It is to be sincerely hoped that the contenders for the governorship of Kajiado — principally incumbent Joseph ole Lenku, Dr David Nkedianye and Katoo ole Metito — are all taking Kalonzo’s words with a pinch of salt
At a recent political rally, former Vice President and Wiper Democratic Movement leader Kalonzo Musyoka offered himself to become the Maa spokesman, vowing to ensure justice was done regarding Maasai land grievances.
Beyond whatever political capital Kalonzo would make from such a statement, the fact is that his is a pedestrian approach to historical land injustices that does not portray any seriousness in getting to the core of the matter. Indeed, Kalonzo would be the last person the Maasai community should pin their hopes upon for the resolution of land or any other pressing issues.
To begin with, this is a politician whose political career spans nearly four decades, during which he has never distinguished himself as a crusader for any sort of social justice issues, let alone the complex land issues confronting various Kenyan communities.
As a matter of fact, he is known to have been a key cog in the wheel of oppression during the days of the late president Daniel arap Moi’s dictatorship. In those dark days in Kenya’s history, Kalonzo served in various high-level positions, including as Organising Secretary of the then all-powerful Kenya African National Union (KANU) and as an Assistant Minister for Works, Housing and Physical Planning. He was later elevated to full Cabinet Minister, serving in various portfolio that included foreign affairs and international relations; tourism and information; and education and human resource development. He also served as a Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly. In none of these positions did he so much as whisper a word in favour of Maasai land rights or any other development-oriented concerns.
With the coming of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) government under former president Mwai Kibaki, who later won a second controversial term under the Party of National Unity (PNU), Kalonzo’s star continued to rise. He eventually rose to the position of Vice President, putting him a heartbeat away from the presidency and at the centre of state power and hence the allocation of state resources. Did Kalonzo use this power to benefit the Maasai? Did he even use it to benefit his own people, the Kamba?
A glance at the history of Ukambani since independence reveals that little was done in the years before devolution, which came about following the enactment of the new constitution in 2010. Despite their other weaknesses that may be pointed out, the three Ukambani counties of Makueni, Kitui and Machakos have been under the able leadership of some of Kenya’s most development-conscious governors — Prof Kivutha Kibwana, Charity Ngilu and Alfred Mutua, respectively. Boreholes have been dug, hospitals equipped, and new industries initiated. Why didn’t Kalonzo make even an iota of the difference we are now seeing in Ukambani in all his years of political power?
Charity begins at home. Examining the record of Kalonzo’s performance both in his home turf and as a national politician, it would be foolhardy for the Maasai community to pin their hopes on him. The Maasai community has enough articulate politicians who can champion its agenda and concerns. It is to be sincerely hoped that the contenders for the governorship of Kajiado — principally incumbent Joseph ole Lenku, Dr David Nkedianye and Katoo ole Metito — are all taking Kalonzo’s words with a pinch of salt.