What you need to know:
- The Odinga visit scheduled for October 30 at the Nyeri Kabiru-ini ASK grounds next to Dedan Kimathi University will be the first public rally by the former PM since the sensational “Handshake” of March 9, 2018 between him and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
- But the tour, and subsequent announcement that Mr Odinga would make a reciprocal visit for a public rally in Nyeri, has ignited vicious attacks against the Kiago group by rival lobbies.
A high-profile tour of Nyeri County planned for ODM leader Raila Odinga has ignited a vicious public altercation between central Kenya lobby groups jostling to play host.
A committee of organisers comprising the Kikuyu Council of Elders Association Trust (KCEAT), Luo Council of Elders, some MPs and businessmen from both sides met on Friday in Nairobi to plan for the visit. The team was scheduled to spend this weekend in Nyeri to oversee the ground preparations ahead of the visit being billed as a pace-setter event to pull a bigger crowd than Deputy President William Ruto attracted at Kenol in Murang’a County two weeks ago in a bid to show he had not sewn up the region under his belt yet.
The Odinga visit scheduled for October 30 at the Nyeri Kabiru-ini ASK grounds next to Dedan Kimathi University will be the first public rally by the former PM since the sensational “Handshake” of March 9, 2018 between him and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The “Handshake” resulted in new-found amity between the two rivals, and has since tossed contemporary political alignments into a tailspin across the country ahead of the 2022 General Election.
The irony of Mr Odinga’s return to the Kabirui-ini ASK Grounds is that the last time he was there to attend the 2017 Madaraka Day celebrations, his presence was not even acknowledged in official speeches.
The organisers of the October 30 visit led by the Kikuyu Council Elders Association (KCEA) chairman, Wachira Kiago, told the Sunday Nation, they were working with a programme that did not anticipate President Uhuru Kenyatta to accompany the ODM leader on the inaugural visit.
“We are still consulting with other stakeholders. Final details will be communicated at a later date. At the moment, some are of the view that the former PM should make the first tour alone so that central Kenya may spend quality time with him,” Mr Kiago said in an interview.
He would not reveal more on the membership of the organising committee.
Last weekend, Mr Kiago led a group of Kikuyu elders, women and youth to pay a rare visit to the Kisumu home of the Odingas, where they conducted highly symbolic events to mark cessation of political hostilities instigated by vicious competition for political power between the Kikuyus and Luos in the past.
The events projected as opening of a new chapter of co-operation, included an emotional delivery of two truckloads of fresh farm produce by Kikuyu women clad in traditional regalia to Mama Ida Odinga, amid song and dance.
The visit was preceded by traditional cleansing rituals and ceremonies conducted in Nairobi and Kisumu – which underpins the solemnity of the activities, in the words of the organisers.
But the tour, and subsequent announcement that Mr Odinga would make a reciprocal visit for a public rally in Nyeri, has ignited vicious attacks against the Kiago group by rival lobbies.
The rival lobbies have issued several press statements denouncing KCEAT as a dubious group that could not have legitimately represented the Kikuyu community in the Bondo visit, or play host to a visitor of Mr Odinga’s stature.
Ironically, although the ultimate aim and political symbolism of the cultural exchange events are geared to promote and advance the “Handshake” and Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) agenda initiated by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, BBI secretariat chief executive, Dr Stephen Karau, is spearheading the attacks against the Bondo visit.
Dr Karau himself is the CEO of the Gikuyu (Kikuyu) Council of Elders, registered in 2018 after his diplomatic tour as ambassador to Geneva (2013-2017), and now wants Kiago group to cease posing as the sole representative of Kikuyu community using Kikuyu Council of Elders Association Trust, registered in 2014, insisting his group is the legitimate face of the community.
Significant about how vicious the war over Raila visit has escalated is that among personalities who came out to attack Kiago and his group was Captain (Rtd) Kung’u Muigai, a Kenyatta family elder, who is the registered patron of the Dr Karau group.
Mr Kiago was last Tuesday compelled to make public the registration certificate of Kikuyu Council of Elders Association Trust (Perpetual Succession Act), after the Karau group swamped the media with allegations that the KCEAT was a community based organisation of doubtful legal status a cultural mandate.
Senior civil servants
Besides forming his Gikuyu Council of Elders, Dr Karau was instrumental in establishment of Gema Cultual Association (GCA) under the patronage of late politician and business magnate Njenga Karume.
The GCA, which operated from Jacaranda Hotel in Westlands before Karume died, is led by retired clergymen, Bishop Lawi Imathiu and Bishop Peter Njenga.
Karau was also former CEO of Mt Kenya Foundation (MKF) that comprises senior civil servants and corporate types from the Mt Kenya region. He has since ceded the position of MKF CEO to former National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) secretary-general Canon Peter Karanja.
The membership, leadership and patronage of MKF, GCA and Gikuyu (Kikuyu) Council of Elders is cross-cutting, and, often, individuals switch and shift sitting positions at the same table in the same meeting to constitute meetings of each entity in turns.