Quest for Coast Kingpin turns Nasty and Noisy
BY MWAKWAYA RAYMOND
Efforts to set up a Coast based national party has hit an all-time high with three governors staring an exit at the end of their terms triggering not only survival tactics but also panic to be in the political freezer in the aftermath.
Debate on who should be the mugogo (kingpin or spokesman) of the Mijikenda Community is in an unprecedented stage that has attracted the attention of other communities living in the coastal region with vested interests on the same.
After the demise of the Tourism minister and Kisauni MP Emmanuel Karisa Maitha in 2004, the community has been wandering in the wildness headless until recently when some of its elected ‘leaders’ saw the ‘light’ for a kingmaker.
Truth be told that this light has only been seen in the eyes of Giriamas in Kilifi County which is home of seven sub tribes of Midzichenda while two – Digo and Duruma – from Kwale County are yet to throw their weight behind the call.Three issues dog the Giriamas’ calling through Governor Amason Kingi – subtribes’ infighting for supremacy; existing suspicion and mistrust within the larger community that has pitted one sub tribe against the other in many an issue!
Hanging on the background is the ever-unresolved issue of the Swahili-Midzichenda rivalry that has seen the former use its financial muscle to muzzle the latter in matters political, economic and social fronts.
What made the late Maitha tick under this adversary? It was his abrasive, aggressive and go-getter brand of politics that baffled friends and foes on an equal measure. He was omnipresent in the entire Coast region and at large that he acquired the name ‘hurricane’ as Local Government minister under the Kibaki regime.
Since then, this prototype of a leader has refused to emerge sparking the current debate on who is qualified to be the mugogo of not only Midzichenda communities but also the region before next year’s general election.
At the time of his reign, Maitha rose high above the rest during the second liberation where he supported Kibaki’s Democratic Party and emerging victorious under odds against the dominate Kanu regime in the 1997 elections.
This fate propelled him higher than the then Kanu supreme and Mvita MP Shariff Nassir before exhibiting the same under Kibaki administration where he eclipsed his Messrs cabinet ministers Chirau Ali Mwakwere (Foreign Affairs), Najib Balala (Culture and Social services) among other assistant ministers – Danson Mungatana and Morris Dzoro (before ascending to a cabinet position after his demise).
So, what exactly should Coast people consider in searching for a kingpin of the six counties that have been domiciled by upcountry parties since Kadu under the late Ronald Gideon Ngala went under the hammer to join Kanu in a post-independence coalition.
But when Ngala lost his life in a mysterious road accident in 1972 the Midzichenda community went mute until a young male nurse from Mwakirunge Ward ventured into politics and won a municipality seat where he rose into prominence due to his abrasive mannerism to fight absentee landlords in the larger Kisauni Constituency then.
With his star reaching the sky, the outspoken councillor started to attract media attention that propelled him into national stage where Moi administration took note and recruited him as one of its Coast grassroots brigades.
But Maitha’s take head-on of Mombasa and assumed Coast Kanu boss Nassir and Said Hemed stamped his authority among the majority, restless Midzichenda youths who felt marginalised by their worthy Swahili counterparts.
For sixteen years, the community has been on the doldrums waiting for one of its sons or daughters to rise up and claim the mugogo title left vacate by the untimely death of Maitha that has informed the current vigour by a section of ‘people in the voices’ to quest for a kingpin of Coast region.
Mijikenda Development Forum (MDF) secretary Chitavi Mkala is of the view that all communities in the region be involved in consultations before coming up with a Ndhongori (spokesperson).
He wants groups such as Kaya elders been given the ‘voice’ in the search for a spokesperson and not a kingpin as many are championing in the current debate.
According to him the late Maitha recognized the existence of Kaya elders very much and once in a while he would visit any of the Midzichenda Kayas for traditional rituals.
The secretary is disturbed that the current conversation is being spearheaded by the Giryama and Chonyi subtribes leaving the other seven out of the matrix of coming up with a compromised candidate.
As we speak, a number of names have been floated for the coveted title of mugogo but subtribes’ indifference, infighting and mistrust are threatening to derail the process of arriving at the right decision for who to be the Coast’s kingpin.
Fierce battles have erupted among supporters of those being touted for the position such as Hassan Joho aka “Sultan of Mombasa”, Amason Kingi of Kilifi, Salim Mvurya of Kwale just to mention names doing rounds on social media platforms.
Other vocal personalities being focused are Hassan Omar (former Senator), Aisha Jumwa (Malindi MP) and Owen Baya (Kilifi North) while those working under water are Lucas Maitha, Danson Mungatana and Mwandawiro Mghanga.
The problem of those under water is that they have been in the political freezer for a while and exorcising the ‘spirits’ of popularity will be a daunting task first to their immediate communities and second to the other regional ones.
For those behind the mugogo debate, concerns have sufficed as to who are the financiers of the process with Umoja Summit Party of Kenya secretary general Naomi Cidi wanting to know them saying no meaningful gathering will be organized without facilitation funds.
This has sparked angry rebuttals from the likes of Lucas Maitha who say political financiers should be apportioned their rightful positions and be well recognized not necessarily in the political arenas.
Such overt differences among those in the know is casting doubt of the region coming up with a political outfit counter other dominate parties with a grip like stranglehold of the current elected politicians who are in a crossroad to raise a finger!
Postmortem reports of the three leading names – Joho, Kingi, and Mvurya – from a section of those interviewed by The Coast Media Group (CMG) read like an ‘ogre story’ to say the least.
Joho is painted as canny and not Mdzichenda with a knack of betraying the Coastal people while Mvurya is described as trustworthy but with a tendency to be a lone ranger and Kingi’s egocentric mannerism being his ‘black sheep’ in his character and content.
Again, the trios do not sit on principles but are always on ‘begging’ missions upcountry to seek for recognition nationally when they do not matter locally contrary to what Ngala and Maitha did during their hey days.
Retired Anglican Bishop Julius Katoi Kalu is in the train that time has come for the region to have its own political vehicle that should romp in the breadth and the width of its residents without discrimination of origin.
According to him time is now for coasterians to sit and plan the way forward be it politically, socially and economically instead of waiting to be arranged by ‘outsiders’ bent on achieving their political ambitions through the local vote-basket.
But through the eye of a sociologist Professor Dr Halim Shauri the three outgoing governors are ‘irrelevant’ to the coastal people with no teeth to bite the pie at the national political arena.
Unlike the other newcomers – Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta), Dhadho Godhana(Tana River) and Fahim Twaha (Lamu), the old guards have enjoyed enormous publicity but nothing much to show as far as Coast leadership is concerned.
In his views, the trio is looking for post-2022 relevance after leading a ten-year lack lustrous governance that has only exposed their poor leadership qualities, arrogance and secrecy to manage matters public. Because of this, none fit to be the region’s kingpin or spokesman.
This then, leave the field open for any other coasterian to be sourced and ascend to the covetable position of a spokesman. In the instance of Western region, the Cotu boss Francis Atwoli had to enlist the services of University of Nairobi to identify the “Murembe Nation” spokesman, Musalia Mudavadi.
In fact, during the Building Bridges initiative (BBI) sittings, it was proposed that Coast counties be enjoined to form two blocks: one constituting Taita Taveta, Kwale and Mombasa and another comprising Kilifi, Tana River and Lamu.
But immediately this came to the fore many felt it was a strategy ploy for Joho and Kingi to share the spoils and become ‘super’ governors. However, this failed to attract the attention of the BBI committee’s ears and eyes.
With the debate raging on, it will be interesting to see how long it will take the region to strengthen its own political parties that will have their own life before 2022 polls within this treacherous and cacophonous period of BBI referendum.
Edited by Mwakera Mwajefa