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Vol 49 No 25

Published 12th December 2008


Kenya

More unga than chungwa

A year after the flawed elections, much of the fire has gone out of the once radical opposition Orange Democratic Movement. Odinga, the firebrand ODM leader, held a meeting for his constituents in Nairobi’s Kibera’s slum to thank them for voting for him. He yelled the rallying cry ‘ODM!’, expecting the crowd to respond as it used to ‘Chungwa!’ (Orange!), the party colour and symbol, but they roared back ‘Unga!’, the maize flour that makes up the staple diet of ugali.

Politics is now taking second place to overwhelming concerns about the economy. Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement had promised lower rents and food prices, but its supporters are now paying more for both – thanks to domestic turmoil and the international slowdown. Surprisingly, the ODM’s toughest election opponent, Justice Minister Martha Karua, went to the Kibera rally to congratulate Odinga for his successes and to call for Kenyan unity. Less popularly, she demanded the eviction of those ODM followers who forcibly occupied houses belonging to Kikuyu during the post-election chaos. Significantly, Odinga and his lieutenants, William Samoei Ruto and Musalia Mudavadi, differed publicly on how to tackle the rise in maize flour prices.

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