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Fallout within Luo Council of Elders over new leader

The rift at the Luo Council of Elders has widened after Adera Osawa, the Secretary General of the outfit, opposed the election of Odungi Randa as the new leader of the group.

Randa is a former aide former Jaramogi Oginda Odinga, father to opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Mr Osawa accused Mr Odinga, who is the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition party leader, of imposing Mr Randa on the Luo community.

Mr Randa was unveiled as the ninth ker (leader of the council) at an event held at Homa Bay High School on July 1, 2023.

This is after elders drawn from Siaya, Migori, Homa Bay and Kisumu held a private meeting and decided to choose him as their leader.

Their choice was based on a consensus meeting held days to the announcement of the decision.

Mr Randa was later crowned at an event attended by Mr Odinga, his wife Ida and Nyanza governors Gladys Wanga, James Orengo and Ochilo Ayacko.

Mombasa governor Abulswamad Nasir and Luo MPs also witnessed the event at Homa Bay High School.

But it has emerged that there were some differences on who should have been ker.

Mr Osawa opposed the exercise claiming it was not the will of senior citizens.

According to him, the new ker was chosen based on the will of Mr Odinga and not of elders.

Mr Osawa was among three candidates who were eyeing the seat that was left vacant after the death of then ker Opiyo Otondi in February 2023.

Another candidate namely James Ayaga who hails from Siaya who is said to have emerged second after the consensus meeting.

He accepted the outcome and vowed to work alongside the new ker as his assistant.

As Mr Randa was being installed, Mr Osawa had left Homa Bay in protest to go home in Mirogi.

He said he will not take any action against the exercise.

He however vowed not to participate in any activity of the outfit.

“The election was not based on censuses rather on the will of an individual who dictates everything that elders do,” Mr Osawa said.

During the consensus meeting, selected elders from Luo Nyanza counties voted for the three candidates.

According to Mr Osawa, he got support from Migori where he comes from and Homa Bay which did not present a candidate.

He added that he got equal votes in Kisumu alongside Mr Randa.

“I got equal votes as James Ayaga when elders from Siaya voted. This makes me the winner,” Mr Osawa said.

He told journalists that the only position he wants at the council is the chairmanship.

The ongoing tassel at the council is likely to divide Luo elders even further.

Already another group led by Nyandiko Ongadi is claiming control of the council.

Mr Ongadi said he holds registration documents of the outfit and should be recognised as ker.

He commands a number of elders from the community and gets support from different government officials.

There was some confusion when Mr Randa was officially presented to the public.

Otondi’s widow Lilian was the first to announce that Mr Randa was the one who was chosen by elders.

The role of declaring Ker is reserved for elders.

According to her, the spirits of Otondi sent her a message that Mr Randa should lead the Luo community.

He went ahead to give the new ker a fly whisk which Otondi used.

Some elders were concerned whether she did the right thing as some accused her of crossing boundaries.

After being installed, Mr Randa vowed not to engage in corruption saying he will not let himself be used by other people to divide luos.

“I will not engage the enemy who may use the opportunity to divide us,” Mr Randa said.

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