I would want to imagine that ODM made special arrangements for nominations in Muhoroni Constituency. Because whatever happened in 2013 must not repeat itself.
The 2002 NARC campaigns was always going to put Luo Nyanza on the edge. Prof. Patrick Ayiecho Olweny, believing that he could take advantage of the economic recovery agenda fronted by the NARC wave, resigns from Maseno University as a Plant Science lecturer and returns to Muhoroni to make a case for his candidature.
He has a PhD in Genetics, not least from the University of California, Davis. Muhoroni is told, that the NARC government will require MPs with the best brains Kenya can get, and that if Muhoroni were to have a chance of making it to the Cabinet we have to choose brains over anything else. Prof. Ayiecho Olweny has one foot in before the campaigns even begin.
Giving Prof. Ayeicho Olweny a mad run is James Onyango K’Oyoo, the self-made career civil servant with business portfolios from here to the end of the world. If you were looking for a grassroots mobilizer West of Kedowa, East of Mudete, look no further than K’Oyoo. His campaign in 2002 was simple, “I may not have gone to school like the others, but I’ve struggled with you down here when things were thick and we were left to our own devices.”
And he was not making it up. Nicknamed ‘Jagedo’,The Builder, K’Oyoo took it upon himself to institute a private bursary scheme for bright but needy students from his own pocket. There is no student who was admitted to a national school, from Muhoroni, whom K’Oyoo failed to take up the case and send to school. From his own pocket. In 2002, Muhoroni is present with a choice between an aloof ivory tower professor and a self-made grassroots mobilizer.
There was no contest, really. Prof. Patrick Ayiecho Olweny won by a landslide, at 8am on voting day. Muhoroni makes the gamble and goes with a non-proven scholar. Hoping that the gamble would eventually pay off.
To say that Prof. Olweny’s first term was underwhelming is to give ‘underwhelming’ a bad name. Prof. Ayiecho did nothing. This is a man who had no vehicle to campaign with in 2002 and was now blowing a trail of dust on the people of Muhoroni. They say old school scholars are arrogantly dismissive, until you meet Prof. Olweny. You could boil a stone to tenderness with Prof. Olweny’s arrogance alone.
Five years doesnt last long. And soon Muhoroni were back to the polls.
When it came to 2007, the people of Muhoroni were literally begging Onyango K’Oyoo to come back and rescue them from Prof. Olweny. They had seen enough. K’Oyoo steps up again, puts his name on nominations day and gets rigged out. He was rigged out, it was clear for everyone to see, because the amount of anger in the eyes of the people of Muhoroni could start a fire. He is advised to decamp to a friendlier party, but he chooses not to do so. James Onyango K’Oyoo sits out the 2007 elections, some said, out of protest, others say out of political tact. Prof. Ayiecho Olweny wins, against little-known Omulo Okal.
And the arrogance got cranked up five volumes higher.
Sitting out the 2007 elections was a master stroke for James Onyango K’Oyoo. It is as if he was telling the people of Muhoroni “after all this I’ve done for you, you still abandon me at my most hour of need.” Prof. Olweny, winning a second term with the cruise of a sports car, goes to sleep. He’s invincible now, he thought to himself, and he begins life as the undisputed King of Muhoroni politics. He thinks.
The 2007-2012 reign becomes the worst we had seen in the history of Muhoroni politics. You would walk around the constituency and you could literally see people breathing fire. For the first time in our lives, a sitting MP becomes a wanted man in his own turf. There is bridge Prof. Ayiecho wanted to build over River Oroba, on your way to Masogo Market from the Miwani Railway Station. Onyango Midika, the former powerful KANU Minister, stands on that site and tells him to pack up and leave, and that the people of Kabar could build the bridge using their own sweat. Prof. Olweny becomes so unpopular you could bet he would never even be voted by his farmworkers.
But never, ever, underrate the power of the incumbency.
The ODM nominations comes around in 2013 and James Onyango K’Oyoo wakes up from his brief and confronts his demons once again. The last time I saw locals celebrate like that was when the lorry carrying Nyayo School Milk overturned at the Miwani junction. There is nothing as heavenly as a lorry of milk overturning next to a sugarcane plantation. You drink milk and chew cane. Drink milk and chew cane. It is the closest we have ever come to living in the promised land of milk and honey.
The 2013 nomination day was billed as the Judgement Day, even old folks, who had no history of mobility, trekked to their nearest polling station to register their anger with Prof. Olweny. James Onyango K’Oyoo had won even before the ballot papers had arrived.
But hold on a minute. This is Orange House calling, and here is the news.
You should have seen the faces of the people of Muhoroni when word came from Nairobi that Prof. Ayeicho Olweny had been given the ODM certificate. People weeped for days asking the gods what wrong they did to deserve all this injustice. For the first time in my life, I saw an army of angry people marching to Prof. Olweny’s home to seek an answer on why ODM would take them for a ride. A dark cloud hung over Muhoroni for weeks.
James Onyango K’Oyoo is advised not to back down, like he did in 2007. The Kano elders makes it known that isn’t a request but an order.
K’Oyoo steps up, goes to Omingo Magara’s PDP, and the race is well and truly on. It is a protest vote against ODM, and Muhoroni makes it clear it wont be for the MP seat alone. K’Oyoo convinces all Muhoroni MCAs who had been unfairly treated in the 2013 nominations to join PDP and have them get the justice they deserve at the polls later that March.
If political Karma had a natural habitat, it would be in Muhoroni. The PDP revolution sweeps the entire Muhoroni James Onyango K’Oyoo gives Prof. Ayiecho Olweny the beating of his life. It was not even close. The defeat is so embarassing Prof. Olweny does not even bother appealing.
It gets even better.
Of the 5 County Assembly Wards in Muhoroni, three of them were won by PDP candidates. Of the two seats that went to ODM, only Samuel Ong’ow, in Masogo/Nyang’oma Ward, was subjected to an election, after the people of Chemelil decided to send Joseph Osano unopposed. For a constituency which derives their livelihood from the sugar, revenge, in 2013, was sweeeter than the sweetest sugar they had ever tasted.
Fast forward 2017, and the long-running battle is back on. Prof. Patrick Ayiecho Olweny, now ODM Kisumu County Chairperson, is back for his seat against James Onyango K’Oyoo, who is back running on the ODM ticket.
It’s not even close, again. Because James Onyango K’Oyoo will wipe the floor with Prof. Ayiecho Olweny’s welding goggles, for the second time in a row. But will ODM deny him the ticket, once again?
There’s only one way to find out.
[Reposted from his Facebook page, with the author’s blessings]