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By KWENDO OPANGA

Somebody tell the young men who chanted slogans and threw shoes and chairs at the dais during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to Migori County, that they caused hearts to
miss beats, mouths to gape and, they stilled tongues.

Drunk or sober, in jest or being earnest, insane or sane, those young men reminded Kenyans of the chilling events of October 25, 1969 in Kisumu.

The entourage, motorcade and security detail of visiting President Jomo Kenyatta literally shot its way through throngs of supporters of the Kenya People’s Union (KPU) of the late Oginga Odinga after an unseemly altercation between the two political titans.

Officially, only 11 people were killed but, as records Charles Hornsby, the very hospital Old Jomo had gone to open was overflowing with corpses.

Then, as now, political tension was high.

Three years earlier, Old Jomo had clipped the wings of his Vice-President Odinga by getting Kanu to create seven party vice-presidents.

Piqued, an increasingly frustrated Odinga quit in a huff.

In came KPU, Kenya’s first socialist party, and Luoland was put in lengthy political lockdown.

In the lead-up to October 25, something worse befell the Luo community.

On July 5, 1969, Thomas Joseph ‘TJ’ Mboya was assassinated.

Mboya had been used by Old Jomo to tame
Odinga, but he was still a Luo and the one politician many in and out of Kenya believed had his eyes firmly trained on becoming president.

It took a bullet to stop the politician historian ES Atieno Odhiambo called sungura mjanja par excellence.

Assassination is clinical and final; the subject is here this minute and gone forever the next.

RULED KENYA

The story is told that Old Jomo’s security chiefs were of the view that he should not travel to open Kisumu’s two-year-old Russian-built hospital which he had twice refused to
inaugurate.

Old Jomo, so the story goes, asked them if he ruled Kenya or a part of it. If he ruled Kenya, he was going to Odinga’s turf.

Of course, Odinga was not invited to the function, but he and his supporters turned up anyway in a mighty show of force.

Can those young men in Migori now see the kind of security scare they must have created?

Can they now see that the President’s security detail deserves credit for behaving responsibly?

Surely they now must understand that what they were doing could have ignited a conflagration and plunged the country into massive political mayhem.

They may not thank Mr Kenyatta for saying he is their President and will visit Nyanza again.

But they may want to know that Old Jomo never set foot in Nyanza again from that
day in October 1969.

They may not know the significance of the President’s remark that political competition does not mean enmity.

But they may want to know that within 24 hours of the fracas in Kisumu, Old Jomo banned KPU and detained its top brass.

Somebody tell those young men that the reason funerals are platforms for politics in Nyanza can be traced to those days of the 60s.

Meetings of more than 10 people were banned throughout the province.

Funerals, therefore, became important places for mobilisation and venues of choice for politicians to get their messages across.

‘CHOREOGRAPHED HOOLIGANISM’

Somebody tell those youths to consider the statement from The National Alliance (TNA), the President’s party.

Chairman Johnson Sakaja called their action “choreographed hooliganism”.

A skilled political propagandist is bottled up in
that young body.

The TNA line is ominously clear: That was
organised political violence aimed at the President.

The potent is equally manifest: The dominant political leadership in Nyanza organised the chaos that put the security of the Head of State in jeopardy and must be held squarely
responsible.

Somebody tell those youths they have handed the propaganda initiative to the President and TNA which, going by Mr Sakaja’s statement, typifies the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) as partakers in organised political
savagery.

Somebody tell those young men the mud they threw at the President has landed bang on the faces of ODM leaders.

In Migori, the President came across as a statesman and one determined to govern as a modern leader.

Old Jomo used the coercive instruments of proscription, detention and marginalisation to deal with the political problem that was Odinga.

Unlike his father, the President must fight political wars politically, especially after his huge score in Migori.

How about ODM?

The missile-throwing youths of Migori
followed in the footsteps of the ballot-destroying men in black in February. That is called self-destruction.

Opanga is a media consultant;

opanga@diplomateastafrica.com

“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®

“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®

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