Luo Nyanza slowly taking shape after Uhuru-Raila handshake


Luo Nyanza slowly taking shape after Uhuru-Raila handshake

Two years after President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga decided to call a truce, Luo Nyanza is slowly taking shape.

The region is positioning itself high on the rank of the development agenda. This is in stark contrast to what the situation was 51 years ago.

On October 25, 1969; amidst rising political tension, Jomo Kenyatta, the then Head of State and his delegation were pelted with stones at Kondele Market.

He had gone to commission the opening of the new Nyanza Hospital.

Police disperse crowds in Kisumu by shooting indiscriminately during a visit by Jomo Kenyatta on October 25, 1969. PHOTO | COURTESY
Police disperse crowds in Kisumu by shooting indiscriminately during a visit by Jomo Kenyatta on October 25, 1969. PHOTO | COURTESY

 

The events of that day reportedly marked the start of an alienation of Kisumu and the greater Nyanza region from sitting at the high table where the national cake was served.

“Hapa Kondele ndio wanapima nayo temperature ya siasa yote unasikia wakiluliza na Kondele wanaendeleaje, wakiona moshi wanasema wamewakisha na ukweli tulikuwa tumeiwakisha 2017,” one resident, Reuben Owiti, said.

However, on March 9, 2018; after months of demonstrations that had paralyzed businesses within Kisumu, the handshake flipped the switch.

And now Kondele is a beehive of activities, taking advantage of every minute to salvage the months of turmoil that set in after the August polls in 2017.

“Hata saa hii ukiangalia huwezi jua hii kondele ndio ilikua na mawe wala hapa mahali tuko saa hii, kulikuwa ma polisi zaidi ya elfu tatu na saa hii waluya wako hapa, wanandi, kila mtu amekuja kuuza na sisi pia tunaenda huko kwao kuuza,” said Millicent Omollo, a trader.

And 9 months after the inception of the handshake, the duo made their way to Kisumu for the launch of the universal health coverage program.

This was a first of many indications that the national government had now turned its spotlight on Kisumu.

Apart from the promises of revamping the western region’s dilapidated road networks, the Kisumu port facelift was the icing on the cake.

“Tutafanya biashara cross uganda na tanzania, tunaweza toa samaki hapa tupeleke uganda tanzania hukona hao pia at least sasa wanaweza kuja huku,” Millicent added.

Two years later, with the potential of offering thousands employment avenues, the Kisumu port is 98% complete awaiting official commissioning.

But this, some say, is snail-paced.

“I think Kenyans are paying a lot of taxes so why are we not seeing the economic zone because we were told two billion was there it is still stalled, and what about developing the lake so that is what people are asking i think the government has goodwill but people want to see at least one concluded,” said Nominated Senator Rose Nyamunga.

And with the handshake seemingly containing the political heat and fanning a development agenda, residents here are crossing fingers.

“Tunaomba tu hii handshake isikuwe ni kitu ya kudanganyana ati oo ilikuwa tu ya kuvuka mpaka mahali fulani hapana, kama walishasalimiana ikuwe tu ni hivyo mpaka mwisho,” said Reuben Owiti.

The handshake may have stopped the bullets from hitting their houses…. and the tear gas is no more…but for some of the residents of Kisumu their is nothing much else that the handshake has brought.

They now have to contend with no business, no income; struggling to survive the harsh reality that each new day brings.

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Story By Laura Otieno
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