Understanding ODINGAISM: The ideology

Writing anything ‘negative’ about the Odinga’s and their ideology i.e. Odingaism has never been a walk in the path, especially for a Luo. The negativity such posts attract can send a lily-livered to an early grave. Anyway, let’s look into Odingaism and why a fairly intellectual community like Luos have, for over 40 years, religiously supported the Odinga’s even though there is nothing to show for it.

Introduction to dynasty politics

Barely two years after independence, the ruling elite ‘differed’. Their personal and or ideological differences were quickly turned into a feud between communities. Still a naive nation, Kenyans bought into the lie that they were better of divided (along tribal lines) than united in diversity. Within no time, Kenyans (who thought real enemies were poverty, illiteracy, and disease) were pitted against each other. Kenyatta, Jaramogi, and Moi became tribal overlords, saviors and the last line of defense for their respective communities. The siege mentality, ladies and gentlemen, had been successfully implanted in Kenyans minds.

Fast forward, nearly half a century later, Kikuyus rejected Kenyatta’s son in 2002 and Kalenjins no longer take orders from Moi’s. However, it is still a taboo to criticize the Odinga’s in Luoland. Why? Well, you need to understand the Luo Psyche and how the Odinga’s exploited it.

What’s is Odingaism?

For some, this is a non-existent word used by people who are jealous of Luo Unity. Others, however, believe Odingaism is a reat ideology that we should all embrace. To me though, it’s a political enslavement kind of. Let me explain…

Odingaism is an ideology coined from a deeper understanding of the psychological needs of Luos. Most of us are many things but humble and want supernatural leaders. Only a few of us don’t get turned on by arrogance and insolence (especially if it’s towards our political opponents). You know who the staunchest supporters of Joho are today.

We feel unique, strangely better than anyone else and hated for being superior. And unless you have evidence against us, Luo remain more than just a tribe; it is a calling and more.

The Odingas understood our weirdly unrealistic, fantastic demands and beliefs perfectly well. All they had to do is mold themselves into extraordinary people. They coined and spread rumors about their supernatural abilities. That they’d escape traps set by the political nemesis without much problem. And thanks to a good propaganda network, these far-fetched qualities were spoken into our ears so convincingly that it sounds awkward to doubt them today. You now know why we call Hon. Raila Agwambo‘ (mystery).

In Jaramogi, Luos finally had the leadership they’d been yearning for. Our superiority complex had been appealed to by Jaramogi’s claims. Odingaism was all about giving Luos the supernatural leader they wanted at a ‘small cost’ of unquestioning and undying loyalty.

Modern Odingaism

The fact that the loyalty was given to a fake leader aside, Odingaism was doomed to fail. So, Eng. Raila modified it to something closest to reality and one that would attract real death threats if you dared poke holes on. Odingaism now had a human face. How? Hon. Odinga painted himself as a mtetezi wa wanyonge ( a voice for the voiceless). He was sold as a man with all he needs, but still willing to get out of his comfort zone to fight for you and I. Again, it was just phantasm fed by the ‘Luo Unity’.

Modern Odingaism is a relationship where Raila protects Luos from our imagined political enemies (mostly the ruling community) at the cost of absolute loyalty. It couldn’t be simpler than that. So, who gains from this arrangement and what exactly are the benefits?

Pros of Odingaism 

Like any dynasty politics, only the royal family and their friends benefits. Here are some of the things the Odinga’s and their friends enjoy:

  1. Unchecked power to bargain with Luos and control their political future. Luos can vote Kibaki on December 2012 and oppose him in March 2013 depending on what Raila wants.
  2. Guaranteed political jobs for the family and friends. As long as you are loyal to Odinga’s, you will get the political post you want. It doesn’t matter if you are a non-performer, the electorates are more interested in your loyalty to Raila than your leadership abilities.
  3. Financial security for the family and friends, as they are the only ones allowed to deal with the government. A member of the ruling family is free to work for the ‘enemy’ as long as they are qualified.
  4. A near-worship treatment and favors from fans and other tribal overlords. Uhuru’s meetings in Luoland, for instance, may not go well without the blessings of Raila and you never know what it takes to get such blessings. Fans obviously call him the president and other names.

See Also: The Luo Unity We Crave For

There you have it, a few of the benefits and as expected, no one but the Odinga’s benefit from Odingaism. So, how does the rest lose? The mediocrity the loyal Luos have to put up with?

Cons Of Odingaism

There is everything bad with taking orders from political dynasties like the Odingas. Here is a list of the side-effects of Odingaism:

  1. You are made to live under a single party dictatorship in a democracy like Kenya. Any attempt to oppose Raila in Luo Nyanza is akin to political suicide and may lead to physical assaults or even death in some cases. It is baba’s way or no way at all
  2. Promotion of retrogressive pro-poverty politics. Odingaism apparently depends on making the masses so poor that they have to look up to the supreme leader for help. Any development is fought as a scheme to undermine the ruler. Even NYS empowerment program that gave thousands of Luo youths some few coins per week was vehemently fought.
  3. It encourages idiocy, frustration, and disillusionment as people are made to think there is no alternative to the brand of politics the Odingas offer. Adults are reduced to babies, incapable of thinking for themselves and ones to be manipulated into fighting battles on behalf of the dynasty. It appears the poorer one is, the easier it is to manipulate and brainwash him or her
  4. Luos remain untrusted by many because of the violent way in which we handle dissidents. That we are willing to kill our own is a low that no other tribe has dared stoop to. Like I said, people have been stoned, beaten up and tortured by fellow tribesmen for failing to obey the Odingas.

I hope this was informative and thought-provoking. You know what Odingaism is. The decision to remain a loyal political slave or to break away is yours.

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