It was a homecoming befitting a king, as former Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga received a rousing welcome at Mamboleo Grounds in Kisumu on Friday.
(See video courtesy of Kenya News Alerts TV and the end of the article. Jump to 2hr.30 min mark for the start of Raila Odinga’s speech)
Thousands of cheering supporters ran alongside his SUV as he stood atop, waving a black flywhisk, in an electric moment rarely seen in Kenyan politics.
The fired-up crowd often interrupted his speech with festive songs and constant cheering. He retracted his earlier statement in Wajir, where he used the loaded word “madoa doa.”
The phrase “Madoadoa” has landed other politicians in trouble owing to its 2007-2008 post-election violence undertones.
Raila walked back his Wajir statement by apologizing and noting that his Wajir speech was misunderstood.
He clarified that he did not mean to incite hatred against other tribes in Wajir. Rather, he was declaring Wajir an Azimio la Umoja Movement zone.
“Sikumaanisha hatutaki makabila zingine kule Wajir,” Odinga said, to correct the records. “Kwa hivyo kama kuna mtu yeyote ambaye hakunielewa vizuri, ambaye ameona makosa, mimi naambia yeye, pole sana.”
Translation: I did not mean we don’t want other tribes in Wajir. So I apologize to those I offended and those who misunderstood me.
Speaking in Dholuo, Odinga said he was on a path to victory after uniting with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
At one point, Suna East MP and a key member for Azimio la Umoja Junet Mohamed whispered in his ear, telling Odinga to speak in Kiswahili for all Kenyans to understand. But Odinga dismissed him, saying he speaks Kiswahili everywhere he goes, but today he’s speaking to his home crowd, and he must make sure they understand him.
“Joma ok winji, ibiro lokne-gi,” (We’ll translate it for those who don’t understand) Odinga said, much to the delight of the adoring crowd packed in the stadium.
He attacked his opponent Deputy President William Ruto, mocking him disparaging him as “jamaa ya kitendawili,” (the riddles guy). Odinga is famous for using vitendawili (riddles) to make his points and provoke audience participation.
Raila: Ja-kwoo en ng’aa?
Translation: Who’s the thief?
Raila: Ja-kwoo en ng’aa?
Using Luo folkloric expressions to connect with the crowd, Odinga said the time had come for him and Ruto to enter a contest akin to “guok-gi-bim,” — dog versus monkey fight.
He summarized his plan for the country, reminding the crowd that he was bringing a third revolution, which he termed as an “Economic revolution.”
Speaking mainly in Dholuo, Odinga reiterated Azimio la Umoja’s 10-point plan that his government will implement. (See below for Azimio la Umoja 10-point-plan for Kenya)
Upon election, his government would provide subsidized healthcare to Kenyans and give a Kshs 6000 to poor Kenyans to stimulate the economy.
He mocked his opponents for saying he was lying to Kenyans about starting the Kshs 6000 per-month social protection program for the poor, saying the country did not have such kind of money.
He responded, saying after serving as Prime Minister for 5 years, he knew where to find the money in our government.
“Giwacho ni baba woundo ji, to ongeye pesa. Angeyo kumar pesa nitie,” Odinga said.
Translation: they’re saying Baba is lying to people, but the government has no such money. But I know where to find the money.
“Angeyo ahinya, kumar Ruto gole pesa, kumar o-kwale pesa,” Odinga said. “Kaose kwalo, to otingo gi ogunia to obiro go gir jo piny.”
Translation: I know too well where Ruto gets his money. Where he steals the money, after stealing, he carries it in a sack and brings it to the people.
After stealing money from the government, Odinga alleged that the deputy president would turn around and take the stolen cash to fundraisers giving millions to boost his profile.
Odinga listed examples of places Ruto donated millions of shillings. He goes to a harambee for the youth, gives 5 million, women’s, 5 million, school bus, 10 million shillings.
“Dwe-ka-dwe otimo harambee million mia achiel, to msache million ariyo kende,” Odinga said.
Translation: He donates 100 million shillings every month, yet his monthly salary is only Kshs 2 million.
In his signature move to involve the crowd in his narrations, Odinga questioned the crowd for their verdict on Ruto’s source of endless cash.
“Modong go ogolo kanye?” Odinga asked.
Translation: where does he get the rest of the money?
“Okwalo!” Translation: he steals it. The crowd responded in a unison roar, indicating they were following along his narration and stinging critique of his opponent.
“Ja-kwoo en ng’aa?” (Translation: Who’s the thief?)
“Ruto,” the crowd responded.
Odinga repeated the question multiple times, turning it into a rally chant.
“Ja-kwoo en ng’aa?
He reminded the crowd that he and Kenyatta were together after their handshake, an agreement the two leaders, foes-turned-friends, entered to unite Kenya.
Almost every end of his sentences was punctuated by popular tunes adapted by the Azimio la Umoja campaigns to fire up the crowd, who came to see Odinga make a 5th attempt for the Kenyan presidency.
The music line-up included the now-famous Rero ni rero. This Luhyia song, meaning today is the day, has taken Azimio anthem status after Odinga famously requested it at a pivotal rally in Kakamega, dubbed Bukhungu II.
Other songs played in the rally included Chwade gi nyundo, a trending ohangla song by Odongo Swag and Bob Marley’s Nobody can stop reggae, and One love, among others.
Odinga joined Kenyatta at a rally in Nairobi, where they formally launched the Azimio la Umoja Movement. Azimio also received a boost from former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, who, together with his One Kenya Alliance (OKA), agreed to back Odinga for the presidency.
Odinga’s Azimio Movement will face off with Deputy President Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance. Ruto has teamed up with former Vice President Musalia Mudavadi.
AZIMIO LA UMOJA 10-POINT PLAN
- Inua Jamii, Pesa Mfukoni: Pesa Mfukoni is a social protection program that will deliver Ksh 6,000 per month to millions of Kenya’s most needy families.
- BabaCare: Seeks to provide Universal Health Care to Kenyans
- Kazi Kwa Wote: Government program to promote small businesses.
- Uchumi Kwa Akina Mama: Wealth creation program for women
- “Hashtag Inawezekana.” A program to support the youth and promote innovation.
- “Waste not a Single Child.” Education is non-negotiable. Education program to ensure every child gets an education.
- Fukuza Njaa: An effort to promote high agricultural productivity and eradicate hunger.
- Maji Kwa Kila Boma: Bring clean water to every household
- One County, One Product: Grassroot industrialization to promote jobs and inter-county commerce.
- The Principle of Administrative Continuity: Building upon the gains of the current government and ensuring the country never falls back at the start of every new administration.