NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 6 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga is wooing voters from Central Province and says the perceived differences between the Kikuyu and Luo are not real but a creation of propaganda agents.
The premier who spoke after a breakfast meeting with activists, students, clergy and former MPs from Central Kenya at a Nairobi hotel, said that his government would create equal opportunities for everyone as well as protect the property of all investors.
“This ethnic issue is not based on a platform. It is a myth… It is something that has been created artificially. People are saying that if Raila becomes president the Luo’s will not pay rent; that he will kill businesses run by persons from the Kikuyu community, it is all propaganda!” said the ODM leader.
He said the perceived rivalry between the Luo and the Kikuyu was planted by the colonial authorities to weaken the nationalist movement that sought independence.
The perception was later revived by “opportunists” who painted the differences that emerged between the founding leaders President Jomo Kenyatta and his deputy Jaramogi Oginga Odinga after independence.
The PM said Jaramogi (his father) and President Kenyatta parted ways because of differences in ideals on what direction the country was to take after independence and not because of ethnicity.
“The main difference was on the issue of land. Jaramogi opposed the idea that Kenyans who fought for independence should buy land from departing colonialists who had got it for free. Kenyatta on the other hand said there would be nothing for free,” the PM said.
He explained that Jaramogi felt strongly that the Mau Mau fighters coming from the bush would not satisfy the conditions attached to getting loans to buy the farms.
“The differences were purely ideological. That is why Jaramogi’s key lieutenant was Bildad Kaggia while Kenyatta’s ally was Tom Mboya,” Odinga added.
Odinga also maintained that his disagreements with President Kibaki after the 2002 elections was mainly on principles but that the current Constitution has created a platform to help solve the problems.
He said that the country must be de-ethnicised so that it can achieve its development goals.
“We must be able to find the Kenya that our founding fathers wanted; one which is devoid of ethnicity and where all Kenyans work together,” he said adding that Korea which was on the same economic level in the 1960’s was now way far ahead.
Raila who faces stiff competition from his deputy Musalia Mudavadi for the party’s nomination promised to make visits to Central Province soon to woo more voters.
The leaders present including former Gatundu South MP Moses Muihia prevailed upon the PM to aggressively campaign in the area in order to win their votes during the forthcoming general election.
The meeting with leaders from Central Kenya comes at a time when Odinga and Mudavadi are assertively campaigning to get the support of ODM delegates across the country before the party’s primaries.
The two leaders have however differed over the mode of picking the party’s presidential flag bearer with those backing Odinga opting for a National Delegates Congress (NDC) while Mudavadi’s allies want elections by delegates at county levels.