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  • Writer's pictureStephen Osieyo


Updated: Aug 13, 2020

Who between the two do you want next to you when called to a battle? Who has the fighting acumen? Who has the "bounceabacakbility"

This comparison is inevitable. It will be

folklore. It will be in class rooms and lecture halls. TV documentaries will run it. It will be in musicals, poems paintings, murals, portraits and statues. We can try to delay this comparison but we cannot hide from the truth that this moment of truth will have to come to pass. As I may not be there when it is finally allowed to happen, I am doing my piece now.

Bring out your score card because I won't be there when those moments arrives. Let's do ours now.

We are marking out of ten.

10 being perfect score and 0 being average score.

In this contest there is no below average because between these two are no ordinary mortals.


Any fight against oppression targets the family because oppressors have no morals, they have no intelligence of their own. In most cases the oppressor is defeated but the family of the fighters are devastated. It is a family devastating fight. For that I have nothing but gratitude to the families of these two for surviving.

As to who comes tops I am sorry I will be I am biased here and will score 10 for both. I have looked at Mama Ida in her youth and Mama Mary. No matter how you look at them in terms of elegance fashion, style they have tied. I score 10 for both gentlemen as men of great taste. In a way the two ladies are alike in that they are both walking tall and have poise.

Mama Mary is the Queen mother. Everything originated from her. She is a 10.

I know Mama Ida more than Mama Mary. Mama Ida interviewed me with Jaramogi chairing the panel for a finance position at Spector EA. I was in such a shock to see Mzee for the first time at less than two meters away. Thank God he changed the interview to DHOLUO chat to ease my tension and barred all technical jargoned questions. When asked when I can take up the position I told them that I am closing the financial year for my employers and ethically would like to finish that. The feedback I got from the panel is that Ida was so impressed by my integrity. Unfortunately I was barred from taking up the position. So Mama Ida values integrity. I wish I could score more than top marks for these two ladies. Unfortunately perfect 10 is the top score. I cannot mark her any higher.



One of the Odinga’s was an Ivy League scholar. From the prestigious Maseno School to the dizzy heights of Alliance High School, Kikuyu. And from Alliance High school to Makerere University. This was from summit to summit to summit of intuitions of learning.

Not many people went to Makerere University by then. In the whole of East Africa that was the end of it all. Regardless of what you studied this was the citadel of higher learning.

The other Odinga went college years later at a time when Nairobi University College was in existence. By then there was Dar es salaam University as well. Further to that the airlifts had opened our eyes to many top Universities all over the world. Still an achievement to have a University degree but the novelty of University education had gone down.

Before that University he had crossed from Kisumu Union primary school to Maranda secondary school which was a national secondary school. He then cut short his studies at Maranda in a way reminiscent of late Tom Mboya’s stint at Yala St Mary’s.

He then commenced studies in Germany going through bridging courses before majoring in Engineering at Leipzig University in Germany In his choice, to study Engineering in a part of the world where Engineering stands out as model of excellence he was very brave. Nobody takes Engineering in that part of the world in order to sit behind a mahogany desk to pencil-push in a three piece suit while waiting for Chinese or foreigners to come roll their sleeves and do real engineering for them. No wonder engineered products like BMW vehicles from Germany still stand out as leaders. To choose to plunge himself in such rigorous world and a fanatically perfect engineering culture and excel in a second language was as good as a Makerere education.

In my score card Makerere edges in novelty. Just about. I don't know about your score card.


The Makerere graduate was a lecturer at Maseno High School where he applied himself with a passion. A Maseno student confesses at his desire for African students to excel and he used any means necessary to extract perfection from the African students. Laziness was driven out by corporal punishment. A notorious Ugenya pupil who took to part time kleptomania felt the fury of Jaramogi’s canes. Unfortunately Kleptomania is an illness and he never stopped even when he was in later life an envoy. Jaramogi protégés littered the Independent Kenya. Even in later life without chest thumping he solicited red scholarships for young Kenyans in Russia and China. At Maseno he led many overtures at parity among teaching staff and their European colleagues. Workers’ rights and trade unionism are the impetus of human rights laws. This was a career path leading to global confrontation even without popular politics. The confrontation with the Kenyan colonial administrations was an eventuality.

The German trained Odinga lectured at the University of Nairobi. In addition he also applied himself at the Kenya Bureau of Standards. By all accounts he was already on a collision course with the state. In the western world quality control and consumer organizations drive consumer rights. From a German background he was already driving the KBS to the standards of the all-powerful American Food and Drug Administration FDA. He had already led the setting up Kenya Consumers Organization later headed by late Francis Orago.

Listening to giant steps to come from KCO by Francis Orago, Raila had already laid down other consumer third eyes like funding for mystery shoppers as opposed to simply publishing prices from various supermarkets. Unfortunately KCO folded when Raila was out of circulation.

What does this mean? He was on collision course with the government on cheap imports or substandard goods. There was no way unsafe building extensions were going to be set up with a lively KCO. Fake insurance companies covering vehicles were already feeling the Raila heat. All sorts of ombudsman and consumer protection organizations would find a footing. Whichever way you look at, his destiny was decided. But political structures needed setting up first

On a personal level he set up EA Spectre that completely righted the wrongs of substandard gas cylinders in East Africa. No more cheap substandard gas cylinders were exploding on the houses of East Africans


Jaramogi was thrust into leadership at a very early age as a teacher. As the conceptualizer of LUO Thrift Trading Company (LUTITCO), Chairman Luo Union, then as Ker, semi spiritual Luo leader, some aspects of his life were snuffed out. Some positions come with a prescription for habits and habitat. A semi spiritual leader cannot crack banter, cannot laugh unabashed, cannot enjoy the intoxicant and must employ extreme restraint in daily lives keeping a distance from sloth. In fact a semi spiritual leader lives a very lonely monk like lifestyle

Then he had a young family and an emerging tribe men looking for leadership. He missed many years in his life in the roaring 30s and furious 40s due to these self-less commitments.

He was down to earth in his dressing and what he eats. He made it almost religious to mirror the common man by the road side. He found it easy to enjoy nyoyo at funeral meetings. He had no problem associating with a popular mass movement such Legio Maria sect.

He did not choose this lifestyle for political expediency. He lived in Jerusalem estate when I lived in Buru Buru estate and yet he had 10,000 times the means I had.

The inability to lay down his hair and trade banter worked against him on the stage. The dry lecture responses to Jomo Kenyatta or Tom Mboya gave the impression that he was coming from a weak angle. What he needed was to respond and not answer. Just a response to defuse the answer was the best medicine. Like Obama turning the apparent US Blacks preference for Senator Hillary Clinton with a simple “Bill Clinton can only be considered a truly ‘first black president’ if he can dance”.

The younger Odinga was humble in his own way. He did not have the weight of Ker or being a teacher in his community. In any case, Kenya was very liberal when he stepped out of Jaramogi' shadow. He had liberties that he could have taken and got away with say like Tom Mboya in Kabeteshire. He could have sought and locked later day Miriam Makeba, songstress Mbilia Bel if he wanted but that was not his style.

Raila could play football. He could mix and drink. He could banter. And he has an infectious laugh to accompany jokes. He has a fun-awhile American style of oratory. No speech of Raila is complete without banter unless he comes out for battle.

I still laugh at the NASA off the cuff jabs which he also delivers with a laugh. "Waki hesabu; tuna hesabu,..."

He takes this to "waki iba...?"

Which leads the crowd to respond with a chorus of resounding, "TUNA IBA!!"

He then breaks into unabashed laughter correcting the crowd. No matter how many times he tells this joke you just end up laughing with him.

The other one is when he senses the audience is in the high octane expecting a laugh. He will then simply open with "HAAYA!"

You just know that you are in for a treat because the crowd just falls over in adulation.

I am sure even if I met Raila in a deserted cemetery at quarter to midnight I will run towards him and not away from him.

He is so disarming and approachable. I don't know about you but for me, he takes round 4


My Score card after 4 rounds.

J 10 +10 + 08 +08 +00 +00 +00 +00 +00 +00 = 36 points

R 10 +07 +10 +10 +00 +00 +00 +00 +00 +00 = 37 points


Don't miss part II! ODINGA versus ODINGA II


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