Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati’s masterstroke in last year’s political contest, many believe, was to pick a Tachoni as his running mate. That could have been a deciding factor in a contest where both strong candidates, Mr Wangamati and the then governor, Kenneth Lusaka, were both from the Bukusu sub tribe of the Luhya.
With the ethnic factor cancelling out, the next front of the contest was that of running mate. A section of Sabaots were unhappy with Mr Lusaka and his deputy, Hillary Chongwony, and were willing to support Wangamati on condition that he picks a Sabaot, but the latter wisely, or may be expediently went for Professor Charles Ngome Kibanani , a Tachoni.
Understandably, that snub alienated most Sabaot people from Mr Wangamati. That feeling was heightened when Wangamati won. Mr Wangamati’s formula worked and Sabaots’ loss became Tachonis’ gain.
That feeling was completed by some of Wangamati’s initial actions served to further alienate the Sabaot. These included appointments that many Sabaot people saw being disproportionately Luhya.
To make matters was, the Jubilee government which the Sabaot voted for to a man seemed to reward the Luhya, who voted mainly for Mr Odinga and his NASA, at their expense.
Their former ally in the governorship race, Mr Lusaka got the speaker’s post and Mr Eugene Wamawa was appointed a CS, to name just but a few.
Already, the likes of IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati and his now secretary/CEO, Ezra Chiloba, EACC chairman Eliud Wabukala among others were holding senior positions in government, compared to next to nothing for Sabaot.
But in certain ways, at least in word, the governor has tried to give the Sabaot a feeling of belonging.
Early this year, Mr Wangamati said he had petitioned the Commission for Revenue Allocation (CRA) to classify Mt Elgon Sub County a marginalized area and give it Sh300 million. Most Sabaot of Bungoma county live in Mt Elgon Sub County.
His subsequent appointments also went some way in soothing the Sabaot. And over the weekend, Mt Wangamati was in the sub county where he made a number of promises.
Things have also improved on the national government front with the appointment of Harry Kimtai as permanent secretary for Livestock.
“Sabaots get a PS slot for the first time since the world was created! Congratulations my friend Harry Kimutai…this calls for celebration,” one Sabaot said in reaction to that appointment.
Although some disputed this fact, saying Margaret Chemengich had been a PS under former president Daniel arap Moi, but the feeling of elation in the community was not in doubt.
Between now and 2022 when Wangamati seeks reelection, there could be a few more twists and turns in his relations with Sabaot people.
However, another Kalenjin-speaking minority, the Bongom didn’t feature in those calculations, possibly because their numbers are too small to count for whoever gets them, or disadvantage the candidate who misses out.
The Bongom are in court challenging some of Mr Wangamati’s appointments as not being inclusive.