Ojijo: Politics of Poverty: the Odinga curse to the Luos!

coverpoliticsofpovertySeveral of the books which the ASC Library acquired last year during trips to Kenya and Uganda tell of the lives of politicians, religious leaders and businessmen (or women). These often interesting (auto)biographies tend to highlight achievement and success, probably at least partly as an encouragement to their readers: success is possible through hard work and dedication.

Already from its title it is clear that Politics of poverty : the Odinga curse to the Luos!, published in 2012 by Ojijo (full name Ojijo Pascal Al Amin), a Kenyan Luo living in Kampala, and acquired last year in Uganda, falls into a different category. It is obviously not praise literature, nor is it a life story. It is a rather heated political and ideological pamphlet blaming Raila Odinga - then Prime Minister in a power-sharing construction with rival Mwai Kibaki as President -  and more generally the (Luo) Odinga family for not having brought 'an iota of development in Luoland'.

Ojijo, also author of guides to financial success such as Sell something: Ojijo’s guide to entrepreneurship & raising capital! and The gift of E11even moves to make me wealthy!, is clear about poverty: it is 'a curse. All God’s best friends are rich'. Specking his text with citations – from Shakespeare, Machiavelli, Hitler, Obama, himself, and many others, he advocates strong leadership ('the Africans, the Luos need a savior') and provides a list of leaders - from Africa and the world - on whose shoulders 'the savior must stand'. His book also contains a voters’ guide, with questions ranging from politics and economics to violence and religion, and 'if I answer yes, then I am a socialist!'

Raila Odinga at the ASC Library
A search in the ASC library catalogue with Raila Odinga as subject (through selection of the category 'subject: person' and typing Odinga, Raila) gives more results than just Ojijo’s book, for example a 2013-video Raila Odinga : the race to State House 2013 and  Raila Odinga, an enigma in Kenyan politics, by Nigerian political scientist Babafemi Badejo. Badejo interviewed several people for his study and also asked them how they saw the person Raila Odinga. One interviewee remarks: 'People heap either blame on him or praise him'. Ojijo clearly falls into the first category. This type of document, too, forms part of the Kenyan political debate.

Heleen Smits,
January 2015