Friday, June 06, 2008
The Nairobi Star: Raila to Become Kikuyu Elder
This article was published in the Nairobi Star on June 5, 2008.
Gema faction prepares ceremony to welcome Raila into the tribe
PRIME MINISTER Raila Odinga is about to be reinvented. On July 20, he will be made a Kikuyu elder in a ceremony to be held at Ruringu Stadium, a few kilometers from Mukuruwe wa Nyagathanga – the mythical home of Kikuyu Adam and Eve – Gikuyu and Mumbi.
The ODM leader will be feted by a group of Kikuyu elders and politicians operating under the umbrella of MEGA in a function organizers say will not only be in full colour and pomp but also significance.
Raila will only be the second non-Kikuyu to be given the honour of wearing the skin loin apron, bear the spear and walking stick and carry the cowtail flywhisk which are symbols of an elder.
Retired President Moi was made a Kikuyu elder in the early 1990s.
The installation of Raila as a Kikuyu elder is part of MEGA group’s succession plan. The group which is opposed to the revival of GEMA, was launched in August 2005 by perennial parliamentary candidate Peter Kuguru, to replace GEMA.
Its objective is to among other things, establish a bank which will advance soft loans to GEMA communities especially Mungiki members.
During the installation, the elders will also launch a campaign to have Raila succeed President Kibaki in 2012. “He is the best candidate and we will support him in 2012,” said Kuguru who is organizing the ceremony.
Kuguru dismissed last weekend’s GEMA meeting at Methodist University as “a waste of time and money”.
“It will not achieve anything. Those people who organized it are too old, irrelevant and only want to further their political interests”, said Kuguru.
Kuguru said the people of Central Province supported the Prime Minister’s decision to talk to member of the outlawed Mungiki sect.
“These old people fighting for the control of Mungiki today are the same ones who used and dumped these young men over the years. If the Prime Minister can rehabilitate them so be it”, said Kuguru.
Former MPs Njenga Karume, Joseph Kamotho and Norman Nyagah have been asking the government to release the leader of the Mungiki Maina Njenga so that he can lead his troops to negotiations with the government.
While Raila has insisted the government will talk to of the sect, Internal Security minister George Saitoti has maintained that the government will not hold any talks with the sect because Mungiki was an illegal organization.
The Prime Minister’s office yesterday said the PM had yet to get the invitation for the ceremony and a final decision on his attendance will be made after organizers give him a thorough briefing.
The decision to make Raila a kikuyu elder has brought to fore differences in the GEMA community less than a week after leaders from Central, Eastern and parts of Rift Valley met in Meru to revive GEMA.
One of the organizers of last weekend’s meeting Jayne Kihara, a former naivasha MP dismissed MEGA’s plan as “dreams”.
“Those are his personal plans. GEMA will discuss the succession issue at the right time. At the moment, we support President Kibaki and his government”, said Kihara of Kuguru’s plans.
Kuguru said apart from making Raila a Kikuyu elder, MEGA will also work to improve the PM’s popularityin Central and Eastern provinces where he got the least votes during the last general elections.
Apart from Justice Minister Martha Karua who has declared her interest in the Presidency, KANU Chairman Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka are also hoping to inherit President Kibaki’s votes in the populous region.