Plan to name road in Mombasa after Raila son sparks protests

Wednesday January 27 2016

A signboard at the expanded New Nyali Road which the Mombasa County government will rename Fidel Odinga Street on January 27, 2016. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A signboard at the expanded New Nyali Road which the Mombasa County government will rename Fidel Odinga Street on January 27, 2016. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By DANIEL TSUMA NYASSY
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The planned change of the name of the New Nyali Road to Fidel Odinga Street in honour of Cord leader Raila Odinga’s son has been met with criticism.

The road is to be renamed Wednesday in memory of Fidel Odinga, who died on January 4 last year.

The Cord leader is expected at the ceremony to be held in Mombasa on Wednesday.

Tuesday, his spokesman, Mr Dennis Onyango, said Mr Odinga flew to Mombasa last evening in readiness for Wednesday's ceremony.

“He will be there for the launch,” said Mr Onyango.

JUBILEE PROTEST

However, Jubilee Alliance Party Mombasa County Chairman Ali Mwatsahu said renaming the road would be a betrayal to the history and respect of the Coast people since there were many prominent people who qualify to be immortalised in street names.

“Why not name the road Mekatilili wa Menza, after the Giriama freedom fighter? Why not name it after one of our many heroes who symbolise our identity and history as Coast community?” he asked.

But his sentiments were dismissed by the Finance chairman and nominated MCA Mohamed Hatimy.

“What is the problem? This issue will not cost the county government a penny. I don’t see it as a big issue,” said Mr Hatimy.

He said another road in Old Town, which he did not name, would also be renamed Professor Ali Mazrui Road.

According to him, the naming and renaming of roads in a county is the prerogative of the governor.

“Naming and renaming roads is executive power at the disposal of the governor. It does not even need approval from the county assembly,” he said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

However, Mr Mwatsahu warned that Jubilee would organise a peaceful demonstration to protest the move if it is implemented.

“We shall not allow it. Some of those at the county government, in fact, are foreigners, having come in sailor ships and do not understand the history of Mombasa or the Coast,” he said without elaborating.

He also demanded the renaming of Moi Avenue to Kilindini Road “to guarantee our respect as a people”.

He said that it was disrespectful to rename Ronald Ngala Street Sheikh Ali street “who is not known or did not do anything for us”.

He also criticised the decision to name “Rashid Sajaad Road” after the Kanu era businessman, Mr Rashid Sajaad.

He said Mr Sajaad was “a foreigner and has not done anything good for us”.

On Twitter, some Kenyans were sceptical about the decision to rename the road after Fidel, while others supported the move.

“Why do we have to name a road after Fidel Odinga? what did he ever do in msa to deserve such?” asked @Saddamhalky.

Mr Kevin Otiendo said: “Kudos my Gavana @HassanAliJoho. @KideroEvans you owe us Fidel Odinga Road too. You promised.”