The recent victory of Wiper party candidate Julius Mawathe in the Embakasi South parliamentary by-election has reinforced the Kamba community’s desire to play a greater role in city politics.
Apart from Mawathe, other elected Kamba leaders include Governor Mike Sonko and David Mbithi, the MCA, Viwandani ward.
Since independence, the Kamba community has played second fiddle in city politics, which have been dominated by the Kikuyu, Luhya and Luo communities.
In pre-independent Kenya, the Kikuyu dominated city politics, together with the Luos. Indeed, in 1963, Mwai Kibaki was elected as MP for Donholm constituency (subsequently called Bahati and now Makadara) in Nairobi while Tom Mboya was elected as MP for Nairobi Central (now Kamukunji). Only Kamba was Samuel Kivuitu of then Parklands constituency.
The Kikuyu also dominated City Hall, with the first African mayor being Charles Rubia followed by Margaret Kenyatta (half sister of Uhuru Kenyatta), Andrew Ngumba, Nathan Kahara, Steve Mwangi, Dick Waweru, John King’ori, Sammy Mbugua, John Ndirangu, Dick Waweru and Dickson Wathika in that order.
Other mayors were Isaac Lugonzo (1967-1970, Luhya), Joe Aketch (Luo), Geoffrey Majiwa (Luo) and George Aladwa (Luhya).
But during the first multiparty elections in 1992, where Ford Asili presidential candidate, Kenneth Matiba, a Kikuyu, teamed up with Martin Shikuku, the Kikuyu and Luhya communities won nearly all the seats in the national assembly and city council, now the county assembly.
Then Ford Asili vice chairman, George Nthenge – a Kamba – was elected MP for Kamukunji, becoming the only Kamba elected to parliament in the city.
Back to the recent Embakasi South by-election, Mawathe garnered 21,628 votes to defeat ODM’s Irshad Sumra, who got a paltry 7,988 votes. Other contestants were Ramesh Gorassia who got 323 votes, Zablon Rashid (321), Urbanus Kalumba (119), Alexander Mulatya (97) Samwel Masaki (49), Jairus Musyoka (36), Angela Nyalita (35), Peter Ogeta (26), Credius Oigara (21), Augustine Kavindu (13), Roseline Awino (16), Enos Nyakweba (4) and Enoch Nyaribori (0).
Mawathe, a Kamba, lost the parliamentary seat last December following a successful petition by Sumra of Asian extraction.
Ahead of the campaigns, there was a heated dispute between sister parties in Nasa, ODM and Wiper, over which party was the most popular in the region.
Wiper, which draws its membership largely from the Kamba community, argued that its members are the majority in the constituency and had a right to demand the seat.
But ODM on the other hand felt it was more popular, arguing besides the huge presence of the Luo community, it also enjoyed the support of Luhya, Kisii and other communities in the region.
Former Machakos senator Johnson Muthama, who urged the Kamba community to rally behind Mawathe demanded any Kamba vying for the same seat to step down in Mawathe’s favour.
“I thought Nasa would meet for a discussion about the by-election but Edwin Sifuna, the party secretary general said Nasa died on January 30 2018,” Muthama said ahead of the polls.
Muthama spoke during a live interview on local radio where he condemned the entry of another Kamba candidate in the race arguing that it was likely to lead into a division of the community’s votes making it lose in the by-election.
“If the Kamba nation wants to be respected, there should be no other Kamba candidate in the Embakasi South parliamentary by-election. It should be a chance for us to show the country that we are united and we can make a decision,” Muthama added.
The most surprising thing is that the Kalenjins have an MP, Nixon Korir of Langata.
The Luhya community has only two city elected MPs – Makadara’s George Aladwa and Westlands’ Tim Wanyonyi.
The low number of MPs from the Luhya community is blamed on opposition leader Raila Odinga’s tendency to field Luo kinsmen even in areas where the Luhya have an overwhelmiong presence.
The city MPs are Dagoretti North’s Paul Simba Arati (ODM, a Kisii), Dagoretti South – John Kiarie (Jubilee, Kikuyu), Embakasi Central, Benjamin Gathiru Mwangi (Jubilee, Kikuyu), Embakasi East –Paul Ongili aka Babu Owino (ODM, Luo), Embakasi North – James Mwangi Gakuya (Jubilee, Kikuyu), Embakasi South – Mawathe (Wiper, Kamba) and Embakasi West – George Theuri (Jubilee, Kikuyu), Kamukunji – Yusuf Hassan (Jubilee, Somali).
Others are Mercy Gakuya of Kasarani (Jubilee, Kikuyu), Kibra – Kenneth Okoth (ODM, Luo), Lang’ata – Korir (Jubilee, Kalenjin), Makadara – George Aladwa (ODM, Luhya), Mathare – Anthony Oluoch (ODM, Luo), Roysambu – Waihenya Ndirangu (Jubilee, Kikuyu), Ruaraka –Tom Kajwang (ODM, Luo), Starehe –Chales Njagua (Jubilee, Kikuyu) and Westlands – Timothy Wanyonyi (ODM, Luhya).
The Luhya and Kamba communities also have few MCAs as compared to their votes.
This is again blamed on Raila’s insistence to field Luo candidates even in wards where the majority of the voters are from the Luhya community.
The city MCAs are John Nyumu, deputy speaker, (Ruai), Ibrahim Hassan, majority leader (Matopeni, Spring Valley), Elias Okumu, minority leader, (Kileleshwa), Paul Kiguathi, (Mihango), Osman Ibrahim (Eastleigh North), Herman Azangu (Landimawe), Robert Mbatia (Kariobangi South) and Peter Warutere (Roysambu).
Others are Wilson Ocholla (Utalii), Pius Mbono (Zimmerman), Peter Njau (Pangani), David Mberia (Karen), Michael Okumu (Embakasi), Peter Gitau (Dandora Area I), Anthony Karanja (Waithaka), Wilfred Odalo (Mabatini), Fredrick Njoroge (Kawangware), Mwaura Chege (Ngara), Clarence Munga (Kabiro), Charles Wakaridi (Dandora Area III), Millicent Mugadi (Ziwani Kariokor), Maurice Otieno (Nairobi West), Alvin Palapala (Kitisuru), Moses Ogeto (Kilimani), Peter Imwatok (Makongeni), Mark Ng’ang’a (Maringo Hamza), Rose Ogonda (Kware), Daniel Muturi (Nairobi Central), Patrick Logedi (Eastleigh South), Naftali Ogola (Korogocho), Abraham Njihia (Woodley Kenyatta Golf Course), Naftaly Mathenge (Githurai) and Elijah Irura (Njiru).
James Kiriba (Riruta), John Ng’ang’a (Mutuini), Jeremiah Themendu (Kayole Central), Samora Mwaura (Clay City), Patrick Mbangula (Hospital),
Fuad Mohamed (Airbase), Patriciah Musyimi (Mlango Kubwa), Joseph Ndonji (Umoja II), Joseph Komu (Kahawa), Fredrick Otieno (Lucky Summer), Evans Otiso (Kwa Reuben), Stephen Gikonyo (Pipeline), Cecilia Ayot (Laini Saba), Jairus Omaya (Lindi), Anthony Gatune (Kahawa West), Antony Mburu (Kasarani),
Jared Okode (Mathare North), Geophrey Majiwa (Baba Dogo), Geoffrey Mbuthia (Mwiki), Francis Ngesa (Dandora Area IV), Silas Ongwae (Dandora Area II),
Julius Njoka (Kariobangi North), Kennedy Oyugi (Nyayo Highrise), Osman Abdi (South C), Jared Akama (Mugumu-ini), Samuel Kabiru (Uthiru Ruthimitu),
Nicholas Ouma (Lower Savannah), Esther Chege (Nairobi South), David Mbithi (Viwandani), Hassan Mohamed
(California), Jayendra Malde (Parklands Highridge), Joseph Wambugu (Karura), Paul Shilaho (Kangemi), Maurice Ochieng (Mountain View), David Ayoi (Gatina), Stazo Ang’ila (Upper Savannah), James Wambui (Kiamaiko), John Muthiga (Komarock), Fredrick Okeyo (Kayole South), Kennedy Obuya (Imara Daima), Samuel Mwangi (Kayole North), John Mulyungi (Kwa Njenga), Mark Macharia (Umoja I), Benson Macharia (Mowlem), Antony Gathumbi (Harambee), Paul Irungu (Pumwani), David Okelo (Huruma), Redson Onyango (Ngei), Lawrence Odhiambo (Sarangombe), Solomon Magembe (Makina), Peter Kimuhu (Ngando) and Patrick Karani (Utawala).
Jubilee has 45 MCAs against Nasa’s 39, with ODM boasting of 38 seats while Kalonzo Musyoka’s Wiper party got one seat. The Party of Democratic Unity won the Makina ward in Kibra.
The Luhya community had over 20 candidates flying the ODM party ticket in the capital but few won.
Prior to the 2017 elections, the Luhya Council of Elders expressed concern over the lack of representation in the Nairobi County leadership structure.
The council, which is represented by leaders drawn from all the 17 constituencies in Nairobi, argued that the Nairobi country government as then constituted under Governor Evans Kidero together with the Coalition of Reforms and Democracy had given Luhyas a raw deal.
Council spokesman Joseph Wandati had declared the community members would only put their votes where they are respected and recognised.
But one year after the elections, the Luhya community is playing second fiddle to the Luo in city politics, despite their numerical strength. But Mawathe’s win will force the community, just like the Kamba, to demand their fair share of leadership positions in both the ruling party and opposition.