By: Deng Vanang
Raila Amolo Odinga can only be compared to a well-known popular torch’s battery brand “Everyday” known for never saying die in his lengthy wild goose chase for an elusive Presidency in East Africa power house Kenya.
So calculative with a sense of diverted focus spiced with a sheepish smile when greetings both friends and foes as he casts his itchy wandering eyes and encyclopedic mind to the next apocalyptic political move of turning seemingly lost causes into practical possibilities, except breaking alleged generational curses of his dad and Barrack Obama’s grandfather haunting his guest for Presidency.
An all – round skilled mobilizer and campaigner in love with analogizing his political narratives on sporting trajectory to win over mammoth crowds never gets dissuaded by strings of losses in political battles spanning 40 years since 1982 botched coup Daniel Arap Moi”s government accused him of fermenting on the back of his fellow Luo Air force senior private Hezekiah Ochuka.
An attempted, but close range fatal shot at brutal dictatorship whose ruthless reaction made him narrowly scape the hangman’s noose that subsequently broke the necks of Ochuka and his co-accused officers nearly two years later on trial.
It was an half way scape though, having frequently confined him to a depressing status of a jail bird in Kamiti maximum prison meant for first class criminals.
He could at times be wheeled to water filled torture chambers full of knawing toothless snakes in an infamous Nyayo house where he lost his sharp eye sight among other vital organs.
Made torturous Lake victory night crossing to Uganda to allude government capture and petered into self-imposed exile in Norway and back to Kenya to usher in pro-multiparty democracy protests against Moi’s KANU regime.
Never bented low to the dictates of the vindictive authorities as he embarked on a long traumatic political sojourn strewn with bouts of excruciating pain which rather steeled his revolutionary resolve.
The bouts of pain included the loss of his beloved mum Mary Ajuma while in prison without being allowed to attend her funeral rites.
His being in jail without trial apparently took tolls on his mum leading to her untimely demise.
While his young wife Ida, a secondary school’s geography teacher was subjected to constant state’s harassment and public ridicule all in his name, climaxing to an ejection from teaching job and government ‘s house, wandering off and not knowing where to get next meal and shelter with her little ones.
The years he spent in jail and gruesome torture were accumulatively 8 years without nursing bitterness with anyone including no nonsense Moi, his persistent tormentor. Letting go has been his helpful personal trait as he gathers and transforms too many enemies into trusted allies along the way towards achieving his goal.
His resilience and patriotism earned him public adulation later in life sugar-coated with flattering and invincible nick names such like Tinga for tractor, Jakom for Dholuo Chairman, Agwambo and Baba for respected elder. Once intransigent Moi eventually caved into his demands for an adoption of multiparty democracy in place of the former’s autocratic rule in 1992.
He vied for Langata constituency parliamentary seat in metropolitant Nairobi beating Moi’s KANU stalwart and global archeological scientist, Richard Leaky in first multiparty general elections in the same year 1992.
While in the same election his father Jaramogi Oginga Odinga unsuccessfully contested to oust Moi from Presidency that only survived the dubbed Western backed warlord democrats’ onslaught in Sub-sahara Africa in the begining to the end of 1990s as his peer group of dictators gave way.
Up on his father death in January, 1994 a frustrated man having missed presidency at an heartbeat away, he unsuccessfully wrestled with Kijana Wamalwa, a Luya over the leadership of FORD-Kenya his father left behind as an official opposition party in Kenya national legislative assembly.
He went on to form National Democratic Party – NDP almost single handedly into a third largest political party in 1997 election in which he contested as President against his perennial rival Daniel Arap Moi. He emerged third after Moi and Mwai Kibaki, beating Wamalwa to fourth place. Negotiated himself into a cohabition agreement with Moi who appointed him Minister of Energy among his other two stalwarts as national cabinet Ministers.
The deal was consummated into the co-option of his NDP into Moi’s KANU with hope of suceding the latter after retirement.
They weren’t a match made in heaven. Their divergent views exploded. Moi chose Uhuru Kenyatta to suceede him, while Raila sank the boat called KANU Uhuru wanted to use to cross over to the Presidency.
He forsook 2002 election and Marched on to form Liberal Democratic Party – LDP and linked it up with Kibaki”s National Alliance of Kenya – NAK to found the first ever coalition in Kenya called National Rainbow Coalition, NARC.
Prodded Kibaki forward to lead the charge against ramshackle KANU thanks to his famous ‘Kibaki tosha’, effectively mauling Moi”s surrogate Uhuru Kenyatta.
Kibaki never lived up to the prime ministerial post he promised Raila, leading to the latter contesting on a new bandwagon, Orange Democratic Movement – ODM against the former in 2007 election out of which he was more than genuinely cheated of victory that precipitated post-election violence in 2008.
The negotiated democracy following violence handed Raila what he wanted back in 2002 instead.
However, Kibaki’s departure from political scene due to mandatory retirement in 2013 introduced Raila to a new phase of socio-political challenges. It has been time he lost his first born son and heir apparent, Fidel Odinga to suspected poisoning, while his daughter Rosemary Odinga went through partial eyesight loss.
Much as ever since the aforementioned fateful period Raila has gone through thick and thin fighting his political juniors in the name of Uhuru Mugai Kenyatta and William Samoei Ruto who perenially become on and off foes and friends in his undying quest to clinch Kenya’s coveted highest office.
A chameleon that changes according to the circumstances in which he finds himself and five times’ Presidential hopeful fruitlessly attempting to wrestle down Moi, Mwai, Mugai and Samoei, Raila has no knack for giving up as the pass forward revolutionary ever ready to give all in epic battles including his life for the good of Kenya he always delivers from the verge of a precipe at his expense with a few likely regrets if approached.
Plotting to oust his father Jaramogi from Ford-Kenya party’s Chairmanship in 1992 that brought him curse of never to ascend to Kenya’s Presidency, sharing his own power with Mwai Kibaki he defeated in 2008 and forsaking abrasive William Ruto for gentle Musalia Mudavadi in the run up to 2013 general elections.
Given his family lineage known longevity into late 80s, never get surprised seeing Raila Amola Odinga dusting and picking himself up back into the boxing ring of 2027 presidential election.