Auma Obama Responds to Ruth Odinga's Criticism on Begging Remarks

  • Sauti Kuu Foundation founder Dr Auma Obama defended her remarks on emancipating the Luo community from the culture of begging.

    Her remarks had been criticized by former Kisumu Deputy governor Ruth Odinga who stated that Dr Auma was not justified to “insinuate that Kenyans or Luos are known for handouts.”

    Speaking in Kogelo on Monday, Auma stated that the culture of “gonya gonya” (asking for handouts) and konya konya (unshackle me) must be done away with through empowering the young generation.

    “The reason I built this with the support I have is that I want my community members to start realizing they can actually do things for themselves ... that they can help themselves and don’t have to constantly be in a situation where they are grateful to others for what they have," Dr Auma stated.

    [caption caption="Former U.S President Barrack Obama with his sister Dr Auma Obama, founder the Sauti Kuu Foundation during his visit to Kenya in 2015"][/caption]

    “I don’t want my community to be a begging community. I’m not calling Luos beggars. I’m telling Luos that we need to start taking care of ourselves. I know it’s not difficult because we can,” she remarked to the applause of a crowd of at least 1,000 local and international guests who had graced the opening of the Foundation in K'Ogelo, Siaya county

    Regarding youth employment, the founder noted that the problem resulted from the failure by successful people to create opportunities for others which she maintained forced a majority of youth to flock urban centers in the hope of making it, not knowing that the best opportunities "lie in the very villages they are running away from".

    “Let us stop the gonya gonya syndrome ... I insist. If you are mad at me, come and join me here. Let us work together ... I will show how not to do it. Don’t exploit your communities; help your communities. This is a pilot ... it’s only the beginning. We will do this somewhere else," Dr Auma remarked.

    Sauti Kuu centre has football and basketball pitches and a training centre for people aged at least four. At the centre, people will get training in areas such as sports, mechanics, farming and welding.

    Last week, Ruth Odinga had criticized Auma’s remarks which she stated borders on “insult to the Luo community.”

    “It was wrong for Auma to talk of handouts. Have they offered job opportunities before linking people to handouts? Where were they when the election was rigged as our people were fighting for democracy?” Ms Odinga asked.

    She faulted the events programme and criticized plans to lock out key leaders from the Foundation's launch.

    “It is wrong for Obama to come and fail to meet local leaders and members of the public,” the former Kisumu deputy governor stated.