Ledama ole Kina: valiant or tactless warrior?

Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina. Mr Ole Kina is bright, eloquent and knowledgeable. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Whereas the pro-Ruto MPs have opposed the government policy to evict settlers from the forest, the senator does not just support the policy.
  • He has also attacked the Jubilee administration over how it distributes public appointments, fanning his critics’ anger.

The competition to fill a political vacuum can breed vicious — even bloody — fights, especially where it elevates one to a political throne.

Nothing illustrates this more than the decision by the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) to remove Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina from two critical Senate committees for alleged disloyalty.

Mr Ole Kina’s conduct since joining politics, and his latest row with his party, has everything to do with the void in the Maasai political leadership, and his burning desire to inherit the mantle.

In modern Maasai legend, there has been only one defender of the rights of the community — the late William Ntimama — who served in the Cabinets of presidents Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki.

Since his death nearly four years ago, the throne has been unoccupied, and all those aspiring to it are doing all manner of things, including challenging the gods, to earn the sceptre and throne.

Even though the position must be filled, there will be no formal coronation. It will be filled the “Ntimamanian” way — invoking the name of the community to take on perceived enemies and asking them to “lie low like envelopes”.

ACTIVIST

Ntimama’s exit from the political stage and demise in 2016 has seen the emergence of a band of adrenalin-filled young politicians determined to take the throne.

The Maa community is one of the few in Kenya that has spurned modernity and still clings tightly to its traditions and cultural practices. For men, life is all about “moranism”, which is defined through a display of raw valour.

Way back in 1999, dressed in his Maasai traditional clothes, Mr Ole Kina undertook a trek of more than 1,200km in the US to raise money to promote girls’ education in the community.

The trek, from Durango in Colorado to Phoenix in Arizona, and then from Boston to Chicago, might have been the rehearsal for what has become his abrasive political style.

If there is an ideology called “Ntimamaism”, valour best describes it. It is standing up for the rights of your people in any way, even if it means singularly taking on the most powerful man.

SHOW OF VALOUR

It is what Mr Ole Kina aspires to be, the reason he took on his party, this past week, culminating in his getting the first whack of his short political career.

If life were fair, then Mr Ole Kina would the best man to sit on the chair of the committee his own party virulently denied him this past week.

He has been one of the major actors on the watchdog committee, whose mandate is to scrutinise the revenue, expenditure and investment policies of the 47 devolved units.

A graduate of political science and communication, Mr Ole Kina has awed the Senate press corps with the painless manner he crunches the numbers in the Auditor-General’s reports during committee sessions to expose the thieving of county chiefs.

Just like Ntimama, the man he seeks to replace in politics, Mr Ole Kina is bright, eloquent and knowledgeable, with an outstanding independent streak that makes him attractive to any political honcho.

But like all geniuses, he has this uncanny ability to destroy himself because of the tactless nature of his politics.

Although a first-term lawmaker, he behaves as if he is indispensable, even though he has a long way ahead if he is to build political stock with value.

MAU SAGA

Taking on ODM leader Raila Odinga is just the latest in his many tactless dog fights outside Parliament, in which like a true warrior, he believes he can single-handedly take on anyone and win.

Never the type to shy away from any conflict that affects the Maa, the senator has also taken on Deputy President William Ruto and MPs from the Kalenjin community over the conservation of the Mau Forest, the largest water tower in the country.

Whereas the pro-Ruto MPs have opposed the government policy to evict settlers from the forest, the senator does not just support the policy, he has gone a step further to provide the names of powerful people who, he has claimed, own land in the water tower.

While he must be venerated for how he has pushed for the preservation of the Mau Forest, the way he has gone about it has left many tongues wagging — might he be turning into a dangerous ethnic warlord?

He has also attacked the Jubilee administration over how it distributes public appointments, fanning his critics’ anger.

Yet, for him, as long as the Maa community is happy, nothing else matters.

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