Raila: If we don’t shun ethnicity, our nation will never blossom

Opposition leader Raila Odinga and his wife Ida during the Jaramogi Oginga odinga 25th anniversary celebrations in Kisumu. (Collins Oduor, Standard)
On his father’s 25th silver anniversary, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga swore he will not turn his back on his resolve to work with President Uhuru Kenyatta in uniting Kenyans.

Raila maintained he and the President will promote democratic values that will blend all Kenyans.

“This is the true spirit that the founding fathers of this country stood for and is the reason we are celebrating Kenya’s autonomy from the yoke of colonialism,” he said

He recalled how his late father, former Vice President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and founding President Jomo Kenyatta were great friends during the fight for liberation from colonialism.

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Devise new ways

“The two lions are not dead. The lions are sleeping. Their spirit of love, peace and unity emboldened in the National Anthem still lingers today,” Raila asserted.

He said history shows Jaramogi was one of the key leaders of Africa’s political groupings which secured Kenya’s independence in 1963.

Raila rued negative ethnicity saying it was the bane of democratic gains that Kenyans secured at the dawn of independence after they dethroned whites in power

He regretted that years later, Kenya had reverted to a culture of ethnicity.

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“Unless we move out of this ethnic doldrums, the country will never move forward. We must as leaders retrace our steps and devise new ways to reunite Kenyans,” Raila said.

He said where Kenya has reached today, there should be no reason for leaders to fight each other.

“People should learn to be accommodating. They should rise above the tribal and sectarian interests which our fathers believed in. A united and prosperous nation.”

“It is his chorus of Uhuru Na Kenyatta that led Kenya to gain its independence,” he explained. In the first African elections for the legislature in 1957, Jaramogi won elections in his home district of central Nyanza. A major British effort to control Kenya’s evolution in peaceful fashion was the Lancaster House Conference of 1960.

A unified African delegation attended and accepted the conference’s decisions as a step on the path to independence. But when the delegates returned to Kenya, rivalries shattered the unity of the African politicians, with Jaramogi emerging as one of the leaders of radical group of Africans.

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Odinga and other members of the legislative council formed Kanu.

And today riding on that spirit Uhuru and Raila are also aiming at uniting Kenyans devoid of the tribal tag.

It was Mzee Odungi Randa, one of Jaramogi’s first personal assistant that recalled how the late was an industrious person. 

“He loved business, launched Bondo thrift which was later changed to Luo thrift, an idea he horned to mentor young entrepreneurs,” he said.  He also recalled that the country’s first vice-president remained a vocal opposition leader until his death.

Against oppression

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Prof Ahmed Muhidin and Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o said Jaramogi was bold and courageous.

He openly challenged the government’s use of private and foreign investment capital and ties with the West.

EALA MP Oburu Odinga said his father believed in justice and equity. He advocated for an egalitarian society. He was also against wanton abuse of office or public resources.

‘May father was against oppression. He believed in fairness for all to access justice without bias,’’ said Oburu.

Present at the event were Governors Cornel Rasanga (Siaya), Sospeter Ojaamong(Busia), Nyongo (Kisumu) and Senators Fred Outa (Nyando), Ochillo Ayacko (Migori), MPs and MCAs.

President Uhuru KenyattaRaila OdingaEthnicityHandshake