• Stephen Osieyo

JAKOYO: WHAT MANNER OF MAN!

Updated: Jun 28, 2021




Oddly enough if Mathews Joseph Ogutu the MP for Ugenya would have been alive, he would have had some comforting words for the only slur on Jakoyo. Luo MPs have to bear these slurs. It comes with the territory. In the US lingo, if the heat is too much in the kitchen, then get out of the kitchen. A Luo popular politician knows a slur or slurs is always round the corner.


Back to Ogutu Mathews. When it was clear that that Ugenya people were voting him out because of his personal lifestyle despite his exemplary work in public investment, Ogutu addressing the final electioneering rally gave them a final word, “Jo Ugenya, Umaya Bendera nikuop a sero ga nyir, Wang’ ni yier ye uru buoch aneye”. Needles to say, the Ugenya protestors replaced Ogutu with a serial polygamist. And indeed Archbishop Ondiek turned out to be a great performer just like Ogutu but the reasons why Ugenya rejected Ogutu was lost in translation for me.


It is the same with Jakoyo. The whole of Luo land loved him madly. He talks their language and lingo. He has the pulse of Luo land. Yet the people of Gem Constituency refused to re-elect him. Explain to me this like I am a six-year old. I just don’t get it that in this age when civic enlightenment is on tv and people can even debate on US elections on social media, they voted Jakoyo out. And in death the whole republic has come out to love him more. Who is Jakoyo?


EARLY YEARS

He is younger than me and in the words of justice Richard Otieno Kwach (SM Otieno case), if you want to know a person you look to his peers. I am not one of his peers. It is only recently I read that prior to party and diaspora community organisation in the US he went through Ndori Primary School, Sawagongo secondary school and then American college education. And on coming back is when he transferred his popular politics hands and experience to contest for Gem parliamentary representation 2002. In fact, up to last week I confused him for the older academia Midiwo. Why?


I worked with his brother George Jalang’o now Dr George Jalang’o. We were approximately the same age group. It was the early 1980’s and we did all those things young men in their early 20’s did. Rap about football and just have fun. Then I decided to get married and he decided to go and study Overseas. Our most serious arguments were Reunion FC and Gor Mahia FC, the whole day in the same office. Then I was interviewed at Spectre of the Odinga family where the sister was in the panel.


And just like Jakoyo at no time did George talk about his relationship to the first family. Never. And when George ripped into ReUnion FC with football banter it was without mercy even if his first cousins were fans of ReUnion FC. And that is typical of legislator Jakoyo. He never hang onto Raila’s coat tails. When Gem people rejected him, he walked out like a true ja Gem of the Omolo Okero kind (punde ose yiero punda wad gi). Jakoyo never begged.


Popular Politics.

In my eyes Jakoyo is not a typical firebrand politician. He was even more like than the affable Ombaka. And true all his colleagues and fellow law makers say the same. He had a short fuse and faced danger head on. Or wore his heart in his sleeves.


If he was football playmaker (midfielder), instead of sending the balls to the wings, or playing a one-two, he is the type of midfielder who would walk straight into the opponents traffic jam of central defence (cue they want to kill Raila war-cry).


And when faced with mischief from a state nest feathered parliamentarian, he never begged the speaker with out of order. No way he did what Luo call, isoho pier liech. In un parliamentary language Washington Jakoyo Midiwo called the over pampered parliamentarian “stupid”. And when another parliamentarian termed his party behaviour as terrorism, he said what even the US government fear saying. He unveiled the political correctness veil and called the legislators and all his brethren terrorists.


What am I saying? Jakoyo never allowed the battles to be fought in his side of the pitch he took the battle to the opponents back yard and beat them into retreat in front of their wives and children. Maybe it is this fearsome breed that all Kenyans fell in love with.


But he had something more. He had a readiness to forgive which is rare for a person so young. Sometimes laughing at himself. Sometimes just reaching across the divide, He would concede the ground when sense had prevailed and earn the respect of his opponents. A good example is when he lost and most think that his losing was cooked, he never cried foul. He appealed and when his appeal fell through he accepted the new legislator and put his life to other things like catching up on missing resume.


When I heard that he was one of the ablest people’s representative to come out Nyanza, I worried that the general narrative that in development representation the polygamous Luo mps were going to come out tops was about to be undone by Washington Jakoyo Midiwo. Then I was nicely surprised that true excellent Luo leaders he is just polygamous like the rest of the top performers of Ugenya’s Archbishop Ondiek except Jakoyo had a University degree.


I am reliable told that his speciality was road access network in his area. This does not surprise me that he chose a public investment that was very ordinary. Jakoyo lived an ordinary life. Talked ordinary talk. Debated like an ordinary person. Jakoyo did all the things ordinary people did. he made ordinary mistakes, ordinary jokes. And when his time came to go like an ordinary person quickly dashed to see his other family before walking ordinarily away.


I think the greatest looser is not Gem people but the whole of Kenya. Here was a young person maturing into a proper republican and statesman. Then death cut him short.


Courting Martyrdom.

Sometimes you got the feeling that as much as he ran away from Corona, he used to court martyrdom by his statesmanship. You see, you don't play basketball on a football field. You will be red carded.


In 2015, a member of his party accused him of being a Jubilee party’s mole. In my view he was just suffering the fate of peacemakers who are sometimes accused of betrayal.


When there were rumours of deputy president William Ruto’s impeachment, Jakoyo came out to warn the president against impeaching his own deputy. In a viral video, he declared that was not the right action and “those close to the president” should not advise him to follow that route. Now this is the sort of thing expected of him to talk to those close to the president in a tete a tete. That he chose to go public spoke volumes and if I knew much about it I would have been very afraid for his future popular politics.


In June 2018 during an interview on NTV, he declared that politicians would not see heaven except him, Kiambu senator Kimani Wamatangi and Kimilili MP Eseli Simiyu. The deeper meaning of that statement that excluded so many Kenyan politicians was deafening. Nobody followed it but it was the elephant in the room. It was equivalent to late Bishop Okullu declaring during Moi time that only God is “his excellency”.


Then came the December 2019, declaration that he would reject the BBI if it was passed through parliament. According to him, the initiative was supposed to be passed by the people of Kenya and not Parliamentarians.


And maybe martyrdom did arrive thick and fast and drip drab instalments. In 2020, he got into trouble with the Kisumu county government over rent arrears. In October 2020, the county government threatened to evict him alongside other politicians who had rent arrears running up to millions.


Earlier the same year, he had been involved in a scuffle with police officers who allegedly assaulted him and his driver at his home. Remarkably he personally forgave them. Who does that?


And just last month like fate would have it, the Judiciary did exactly what Jakoyo said, they rejected the BBI referendum. That is not the sort of popular position you want to be in.


I once read a book titled On High Steel by Mike Cherry, the author says with humour that it is not wise to touch an electric cable whose other end you cannot see. I don't think Washington Jakoyo cared about the other side of the electric cable. And that leads me to his Otada nickname.


Otada.

I have this ridiculous failing of examining Luo nick names because spiritually the Luo nick names tends to precede them in many ways. Otada is loosely ‘that cannot be tamed, focused, principled in a rough and tumble manner’ according to some people. And Jakoyo lived his life like Otada.


And even if you transferred the name that it is a derivative from tado (roof), then you still ran into indomitable wise sayings like maji moto haiwezi choma nyumba. Otada was never afraid of being scalded because he was never scalded.


But if you stick to ancient dholuo then consider this other meaning of Otada. The best otada hard wood is osiri the tree. The pole that supports the roof is siro and the tip of the house that guides spirits home is osuru. I want to belive that Otada came to do a specific job and death has snatched the Luo Kisuru. We now have a hut without Kisuru. I agree this is a bit too philosophical and poetic.




But Otada though lived a poetic life. At 54 he was just peeking into popular politics but like a meteorite he came too fast, shone too brightly and just like a shooting star went away too quickly never to come back ever.

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