Raila hands over Kibra to daughter Rosemary

19 Jun 2015 | by David Karani
Raila hands over Kibra to daughter Rosemary

Has CORD leader Raila Odinga settled on his eldest daughter, Rosemary, as his successor in Kibra and by extension in Luo Nyanza?This is the question on many Kenyans lips with events that have been unfolding in the opposition politician's family, party and his former Langata constituency that was sub-divided before the 2013 general elections to hive out Kibra.......

Has CORD leader Raila Odinga settled on his eldest daughter, Rosemary, as his successor in Kibra and by extension in Luo Nyanza?This is the question on many Kenyans lips with events that have been unfolding in the opposition politician's family, party and his former Langata constituency that was sub-divided before the 2013 general elections to hive out Kibra.

And this weekend, Rosemary is expected to make her grand entry into politics when she will traverse the constituency under the guise of registering voters. In reality she will be testing waters as he launches her campaign for the seat.Raila's daughter who was in Kibra last weekend with her father for what was a harambee for the youth in the constituency used the opportunity to book a date with the residents.She told the mammoth crowd that she would visit this weekend to with a caravan to mobilise residents to apply for identity cards and register as voters to enable her father win the presidency come 2017.

Her entry into the Kibra parliamentary race has sent jitters among other candidates eyeing the seat including Raila's presidential campaign manager in 2013, Eliud Owalo.The former campaign manager had positioned himself as the party's candidate in the next elections for the constituency and had run roughshod over the incumbent Ken Okoth.Owalo took to his official social media page to express this view hours after media reports claimed Rosemary will be contesting for the seat.

Said an obviously worried Owalo: “Having served as head of Presidential Campaigns in the last elections, I am aware that mismanagement of party nominations and apparent imposition of parliamentary candidates on the people led to voter apathy in our strongholds.He went further to warn his party not to meddle in the nominations as it happened in the last election.Alluding to the candidacy of Raila's daughter for Kibra constituency Owalo said the imposition of parliamentary candidates by ODM in its strongholds led to voter apathy in the last election.

The nominations are believed to have cost Raila the presidential seat in both 2007 and 2013 general elections.“It is therefore prudent and imperative that the party exercises impartiality in the primaries this time round to avert a repeat of the same fiasco.” Owalo said on his Facebook page.And the former campaign manager of Raila has heightened his visibility in the constituency ready to go toe-to-toe with Rosemary. He will also be in Kibra this weekend, traversing the slum with his own programme.

Owalo unveiled a comprehensive schedule that extends to Sunday. On Saturday, he will attend service at Darajani SDA Church before proceeding for a meeting with the Kisii community residents. Thereafter, he will tour Kenyatta Market, Toi Market and Makina Market.On Sunday, Owalo will attend a church service at Friends Church-Mashimoni. Thereafter, he will meet with the Kamba and the Nubian communities.Those who have paid close attention to events around the CORD leader note that Rosemary has taken a central role in his father's political life after the death of his eldest son, Fidel, on the eve of this year.

Rosemary was catapulted into the limelight when she gave a moving euology to her brother during his funeral in Bondo last January.Since then, she has remained by her father's side including running some of his political errands as in the case of the campaigns for the by-election in Kajiado Central early this year.Signs that the mother of two would be interested in politics emerged this year when she started receiving positive publicity in the media. She was featured in the Standard group's women magazine, Eve for her snail farming on her 25-acre farm in Kajiado.

Rosemary together with her children are the cover of Drum East Africa magazine this month. In it she talks about her life as an Odinga and her brother's death. However, little is said of her marriage to Amos Ndanyi five years ago which fell apart two years later when they had a daughter, Saphie.Since that separation, Rosemary has since given birth to another daughter.Back to her political ambitions, Raila's second daughter has also been a key figure in re-positioning her father as a brand ahead of the 2017 elections.

She runs the Raila Odinga Centre in Upper Hill area of Nairobi from where she is trying to create linkages between the CORD leader and the youth. Last month Raila launched his website in what was seen as his entry into the presidential campaign for the 2017 elections amid grumbling from his two co-principals, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula. While Musyoka attended the launch, Wetangula gave it a wideberth.

Rosemary's entry into politics as her father's heir is already making tongues to wag not just in Nyanza but in the whole country.The talk early in the year was that she would go for the position of the women representative in Nairobi that is currently held by Rachel Shebesh. It is not known why she decided to go for the parliamentary seat instead.However, Nairobi is a diverse county and quite cosmopolitan compared to Kibra that Raila led for 20 years before the change of constitution in 2010 barring presidential candidates from also contesting parliamentary seats.

Prior to her elder brother's death, Rosemary had concentrated in farming and would once in a while appear for soccer matches involving Gor Mahia.With Fidel's death and lack of interest from her younger brother, Raila Junior, it seems the father may have decided to have her fill his big shoes.While Rosemary and Owalo wrestle for the seat, the incumbent who is seen to be close to Raila ie yet to make his move.

The in-roads the Jubilee coalition has made in Kibera through the slum upgrading programme may have made Raila show his hand.Through the National Youth Service, Jubilee is putting up roads, toilets and street lighting in a move that has given the slum a new lease of life. Since the programme began, President Kenyatta has visited the area several times.Okoth is also happy to take credit for the upgrading programme as he has not voiced any opposition to it.While he was the Langata MP, the CORD leader was accused of neglecting the massive Kibera slum believed to be the biggest on the continent. The constituency was seen as one of the most ravaged by poverty.

Kenyans will be watching to see if Rosemary's political career will take the root that Uhuru Kenyatta took when he lost his first attempt at taking over as the Gatundu South MP. He was beaten by little-known Moses Mwihia.But he eventually made it to parliament and became the Kanu candidate in the 2002 general elections which he lost to Mwai Kibaki. The difference however is that Uhuru was mentored by Daniel arap Moi who was the country's CEO.Rosemary on the other hand is under the tutelage of a seasoned oppositionist and one of Kenya's most resilient politicians, Raila Odinga.

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