A Journey of Thousand Miles Begin
By Hon. Mamo Waqo Mado
In one of his poems, Shakespeare quips on the question, “To be or not to be… whether it is nobler in mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or aim to take arms against a sea of troubles…”
Then the words of my principal at The Alliance High School, Mr D.G. Kariuki came into my mind; he will always tell us, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”
This article is not about literature or poetry but about my society and the journey I undertook politically. However, many will challenge that literature is the reflection of our society in real life.
Society, especially in my country and county, has tuned their minds to believe that only those from the majority tribe, the old retirees and the moneyed, can successfully contest and win a political seat.
I wanted to challenge this status quo and, just like Shakespeare quipped, faced a sea of trouble from within my circle and without; it became a time to discern friends from foes, relatives from outsiders and created a new perspective of looking at things in my mind.
Do they also say, “Separated wheat from the chaff?”
Commencement of my Political Journey
My political journey started very later than my competitors caused of several factors.
It also started in unexpected avenues; I first declared to run in a WhatsApp forum comprising of my own community one fine evening in December 2021.
It was a surprise to many as it was never expected that such a young man would declare to fight a bull bigger and stronger than him.
Many praised me; some called and texted me personally, encouraging me, while others discouraged me and advised me to shelve the ambition.
The nights and days that followed the declaration unleashed the fighting spirits in me as I faced many battles, and I won some and lost others.
The Community Endorsement
It is a norm in Northern Kenyan societies and, to some extent, Kenyan societies that politicians, including the president, seek endorsement from their communities before they can campaign to other communities, thanks to the tribal nature of our politics.
My journey here was made an uphill task due to the decision by my community to focus on the MCA seat, which they saw was easier to win.
I had to fight mini-battles and convince the elders who seemed not to trust the powers of minority voters uniting and the professionals who acted meek and indecisive.
On several occasions, I attended the MCA endorsement meetings to seek an audience with the “vetting committee members” to also consider my endorsement as a sole community flag bearer for the position of Member of Parliament.
I attended the final meeting in which Hon. Jacob Elisha was endorsed as the sole community MCA candidate. During the meeting, I requested to address the gathering.
My request was, however, turned down for fear that it might trigger a walkout by elders who have already taken political positions regarding the MP position; I went home disappointed but still holding onto the dream.
Days and nights passed as I moved from one elder to another, seeking an audience of village elders to craft my own endorsement.
Having failed to secure a direct endorsement akin to the MCA, I had to retreat home to start with my family members.
After lengthy deliberations and several days of meetings, I was given the green light to seek community endorsement.
Even though I had their blessings, I still encountered challenges getting the two “chairmen” of the village elders, which became my nightmares again.
Having failed in this, I turned to my clan; with the deadline for selecting a political party approaching, I had to get this endorsement as fast as possible.
The first clan meeting was held in our residence around May 2022, and due to an already existing wrangle, it was poorly attended.
Those present still debated the issue on the table and agreed to a more significant meeting to be organised for the final endorsement ceremony on 18th May 2022.
After the clan endorsement followed the seeking audience with community elders again; this was an uphill task because all elders aligned themselves politically, but this time I had the clan backing.
On 10th May 2022, the village elders and the professionals, through my clan elders, summoned me to a meeting in the afternoon for subsequent endorsement; unfortunately, the meeting was poorly attended by the village elders and had to be adjourned for 14th May 2022.
In between, many things happened, and a faction of elders planned sabotage. A meeting was held on 12th April 2022 to discuss another matter, but as AOB, the elders present plotted ways of stopping my endorsement.
My team, already preparing for the endorsement, got wind of the information, and we had to mobilise for it to go through.
Getting the information of our mobilisation, the elders withdrew their earlier planned blockage and agreed to go ahead with the endorsement.
On Saturday, 14th May 2022, it finally happened, and I was declared the sole Burji candidate to vie for the position of MP Saku in the 2022 general election; this was albeit poor attendance and the just-for-the-sake way it was done.
Despite all these, I felt that my dream to unseat the third time seeking MP and bringing back the lost glory of Saku was on course.
I delivered a moving speech and outlined some of the significant issues I looked forward to tackling and how I was to deliver the seat.
Betrayals, Backstabbing and Propaganda Politics
“When a hyena wants to eat one of his own, he accuses it of smelling like a goat,” goes the old golden saying.
Due to taking an earlier position with my closest people, a narrative had to be coined to make my candidature look unviable and that I was a political “project”.
From the major declaration to the point of endorsements, several family members, friends, and people I thought would stand by me forsook me and even schemed for my downfall.
Majority of the people I had counted on turned against me and campaigned for my rivals.
I took everything positively and continued my campaigns with a few youthful friends, relatives, and elders accompanying me.
I can’t thank enough those who stood with me to the very end despite them being enticed with money and other goodies by my competitors.
I feel like mentioning them. I will, however, save that for a better opportunity, for I will know how to try and give back even though it won’t be easy.
Despite being a first-timer, a youth not well endowed with cash and facing hostile voters back home, I mounted a massive campaign and gave my competitors sleepless nights.
I was approached severally with promises of cash and even a job. Still, I stood my ground, not for myself but for the next generation of leaders from minority communities and youths.
I wanted to prove that despite any challenge one can be elected to lead and even if not successful, a point can be made and respect granted.
To the naysayers, the disbelievers in youth power and the pessimists, a point was made, and respect was earned.
They had nothing to say but agree to eat their humble pies as I progressed to the finish line, and those who thought that voting for me would bring back the incumbent were wrong as despite their votes not coming my way, he still trounced the “liberator” they so much believed in.
The new political dispensation was written, and lessons were learnt. I didn’t win, but I came out with my head held high as I made a strong point, and my comeback was imminent.
The will and the wishes of the minority communities and the youths will always be respected!
2007 General Elections Replica
They say history repeats itself, and so it did in our politics. In 2007 my brother Hon Mohammed Adan Safe, AKA Fayo, contested for the Saku Parliamentary seat, albeit unsuccessful.
Like me, he was young and was rejected by the elders who erected several obstacles to stop his bid, but despite that, he went to the finishing line.
He made a statement and levelled the field for all of us. Our community got respect when the 2013 first election under the 2010 constitution came.
We were allowed to contest for three major seats (MP Saku, MCA Marsabit Central and Deputy Governor) under the then REGABU coalition.
Although we didn’t clinch the two coveted seats, the community produced the first Deputy Governor.
Hon Fayo’s exploits in 2007 cannot be written off as the community got a permanent position in Saku politics and the general Marsabit County politics.
Due to the rejection of our community and the majority voting for Hon Hussein Tari Sasura, we missed out on the opportunity.
A similar situation repeated itself, with many of our community members voting for Hon. Dr Waqo Dulacha.
In both scenarios, the community had sole candidates contesting against the multiple Borana community candidates.
We failed as a community to capitalise on the opportunity.
Despite the losses, statements were made and the generations to come shown the path to follow, with the hope that corrections can be made in future elections.
An African Wiseman once said, “If you are not prudent in seeking what killed your father, what killed him may also kill you.”
It’s time we go back to the drawing board, see what made us make the major slips and come back firmer and rejuvenated.
It might not be me, but a narrative will be changed soon.
In conclusion, I wish to put forth two wise sayings which always fire me up and give strength despite all the challenges:
- If you stand for a reason, be prepared to stand alone like a tree, and if you are to fall on the ground, fall like a seed that grows back to fight again.
- A strong person is not one who doesn’t cry but one who is quiet and sheds tears for a moment and then picks up the sword and fights again.
The two words of wisdom above sum up my journey and answers the question, what next.