Raila Odinga’s ‘Azmio la Umoja’ mirrors Nyerere’s Arusha declaration

ODM Presidential candidate Raila Odinga

To many Kenyans and Tanzanians especially residents of Nyanza, The Mara and Tarime regions, Raila’s latest political slogan is straight from Tanzania’s 1965 Arusha declaration script! Then founding President Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere launched “Azmio la Arusha” that united Tanganyika with Zanzibar under the ruling party CCM

By The Weekly Vision Online

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga appears to be sprinting towards his best stab at Kenya’s presidency. The top office has eluded the civil engineer many times; he has kept coming close only for the power to slip from his hands like a boat moored in stormy waters! This time round he is rolling out a massive national campaign fashioned as the “Azmio la Umoja” (declaration for national unity).

To many Kenyans and Tanzanians especially residents of Nyanza, The Mara and Tarime regions, Raila’s latest political slogan is straight from Tanzania’s 1965 Arusha declaration script! Then founding President Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere launched “Azmio la Arusha” that united Tanganyika with Zanzibar under the ruling party CCM. “Azmio la Arusha” has proved CCM’s staying power as it continues to produce successive presidents. CCM has ruled East Africa’s largest and most populous country since 1966 producing seven presidents.

It is said that late President Nyerere who passed on in 1998 is still “ruling Tanzania from the grave” having laid a firm foundation for CCM that has brushed off repeated challenges on its stronghold on power

It is said that late President Nyerere who passed on in 1998 is still “ruling Tanzania from the grave” having laid a firm foundation for CCM that has brushed off repeated challenges on its stronghold on power. Raila Odinga’s strategists are on a whistle-stop rallying drive for unity, they have kept on drumming the slogan against a backdrop of growing economic frustrations.

Some within his ranks are faulting Mr Odinga for “overplaying” the unity card at the expense of the economy. They say the high cost of living affecting the majority of Kenyans should be his number one concern. They claim his bid to “replay” Arusha events that happened over four decades ago could be missing the point. 

While Nyerere in 1965 needed national unity to experiment with his Ujamaa socialism then, circumstances in capitalist Kenya are a different ball game altogether. Nyerere abolished private land ownership making land public (ya umma).

But in Kenya, a few privileged individuals own huge tracts of land. While thousands are squatters on ancestral land! There are landlords who are non-indigenous especially at the Coast and parts of the Rift Valey making the land question one of the most emotive challenges likely to face any president being elected in 2022. Mr Odinga who enjoys massive support at the coast faces one of his worst nightmares on the land question there, where millions of squatters have repeatedly backed him in the hope he would resolve their land plight.

If elected president next year, he would have to resolve the issue of his handshake ally President Uhuru Kenyatta owning almost the entire coast-land! As to whether the “Azimio la Umoja” will be up to the task of resolving Kenya’s land question remains to be seen.

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