Odinga's death leaves Kenya opposition leaderless

THE DEATH in Kisumu yesterday of Jaramogi Ajuma Oginga Odinga opens up the struggle for the leadership of the Kenyan opposition, and in particular for the leadership of the Luo people whose champion Mr Odinga was for more than half a century.

Aides said an autopsy showed he died of kidney failure. He was 82.

Oginga Odinga was one of the last survivors of the generation who led the fight for African independence, but he remained an active politician until the end, even though he was almost completely blind and enfeebled. In African politics age, even hampered by frailty, is more revered than youth.

He was Kenya's first vice-president, but fell out with President Jomo Kenyatta and was sacked and then detained. He entitled his autobiography Not Yet Uhuru, playing on the word for freedom in Swahili. For this he was perceived as a radical by the British, but he always denied he was a Communist. When he died, Mr Odinga was the official leader of the opposition in parliament and led one of the factions of the opposition movement, Ford, the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy. But his power base was the Luo people, one of the largest ethnic groups in Kenya.

In the 1960s it was the forging of an alliance between the Luo, led by Odinga, and the Kikuyu, led by Jomo Kenyatta, that outmanoeuvred the colonial authorities and brought about the timing and manner of Kenyan independence.

The reforging of that alliance in 1990 under the Ford banner brought together Ken Matiba, the powerful Kikuyu leader, and Mr Odinga and forced President Daniel arap Moi to accept multi-party democracy and an election.

But the alliance did not hold. Personality clashes, personal ambition and tribal sentiment led to the break-up of the alliance and Ford split into two, Odinga leading the largely-Luo Ford Kenya. The split cost the opposition victory and Odinga lost his last chance to fulfil a lifelong ambition to be Kenya's leader.

Unwilling to remain in opposition, he held secret talks with Mr Moi last year and toned down his language. He also admitted he had accepted money that had been stolen from the state in a scam known as the Goldenberg scandal. This caused a further break-up of Ford-Kenya when many of its 'young turks' walked out. The question now is whether the new leader of the Luo can work with the emerging opposition politicians from other groups.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - 6 month FTC - Central London

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before