Daily Nation recently interviewed their own columnist Phillip Ochieng. The interview touched on a wide range of issues, from religion, to Gor Mahia and even Tom Mboya. Ochieng being a Luo, it was inevitable that he would touch on the direction the community will take politically, and especially with the exit of Raila Odinga. The veteran journalist believes Dalmas Otieno is best suited to take over from Raila, as the undisputed King of Luo. This he attributes to his intelligence, maturity and education. Comparing Raila to his father Jaramogi, Ochieng says that Jaramogi was the better human being, but the poorer political tactician. He however says they are quite similar in the fact that they could both say unsayable things.
Below are excerpts of the interview.
Q: Raila Odinga has twice come a breath away from seizing the levers of power. Is he the quintessential tragic hero caught up in the battle between fate and destiny?
Tragic heroes are victims of circumstances, but they also have their tragic flaws. Raila’s Achilles’ heel is his inadvisability. This he probably inherited from his father Jaramogi, who could say unsayable things. Jaramogi, though, was the better human being than his son, though as a political tactician, he was poorer.
But Mboya towers above both. He was the first Luo politician in the cosmopolitan Nairobi to win a parliamentary seat by beating such political heavyweights as Njoroge Mungai and Munyua Waiyaki. Mboya also gave airlifts to all Kenyans without regard to where they came from.
Q: Do you think the conduct of Raila’s Luo tribesmen has hurt his political cause?
A: Yes, certainly. How can he allow ragamuffins to do things in his name? He is the leader. He has to teach them or cane them. How can you be courting the Kikuyu, for instance, then allow ragamuffins to disrupt their businesses?
Q: Tom Mboya was assassinated. Jaramogi withered away with unfulfilled ambition. Time does not appear to be on Raila’s side. Do you see the Luo nation producing a person who can be embraced by the whole country in the near future?
A: There is a man who is very intelligent, mature, and highly educated. He has served in government. His name is Dalmas Otieno. One of the first Kenyans to go to Makerere, I think he is best suited to take over from Raila. I have also thought of (Nairobi Governor Evans) Kidero, but the job he has now will kill him. If it were Mboya, he would have used the position to transform himself into a key presidential contender.