Youthful sharks out to torpedo Raila’s ambition

November 13, 2014 OPINION/NEWS

Kenya's PM Odinga attends a news conference on the situation in the Horn of Africa, at the U.N. headquarters in New York



Joe Khamisi

Kenya’s Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga must be feeling the heat. The man who is known for destroying parties from within is today faced with an internal crisis in his own opposition party that is endangering his political future.

From 1994 when he walked out of FORD party and left it in shambles following a clash with Michael Wamalwa; to 2002 when he stormed out of KANU and left it in disarray after President Moi tipped Uhuru Kenyatta as his preferred presidential candidate; to 2005 when he quarrelled with President Kibaki and left NARC in disorder to form ODM-K, Raila has been a man in a hurry to ascend to power.

He missed three chances to become President of Kenya. Now, he is on a fourth mission. But this mission is fraught with unprecedented difficulties as he tries to stay afloat against youthful sharks determined to torpedo his ambition. He does not just have enemies without; he has them in droves within.

For the first time in his long political career, Raila finds he has few options.

One, age is against him. At 70 years old and with opponents half his age scrambling to succeed him, Raila finds himself in a stranglehold. Though still agile, physically and mentally, foes are using his advanced age as an excuse to edge him out into oblivion.

Two, because of the combative, abrasive, and bossy nature of his personality, Raila has left many political enemies in the wake of his career. In a country as heavily tribal as Kenya, a national politician cannot survive in an atmosphere of unending personal crises.

Three, his own close allies, the people he relied most to push his philosophy at the grassroots, have either bolted or are deserting him.

Hence the desperation. Why is it that he has to follow on the footsteps of his arch-enemy, Uhuru Kenyatta? Whenever Uhuru goes he follows behind; name it, Mombasa, Kwale, Migori, Kisii, and now Nyanza. Either his aides have run out of ideas on how the opposition should operate in a democratic society; or they are too frustrated by the way things are going in the opposition camp.

Any opposition party anywhere in the world must be pro-active, aggressive, innovative, and a step ahead of the ruling party. It cannot lie fallow, nor can it be a copy-cat. The reasons for Uhuru visiting Kwale may be different from Raila’s. Uhuru may want to tell the Digos what his government has done or intends to do for them. Raila must tell them why what the government is doing is not good enough for them.

Raila’s flagship campaign to force a referendum as a way of disorganizing the government has lost steam and, as I said here, is dead at the docks.

But don’t write off Raila. The man is adept at reinventing himself. He has done it before. In 2007, he surprised Kalonzo Musyoka, his fellow presidential aspirant, when he acquired the Orange name after the former had taken off with the party registration documents. I wouldn’t be surprised if he does the same this time around. Maybe that is why we are hearing about outfits like OKOA-Fresh and OKOA Kenya Patriotic Party. They may be his fall-back.

His opponents must know that Raila still commands a lot of following in the country. If he ditches ODM today for OKOA this or OKOA that, ODM will be nothing but a shell. His fanatic supporters will most certainly follow him.

The tragedy is, there is no one in ODM who has the kind of magnetic charisma and mass support to advance ODM’s agenda like Jakom.

That is why the Luo leaders who are on a mission to find a replacement for Raila have a hard time ahead of them.






Joe Khamisi

Joe Khamisi is a former journalist, diplomat and Member of Parliament. He is also the Author of the Politics of Betrayal:Diary of a Kenyan Legislator, a political memoir about the situation in Kenya between 2001, when the ruling party of President Daniel Arap Moi, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), merged with Raila Odinga’s National Development Party.

The book also narrates cases of corruption in Parliament and in the Media and records Senator Obama’s visit to Kenya in 2006. As a friend of Barack Obama Senior, the author also remembers the times and tragedies of the American-educated economist.

Joe Khamisi’s second book, a biography, ‘Dash Before Dusk’, is currently awaiting publication.

In addition to the above books, Joe Khamisi blogs at , and for media enquiries can be reached at [email protected]

(This article is courtesy of Joe Khamisi and was originally published at the above blog on 12th November 2014)


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