DAILY NATION has a story on how Raila Odinga inherited the phobia that was generated for his father by the CIA and MI5.
As Kenya Kwanza stalwarts derisively ask Azimio leaders to go back to the streets, and as the Azimio leader opens a warfront with the US and the UK over their alleged silence in the wake human rights abuses, this script has eerie echoes in the cold war era
When he first emerged in July 1970, Raila Odinga, then 25 years old, had called a press conference in Nairobi, begging the Jomo Kenyatta government to release his father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, from detention. From then on, Odinga gradually became a constant face in Kenyan politics — first as the political son of Jaramogi — and later as his own man.
For 53 years, Odinga has challenged all five post-independence governments, fought for the expansion of the democratic space, earned critics and admirers in equal measure, building a massive following in the country and an equally ‘‘Railaphobic’’ community.
As Kijana Wamalwa would later remark, democracy in Kenya is a census on Railamania and Railaphobia.
Politicians and voters alike have been making decisions based on either adoration or fear of the son of Jaramogi. How we got here is a matter of history – and the fear of the Odinga family has not been limited to Raila.
In 1991, Gitobu Imanyara’s Nairobi Law Monthly accused Kanu leaders of suffering from Oginga ‘‘Odinga-phobia hence their attempts to root all forms of dissent to Odinga. And without knowing nor intending it, our leaders have converted Jaramogi Oginga Odinga into a cause’’.
Only keen readers of Kenya’s history and analysts of emerging archives on the Odinga family would appreciate how far Western intelligence contributed to the phobia. However, as more files pop up from the archives, we might finally have an accurate picture.
Last year, the British released documents revealing that they had set up a Special Editorial Unit whose work was to engage in a smear campaign against Ja