Why Luo Nation Must Start Being Selfish and Make Political Deals deals that Address the Luos Interest First, then Coalition Interests Second
By Collins Ajuok
Perhaps the greatest political strength of the Luo (which may also be their greatest weakness) is their inability to act selfish in political deal making. The Luo are the only tribe in the country that will arrive at a negotiating table and speak on behalf of other tribes (sometimes speaking for their own selves last!). Because of that, the Luo naturally assume leadership of all marginalised tribes, and their first worry in deal making is; what will other tribes think about us? This explains why the biggest opponents of the Raila-Uhuru “peace deal” are Luos. The other “Raila tribes” have mostly adopted a wait and see posture, or have outrightly come out to support Raila.The underlying concern is largely “what image are we showing the other tribes that stood with us?”. Which is an excellent attitude to have in an ideal coalition scenario.
But our coalition history is replete with betrayals and intrigue. The tribes for whom the Luo are willing to die, when it suits them, will walk away casually and make deals with others. In fact, ahead of the Raila-Uhuru meeting, it was in public domain that his erstwhile co-principals were themselves close to agreeing a Sugoi Deal, that was mostly negotiated at night. Right from the first multiparty election in 1992 to this day, the Luo will enter a coalition with all their cards on the table, keep their side of the deal, and act in broad daylight. But sometimes we wake up one day and find our coalition partners have fled!
This has slowly given rise to a political philosophy where betrayal of the Luo and/or Raila has become a credible path to profile building. Those on the other side who want an extra kilo of meat will say “give us more or we will go work with the Jaluos”. Those on our side will say, under cover of darkness, “Give us a little and we will cross over and leave the Jaluos alone”. All post independent regimes have made the “isolation of Luos” such an exciting political prospect that some deals are made purely on that basis!
Two days ago, I asked a friend of mine, a fierce opponent of the Raila-Uhuru deal; Speaking strictly as a Luo, if Raila retires while we are still on the periphery 60 years after official marginalization started, and without Raila who unified us and made our vote block a potent political force, how long do you see us taking before we get back to the mainstream, and can we survive more marginalization?
“50 more years, and NO!”, he answered.
I do not know what Uhuru and Raila discussed. And I don’t know what prompted the meeting. But I know one thing their rapprochement will achieve is that it will stop the Luo being the opposition fixed asset where everyone anchors their political profits. Now we don’t have to spend the next four years watching people come and go because their being around us is a very profitable venture! I am also comfortable that Raila, the Baba of all tribes, will not make a deal that excludes other tribes, but has probably shut the door on political elites of other tribes from using him and the Luo as a ladder. I am also confident that Raila did not come this far to end up as a sellout. When it all gets clearer, I will be happy to have been on the side that didn’t doubt the leader.
However, if I was a Luo elder, my first advice to our people would be to start being selfish and make deals that address Luo interests first, then coalition interests second. Kikuyus and Kalenjins have done it for 70 years.