Prime Minister Raila Odinga Speaks to A Large Audience of Kenyans in Minneapolis, USA

28 Sep

Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga, accompanied by his wife, Dr. Ida Odinga, and several other dignitaries addressed Kenyans on Sunday in Minneapolis, USA

Besides enunciating his vision for Kenya as I reported in Prime Minister Raila Enunciates His New Vision In Speech to Kenyans In Minneapolis, the PM addressed several other important issues as I report below, including a summary of the state of affairs in the country since the formation of the coalition government.

The PM first thanked Kenyans in the Diaspora for the support they gave him in 2007, including those in Minneapolis where he had occasion to visit during the 2007 campaign.

The PM then went on to address the large audience gathered saying he had just recently called a meeting in Nairobi comprised of all the leaders from the Horn of Africa to address the food crisis in the region and at the end of that meeting, the leaders from these countries, namely Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somali, Eritrea, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi, signed what is now known as the Nairobi Declaration, a document that puts forth solutions for resolving the food crisis in the region.

The PM said he presented the Declaration at the UN on Saturday as part of his official visit to the United States.

The PM noted the plight of Somalis fleeing across the border to Kenya is truly monumental for Kenya to deal with alone and thus his decision to call the leaders from the Horn to discuss a solution which was expanded to include food crisis in the region as whole.

The PM said the number of Somali refugees in Daadab Camp has soared to 500,000 cramped in a camp that was only designed to hold not more than 90,000 refugees and more continue to come.

Indeed, the PM said in numbers only, the Daadab Camp is now the fourth largest population area in Kenya with only Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu having more people than the Daadab Camp.

This, the PM said, is a very serious problem facing our country and he is leading in efforts to find a lasting solution, with the help of the UN.

The PM noted the flow of refugees can only get worse as we cannot close the border because we must recognize and accept the fact these are people running away from famine and violence in Somali, with 80% of them being women and children and thus the reason we cannot turn our back on them.

The PM urged the UN to act with speed on the proposal he presented to the body and cited Ivory Coast and Libya as examples of the UN acting with speed to find a solution.

The PM was selected as a special negotiator to find a solution in Ivory Coast crisis following that country’s elections which saw the former president their clinging to power even after it was clear he did not win the elections but the UN ultimately intervened to end the crisis there.

The PM said the UN should equally act with speed to end the famine crisis in the Horn of Africa, particularly in Somalia has been at a state of civil war for more than 20 years.

The PM said the problem of food shortage is primarily due to corresponding shortage of rain as there is a strong correlation between the two.

Interestingly, the PM noted, there is evidence of global warming in Kenya as it normally does not rain Turkana in the months of September and October but this year we have had 115ml of rain.

The last time we had this much rain was in the 30s.

The PM said use of irrigation to maximize food production is needed as well as investment in infrastructure in the region to spur economic growth.

The PM reminded the audience that the time he was last in Minneapolis in 2007, Kenya’s economy was performing at 7.1% but in 2008, economic performance plummeted to 1.7% around where it hoovers even to date.

The PM said the downturn in economic growth was brought about by post-election violence and crisis, drought and global melt-down which started in the United States.

The PM said to counter the worsening economic conditions, Kenya had an economic stimulus akin to that the Obama Administration introduced in the US but quickly added Kenya did not have anything close to the USD billions Obama had, causing the audience to appreciatively laugh.

The PM noted a number of programs were initiated under this stimulus, including Kazi ya Vijana, which was designed to put money in the pockets of the young people and others were designed to help women get money for their various small businesses.

The PM also reminded the audience that during the 2007 election campaign, the PNU manifesto was continuation of status quo, and thus their slogan, “Kazi Iendelee” (Continue with Same Work) but ODM manifesto was effecting a radical shift from status quo and thus its slogan, “Kazi Ianze” (Let the Work Begin).

These, the PM noted, were exact opposite theories of governance but because of formation of the coalition government, the PM noted there had to be a mchanganyiko maalum (serious mix) by way of a compromise such that you had a bit of kazi iendelee and a bit of kazi ianze, the PM said to more laughter.

Kenya is operating under a coalition government that was created unlike anything we have had before and with that, comes challenges in execution but the PM noted there have been many achievements despite these challenges.

The PM noted the implementation of Vision 2030 is underway and explained Vision2030 is the government’s blue-print to have Kenya become an industrialized nation by 2030.

The PM noted Vision 2030 is built on three pillars: Economic, Social and Political and further noted progress has been made or is being made in these three fronts.

For example, there are flagship projects being implemented currently such special economic zones, road construction, development of ICT City (Malili), and general infrastructure development.

In the education sector, the PM said the goal is to make education accessible to all Kenyans irrespective of economic or social background and the PM has recently called upon teachers and other stake-holders to re-focus on improving academic performance in the country that way kids are not just going to school, but they are actually taught and learn to be competitive in the changing economic dynamics where just having a degree does not cut it.

On Vision 2030’s political pillar, the PM noted we have had passage of the new Constitution and are now in the process of having it implemented.

The PM said the new constitution completely changes our system of government with devolution of power, which the PM said should be properly understood what it is.

The PM said devolution is not the same thing as decentralization.

In devolution, the PM noted, power has been given but cannot be taken away exception by amending the constitution, complete with a referendum just as was done in passing the Constitution to begin with.

The PM said the county governments are going to be a significant part of the new government system, headed by governors are to be elected by popular vote.

The county governments will be responsible for roads, health services, agriculture, electricity, etc in their respective counties, the PM said.

In other words, the PM said, the days of “Mtukufu Rais” promising development that is never delivered are over.

The PM had the audience in a prolonged laughter when he imitated how former president Daniel arap Moi would attend a rally, he is told, for example, “Mtukufu Rais we need water,” to which, the PM said, “Mtukufu will then ask, “Wapi Waziri wa maji…the minister gets up at attention like a soldier, Mtukufu then tells him to look into the matter,” said the PM, “then another issue is raised, same thing, Mtukufu asks where is the appropriate minister, when the minister gets up at attention like a soldier, Mtukufu tells him or her to look into the matter and so on but after finishing his hotuba, Mtukufu tells the audience “na mkae hivyo hivyo!” the PM said to another prolonged laughter from the audience as some remembered this classic tactic of fooling the people from the Moi era.

The PM said Kenya has been ran this way for more than 48 years and thus the reason we are underdeveloped as we are.

By contrast, the PM said Korea was equivalent to Kenya and Ghana 48 years ago as measured by common economic indicators.

Indeed, the PM noted, Ethiopia even sent aid and troops to fight for Korea during the Korean war, yet, you cannot compare any of these countries with South Korea and Ethiopia is the one now getting aid from Korea.

The PM noted Korea is 45 times better than Kenya because we have been asleep and when awake, we have been run poorly all this time countries like Korea were emerging and becoming economic power houses.

The PM said he knows we can do better and is committed to having the government focus more on development notwithstanding the challenges the government faces dues to the form of the current government.

The PM noted it’s going to take everyone getting involved to bring about the changes necessary.

The PM also noted specifically the Diaspora must be involved in the economic development of our country and that’s why he created the position of Diaspora liaison in his office.

The PM said once the new Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is formed, Diaspora voter registration should begin.

The PM announced that a pilot program for Diaspora registration is underway in the UK with the rest of the countries to follow soon.

All that Kenyans in the Diaspora will need to vote, is a valid Kenyan ID or Passport.

Tapping into his famed photographic memory, the PM said Kenya participated for the second time in the Olympic Games in 1968 and during that year, we won 3 gold medals in 1500m, won by Keino, 10,000m, won by Temu and 3000m, won by Biwott.

The PM said the late Ronald Ngara was the Minister for Sports at that time and at the conclusion of the Olympics, Ngara said Kenya will bid to host the Olympics in the Olympics of 1980.

This did not happen, of course, but, the PM said, when the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) visited Kenya when Ayako was the minister for sports, the minister announced Kenya will bid to host the 2016 Olympics.

The PM said this time around, the press mocked the announcement, saying Kenya will never host the Olympics!

The PM noted the irony that it would have been possible to dream in 1968 of having the Olympics in Kenya in 1980—only 12 years later, but now it’s laughable that we can do so.

This is an image and state of affairs we must change, the PM said, adding “something has happened to the spirit of 1968 and today; the conquering spirit of the 60s has been killed by manipulation and oppression.”

The PM said in order to realize our Kenyan dream, we must reverse this trend and restore the spirit of conquest as we have all we need to achieve our goals and objectives for a better Kenya.

To live in a country with unity, peace and liberty for all with plenty to leave on; we need this back, the PM reiterated his vision.

The PM then briefly delved into politics, noting we need a united Kenya, we don’t need the likes of KKK, which is an idea people have of taking us backwards instead of moving forward as a united country.

The PM brought the house down in hysterical laughter when he said he has heard people saying if he becomes president and there is a Luo peeing “na kuna laini ya watu wanaotaka kukojoa, atasema msubiri kwa sababu Serikali bado inakojoa!”

But the PM assured Kenyans this are nothing but jokes which no one can take seriously or even be concerned about because Luos are just like any Kenyans and if he is elected president, it wouldn’t matter that he is Luo and neither should it matter which tribe one comes from but how he or she governs.

That’s all that should matter, namely, the quality and effectiveness of leadership offered by the leader, the PM emphasized.

The PM concluded his speech by reiterating once more his new vision for Kenya: Let’s not reinvent the wheel; the vision for a true Kenya is right there in our national anthem!

The PM said this is the Kenya dream, which is fully realizable and noted we are at a cross-road this election time around as the kind of leader we elect will determine whether we completely part with the old Kenya and charting a new course for a new Kenya or not.

The PM urged Kenyans to choose wisely come 2012.

The PM was accompanied with Her Excellency Mama Ida, the Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, Richard Onyonka, Kenya Ambassador to the US, Elikanah Odembo, Members of Parliament Abdirahiman Ali Hassan and Martin Otieno Ogindo who also spoke at the event and their speeches will be summarized in a blog to be posted soon.


Posted by on September 28, 2011 in Politics


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2 responses to “Prime Minister Raila Odinga Speaks to A Large Audience of Kenyans in Minneapolis, USA

  1. Metho

    September 28, 2011 at 12:42 AM

    Sir,I would like to take this opportunity and thank you for taking the time to candidly elaborate on issues that the PM shared with us. A major problem that still exists among us in the Diaspora is the ethnicity issues. People in the diaspora still identify themselves as Kamba/kisii/luo and just to name a few. This is what has dragged us not to develop both in the diaspora and back home. I am glad the PM took the time to explain to the people that we need to get away from stereo types and face issues as a Kenyan society. If you don’t mind, may I forward a link to your blog to a minnesota news paper “mshale”?

  2. Samuel N. Omwenga

    September 28, 2011 at 7:45 AM

    Nd. Metho,

    Thanks for your comment. The sentiment you express is right on and I am confident soon division among Kenyans along tribal and ethnic lines will be a thing of the past; or at least largely so.

    This has been my #1 wish and know is Raila’s as well.

    2012 will be a big test as to how much progress we have made in this area.

    P.S. Feel free to distribute any of my blogs to Mshale.




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