Difference Between Kenyatta, Odinga Dynasties - Makau Mutua

  • File image of President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and Orange Democratic Movement leader, Raila Odinga (right)
    File image of President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and Orange Democratic Movement leader, Raila Odinga (right)
  • Renowned legal scholar Makau Mutua on Sunday, June 12, sparked heated reactions after penning an article in defense of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga.

    In particular, he hit back at criticisms that have been aimed at Odinga by Deputy President William Ruto and his allies since his March 9, 2018 handshake with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

    Mutua hailed Raila as one of Kenya's foremost patriots alongside his father, founding Vice-President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

    Acknowledging the 'dynasties' tag associated with the families of President Kenyatta and Odinga, Mutua sought to outline the differences between the groups as well as the 'hustlers' outfit fronted by Deputy President Ruto.

    On January 21 when he represented The Head of State at the 25th memorial services of the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga in Bondo
    Raila Odinga (left) with Muhoho Kenyatta during the 25th memorial service of the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga in Bondo on January 21, 2019.

    Mutua argued that the Odingas were an opposition dynasty that had paid the price of living under authoritarian regimes as they tried to liberate the country.

    He referenced years spent by Raila in detention, harassment his wife Ida faced, and the battles of his father, Jaramogi, against former President Daniel Arap Moi.

    "Detractors say that he’s one of the “dynasties.” I agree – but he’s an opposition “dynasty.” Similarly, those who call themselves “hustlers” are also right. They are true hustlers – “fraudsters” and “deceivers.” They want to appropriate the language of revolution but have no history or track record of opposing the state.

    "Mr Odinga and his family, including his spouse Ida Odinga, know what it is to face and live the ire of a savage, undemocratic state. For the nearly one decade in which Mr Odinga was under detention for being a liberator, Mrs Odinga held the family together.

    "It’s not a secret the persecution and mental anguish that the Moi-Kanu state put her and the family through. Jaramogi, her father-in-law, was himself Mr Moi’s public enemy number one," Mutua wrote.

    Mutua further claimed that the accusations directed towards Raila that he had killed the opposition with the handshake were null and void.

    He argued that if the opposition could be killed by one man's handshake, then there was no opposition, to begin with.

    He accused Deputy President William Ruto's camp of being frustrated by the handshake simply because they saw it as a stumbling block to Ruto's bid for the Presidency.

    Others in the opposition who abandoned Raila due to his support of President Uhuru Kenyatta were challenged to step up instead of complaining.

    "It’s their right to feel betrayed. It is also their democratic right to castigate Mr Odinga for exercising his right to associate with Mr Kenyatta. They claim Mr Odinga has orphaned them and killed the opposition.

    "That is silly. How can one man kill the opposition? If the opposition had only one man, then it wasn’t an opposition at all. Why can’t they step up and take the mantle of the opposition? Mr Odinga can’t be – and do – everything," he stated.

    Mutua's article sparked mixed reactions with some agreeing with the New York-based Professor while others questioned his observations.

    "It is not how one begins but how one ends that matters. He started well...fought for democracy but now he is at the table dining with the same people he called corrupt," opined one Pierre K.

    "Overrated professor...Odinga remains one of the most greedy politicians we have in the market," wrote one George Kayman.

    "I really hope every Kenyan reads this without their tribal lenses on. Because this is spot on," wrote Moses Kirori.

    An image of Makau Mutua
    Professor Makau Mutua at a past event.