Kenya African National Union (KANU) and the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU) formed in 1960 were the first major political parties in the history of Kenya. KANU was preferred by the middle class from the then major ethnic communities of Kikuyu, Luo, and Kambas. KADU on the other hand drew its support from predominantly minority tribes who were less economically mobilized (KAMATUSA, Luhya, Arabs, and the Mijikenda). The main objective of its formation was to protect the welfare of these communities against the centralist ideological polices of KANU. Led by Ronald Ngala (Party Leader, Coast), Daniel Moi (Deputy Party Leader, Rift valley), and Masinde Muliro (Secretary-General, Western), KADU anchored its political foundation on a semi-autonomous federal administration for independent Kenya.
The genesis of Coast political tragedy
On March 23, 1960, KANU and KADU leaders visited Lodwar detention camp to meet Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. During the meeting, it was resolved that KANU and KADU were to work together regardless of their ideological differences. The united front agenda was cemented during a second visit to Mzee Kenyatta in Maralal.
In the 1963 General election, and campaigning on the platform of Majimboism, KADU won 46 seats against KANU’s 83. The former became the official opposition party while the latter formed the government. On 12 December 1964, six key members of KADU crossed the floor to KANU. Subsequently, Ronald Ngala, Daniel Moi, and Masinde Muliro dissolved KADU and joined the ruling party. It was later revealed that the then KANU founding member and Secretary General Tom Mboya, with his persuasive abilities and under instructions from Jomo Kenyatta, impelled Daniel Moi to fold KADU. The dream of federal governance died.
The collapse of KADU placed the region under the control of KANU, the main party under the control of Central, Nyanza, and Lower Eastern communities. This marked the beginning of political manipulation, and misuse often led by self-centered local leaders who put their appetite first. Weak, voiceless, and vulnerable, successive regimes have never been keen on addressing pertinent issues that are endearing to the Coast people, inter alia: land, blue economy, cashew nut, and coconut sectors. These issues have all along been used to whip emotions, purposely to herd the community into a particular voting basket. The region is usually forgotten immediately elections end. The coming of Standard Gauge Railway hammered the last nail on the economic coffin of Coast community.
Since the advent of multiparty democracy, the Coast region has been playing a second fiddle at the national amphitheater, often riding on the crafty backs of other political automobiles, which are less concerned with the region’s historical injustices. Coast leaders have always been negotiating as individuals, putting on the negotiation table their own hungry stomachs, while pushing people’s agenda at the periphery. The political enslavement is so deep that rarely can a Coast leader elected under the dominant parties speak openly against any injustices committed against the Coast people. Making such utterances might be construed to be contrary to party positions, which are usually party leaders’ positions.
The need for a strong Coast-based Party
Nobody will listen to the plight of the Coast people if the region is politically divided and irrelevant. Nobody will take the region seriously if it will continue to be just filler material. Coast communities must take a deep introspection, dialogue, agree, strategize, and have a voice as we approach the 2022 General Elections. The era of being divided and fighting amongst themselves must come to an end.
In Kenya’s political reality, economic freedom cannot be achieved without political freedom;
Economic voices cannot be achieved without a political voice.
Coast must have a voice.
The region must stand on its own feet, define its own destiny and dialogue at the national platform as a united entity
We must reverse the steps that crossed the floor. The region must have its own political party.