If there is a region that has paid the ultimate price for politics in post-independence Kenya with the lives of its people, it’s arguably the Luo nation. There is not a single region in Kenya where graves of political victims are numerous than in this region. Young men and leading politicians have all succumbed to the bullets fired for political reasons. July 5, 1969, is edged in the minds of many but for the wrong reasons. What was later to be known us the ‘Kisumu massacre’ is still fresh in the minds of Kenyans at large.
What series of events triggered the Kisumu massacre? Four months before the fateful day, Tom Mboya who was a leading light of the community was gunned down in Nairobi in what was suspected to be a well-orchestrated move to lock out the Luo community from the presidential succession race. Another leading light of the community, Argwings Kodhek had been gunned down too. Jaramogi, Kenya’s first vice president had also resigned following a fall out with Jomo Kenyatta to form Kenya People’s Union (KPU).
The political temperatures were high. When Jaramogi Oginga started to speak as the crowds were chanting ‘ndume,’ KPU mantra, the security personnel of Jomo Kenyatta fired into the crowd leaving more than 11 dead on the spot and hundreds injured. According to historical records, the venue was filled with unsuspecting children and teachers who were to perform poems and songs for the president. Many of them met their end. The presidential security team continued to fire on people traveling along the route that the president was using until he was safely out of Nyanza leaving a bloodbath in his wake.
After the massacre, the marginalization of the community was birthed. The government in a bid to tame the Luo Nation stalled all projects in Luo Nation such as the Ahero irrigation scheme. Luo names became a liability and some people changed them in a bid to get promoted at work, to live in ‘peace,’ and to get basic services like health in government hospitals. Until now, a Luo name is attached to stereotypes based on who you are talking to.
That’s the memory that was stirred in my mind when I received the breaking news that two young men had been shot in Siaya and one more gunned down in Kisumu while scores were critically injured in Homa Bay and Nairobi while attending CORD protests. The police issued a statement concerning the use of live bullets. Different personalities have argued that the police are justifying their acts of brutality while some have supported the incident.
The images of the victims of police brutality circulating online broke my heart into a heap of fine powder. A cold fear ran through my backbone and my stomach rumbled. The image of my crushed father and mother when we lost our brother to a fatal road accident in 2010 ran through my mind. How will their parents respond? Perhaps they had hoped that their sons would bury them but as fate would have it, they are going to bury their sons. Think about the heartbreak that the mothers of those three men are going through as we speak. What about their wives and siblings? How will they ever trust a police force that violently took away from them their SUNS?
But the pertinent question that young men from Luo Nation must ask themselves is this; For how long are we going to die young because of politics? Are we going to die like flies simply because we are not happy with IEBC, election results, the regime of the day etc? While demonstrations are constitutional, but can we change tact or at least how we approach the police? Is the worth of a young man from Luo Nation now equivalent to that of a stray dog that can easily be killed? For how long are we going to be martyrs of a futile cause while the children of the ones calling us to do so aren’t on the front line?
The politicians whom they die for are having a blast, plotting another protest while their children are safely tucked away in foreign schools or they are busy investing. The poor men who are probably the lights of their families imprudently risk finding out the power of the bullet. Yes, the bullet bought with his taxes will be fired by the police he pays then his family will have to hold a fundraiser to bury him. After all in Kenya, the police seem to be above the law. If you doubt that allegation, do you remember the 2007/2008 PEV protestor who was gunned down in Kisumu in open daylight before the cameras? What became of his case? While he is dead, a peace deal was signed, Kibaki’s term ended and Raila is still alive fighting for another stab at the presidency. While his family still mourns today, those he was fighting for already moved on and made their wealth.
Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta are not gods. They are merely human beings who have found politics to be a good investment ground. They are not worth dying for. They are mere mortal men who trade public insults and public exchanges but conduct businesses in secret. Their children will never appear in protests organized by them. Neither will they take up pangas to fight for any of them. On the contrary, when the nation begins to burn, they will fly out their families as they leave you behind to fight and kill each other.
Since when did we become so insensitive to human life? When will we say enough is enough to the mayhem that is going on in Kenya? I do not care who will win the next elections and form the Government. I just want a peaceful Kenya where dreams and ambitions of its people are nurtured to the end and not extinguished by cops. I want a nation where the GDP growth will not decrease because we have an election. I want a country which is governed by the rule of law.
You poor Kenyan, what plan B do you have? Assuming that you died today defending the cause of politicians, what will you do? What kind of a send off will you be given? What kind of a legacy will you leave behind?
Dear Luo Nation, it is time to tell the politicians that we can no longer afford to die on their behalf. We no longer have tears to shed because of political fatalities. The dreams of our young men are also valuable enough to be nurtured but how long will they be treated like political capital? We have tried our best to sponsor a family’s ambition with our blood yet more keep dying, it’s time to say enough is enough. Dear baba, we have buried enough young men fighting for you, when are you going to take a bullet for us?