In Conversation With Winnie Odinga

October 24, 2022

Winnie Odinga spoke to the Sunday Nation in a wide-ranging interview about her father Raila Odinga and future plans.

How was Mr Odinga’s recovery path back to political business after the Covid-19 attack?

Quite progressive. Although he got to his feet fast and hit the campaign trail, he was somewhat sloppy at office and paperwork.

We moved in fast to help in organising his itinerary and other tasks and at this, his staff, a huge group of volunteers, as well as ODM, Jubilee and Wiper party foot soldiers did an amazing job.

And how is the Odinga family coping with the turn of events?

The presidential poll was not just about our family. Millions of Kenyans staked their future on Baba (Mr Odinga) winning.

These people are disappointed, bitter, hurting, and living in disbelief, and Baba feels it. As a family feel their pain and sense of loss, it got me thinking of the Clintons (of America) and their shock loss to Trump in 2016.

Specifically, how are Mr and Mrs Odinga adjusting?

Baba remains strong, my mum (Mrs Odinga) too is strong and so is the entire family. We are focused as always on the battles that remain to be fought.

Where do we see Winnie in 2027?

Winnie will be supporting Baba and his team in whatever they decide to do. I am a child of the struggle.

So I am in this struggle for a Kenya that might be, for as long as I can manage. Participating in a political fight comes naturally to me because I was born right into it. So in 2027, Winnie will be in the struggle.

Are you contemplating taking a seat at the East African Legislative Assembly?

I hear some people have proposed my name for EALA, but I am not interested. And there is also no vacancy in Kibra. My interest is in supporting my father

Some have accused you of playing boss in the campaigns and in the process ruining your father’s chances of leading the country…

I was a mere worker and a supporter, just like the other millions of Kenyans. Yet again, elections are complex processes and ours was no exception. Two years later, America is still struggling to get to the bottom of what happened with their elections in 2020, without forgetting 2016. The UK took time to get to the bottom of the Brexit vote and the role of Cambridge Analytica.

Azimio, and not Winnie, is equally working to get to the bottom of what happened. In the meantime, I will let the accusations be and focus instead on the bigger picture – the future.

Are you as arrogant as claimed?

I am not sure. But what I know is that I am a pretty confident woman who is professionally sound. And I am aware that I have been branded arrogant because of being assertive.

You have also been accused of failing to deliver on your mandate…

There is a misconception out there that elections are a one-unit affair, but that is not the case. We have the campaigns, of which I was part of and which we delivered and the Election Day, that was executed by another team that comprised of outgoing Cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries and among other people. This is the team that handled poll logistics, including post-poll affairs at Bomas of Kenya.

In which case, are you suggesting you delivered?

We got into this race when the Deputy President (now President Dr Willian Ruto) was the runaway candidate.

We rebranded our candidate; worked on messaging and eventually thereby pushing his popularity numbers from 11 to 52 per cent at the point of going to ballot.

How were you able to shoulder all these tasks?

Most of the people around my dad (father) still saw me as a baby and refused to acknowledge that I am now a full grown up woman. It’s really an attitude problem.

Do you believe that Raila Odinga was played by former President Uhuru Kenyatta as has been claimed by some of Baba’s supporters?

I do not think so. The question, however, should be – at what point did he lose hold of the so-called system to Ruto?

Fine, then. So what is the answer?

I do not know.

Anyway, with the campaigns now over, what are you doing with yourself?

Ordinarily, when people see you around your parents and in campaign rallies, they conclude you have nothing to offer other than shouting at rallies and, in my case, just following my father. Well, I went to school as well and I posses good credentials.

And after the polls, I have gone back to my communication firm, The BrickHouse Counsel, where we do social, political and corporate campaigns powered by accurate data. This is also the best place to absorb some of our able staff from the campaign secretariat.

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