Understanding Odingaism: The Ideology


You might have been wondering why the Luo community is becoming more and more radicalized against certain people and hostile to their own with divergent ideas. Well, today we look at the cause of the above symptoms i.e. Odingaism.

You’ll learn why a fairly intellectual community like the Luos have, for close to 50 years, religiously supported the Odinga’s even though there is nothing to show for it.

I’m not denying the existence of tribal kingpins outside Luo Nyanza. The ugly truth is that our politics is still tribal. However, while others are changing their tribal leaders, Luos are stuck with the Odinga’s. Why?

I mean, Kikuyus rejected Kenyatta’s son in 2002 and Kalenjins no longer take orders from Moi’s. Luhyas don’t even have a tribal leader so to say and Kisii left Nyachae ages ago. Kambas have had Mulu, Ngilu, Kalonzo and even Mutua. Change is happening everywhere except Luo Nyanza, where it remains a taboo to criticize the Odinga’s. Even penning a piece like this attracts dire consequences. 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 great ideology that we should all embrace. People like Oburu were once quoted as saying Odingaism is an ideology that will last forever. 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. It’s undeniable that most of us are many things but humble. In fact, we 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 aka enemies).

  1. Joho calls the president of the republic a “mtu ndogo sana” and goes ahead to assign him other derogatory monikers…and for that, Luos elevate him to the nonexistent Sultan title. He becomes the community’s darling for telling off our enemies.
  2. Aladwa promises some people (probably our political opponents) must die for the Luo Tribal leader to be president aND he’s the crowds darling
  3. Those charged with hate speech (incitement to violence) are immortal heroes

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.

See Also: Political Realities Luos Must Accept

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 (in existence to date), 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‘ (mysterious).

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. 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. Remember Raila’s sister is qualified to work for Uhuru while other Luos appointed by Uhuru are traitors.
  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. When he says no voting, your right to vote becomes null and void.
  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 in Luo Nyanza is fought as a scheme to undermine the ruler. It doesn’t matter if they medical clinics, as long as Baba is not happy with it, it will go up in flames. 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 Odinga’s 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. See what’s happening to those suspected to have voted against Raila’s command.
I hope this was informative and thought-provoking. You now know what Odingaism is. The decision to remain a loyal political slave or to break away is yours.
Samson Ogola

Samson Ogola has asked repeatedly to be called “His Royal Awesomeness,” but no one listens to him. So, he settles for Founder of Raw Politics. Poor man. ;-). Anyway, I make sense for a living.

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