Corridors Of Power Politics

How Winnie Odinga Cost Her Own Dad The Presidency


FIVE YEARS AGO Winnie Odinga said she was 27 years old. She also said she worked for her dad, and had worked for him as long as she could remember. That, right there, was the problem.

Winnie Odinga’s ‘work’ in her dad’s last two campaigns meant she was the second last word on anything. She hired, and fired, at will. She decided on what was priority for the campaign. She controlled the purse. She became the dad’s most trusted confidant, and, unfortunately, his downfall. 

Winnie Odinga is among the many reasons Raila Odinga lost to William Ruto. 

In the days following the loss, however, Winnie has done everything to cover up her outsized role, bankrolling a smear campaign targeting everyone who was around the father but herself. 

She doesn’t want to accept that she fucked up.

Worse, she doesn’t want to accept that she fucked her own father up, perhaps, forever.

Worst, all the friends who fed off her have since abandoned her. Now she spends her days wanking alone, missing the Chogo worldshe created in her head.

Winnie already knew she made people uncomfortable around the father. She had the choice to quit, or scale down her officialdom, but she did not. Like all the Odingas, the campaign period is a time to make hay while sun is still up. They dominate every sphere of the campaign, becoming the major service providers for the campaign. 

But it is the foolhardiness of Winnie Odinga in thinking that she could run a presidential campaign to victory that has twice ended in failure. The unraveling of the Azimio campaign started years ago, before Azimio was coined as the buzzword for the broad coalition Raila would lead for his fifth stab. 

In the post-handshake world, Raila Odinga found himself increasingly surrounded by state factotums. Many government officials, taking cue from their boss, President Uhuru, embraced Raila Odinga, with cabinet secretaries and other higher ups trooping to Raila’s office for all manner of engagements, many with no specific objective other than photo-ops. 

Most of these people came from the hierarchy obsessed government offices. They knew how to deal with political operatives. What they struggled to deal with was when it came to Raila Odinga, his daughter also doubled as the chief political operative. 

This arrangement made it difficult for candid conversations where ideas are tested against other ideas to get the best out of any situation. In meetings where Raila delegated to Winnie, most government officials took flight. This trend started during the BBI taskforce period, but continued almost to the dying days of Raila’s campaign.

Winnie, unhinged, stayed put. She knew her presence caused unnecessary tension in the room. She expected to be treated as the smart political operative she believed she was, but many government officials saw her as nothing but an overbearing little brat whose only presence in the room was because she was the daughter of Raila Odinga. 


Whenever she dusted one of her many mundane and idiotic ideas to be tested on the campaign, no one had the audacity to tell her to fuck off. If anything, for a long time, it was almost certain that Raila Odinga would win. Winnie liked to remind those who disagreed with her that they could take a walk, and many did. 

Winnie created a cult around her. She had a coterie of flower girls and page boys who earned her trust because they were professional flower girls and page boys. Opportunists who understood the only thing needed of them was to deify Winnie, to make her appear intelligent, to make her happy. 

She didn’t care who you were, so long as you impressed her with your sycophancy. She formed her daddy’s campaign secretariat and crowded it with her own echo chamber. People who had never been involved in a high stakes political campaign were suddenly calling shots. 

Winnie believes she’s smart. This is the second big problem the Azimio campaign faced. 

Educated at Rusinga School and Brookhouse, then in the United States, Winnie often dropped her exclusive education to intimidate the low self-esteemed cast that surrounded her, many who already felt indebted to her for their proximity to power. Whenever she cooked a new campaign idea over hookah or booze, it was her gang of human robots to publicize it. 

Nothing moved in the campaign without her buy in. If you had a better idea, you had to ‘donate’ it to her, so she owns it and pitches it as her own. When it came to communications, she was everything. She decided who spoke on her father’s behalf. She long took over all social media handles of her father, and posted whatever pleased her. Increasingly, it was her persona and voice that made it out of her father’s digital pages. 

But it was not just the campaign communications that she handled. She made decisions in all facets of the campaign, including such mundane things as which faction of the quasi-security that protects her father – known as ‘Men in Black’ – was the official and legitimate one. In this role, she was the head of security for her father, period. 

To Winnie, the campaign was not for Raila Odinga, the pro-poor, long suffering social democrat millions of Kenyans wanted to make president in a fifth stab. Winnie saw the campaign as her dad’s business, and likened her role to that of a young Indian girl helping in the family business.

Part Two: Winnie Odinga’s next big move.

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