By Janet Mwikali-White
I observed Fidel’s two-week funeral and was annoyed by the lies, half-truths and innuendos which came out of it.
Fidel Odinga (may his soul rest in peace) was not Raila Odinga. To even suggest so is to mock the very person of Raila Odinga, our revered father of modern democracy, and propel a fallacious myth of post-ethnic Kenya by the outpouring of condolences from across the political divide which punctuated his funeral.
The younger Odinga died in his house. From reports, he arrived well past midnight, very drunk but orderly, and proceeded to another room of his palatial home where he was found cold and lifeless. His wife, Lwam, was asleep so was a young a boy who may have awaited his father till he too dozed off.
A maidservant (who must remain half-asleep) ushered him in. He died thereafter.
Earlier, those recollecting his last moments tell us he complained of stomach upset. He visited, among other people, a Mr. Tom Alila (who vied in Ndhiwa on a TNA ticket) in whom he confided feeling unwell.
His very last moments were punctuated with the usual Nairobi nightlife by the high and mighty (and their children) of club hopping, illicit sex and partying and for Fidel, he was in three high end bars, which left him drunk to the nose, so that he picked on taxi operators to chauffeur him home, where he was eventually found dead.
Yet, as all these night escapades happened, a whole community in Nyanza, and elsewhere outside it, was ‘allegedly’ waiting for Fidel to ‘take over’ the mantle of political leadership from where it is now – with his father, Raila Odinga, who himself grabbed it from his father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.
At 41 years, Fidel’s place in the political equation in post Odinga Luo politics, specifically, ought to have been more clearer, not the ignominious showmanship we witnessed with his death. By all means – and he had the means – Fidel would have been in parliament, or high up in ODM’s political officialdom, not hiding in the shadows of family connections to stand at public forums behind his enigmatic father.
Methinks those who mourned Fidel were actually mourning Raila Odinga. The person who pulled people to Fidel’s funeral – both in Nairobi and Nyanza – was his father, the resilient Odinga, whom many people empathically believe has now totally lost out with the murder of his son.
What path to political power is this that Fidel trodden? How could someone expected to carry the hopes of a community, and possibly a country, which, literally, is still deep in political wilderness, be so careless deep in the night, drinking his booze with the type of characters not known to have any ambition apart from making money and living the good life?
Fidel, no doubt, was a good man. But all rich men’s children are good people. In high end Kenya, the social ‘in thing’ is the number of the ‘other’ friends you have, differentiated psychologically by their ethnicities or racial descends. To only flaunt this normalcy, and blow it out of proportion, that he was a good man because he made friends across all tribes and racial groups, is, again, to mock people’s intelligence.
At 41, Fidel’s vision of the country ought to have emerged from himself, not what people conclude about him. With all his alleged connections to the ‘other’ Kenyans, nothing conjures in my mind that he stood for. I find it very difficult to account for his last 20 years, during which his family – the Odinga family – rose from the Moi dungeons to straddle the width and length of this country like a colossus.
Fidel behaved like any rich man’s son in Kenya. He was no different. He drunk himself silly, was arrogant in bars and clubs like all of them, and, more than once, it is said, he visited brothels like you and I, only that he went to the most expensive, in the most exclusive inns, but the flesh was all the same.
The circumstances of Fidel’s youth were starkly different from those of his father. The older Odinga came of age at a time the country was still deeply rural. He started out by learning the secrets of his community, and, thoroughly understood their psyche, language and needs.
He was in the second generation of Kenyan leaders, who, beyond appealing to the tribal needs of his community, worked hard, and suffered longest, to achieve them. The older Odinga came of age at the close of one tyranny, by death, and the beginning of another, Â both of which condemned his community to the fringes of political power, and hunted down some of the Luo community’s bravest and brightest, almost to a man.
And while Fidel saw this government ruthlessness first hand, for his father was detained when he was a toddler and released from prison when he was an adult, the metamorphosis of Odinga, attendant with its benefits, including state largesse as MP and PM, seems to have wiped away all the tears of that troubled childhood, so that the man who came out of the boy was never the son of the father!
Fidel, in my view, could not have replaced his father. Fidel was not a politician of Raila’s stature. He was to his father what Jimmy Kibaki is to Mwai Kibaki – just a wealthy son.
These were two very different people, whose lives appealed to two very different constituencies, and for Fidel, sadly, it was that overrated constituency of tribless kenya – those folks who never vote, who fear election periods in Kenya, and often have an air ticket ready, just in case shit happens.
For Luos, if anyone waited for Fidel to take over, such human beings are lucky he passed away sooner, for they would have been deeply disappointed later. There comes a time when a horse sires a mule. While Odinga is a real horse, his son Fidel was a mule. Let’s put Fidel to where he belonged and stop cheating history. I feel for Mr. Odinga.
Janet Mwikali-WhiteÂ comments on topical political affairs in Kenya. View expressed in this articleÂ are notÂ necessarily shared with Kenya Today’s community of bloggers, writers and editors.