Show of unity: Kalenjin, Gema elders pay Sh300,000 for sick Luo colleague

Gema Council of Elders led by chairman Peter Njenga and Kalenjin elders led by Major John Seii when they visited Mzee Otondi in Kisumu on April 5

The Gema and Kalenjin councils of elders have come together to help their ailing colleague in Nyanza to seek specialised treatment.

Mzee Otondi has been receiving treatment at Jalaram Hospital in Kisumu, but needed surgery. Last week, in a rare show of unity, the elders visited Mzee Otondi in hospital and contributed over Sh300,000 to cater for his medical bill.

Led by Gema elders chairperson Bishop Peter Njenga and his Kalenjin (Myoot) counterpart Major John Seii, the elders transferred Mzee Otondi to a specialised hospital within the town for the surgery.

According to the elders, Mzee Otondi had accrued a Sh25,000 bill at Jalaram Hospital in Kisumu, and also required Sh311,000 for the surgery.

“We understand that there are financial constraints, and we had to chip in to help one of us. However, our main reason for standing with him is because we know that our presence as fellow elders is a lease of life to him in a special way,” said Seii.

Seii led six elders from Rift Valley, while Njenga led a similar number from the Mount Kenya region. The two groups vowed to stand with and support their colleagues in Luoland.

“We are here not as individuals, but to deliver a message of goodwill from our respective communities. As leaders, we have always spoke about and promoted peace and unity even instances of political differences between our communities,” added Seii.

“Mzee Otondi is one of us and we cannot desert him at his hour of need. We will be back to visit him in hospital and pray with him,” said Njenga.

The visit came in the wake of debates over the recent handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The elders reiterated their support for the unity talks saying they had already begun the process of uniting deeply-divided communities long before the handshake.

“We need order in Kenya, and as elders, we had made a decision that if the young cannot do it, we would take over and lead the country towards the path of reconciliation and peace,” said Njenga.

Seii said the bulk of business between the Kalenjin and the Luos take place in Kisumu, hence the city was at the heart of the two communities, which called for peace in the area.

Apostle Stephen Oludhe, the chief executive of the Luo Council of Elders told off those bad-mouthing Raila over the handshake. He asked the critics to instead seek answers from elders over the matter.

“The two leaders had no option but to put the country first. Kenya is a God-fearing nation and we have to admit that the handshake came as a result of divine intervention. The elders played an important part too in making that handshake possible,” he claimed.

He added that, “We don’t want to go back to the politics of bloodshed. That is why as elders, we have chosen to walk together and move the country forward as a united people.

“The greatest show of peace and reconciliation in the African tradition is a handshake. Let us stop castigating others but take the opportunity to embrace unity. We should forsake evil and shun division in the country,” said Dorothy Juma, the coordinator of the Luo Council of Elders.

Otondi appreciated the fellow elders’ intervention, saying it was a good gesture to the rest of the country.