Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader Raila Odinga has pledged to address “systematic marginalisation” of the Maasai if elected President next year.
Mr Odinga yesterday met delegates from Kajiado, Narok, Samburu and Laikipia counties in Ong’ata Rongai, promising to protect their land rights.
The community, he told the delegation led by its spokesman, Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku, has historically gotten a raw deal on land.
“You have issues of land, marginalisation, human-wildlife conflict, traditions you hold dear but that jeopardise your desire to march at the same pace with other communities, environmental degradation and poverty, among others,” Mr Odinga said.
“We are all concerned about historical and current marginalisation of some parts of Kenya and the Maasai. It is the reason we will continue to push for more funds and resources to be devolved to counties.”
Mr Lenku said Mr Odinga was the community’s best bet in 2022.
“The Maa community want to throw support a leader who will address their challenges. Raila Odinga is our best choice.”
Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko said yesterday’s meeting was held to cement the Maasai community’s relationship with the former premier.
“You [Mr Odinga] have earned our trust. There is no other choice for presidency for the Maa community other than Raila Odinga,” said Mr Tobiko.
Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina urged Mr Odinga to showcase leadership that will see marginalised communities ascend to power at different levels of government.
Former National Assembly Speaker Francis Ole Kaparo said: “I have come to help Raila. I’m not in Jubilee or ODM but I have come to [help him] because I have a vote and I have a voice in this region,” Mr Kaparo said.
“We helped those other ones, we walked around the country but once they got into government, they forgot about the Maa community including myself,” Mr Kaparo added.
Mr Odinga said had Building Bridges Initiative constitutional referendum bid sailed through, allocations to Kajiado County would have increased by Sh6.3 billion to Sh12.8 billion, Narok County’s would have risen by Sh5 billion from the current Sh8 billion to Sh13 billion and Samburu’s by about Sh2 billion from the current Sh4.6 billion to Sh6.5 billion.
“Those billions that are on the verge of being denied to the Maa nation would work wonders in providing basics like water, dispensaries, hides and skins factories, slaughterhouses, schools and roads. And that is why we are asking the Maa not to give up,” Mr Odinga said.
He pledged to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, early marriages and cultural practices like female circumcision, saying, a community can only grow if women and girls are given an opportunity to thrive.
Other leaders who attended the meeting were MPs Peris Tobiko (Kajiado East), Moitalel Ole Kenta (Narok North), Memusi Kanchori (Kajiado Central), and former Agriculture PS Richard Lesiyampe.
Also in attendance was former Nairobi County Governor Evans Kidero and former Kajiado Governor David Nkedianye.