It was a humid morning and I was walking in the streets of Mombasa killing time waiting to honour an appointment with a news source when I decided to call on an old friend.
The chap, a consultant with an international NGO, was going through files when I was whisked into his office by the secretary.
He directed me where to seat before he told me, it was good that I had decided to check on him because he had a story he wanted to share with me. He comes from Siaya.
He said after the 2017 General Election results that showed President Uhuru Kenyatta had defeated Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga by 54.25 against 44.86 percent, he thought it was time for the ODM leader to concede defeat and start working on his plans to retire from active politics.
President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner of the just concluded presidential election. PHOTO/PSCU
The friend said had just received a call from an old man back in Siaya who was very not happy with disturbances that had erupted in Nyanza and parts of Nairobi over the presidential results of the just concluded General Election.
He said the old man had told him a story on why he thought Raila’s political career had come to an end and why he should exit the political scene in honour by conceding defeat.
His story went on like this:
In 1966, when Raila’s father and the then Vice President of Kenya, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, fell out with independence President Jomo Kenyatta and Uhuru’s father, he embarked on a plan to form his own political party, Kenya People’s Union (KPU) which was to be his vehicle in the 1969 General Election against President Kenyatta’s Kanu.
Jaramogi decided to travel to Tanzania and consult a then revered Luo fortune teller and seer, Odemba Ngozi. The seer came from Bondo just like Jaramogi before he moved to Mara region in Tanzania to join his Luo relatives there.
Jomo Kenyatta. He detained Jaramogi Oginga Odinga after they fell out. PHOTO/COURTESY
Before Jaramogi embarked on the journey to Tanzania to meet Odemba Ngozi, he approached paramount chief Opiyo of Nyakach who was his friend to accompany him on the trip.
Jaramogi had driven himself to Chief Opiyo’s residence and when he reached there late in the evening, the chief organized a feast in his honour and agreed to make the journey to Shirati, in Tanzania the following day.
Odemba Ngozi came from the same village as Luo Benga music maestro Owino Misiani of Shirati Band. On reaching Odemba Ngozi’s homestead, Jaramogi and his friend were hosted overnight.
At night Odemba Ngozi consulted his oracles as requested by Jaramogi. The doyen of opposition politics wanted the seer to tell whether he was going to beat then President Jomo Kenyatta in the 1969 General Election.
The seer predicted to Jaramogi three things:
- He was not going to win against President Jomo Kenyatta in the 1969 General Election
- He will never become the president of Kenya
- None of his children, grandchildren or any other person from his birth tree will ever be president.
“The prophecy shocked Jaramogi and come the next morning he asked Odemba Ngozi, to consult his oracles again before he could return to Kenya. The outcome was the same,” Chief Opiyo had told his close confidantes.
However, before they left, Odemba Ngozi told Jaramogi that in order to confirm what he had told him was true, an incident was going to happen to him on his way back home which will be a confirmation of his revelation.
Jaramogi according to those who listened to Chief Opiyo, left Tanzania a very troubled man and after dropping the chief at his homestead, he continued with his journey to Bondo swallowed in thoughts.
However, after a few hours, Jaramogi returned to Chief Opiyo’s home and told him on reaching near Ahero on his way to Bondo, he had encountered a very troubling incident as indicated by Odemba Ngozi.
A huge black bull emerged from nowhere and blocked his way. Any attempts to scare it away by hooting or even attempting to hit it with the car failed, forcing him to reverse and come back to my residence,” Chief Opiyo is reported to have said.
Coincidentally, when Jaramogi formed KPU, he picked a bull (Ndume) as its symbol. And when the 1969 General Election came Jaramogi was walloped by Jomo Kenyatta.
However, despite the subsequent political setbacks, that included a spell in detention, house arrest and political exclusion, Jaramogi continued to soldier on as a steadfast opposition leader and bounced back forcefully ahead of the 1992 General Election when he was viewed as he was likely to oust retired President Daniel Moi, as the designate Forum for Restoration of Democracy (FORD) presidential candidate.
However, the plan to field a single opposition presidential candidate against President Moi, failed after Kenneth Matiba, returned from London where he had been hospitalized to join the presidential race.
Ford split into two parties: Ford Kenya led by Jaramogi and then so-called young turks like James Orengo, Paul Muite, Kiraitu Murungi, Wamalwa Kijana and Raila Odinga while Kenneth Matiba and Martin Shikuku and others led Ford Asili.
However, Jaramogi finished number four; he then officially announced his retirement from active politics and before he died, he mend fences with retired President Moi and put in place a succession plan that excluded his children including Raila from the leadership of Ford Kenya.
“It is believed that it was a result of fortune teller Odemba Ngozi’s prophecy that Jaramogi decided to bestow the leadership of Ford Kenya to Wamalwa Kijana and James Orengo and not Raila,” my friend from Siaya said.
Odemba Ngozi came from the same village as Luo Benga music maestro Owino Misiani of Shirati Band. VIDEO/YOUTUBE
Raila lost during the controversial Ford Kenya national delegates conference in Thika forcing him to ditch the party and form the National Development Party (NDP).
He contested for the presidency on an NDP ticket in 1997 and emerged third, but he claimed retired President Moi had rigged the polls. In 2002 he said “Kibaki Tosha” and retired President Mwai Kibaki beat President Kenyatta.
In 2007, Raila is said to have own but Kibaki was declared the winner instead. In 2013, Raila challenged the election of President Kenyatta claiming it was rigged.
This year, Raila is back to where he was in 2013. He claims the 2017 presidential results were manipulated.
Whether the story of Odemba Ngozi is a Luo mythology or a true story only close confidantes of Jaramogi and chief Opiyo can tell. Likewise, if you do not believe in superstitions as most of us do, well and good.
However, to me this is a first draft, upon which historians and writers will pick from as they put together the story of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and his son Raila Odinga and their roles in the democratization process in Kenya.
This development as adds a fascinating development in Raila’s enigmatic and controversial political career.
PATRICK MAYOYO IS THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AT NEXT GENERATION MEDIA LTD
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