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Grace Akumu: The woman who gave Raila the name 'Agwambo'

Azimio Coalition Party leader Raila Odinga is one of the prolific politicians in the country whose name rings a bell in any corner of the world. His experience in the political scene has earned him a host of nicknames, ranging from; Tinga, Hummer, Agwambo, Baba, Jakom, among others.

Tinga means a tractor, a name he got in the 1990s when he was the National Development Party (NDP) leader, the party whose slogan was Tinga. He got the name Hummer in the 2000s after imported a Hummer model ahead of the 2007 general election. Baba became his latest nickname he got from his political cronies who considered him a political father.

Jakom which means Chairman is however derived from his activities in the political and social scenes which include chairing high profile deliberations.

The name 'Agwambo' is however undoubtedly the oldest and most famous among the nicknames. The word 'agwambo' is a Luo word which has been translated to mean 'Mystery' or 'The Unpredictable' in English.

Even though Raila is considered one of the most unpredictable politicians in the country, the name has no relationship with his political character, and not many people can however trace the origin of the name which has stood a number of political regimes, and which has not shown any sign of disappearing.

This is according to Grace Akumu, widow to former Central Organisation of Trade Union (Cotu) Secretary General, the late Denis Akumu who has come out to claim the right for the name.

Akumu who contested for Kisumu County Women Representative position in the 2017 general election stunned an audience in Seme when she revealed how her family donated the name to Raila in the 1980s.

According to Akumu, her family and that of Kenya's first Vice President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga had been close when Jaramogi joined the opposition. She said Jaramogi and Denis shared a lot in politics, and occasionally visited each other as they stayed in a neighbouhood at Jericho Estate in Nairobi, apart from the many encounters in political arena.

And in the late 1980s after Raila had been released from detention, Ms Akumu said, the son of Jaramogi never hesitated to visit her family for pleasantries.

"He (Raila) had just come from detention, and he was coming to visit us when he lost his way to our house. He then tried to inquire from the neigbours," said Akumu.

She added: "Most of the neighbours referred to my husband as 'Baba Agwambo' (Agwambo's father) since I had a child named Agwambo. So the neighbours brought him to our house."

Akumu however noted that Raila was not familiar with the 'Baba Agwambo' name as he had never known that I had a child with such a name, hence when he got to the house, he inquired about the same.

"Raila was impressed by the name, and as he was leaving he jokingly said he would wish to adopt the name, and we reluctantly allowed him," she said.

And this is how Raila became Agwambo.

Akumu vied for Nyakach parliamentary seat in 2013 on an ODM ticket and lost to Aduma Owuor at the primaries. She however moved out of the part , becoming the first Luo female politician to form a political party called Citizens Convention Party (CCP).