First, let us banish the thought that folks from Nyanza and Western Kenya have among them people who qualify to be called ‘tycoons’.
You might find a pompous chap or two with three ‘big’ cars in various stages of disrepair parked outside his rented apartment in Nairobi. This fellow will purport to be rich.
If you ask him what his net worth is, he will not know. And if he does, that loot will not come anywhere close to the vast estates of men who are men, serious wazee like the late Gerishon Kirima and Njenga Karume.
A so-called Luhya or Luo tycoon is the kind of fellow who owns a ‘fleet’ of matatus or fishing boats, a string of posho mills, several dukas, ten pieces of land, six wives, a bar and several hundred stale company shares here and there. That is not a rich fellow. Real talk. He cannot sit at the table of rich men.
For you to qualify to be called a tycoon, you need to have so much money that you employ a whole firm of accountants to count it. Not your sixth wife sitting pretty behind the till and evacuating the cash to the Cayman Islands (read her mother).
No proper tycoon
You also must have a firm of auditors to help you with tax issues. In short, you must pay enough tax to sort out the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) to call yourself a tycoon.
If not, you are just an arrogant little bas***d who is an accident away from bankruptcy.
Now, if you walk across the villages of Western Kenya and Nyanza, you will not find a proper tycoon. You will not find someone manufacturing things at such a serious level that his business is known nationally. You will not find a man exporting things on grand scale, or another who owns a series of five star hotels or a bank.
You will not find a Luo or Luhya man who owns a high-rise building smack in the middle of Nairobi’s CBD. In the rare event that you do, the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission will be on his case like white on rice, and he will have six corruption and attempted murder cases pending in court.
And yes, you will not find someone who will look you in the eye and tell you he became rich because of a cooperative society. We eat those ones eat them, chew the bones and spit them out.
Gor and AFC leopards
The shameful state of penury in these two regions is reflected nicely in the fate of their beloved soccer clubs
— Mighty Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards. The two clubs are so broke that landlords are kicking their players out of rented houses. You know why?No Luo or Luhya man or woman owns a company that is wealthy enough to become a corporate sponsor for these clubs. Period.
So the totem of these proud communities are indulging in something mbekho-mbekho (a greek word for begging).
They beg to survive. They have diehard fans who love them so much that they travel all over the country to watch and cheer them play.
Luos and Luhyas even fight and die for these two football clubs. Yet the finest players in the land cannot string on their boots without turning to Raila Odinga or Musalia Mudavadi and saying mbekho (give me something small).
This mbekho thing percolates into politics. These two communities want the presidency, yet when people are voting, instead of lining up to cast their ballots, ‘diehard’ supporters sit on footpaths waiting for mbekho. Without mbekho, they will not vote.
Bask on voting day
And they want the presidency. Go to Western Kenya or Nyanza on election day, and you will find voters basking like lizards. When you ask them if they have voted, they will tell you they are waiting for inducement. Esie kata!
In the circumstances, getting hold of a tycoon is impossible. When someone attempts to become one, an evil neighbour bewitches him.
Blinded by juju, he employs close relatives who fleece him then turn around and say, “Look at him useless. He had everything, but he wasted all his money on beer and women.”
When such a fellow kicks the bucket after a long illness bravely borne (stress and depression) nothing much remains for us to fight over.
We simply gather, wail helplessly, and chew his chicken and livestock. We share out his shirts and trousers and fight over his widows. Then we scatter.
A year later, when you pass by his homestead, you notice this ghostly air – cars wrecks parked on stones, a bored mongrel dreaming of happier days gone by and widows who long have accepted and moved on.
Fight in court? What is there to fight over? Such is the sad tale of my people and their Luo neigbours.