Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation Should Be Producing the New Thought Leaders

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Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation would by now be one of the biggest players in the education of Nyanza children.

Oginga Odinga was not just a political leader. He was a thought leader, and, by miles, a visionary of his time.

He was not limited by the narrowmindedness of his time. At Kenya’s founding were men who saw only a unipolar world, to be forever run by Britain and America. Oginga Odinga was not one of them.

Odinga pursued education for Kenya Africans just as relentlessly as T.J Mboya.

Yet, to this hour, very little can be said to be going on to keep the memory of the doyen in this broader context.

The reason – I allege – that Raila is so feared and Luos so loathed is partly the unfinished Odinga business. What did he stand for? What should an ‘Odingaist’ stand for? Of what historical relevance is Odingaism?

We meet Odinga through a KANU-approved education curriculum which placed him where the corrupt, ethnic jingoistic post-colonial Kenya regime wanted him to be – a communist.

We are coming from a world where KANU propaganda was an official education policy.

Odinga saw a future world that would not be entirely dominated by the West and boldly moved to shape Kenya’s policy as a truly non-aligned [emerging] power.

Kenya, in Odinga’s eyes, could benefit from both the West and the East. The Africans in Kenya had nothing to lose by embracing both worlds. These were costly ideas in a world boxed to either side by Cold War machinations of [primarily] the West.

Odinga could not have been a communist. There’s just no evidence for such an assertion. On the contrary, Luo Thrift, Lolwe Buses, and Ramogi Press are recorded in history to prove the man was a consummate capitalist.

At the risk of sounding excessive, before independence, Odinga was wealthier than that meter reader from Gatundu, and any of that world, save, perhaps, for Eliud Mathu.

There is still much to learn, and to admire, of the man the country came to refer to as Jaramogi.


JOOF could not do much at an earlier time but now, the Foundation truly needs to refocus and pick education as an area of great future investment.

If so many ignoramuses are now running Nyanza politics, it is because there has been no crucible to produce the kind of leaders, of the mettle of Oginga Odinga.

This is why I object to the continued ‘low use’ of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation.

The Foundation, if well rethought, would educate the next generation of thought leaders to hold the country accountable, others to permeate the private sector, the academy and government.

Some would go on to be promiscous on the world stage, and produce the next Barack Obama.

JOOF would produce citizens whom Oginga Odinga would have wanted, nay, loved, to lead. Pedigree Kenyans, at home in any part of the country, or the world.

Men contented with just enough to raise a family on, and a little more to give to those in need.

Men and women whose wealth will be generated from sheer hardwork and not unmitigated primitive accumulation through hemorrhaging the state, and now, the counties.

Foundations play an important role in reshaping societies. Foundations keep history from repeating itself. Foundations are museums of knowledge – the type that classrooms cannot offer.

I know this firsthand. I am a product of an American foundation.

JOOF would be where the possibility of a new world emerges.


Baba’s friends – and they are many – could put a Ksh 1 billion education war chest for a start. Time is running out.

Dikembe Disembe is a political researcher and writer

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