Four minority communities in Isiolo have united in a bid to enhance their bargaining power for socio-economic empowerment.
The journey to forge a united front by the Luo, Kisii, Kamba and Luhya communities started last November and culminated in the launch of Mwamko Mpya (New Dawn), a group through which they will champion for their rights.
The launch of the unity pact also offered an opportunity to the communities to weed out rogue individuals who have been masquerading as their officials.
Mwamko Mpya Chairman Reuben Ogendo and his Secretary-General Pascal Opudo said the four communities resolved to work together to push for their interests and enhance their lobbying power for improved livelihoods.
At the meeting attended by hundreds of residents and several elected leaders, the officials lamented that minority communities had been side-lined by the current and former regimes and, therefore, needed to push their interests as a team.
Sharing of resources
“We are not happy with how resources are shared and in most cases opportunities are given to majority communities, locking us out despite the law requiring that 30 per cent be offered to non-locals,” Mr Ogendo said.
Mr Opudo said the communities will be involved in a series of joint continuous social activities to ensure their unity lasts beyond the electioneering period.
“Our intention is to ensure we remain united at all times so that our issues are taken seriously by elected leaders and those seeking various seats,” he said, adding that a united minority will always defeat a divided majority.
The pact, the officials said, will help the communities speak in one voice and push their agenda on, among others, employment and better livelihoods to those aspiring for various seats in the August 9 elections.
“We are still looking into the agenda of individual candidates and we will in consultation with all (four) communities at a later date agree on who we will support but it will obviously be those who will promise to safeguard our interests," Mr Ogendo said.
No more blind following
Kisii community chairman David Ogati said they will no longer blindly support politicians but strike an agreement with them to ensure they keep their word.
“We have in the past supported leaders only for them to side-line us after we elect them. We will this time get into agreements to ensure we safeguard our interests. They (politicians) must tell us how we will benefit from their leadership before we commit to supporting them,” Mr Ogati said.
His Luhya counterpart Philip Ndoli, who spoke on behalf of the four communities, stressed on the need for all Isiolo communities to stay united and have political tolerance for a united county.
“We have started the journey and there is no going back. We will ensure our unity prevails past the elections,” Mr Ndoli said.
Leaders who attended the meeting were Senator Fatuma Dullo, Isiolo woman rep aspirant Sumeya Bishar, Isiolo North MP hopefuls Joseph Samal, Mwenda Thuranira and Abshiro Halake and MCA aspirants Hellen Makena (Wabera) and Witherford Mwirigi (Bulapesa).
Unity pact hailed
Ms Dullo hailed the unity pact by the communities and appealed to them to extend it past the election time.
“If you are divided, you will be swallowed by larger communities. You must be gatekeepers of your interests and remain united at all times,” she told the audience.
Ms Makena said Isiolo residents should consider women leaders in the August polls and inject fresh leadership for better livelihoods.
The leaders drummed up support for Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga, saying he is best qualified to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta.