Understanding Odingaism: The Ideology

Contrary to common belief, there is nothing spiritual about the hold the Odinga’s have on Luos. It’s a psychological issue i.e. Siege Mentality. In this post, I’ll share with you what the Siege Mentality is, how it took over Luo Nyanza and why it’s almost impossible to root it out.

We are going to look into what many refer to as Odingaism.

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

And lest you misunderstand me, 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. Aren’t you at least curious to know 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 Odinga’s.

How come penning a piece like this still attracts dire consequences from the champions of democracy?

Well, the answer is in understanding the Luo Psyche and how the Odinga’s exploited it.

What is Odingaism?

For some, this is a non-existent word used by people who are jealous of Luo Unity. Others, however, believe Odingaism is an excellent 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. 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, he becomes an overnight celebrity among our people
  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 remains more than just a tribe; it is a calling and more.

See Also: A Letter To Luo Brothers And Sisters

The Odingas understood our weirdly unrealistic, fantastic demands and beliefs perfectly well. All they had to do was 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 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 (the 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 me. Again, it was just an illusion fed by ‘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 benefit. 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 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 naturally 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. The mediocrity the loyal Luos have to put up with!

Cons Of Odingaism

There are many disadvantages of 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 miserable 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 are 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 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 manage 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 of having voted against Raila’s command.
See, nothing spiritual, just the Luos psychological need for a Supreme Leader being fulfilled by the Odingas. The decision to remain a loyal political slave or to break away is yours.

7 thoughts on “Understanding Odingaism: The Ideology”

  1. This is a master piece for the open minded supporters of Raila or whatever it’s like myself. I love you effortlessly put your work together. The research is done so well. I’m proud of you.

  2. Agengo Onyango Musa

    Information is power, and I have to thank so much for this meaty analysis sir. One needs clarifications prior to agrreingvto an idea, and this is exactly what I have been missing. God bless you!

  3. Luos think Raila has a supernatural abilities for change,but its for the few who gains from this.Thanks for this convincing research sir.

  4. Jaramogi Oginga K’Amimo

    Great piece but I wished you used more numbers to show the rate of poverty in our Luo counties with a dependency ratio of 1:5. How people are so poor that they think politicians are Messiahs, and how they are exploited not to see their countries’ incompetence and corruption. Good job

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