After becoming the Orange Democratic Movement’s presidential candidate, opposition chief Raila Odinga is expected to train his focus solely on the race ahead of him without the baggage of family members nurturing political ambitions.
A number of them have either shelved their ambitions or dropped their bids for various elective seats and have, instead, channelled their energies to drumming up support for Mr Odinga’s bid.
This is a departure break from the norm. Mr Odinga had in the past been dragged into party affairs involving family members, when his siblings such as Dr Oburu Oginga, Ms Ruth Odinga and first cousin Jakoyo Midiwo were all going for elective seats.
The Nation can now reveal the pain, sacrifice and discrimination Mr Odinga’s kin have gone through and are still facing, as he makes a fourth stab at the Presidency.
Ms Odinga, the Kisumu Deputy Governor summarised it in a few, succinct words during an interview with the Nation : “We are simply tired. Tired of being blamed for my brother’s past losses and tired of being discriminated against in all spheres.”
The opposition chief has on numerous occasions been accused of aiding or rewarding those close to him to get some positions in Nyanza.
In 2013, Dr Oginga declared his candidature for the Siaya governorship but was prevailed upon by the ODM leadership to drop his bid in favour of Mr Cornel Rasanga, and his senatorial bid also for Mr James Orengo.
He was later nominated to the National Assembly.
The same year, Ms Odinga, who was contesting the Kisumu gubernatorial position, claimed she had won the primaries only for the party to award Mr Jack Ranguma the ticket after a series of demonstrations.
She had to settle for the deputy governorship position in a forced political arrangement.
Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo also had to fight hard to retain his seat, as the current ODM nominee Mr Elisha Odhiambo cried foul.
Fast forward to 2017. Things appear to have changed and Mr Odinga seems to have shed the family baggage and is concentrating on his presidential bid.
Ms Odinga had, a while back, declared her candidature for the governorship position, but recently dropped her bid to concentrate on campaigning for Mr Odinga’s presidential candidature.
She had hoped to deputise Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o, who is contesting the Kisumu governorship position against Mr Jack Ranguma.
The senator has, however, settled on Dr Mathews Ochieng’ Owili as his running mate.
Ms Odinga says the family has really suffered, not only politically but on the business front as well.
“Every time one of us declares his intentions for a seat, there is rumbling all over. We were all born in a political family and it runs in the blood. It should not be assumed that we are riding on Jakom’s (chairman’s – Raila) name to seek political favours. We can stand on our own, we have always done so,” said Ms Odinga.
This dates back many decades to when the Odinga family members were victimised by the colonial government and successive regimes through detention of some members because they bear the Odinga name.
At some point she, too, was forced to go into exile and complete her advanced level studies out of the country.
Ms Odinga said she has had to sacrifice many ambitions because of some strong “anti-Odinga” protagonists.
On the issue of the East African Legislative Assembly, Ms Odinga said it would not have been fair for her elder brother, Dr Oginga, to be picked to replace the previous candidates, who had applied for the same position.
After losing to Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda during the ODM primaries, Dr Oginga conceded defeat and after a few days, his name was floated for the Eala position.
ODM had nominated Dr Oginga for the position, which he rejected, asking the party to give priority to those whose nominations were shot down by Jubilee.
Dr Oginga is said to have been prevailed upon by close family members and Mr Odinga’s presidential strategists not to contest for the Eala seat, as it may offer their political opponents ammunition to fight him.
He even hinted at retiring from politics and instead campaign for Mr Odinga in Nyanza and Western.
Apart from the two siblings, Mr Raila Odinga’s daughter, Rosemary Odinga, also dropped her ambitions for the Kibra parliamentary seat for health reasons.
But before this, she had become the target of criticism by some supporters and rivals alike. One such was former ODM official Eliud Owallo, who was not at ease with her candidature.
But political analyst Adams Oloo believes it is unfair to link Mr Odinga to the political woes befalling his family members, saying he has no control over them.
He cited Rosemary’s case, which he said the opposition chief did not have control over.
He said that Mr Midiwo’s case was a matter of someone not satisfied with the manner in which the nominations were carried out and therefore opted to run as an independent candidate.
Dr Oloo says this is not unique to the Odinga family, giving an example of Kalonzo Musyoka’s son, Kennedy who is a candidate for Eala.
The pundit says people would want to say anything that will spoil the name of the opposition leaders, portraying them as those practising nepotism.
“The sacrifice by these prominent families is common. There will always be questions by political rivals on any appointment made from families such as the Odingas or about their members seeking elective positions,” said Dr Oloo.
He said that every Odinga family member has managed to establish a name as an individual.
The same sentiments were shared by Dr Oginga in a past press conference in Mombasa, where he stated that he moulded himself into the politician he is today and has never relied solely on the influence of his younger and more famous brother.