Opposition politics in Kenya and by extension Africa is synonymous with former Kenya Prime Minister and current NASA leader Raila Odinga. He enjoys a near fanatical following in his home country leaving many wondering how and why he has never ascended to the presidency. The 2007 general elections pitting Raila, also referred to as baba, Jakom, Agwambo, Tinga, RAO and now Joshua, against former President Mwai Kibaki was marred with cases of rigging that nearly plunged Kenya into anarchy. We take a look at Raila’s wife Ida Odinga and the kind of First Lady she will make if her husband is named Kenya’s fifth President.
Ida Odinga will be not be the kind of passive First Lady we have come to accustomed too. Unlike the current First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, Ida will not shy away from giving her two pence on matters of national importance. This can be best exemplified by her stand on independent candidates that went on parallel to her husband’s stand. Raila has been calling for a six piece voting pattern at the expense of independent candidates which is seemingly not washing with some of the electorate. She was quoted by a leading daily saying: “Use your vote wisely to choose your leaders but I would say choose Raila Amollo Odinga as President, there is no compromise there.”
Mentor Of Young Women
During an interview aired on CNN in 2012, Ida said nothing gave her satisfaction than mentoring “young women in schools and colleges” when asked what she enjoyed the most as Kenya’s prime minister’s wife. Her response: “The most rewarding thing that I find is that when I go out in schools and in colleges, and I mentor the girls and I see how they respond to mentorship. I don’t only mentor the girls, I also mentor the girls, their parents and the community and I see the response. I find that really rewarding.” Ida will make mentoring of young girls as her main project.
In 1991 the former teacher established a women’s voting league during the totalitarian Moi regime. Ida wanted the voice of women heard and the ballot would provide just that. She has seen it all and hardened in the process when her husband was a perennial state visitor in the 80s. This will make Ida a no-easy push over.
Power Behind the Throne
She may not be outspoken but Ida influence on Raila cannot be overemphasized. It takes a powerful woman to have a man of Raila stature as a husband. The NASA leader is said to rely on his wife for advice before making any key decision.
She has been described as arrogant if not dictatorial. This came to the fore when she ordered a ferry to make a u-turn at Launda Kotieno beach after it had departed. Ida was heading to Rusinga Island to attend nominated MP Millie Odhiambo’s mother burial. Mrs Odinga reportedly ordered three vehicles, one belonging to the then Agriculture minister Sally Kosgey, to be removed from the ferry to make way for her motorcade. The incident occurred in 2011 when Raila was the Prime Minister.