Nyanza upbeat as voters hope for Raila victory
A ray of hope glows around Nyanza, the political bedrock of Azimio-One Kenya presidential flagbearer Raila Odinga.
As millions of Kenyans trooped to polling stations to cast their ballots yesterday, residents in his stronghold bases of Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Migori counties were holding their collective breath in high anticipation that their son would finally clinch the presidency.
Soon after Raila declared his intention to make a fifth stab at the presidency last December, clerics in his backyard led their congregants in prayers for his success; prayers they believe will perhaps be answered this week when the final results are announced.
A victory for Raila would ignite hope for thousands of his diehard supporters, who have stood with him in his last four attempts at the presidency.
After the demise of his father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga in 1994, Raila took over his political mantle and earned admiration from his father’s ardent followers. Jaramogi was the country’s vice-president.
Mzee Odungi Randa, 85, a former aide to the late Jaramogi, described yesterday’s election as historic.
“This is not an ordinary election,” said the survivor of the Nyayo House torture chambers. “It brings back memories of the union between Jaramogi and Jomo Kenyatta. Over 50 years later, we are seeing what we saw before independence.”
Outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has endorsed Raila to succeed him, last week pleaded with Kisumu residents to get out and vote.
“I have said it is only Raila who can unite this country and if you want him to get to State House, then you must come out in large numbers and vote for him,” Uhuru said. Last week, during his final rally in Kisumu, Raila said; “I am here with you today to ask you to come out and vote and soon after winning I am coming back here to celebrate my victory with you.”
Mzee Odungi was optimistic that Raila will emerge victorious.
“God’s time is the best and I believe this is just but his moment,”he said.
“I am confident that he will win this election. Many people have lost their lives during this struggle. Some have been maimed and tortured during the struggle and a time has come when God will repay”.
Agneta Ongow, 95, Jaramogi’s younger sister, said she had been praying for Raila’s victory. “I have been praying day and night that this time God should remember my son and give him victory,” she said.
She went on: “His father, who took care of me when I was young, once said that his child had the qualities of becoming a leader in the future and I hope his time is now.”
Agneta lives in Uyoma, Rarieda constituency. Inside Raila’s rural home in Kango Ka Jaramogi in Bondo, Siaya county, birds chirped, adding song to the high spirits in the home.
On the right hand side of the homestead is Raila’s one-bedroom wooden house, which he built over 50 years ago before setting up his own homestead in Opoda farm, about 15 kilometres further on.
The house, known as “Simba” among the Luo, has no occupant and is only used occasionally by visitors.
On the left is Jaramogi’s house that directly faces his mausoleum, which benefited from a major facelift by the government at a cost of Sh8 million.
The facelift also saw the 1.5-kilometre road from the main Bondo-Usenge road tarmacked.
Kevin Ochieng, a worker in the homestead said; “We hope victory will be ours this time and we know that if he wins so many things will change in Bondo and Siaya.”
Further on, at the Nyamira market centre, villagers are full of hopes that Raila will win. Erick Ochieng, a boda boda operator, noted: “For the past 20 years, we have been supporting him. We hope that this time God is on our side.”
In Kisumu’s Kaloleni area where Raila grew up, the mood was upbeat too.
Jaramogi’s mud hut, in which he lived with his family between 1953 and 1958, still stands.
Mary Achieng, another resident, has expressed optimism that Raila wins the presidency this time round.
“We are proud that someone who lived here and was brought up in our slum is vying for the top seat. It is our prayer that if he wins, he will uplift the living standards of people who live where he grew up.”
Another resident, Dan Otieno, said: “Here in the slum we have nothing to do and we call upon him as a slum boy in Kaloleni to remember where he came from and offer us reasonable employment”.
Moses Masira, who sells firewood in the slums said; “If he wins, we would like him to ensure there is proper drainage in this area where he grew up because charity begins at home”.
Chairman of the Nyanza Council of Churches, Archbishop Washington Ogonyo Ngede said; “We have prayed and fasted for his victory. We know God will answer us this week”.
Mzee Henry Ochieng, Raila’s former classmate at Komulo Primary — now Kisumu Union — said: “We are hoping that this time, instead of crying we shall be celebrating and dancing as I can smell victory”.