interest of the people of Kenya. Uhuru has denied Raila security, a situation which saw an odiangabuk cane Raila in public. After committing all these crimes against Baba, Uhuru Kenyatta now wants to visit Raila’s strongest political base without involving the son of Odinga? The situation is pregnant with potential for rebellion and chaos from Baba’s supporters. It is this reality that forced the Intelligence services to advice Office of President to cancel the tour until further notice. What is more?

7. The truth is that if he is interested, Raila has both the mobilization and financial capacity to make life difficult for Uhuru Kenyatta if the son of Jomo decides to visit Nyanza against his will.  It may seem ridiculous that the President may need the “blessings” of Raila if he wants to be safe in Nyanza but this is the consequence of tribalism and hero worship. Many Kenyans will remember what happened during the “men in black” incident during ODM elections, an ugly incident which was blamed on Raila without evidence. The point is that if he visits Nyanza with the sole purpose of politically undermining Raila, the son of Odinga has his own underground channels of commanding his soldiers to turn the tables on Uhuru Kenyatta in a way that may remind Kenyans of the 1969 riots. The cancellation of Uhuru’s trip may have been informed by the fact that things could turn ugly depending on how Raila’s supporters viewed the visit.

8. Another problem is that if Uhuru Kenyatta is to defy all odds and visit Nyanza regardless of the circumstances, he will need a massive security operation to ensure his safety. This security cannot be provided by police alone. The paramilitary GSU will have to be brought in to help and, in extreme cases, KDF may have to chip in. The possibility of a massive security operation especially in Kisumu involving the military or paramilitary forces is the last move the Jubilee government would want to make in the name of getting a President in any part of Kenya. Instead of providing security, such a move would increase political temperatures and increase tension in Kisumu in a way that would dampen the very essence of Uhuru visit. If a massive security operation is put underway in the name of protecting Uhuru, it would confirm that the government is afraid of Kisumu residents while at the same time, such a move would keep residents away from Uhuru’s functions. Such an action would be very embarrassing especially if Uhuru has to address a public rally without listeners. To avoid such scenarios, cancelling the Uhuru tour was probably a better option.

9. So far, there are very few credible Luos occupying  key positions in Uhuru’s government. In fact, the level of Uhuru’s tribalism is unsurpassed in the history of Kenya. It is not just Luos complaining. So far, 40 out of the 42 tribes are also complaining. Members of the Kikuyu ethnic group have and continue to occupy every key position in government as Uhuru practices tribalism in government with impunity. The situation is so serious that even members of the Kalenjin community (who are supposed to be on a 50-50 power sharing deal) are crying foul. The question that may have been answered by Uhuru’s security which cancelled the tour is that it will be impossible to fool members of the Luo community that a 3 day tour “to address development projects” will reverse the tribalism the government continues to practice as seen in the non-appointment of Luos and other ethnic groups in government positions.

10. Kisumu governor Jack Ranguma has been deeply involved in trying to get Uhuru to Kisumu. However, it must not be forgotten that Ranguma is an ally of Raila and his activities in the Office of President are seen more as diplomatic rather than serious. Despite his position as governor, Ranguma cannot guarantee Uhuru’s security in Kisumu neither is he in a position to control Kisumu youths if they decide that Uhuru is persona non Grata in Nyanza. Despite Ranguma’s assurances about security and numerous trips to OP, the Uhuru tour was cancelled because the National Security Intelligence has a more clear picture of both the situation and what is possible.

This is not to suggest that Uhuru Kenyatta will never make it to Kisumu on a political mission. Much will depend on whether he can talk to Baba to talk to his people otherwise the situation will continue to remain bleak for kamwana because of the factors mentioned. It is unfortunate that some individuals have so much power even when they are outside government but that is the reality in Kenya today.

Okoth Osewe  

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