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Dr. Ida Betty Odinga Is Not Your Average Politician’s Wife, Says CNN

Dr. Ida Odinga, mother of grown children, successful businesswoman, champion of women rights in Africa in general and Kenya in particular and wife of the Prime Minister of Kenya, Rt. Hon. Raila Amolo Odinga was recently interviewed by CNN about her contributions in these roles and more.

An intro and text of the interview follows below but a re-run of the interview itself can also be seen on CNN and KTN for next several weeks, check your local listings for actual times.

We should all be happy and proud of Dr. Ida Odinga’s contributions and accomplishments in her own right which often go unheralded by our own media but one would hope they will reverse course and start covering accomplishments of ladies like Mama Ida and others rather than focusing on the latest in efforts to “stop” Raila from being reelected as president, which no doubt seems to be the in-thing for much of the media.

In the larger context of things, however, Dr. Ida is just only getting started.

Here we go…

(CNN) — It’s often proclaimed that “behind a strong man there is a strong woman” — and in the case of Kenya’s prime minister and his wife, the saying seems to be true.

Ida Odinga, the wife of Kenyan leader Raila Odinga has been a champion for female rights in Kenya for more than two decades now.

A teacher by profession, Odinga established a women’s voting league in 1991 and became known as the face of defiance during her country’s one-party regime. She is also one of the first women to head a major corporation in the East African nation.

“It’s good to be a wife, but it’s good to be an educated wife. Being a wife, it’s just not a position of subordination — it’s a position of strength,” she says. “And I make him [Raila Odinga] stronger by being strong.”

Odinga opened up to CNN’s Felicia Taylor about the role of women in Kenya and her life as the wife of the country’s prime minister. An edited version of the interview follows.

CNN: What do you enjoy the most in your role as the wife of Kenya’s prime minister?

Ida Odinga: Meeting with the people, particularly meeting with the young women in schools and colleges, I enjoy being with them.

The most rewarding thing that I find is that when I go out in schools and in colleges, and I mentor the girls and I see how they respond to mentorship. I don’t only mentor the girls, I also mentor the girls, their parents and the community and I see the response. I find that really rewarding.

CNN: What do you think is the changing role for women in Kenya now?

Raila Odinga hails wife’s strength

IO: Women are taking up positions of responsibility, particularly in leadership — political leadership, administrative leadership and all sorts of leadership. And that changing role is coming as a result of education.

Ida Odinga’s mind for business

The other thing is that there is also a really large number of young bright women who are not able to pay school fees, who are not able to advance in education. And I look for means and ways to help them so that they can at least get the education.

CNN: You were one of the first women to head a major corporation in East Africa, a liquefied gas cylinder manufacturing company. That doesn’t sound like the easiest business. How did you do this?

IO: The work is different because it is heavy duty work but I do enjoy it, like teaching. In teaching you start with young girls and you take them and in the end they become young women. And you see the development, in the end you see the work, the result of your work. Similarly, when you take raw materials and you cut it and you roll it and you weld it and you do this and in the end you see a beautiful cylinder standing on the other end, it is very rewarding.

When you are satisfied with what you are doing and when you are in charge of what you are doing, you are powerful. And power is the nature of the game. The women must be powerful and they must remain strong.

CNN: Your husband spent most of the 1980s jailed by president Moi’s government. How hard was it on you?

When you are satisfied with what you are doing and when you are in charge of what you are doing, you are powerful.
Ida Odinga

IO: It was very hard on me — at that time I had three children, my eldest was nine years old then I had a five-year-old and a three-year-old. Now I was still a teacher in high school and I loved my job, I did it diligently and I enjoyed doing it. But then there were challenges because for all those years, I became like a political widow without a husband and my children had to go to school, they had to leave and so forth. I was not prepared to take care of the children alone and so this thing came to me as a surprise. But then I had to mature very quickly and know how to balance my life, how to be able to do my job and still bring up the children, single-handledly for those 10 years.

See also Queen of African Radio: African Need a Hand-Up Not Hand-Out

But there’s also something else that made it more difficult — I was always being followed by the police, they were always following me and harassing me. It was never peaceful time. And in the process sometimes I would be arrested and thrown in the cell and remained there for a weekend.

CNN: You’ve said, “you must love yourself before someone else does.” What are you really trying to tell women?

IO: When I say “you must love yourself before someone else does,” that’s self esteem. Now if you love yourself, you want the best for yourself. You take care of your self and then others will see that and come and join you. Don’t wait for someone to tell you how good you are, how strong, even how beautiful you are. You must know yourself that: “I’m beautiful, I’m knowledgeable, I’m strong, I can do it! Join me to help me do it.”

But don’t wait for somebody to tell you because when you wait for people to tell you, then they’ll take advantage of you because they’ll think that they’ve made you. But make them understand that you make yourself. And after you’ve made yourself, then others can come to join you to make you stronger.

CNN: That doesn’t detract from being a fantastic wife, does it? You can be both.

IO: It’s good to be a wife, but it’s good to be an educated wife. Being a wife, it’s just not a position of subordination — it’s a position of strength.

And I’d like to show them the best way to be a wife. You’re a wife, I’m a wife of a prime minister and he loves me to death anyway. And I make him stronger by being strong.

End

Source: CNN

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Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Politics

 

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

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.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2011 in Politics

 

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