This is a Bad Time to Be Raila Odinga…or is it?

Raila complaints

Credit: Daily Nation

The other day, I was on a KQ flight from Abidjan to Nairobi and the air hostess announced that our former Honorable Prime Minister was on board as well.

Somebody near me immediately squawked out “Haiya! We’re with a VIP?” and the people laughed.

I couldn’t help but feel bad for Rao. People either know you and mock you, love you and can’t help you, or don’t know you and don’t care. We landed at some obscure hour of the night/morning and he was quickly whisked away from the plane.

Then I started wondering why I felt bad for him.


For those of you born in a Post-Moi Kenya, Raila has had a genuinely bad time in politics. He was detained and tortured for 8 years without trial in the 80s for preaching multi-party democracy in a time when there was only one party. When he was released, he was still being given a hard time. I mean, you know things are bad when you run away to Norway. No offense intended to any Norwegians reading this, but I’m sure even you guys would run away to some place with sun if you were African.


Anyhow, he came back and became MP in 1992 and since 1997, he has tried to run for President. Not once. Not twice. Not thrice. But four timesActually, yes. Thrice. And lost. Three time. The fairness of each loss is increasingly dubious, but the one thing you can’t glare over is that he lost. 3 times.

And that can’t feel good man.


Then from there, it’s the little details that I imagine have added white hairs to his head. He got robbed. And then got robbed again. And somewhere between the two robberies, he was denied entrance into the Airport VIP Lounge.

nah nah

Come on. It’s flat out f**ked up that the former Prime Ministers of other countries can use our VIP lounge, but not our own. Heck, former diplomats, civil servants, army folk, all take a dump in there but not our Prime Minister?


As I was sitting in that plane, watching him be escorted away through the windows, I thought “Hold on, that’s not sad. It just seems sad.”

This man is a billionaire. Not million. Billion. And not one or two either. Tens and twenties, probably. Between the oil company and the bio-gas company alone, I’m sure he’s at 10 billion shillings.

arab money

And then you add everything else (like his salary, which he’s been collecting for 21 years) and his inheritance, because like I keep saying, politics is a hereditary disease and our government is family-owned and operated. Financially, he’s not suffering. Which is why I’m wondering why he’s pulling out the “I’m suffering card” while abroad. Yes, it is unfair, but it’s also exaggerated. He can afford to let his security guards use a car.

Yes, he should be allocated his dues, but methinks there are better ways to make his case without playing victim. Like just letting a PR team handle it and make sure the story gets printed minus him seeming like he’s championing his own cause.


He’s loved by many, respected by almost all and for those who don’t love nor respect him, they either fear him or can be squashed by his wallet. More importantly, he has no pending ICC case.

I’m sorry, but if I was one of the two main political candidates in the election that caused enough violence to hark the attention of the Hague’s pitbulls, and I hadn’t been caught, I think I’d shut my mouth and never complain about anything again. Anything else seems trivial, I’d think.

pac shrug

I empathize with the fact that he sleeps alone at home, and that his security guards can’t carry guns on matatus, but I think he should take the high road on this one and let the facts(or professionals that know how to spin them) speak for themselves. Talking about VIP and security guards makes you seem petty when someone could easily say “But you’re a billionaire.” I realize the general injustice is the main issue, but those two incidents have already been taken as the focus. When, really, focus is the last thing he should want right now. He should make as much distance with the past as he can, while he can.

Seeing as politics wasn’t really doing the guy any favors, he should be considering this a vacation. Take up a noble hobby like philanthropy.

If I were Raila, I think I’d be grateful I made it out alive and go around Africa doing Koffi Annanisms; shaking hands and hugging babies and being loved while raking in billions every time one of your trailers pulls up to a petrol station.


Oh, wait. He’s already doing that. Then the only thing I’d do different is NOT complain, let a PR team handle the press, and accept that life is pretty awesome.

After all, I could afford to do that.

26 thoughts on “This is a Bad Time to Be Raila Odinga…or is it?

  1. Question: Why?

    Your post would be awesome if he was aiming to run for office sometime soon. And he needed to build enough goodwill for people to vote for him. But he isn’t (at least I hope he isn’t) and what he does with the rest of his life isn’t really in our hands anymore, at least not directly so why does he need to keep a low profile, not appear petty, not complain?

    Why does Raila need to disappear into the background? Like if it were Kibaki that these things were happening to, would you give him the same advise.

    And this doesn’t mean I don’t agree with your post, I’m just curious as the reasoning behind it.

    • Because he’s apparently still in politics.

      Because he keeps showing up in the papers and I’m losing respect for him.

      Because there’s a more gracious way of exiting that office and he can achieve it so easily.

      And so that people can stop focusing on him and instead focus on the real issues. Like Doctors, Teachers and how we’re setting up our kids for stupidity and death.

      • Lord knows how much i agree with this response. I am also losing respect fro him, and at an alarmingly fast rate because he is giving the media a free pass at “misquoting” him and he ends looking like a class act at buffoonery.

        Couple of weeks back, I engaged someone on this topic and Binti’s query about him running again.. sadly ‘came out’. He is indeed planning to run again, and there’s apparently an absurd loophole in the ‘good book’ that will allow him even given his age. Cap 137 methinks.

        His “almighty” PR team behind him are now just laying the bed for his soft landing.. because: forever a bridesmaid. i guess 5 times will be the charm. Just my thoughts though.

    • @msichanamdogo – the constitution does not have age restriction for vying for presidency. Only the president and the deputy president cannot vie for a third term. But they can definitely vie again later, Putin-style (Don’t give me that look, it’s very possible and constitutionally right)

  2. i hope the PR team read this article… if he had gone the Koffi annan way, he would be smiling all the way through VIP lounges in all airports

  3. There’s a lot that could be read into this. Like 1. We’re so conditioned to how we treat VIPs that we actually feel sorry for him. Or 2. He sounds awfully whiny for someone of his stature. But I guess my take-home is that whatever else he may have lost, he retains the charisma to make a ‘why me’ session newsworthy.

    • A little bit of all that. My thinking though is that someone of his stature and charisma could do a lot more with his free time than draw unnecessary attention to himself. There was no news coverage of the AU meeting he went for, just of him complaining to his Ivorian counterpart.

  4. When they were debating the new constitution, there was no provision for the Prime Minister in the after life. That is, he was so sure he was going to be president, that his cronies didn’t even consider a retirement package for PM post. That’s what he got.
    Part of the reason he lost also was that his PR machine was so kalongolongo. UhuRuto spent 13 million pounds (Ksh. 1.8 Billion) for some top-notch PR firm from UK. See how far it got them. They actually made the ICC suspects so likeable that half of us voted for them.

    • Kibaki’s package was not in the constitution either, it was an act of parliament that included retirement benefits of MPs, Kibaki, Raila and Kalonzo. Kibaki only approved his package and disregarded everything else, this is after tricking MPs to pass the National Government Coordination Act which was the basis of him appointing the contentious county commissioners. It was a trade-off gone bad between the executive and parliament.

      Having said that, we might want to talk about PR and what not, which is perfectly fine depending on how you view local politics. But assuming that there isn’t some witch-hunt at play would be naive. I mean why would a former PM not use VIP lounge in a country he once helped govern? Diplomats, both current and retired use the same facility.

      And a little correction, PR did not make UhuRuto win. They only received 45% of votes in Nairobi where PR work. In the village people care little about coded language unless it’s meant to kill, rape and dispossess people of their properties like in 2007. Ruto made UhuRuto win, not PR. (I’m just saying)

  5. Pingback: Ruto’s Mansion NEEDS Those Renovations | Diasporadical

  6. Fact: He never ran 4times, he ran 3times
    Fact: He was detained for 8years and not 6
    Fact:He was tortured, yes tortured for having a political stand different from the governments
    Fact: He is a kenyan VIP who was a prime minister, put his “cry baby antics” on the side for a minute, why isnt he being treated with the same decorum as the ex-president
    Fact: By virtue of his former position, he is entitled to being treated with respect, the govt is failing in that, Why? because he ran in the last election and will not quit politics.
    Fact: The only age limit in running for presidency is the 35 year age limit as a minimum.
    Fact; Kibaki is probably 10 times a billionaire and Moi too, none seems to have a problem with them having guards, petrol stations among other things at the state’s expense “hipocracy”
    Fact:There underlying issues we could all concentrate on but we all know its more juicier to kick a mans who is down, its a Kenyan thing, we did it with Moi, nearly did it Kibaki, may do it to Ruto , are doing it to Raila
    Fact: Loosing respect for someone because he gives voice to his woes whether imagined or not is the height of hiprocasy, we never seem to loose respect for murders, rapists, philanderes, looters, but hey we are Kenyan and each one has his own unique heroes (of course from where you come from)
    Fact: Any sense of an objective discussion in Kenya will at one point turn into insult and tantrum throwing !

    • Changed the first one. That was an oversight. Will change the detention one in a second.

      Which kinda segues nicely into my point. Do you think his minor woes(because VIP and cars are less woes than what he’s actually gone through) should get more coverage than his major ones? Do you think that maybe he should focus on that promise he gave us on finding out what really happened in this past election? Do you think maybe he could do more by…actually doing more?

      I’m not saying what’s happening is fair. I’m just saying that if you look at the grand scheme of things, he’s in a position where he can make more change than just getting access to VIP lounges and letting the media make him look petty doing it. Ergo, get a PR team and let them handle it.

      As for all those people you say we don’t lose respect for: I’m the first to say I don’t support our president simply because he MAY be involved in a genocide. The same goes for those 300 other clowns in parliament.

      • But sir, you are judging the man based on the responses he’s giving the media who inquire about such. He’s been very firm on the devolution, calling on his party members to prioritise service delivery instead of hefty perks, and also calling out the pretentious African leadership. I think it’s unfair to pick up one story, which I doubt Raila called up the media and narrated to them his ordeal, and use that to judge him.

        I will be sincere with you, I’ve heard a couple of newspaper industry insiders say without the man on the cover, business is very slow. I can’t confirm how true that statement is but for them to talk about it, seems like there is some truth in it.

        I’m just saying.

      • Precisely why I’m saying he shouldn’t be the one talking about it. PR Team.

        He should maintain the face of talking about serious issues if he intends on saving face.

        And I’m not the only one judging him. Imagine the average newspaper reader…

        Try this out. Go to Nation and type in Raila in the search. Between every story where he’s addressing serious issues(education, youth, polls) is a story about the robbery or the VIP. Or at least it was like that for close to a month. It wasn’t just one story. And of course they’re doing it cause it sells. But that doesn’t mean he should fuel the fire. Like, dude went to Abidjan to talk to the AU and the story that came from there was him talking to the former country leaders complaining about not being allowed in VIP or being paid pension.

        Which he did indeed do. In a press conference.

        They will find a way to dilute your message if you give them water.

    • True facts about honoring leaders sir. Well spoken. I like the thoughts about him already having money though. They are true but disrespect of elders is one thing we don’t want to teach the children coz they will do it to you when you are old. You can take that to the bank.

  7. I sympathise with him, and the fact that Kenyans are losing their respect for him should be a worrying trend. When someone completes their service to you and you find it acceptable, tip the guy, say thank you for your effort. You don’t ask him whether he has a side business and judge him for it. Whichever way you look at it, Raila probably paved way for precedents that will save this country for years to come.

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