The people of the mountain yesterday reunited with their brothers from the lake in an event that saw elders seek to mend bridges broken between the nation’s founding fathers, Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.
The final destination of the 300 elders, women and youth from the Agikuyu community was Kang’o Ka Jaramogi, Jaramogi’s final resting place, in Bondo, Siaya County.
Their host, ODM leader Raila Odinga, arrived at around 7am in the company of Agikuyu Council of Elders chairman Wachira Kiago, MPs, governors and senators. Prayers were led by Bondo Diocese Bishop David Kodia and Bishop Ogonyo Ngede.
Although Raila avoided politics in his address, speakers from Mt Kenya appeared keen to push for a truce that would see the region back the former premier for the top seat in 2022.
The delegation led by Peter Kenneth and Jeremiah Kioni expressed remorse over past betrayals as they revisited the good and bad times between the two communities. Mr Kioni said the visit was a show of peace and need for renewed collaboration.
“In 2002, we had the National Rainbow Coalition that saw Mwai Kibaki elected as President. In 2007, there was a grand coalition government after the contested presidential election, while post-2017 elections gave birth to the handshake. We have enough experience on why we always fight and we now have a solution to our problems,” said Kioni.
He warned those trying to use the differences between the Luo and Kikuyu to ascend to power to forget it.
Nominated MP Kamanda Maina said the handshake started a journey to bring the two communities and the people of Kenya together. He challenged Raila to take advantage of the new-found friendship and aim for the presidency. “You will disappoint me if you will not be a presidential candidate,” said Mr Kamanda.
Mr Kenneth said, “Looking at history, it was Jaramogi and Kenyatta. Today, it is Raila and Uhuru who have brought peace. Our next journey is the BBI that will help our counties.”
Former Kangema MP Tirus Ngahu said Jomo and Jaramogi did a lot for the country. “Raila and Uhuru are Statesmen and we appreciate them for that.”
The event kicked off on Friday as guests arrived in helicopters, buses and motorbikes. Dancing troupes led by the Kochia traditional dancers, Nyatiti and Apoya women dancers entertained guests. Guests who could not be accommodated inside the compound followed the proceedings from large screens outside.
There were light moments as leaders took the audience down memory lane. Raila said history was repeating itself because in 1952, Jomo sent 12 elders to visit Jaramogi, who was expected to reciprocate the gesture.
“When Kenyatta was detained, Jaramogi rallied people from his community to agitate for his release,” said Raila.
Jomo and Jaramogi, he added, had ideological differences, not ethnic. Their friendship soured in 1969 after the President’s motorcade was stoned in Kisumu. The fall out was completed when Jaramogi was kicked out of Kanu and his party, Kenya’s People Union, proscribed. Raila, who gave a history of his lineage, moved the crowd when he read a letter written to Jomo by Jaramogi on June 27, 1952 when he (Kenyatta) came to Kisumu.
“How can we take over the government? This can only be done through unity,” read part of the letter that was read by his daughter, Rosemary.
Raila said the event was meant to underscore the long-standaing relationship between the two communities, which could be used to unite the rest of Kenyans.
“The differences between Kenyatta and Jaramogi were on ideologies. Unity in diversity is the richness of our country and if we bring our people together, we can create a greater country,” he said.
Oburu Oginga recalled how Jomo gave him 100 pounds when he was traveling abroad for studies. Oburu said they decided to host the ceremony at Jaramogi’s home because it was the foundation of unity between the Luo and Agikuyu communities. “Mzee Kenyatta was a frequent visitor to this home and today we are here to further the handshake,” said Oburu, adding that Jaramogi believed there should be no shedding of blood in the country.
ODM chairman John Mbadi said: “Even if your own brothers, Moses Kuria and Ndindi Nyoro, run away from Uhuru, all the Luo MPs will rally behind him. You can take this to the bank.” Siaya Senator James Orengo said, “When Jaramogi and Kenyatta met in 1952, it was about bringing freedom to the land. In 2002, it was another big idea to bring a new Constitution. Today, we have the Big Four agenda and the BBI that we should support for the prosperity of our country.”
At the end of the ceremony, Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o read the meeting’s resolutions.
“We, the cultural leaders of the Luo and Kikuyu communities, coming together at the home of our patriach Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, have expressed deep concern for the problems facing our nation. We deeply appreciate the initiative taken by President Kenyatta and Raila through the BBI and we eagerly await the launching of BBI proposals.”
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