By Abdi Warsame:
One of the notable memories of the last general elections in Kenya was the emergence of an erstwhile underdog candidate in the Presidential race but who later became a favorite of the Kenyan people, Mwalimu Mohamed Abduba Dida.
Born and brought up in Wajir town to a Borana father and a Somali mother, Abduba Dida’s candidature was doubted by many who thought he was climbing the tree from the top. This is because, all odds were against him, but as he ably put it, God was on his side.
Taking a closer look at his second and third names, I found out that Abduba is a conflation of two Borana words Ab (father) Duba (after) meaning the outspoken teacher cum politician was born in the absence of his father whose name Dida also means an empty field or plain area, supposedly named after he was born in an area as described by his name.
As a Borana who was born and brought up in a Somali dominated area, conventional thinking has it that Dida would not made it to the Wajir County Assembly, let alone any bigger political post. This is simply because, politics in the North is dictated by clan and financial muscles as evident in the ongoing endorsements and eliminations by the hurriedly assembled sultanates in the region whose establishment is largely attributed to the desire by clans to show off their political strength in the name of unity. I wonder which sultanate in Wajir, Garissa or Mandera will pick Dida as their preferred candidate for any position! I equally bet the same scenario would befall him in his native Borana land due to his association with the Somali side. I mean, both communities hardly hand elective posts to those not 100% associated with them. By extension, a safe bet for a Dida candidacy would only be in Luo Nyanza where our jaduong brothers are known for trusting leadership mantles with their assimilated neighbors from the rest of the country.
But Dida, a man who never ceases to mesmerize crowds, from a class room of 40 pupils, to a nation of 40 million, brought a different facet to the Kenyan political arena and broke the monotony in the 2013 Presidential contest diffusing the tension and anxiety that was building up ahead of the hotly contested election given the preceding bloody contest in 2007.
His go-getter nature, sober debate and steering clear of the status quo made him a hero in the eyes of the wananchi for we all saw a common man in him simply because he was a daring hustler seeking to grab a share of the cake that was hitherto a preserve of the Country’s who’s who and their children.
As one of his former students in Wajir County’s Sabunley Secondary School, I had nothing but admiration for Dida ever since he first taught me my first English lesson in high school. So when I saw him cleared by the Electoral body, I had no alternative but to tick his name on the ballot paper even before the presidential debate that endeared him to the rest of Kenyans who did not get the opportunity to interact with this great mind before then.
His simple but straight forward answers that did not require rocket science is what Kenya needs most to move out of the current quagmire that we have been lurching in since independence. Your remember his a third eating rule? What of his challenge to the time table that we conform to which dictates we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and his alternative solution to have us ‘eat only when you are hungry’? I mean all these clearly shows Dida has a different way of thinking and had totally unique solutions for Kenya’s problems which he tabled during the presidential debate in 2013 and earned him position 4 in the resultant elections with more than 50,000 votes beating big names in the process.
As we approach the 2017 polls, I urge Kenyans to adopt a Dida like approach to problems bedeviling the country and elect leaders, not because they belong to ‘our clan’ but because of their vision for this great country.
A similar request to the sprawling sultanates in my region – North Eastern Kenya, please spare us your high handedness and allow us to elect the best candidate rather than imposing on us politically correct novices that may ultimately vow allegiance only to the very elders that select him today and fail to serve in the interest of the public when he assumes office, after all, there are many Dida’s, the good leaders we may never have, out there locked out by your myopic selection criteria.
The writer is a political analyst and a resident of North Eastern Kenya. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Nep Journal. Send your articles to firstname.lastname@example.org