April 29th 2017

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Is Timothy Bosire the new Kisii kingpin?

Former South Mugirango MP Omingo Magara, former education minister Sam Ongeri and current Kisii senator Chris Obure have all vied for the position in the last decade to no avail.

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comTuesday, 28 Jun 2016 18:47 EAT

Politics abhors a vacuum, and so it is with Kisii politics. The community in Western Kenya has become a powerful political force in recent presidential elections given their numerical ability to swing elections, in particular where the leading contenders have close political ratings.

Since the retirement of former Ford People leader Simeon Nyachae, the Kisii tribe hasn't had a single indisputable political leader. Former South Mugirango MP Omingo Magara, former education minister Sam Ongeri and current Kisii senator Chris Obure have all vied for the position in the last decade to no avail.

While the era of devolution has devolved more intra-tribal politics to the county level, large tribes like the Kikuyu, Luo, Kamba and Kalenjin still have one ethnic supremo. The Luyias are fragmented but nevertheless struggling to achieve unity under a single titular leader, with Ford-Kenya party leader Moses Wetangula emerging as the first among equals. Smaller tribes which have no leaders vying for the presidency or deputy presidency feel no compulsion to herd their voters together.

For the Kisii, the debate about a single indisputable leader has been in the periphery until last Sunday when Raila Odinga led a huge CORD brigade to Kisii and Nyamira counties that saw Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire endorsed by national as well as local leaders for his bravery and commitment to opposition politics.

The MP's homecoming ceremony was held in style. The CORD  convoy traversed Kisii and Nyamira counties. Local leaders, still nostalgic about the courage of one of Bosire’s forerunners in the constituency, the late George Anyona, declared Bosire the new champion of liberation.

That the MP’s homecoming rally united the region’s politicians behind him was evident in the high-powered presence of Kisii opposition leaders, including two governors, two county women representatives and a host of MPs. CORD leaders who stood to gain a lot from Bosire’s rising star described the MP in superlative terms only.

Raila and senior CORD senators James Orengo and Johnstone Muthama likened Bosire to a freedom fighter, accusing the government of taking the country back to one party era through tactics of repression. (Bosire, along with seven other MPs, was recently held in police custody for four days for alleged hate speech remarks. They have since been charged, but CORD holds that the arrest was uncalled for).

At Nyansiongo, Keroka, Magombo and Manga Stadium, local politicians heaped praise on Bosire. West Mugirango MP James Gesami said: “I call him Saddam because of his boldness.”  Speaking at Keroka, Nyamira Governor John Nyangarama said. “Even though we have differed on some issues, his detention was wrong. He is our hero because he didn’t do anything wrong to deserve that treatment.” Kisii Governor James Gesami said Bosire is a light unto all leaders from the community.

Janet Ong’era, the nominated senator, said: “This country needs people who say the truth and Bosire is one of them. When he was arrested, women from Gusii were ready to go and strip naked at Pangani police station demanding his release.” These accolades visibly resonated with the crowds who roared back whenever Bosire’s name was called by the speakers.

When Raila rose to speak, he compared Bosire to the late George Anyona, a fiery MP during the Kenyatta and Moi years whose legacy many youths from this region have come to identify with. “The late George Anyona fought for the second liberation, now Bosire has joined the push for the third liberation, taking Anyona’s place,” said Raila.

Senator Orengo said, “Kitutu Masaba gave us Anyona, Abuya Abuya and now you have given us Bosire, a courageous man.” Senator Muthama, who spent three nights at Pangani Police Station with Bosire, gave riveting accounts of the MP’s resilience even in the cells.

Other CORD leaders Florence Mutua, Junet Mohamed and Aisha Juma, who were detained with Bosire, got raucous reception from the crowds as well, as did MPs Charles Geni, Tom Kajwang’, Alice Chae and Christine Ombaka

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