By Salim Lone
RAILA AT DNC – I was among a number of Kenyans who were delighted to receive former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and daughter Winnie when he arrived at the Philadelphia Airport on Sunday to attend the Democratic National Convention and a meeting of the National Democratic Institute.
Among the group, some of whom had travelled hundreds of miles, was Ann Kariuki, a Philadelphian who had organized the airport reception, but it was little Auma (on right in the airport picture) who stole the airport show, when in presenting Raila with a bouquet of flowers, she said she was proud to be a TRUE Kenyan “as my dad is from Asembo, and my mum is from Thika”!
At Raila’s hotel we met up with another good friend I had not recently talked to, former Justice Minister Martha Karua, who had also come for the DNC and was accompanied by her aide Elizabeth Onyango. The enlarged group then went for dinner at Gojjo, an excellent Ethiopian restaurant whose owner Habtamu Shitaye follows Kenya politics and was a very attentive host happy to be hosting the two Kenyan luminaries.
Raila and Martha were in excellent spirits, and during the course of the evening gave very positive assessments of the multiple political developments that are now gripping Kenyans as we head to next year’s election. I was also happy to get some time with Raila to get a more detailed briefing from him, since it’s just not possible to get a nuanced sense of how Kenya is evolving when you are away, however much one tries to keep up with our dear country.
The ever-beautiful Martha was her usual eloquent, earthy, plainspoken, outspoken and witty self. She had us roaring in laughter when in discussing her diminutive physical stature she said “a woman is only as tall as her high heels, but luckily we have many other ways to get taller than the men.”
Others I spoke to were Dan Ochweri, Otieno Ombok, Lister Nyaringo and Rhoda Okaaloh.