Friday, August 24, 2012



By Jerry Okungu
Nairobi, Kenya
August 22, 2012

Last Friday witnessed a rare meeting in Kisumu. The seven constituencies’ representatives that form Kisumu County met to deliberate on the future of Kisumu County that hosts Kisumu City.

Although this gathering was essentially to launch Prof. Anyang’ Nyongo’s quest for the County’s Senate seat, invited guests gave the gathering a different dimension; it was more than just a Kisumu meeting. Interest in Kisumu as the commercial hub of East Africa went beyond Nyanza and Kenya. It reminded the old residents of the former Kisumu that was once the headquarters of Kakamega, Mt. Elgon, Kericho and Kisii districts in colonial times.

Ordinarily a senator’s campaign launch would have been merely a Kisumu affair. However, on this occasion, guests trooped from as far as Uganda, North Rift Valley, Western Province, Coast Province and even Homa Bay County in the greater South Nyanza.

This diversity of guests was the brain child of the man who was launching his senate campaign- Prof Peter Anyang’ Nyongo’ who will be moving from constituency politics to the county.
Mrs. Provoscia Salaamu Musumba, the Vice President of The Forum for Democratic Change in Uganda minced no words about the special place Kisumu occupies in the hearts of Ugandans. Like many Ugandans, she would welcome a thriving Kisumu to make goods and services available to Ugandans and the rest of the landlocked Eastern African states.

Mr. Simon Lilan from the North Rift region came to give support to the people of Kisumu because in his words, Kisumu and Eldoret are like twin sisters. He too reminded the audience of the former Kisumu’s greatness.

Otieno Kajwang’ and Hassan Omar, both senate candidates in their counties were in agreement that Kisumu County needed stronger, knowledgeable and experienced politicians to realize its full potential.

Being the first such high profile political campaign launch by a candidate, one got the impression that the Anyang’ had set his eyes on higher ideals and expectations for the County. One such ideal was that Kisumu was no ordinary county. In a nutshell, Kisumu County has to be seen as much more than the local residents’ county.

The rest of Kenya from the Coast to Western, Rift Valley to Uganda, Northern Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and the DRC expect to reap from Kisumu’s unique commercial potential in East Africa.
Way back in July 1967, Kisumu would have been the natural choice as the seat of the East African Community. It was the most centrally placed on the shores of Lake Victoria that is shared by the founding members of the EAC. More importantly its infrastructure at the time was more superior to other towns and certainly better than Arusha at the time. However, local politics that had set Nyanza on a coalition cause with Kenya’s Central Government ensured that Kisumu did not get the privilege of being East Africa’s new capital.

Forty-five years later, this city has another chance to prove its worth to the people of East Africa but only if the policy paper tabled by Prof Anyang ‘ Nyongo’ last week is embraced by all political players of the new dispensation.

It was equally gratifying to note that at this function, several serving MPs and aspirants of various political offices were present and had a chance to express their desire to share in Nyongo’s vision.

But what exactly did Prof Nyongo’ promise the people of Kisumu County?

He promised to galvanize the county residents to create a highly developed and successful free-market economy that will enjoy a remarkably open and corruption-free environment
He pledged to promote core values at work place to include ethics, integrity, transparency, accountability and respect for ethnic and religious diversity in the county.

He promised to mainstream gender in the county’s governance policies in accordance with the Constitution of Kenya to ensure empowerment and equality for women, youth and the most vulnerable

To do this he will rally residents to revamp the region’s institutions of learning, embrace academic excellence and initiate research in areas of health and food production as well as exploit tourism potential in the County.

The County government will embrace e-learning; to leverage entrepreneurship and technological innovation as it will invest in agricultural production and value addition entrepreneurship in fishery, cotton.

With better planning, the residents will helped to revamp, sugar, rice, horticulture and cotton farming as they will equally pay attention to handicrafts, carpentry, masonry, engineering, and Jua Kali enterprises;

The County government will reconstruct reliable health systems supported by modern technology in disease control and management including ambulance and emergency services.
It will construct modern transportation and power supply to promote industrialization and movement of goods and services in the region.

The county government will avail unlimited access to clean water and standard sanitation, including solid waste management and wastewater treatment;

It will promote Benga Music, Ohangla Music, diverse cultures, sports and drama through organized annual cultural festivals to celebrate the region’s cultural diversity.
However, what Kisumu residents yearn for is the revival of Kisumu Cotton Mills and a vibrant sugar industry to provide jobs for its youth.

With the stage set for Kisumu County’s take off, it will be interesting to see how other leaders embrace this blue print.