Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Biography
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was a prominent figure in Kenya’s struggle for independence. He later served as Kenya’s first Vice-President, and thereafter as opposition leader. Odinga’s son Raila Odinga he was Prime Minister, and another son, Oburu Odinga, is the deputy governor Siaya County.
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Education Background
1940: Undergraduate student at Makerere University, Diploma in Education.
High School Student at Alliance High School.
Primary School student of Maseno School.
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Political career
In 1947, he registered Luo Thrift and Trading Corporation. The Corporation undertook to strengthen the union between Luo people in the whole of East Africa.His efforts earned him admiration and recognition among the Luo, who revered him as Ker (spiritual leader) Vowing to uphold the ideals of Ramogi Ajwang, Odinga became known as Jaramogi (man of the Ramogi people).
In 1948, he joined the political party, Kenya African Union(K.A.U)
In 1953, Kenyatta was jailed by the British, and during Kenyatta’s years in detention, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga became one of the most outspoken resistance leaders calling for his release.
In 1957, he relinquished his position as Ker , since according to Luo tradition a Ker could not be a politician, and became the political spokesman of the Luo. The same year he was elected member of the Legislative Council for the Central Nyanza constituency,
In the first African elections for the legislature in 1957, Odinga won the election in his home district of central Nyanza.
A major British effort to control Kenya’s evolution in a peaceful fashion was the Lancaster House Conference of 1960. A unified African delegation attended and accepted the conference’s decisions as a step on the path to independence. But when the delegates returned to Kenya, rivalries shattered the unity of the African politicians, with Jaramogi Oginga Odinga emerging as one of the leaders of the radical group of dissatisfied Africans. Odinga and other members of the legislative council formed the Kenya African National Union (KANU). The other major African party was the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU). Odinga’s KANU used its strong showing in the 1961 general elections to help gain Kenyatta’s release.
In 1960, together with Tom Mboya, he joined Kenya African National Union (KANU).
In 1963 he was appointed a minister for home affairs and in 1964 he became vice-president. Kenya became a de facto one-party state that year when KADU merged with KANU. Jaramogi Oginga Odinga increasingly opposed KANU’s direction after the merger, which in his opinion helped turn the government’s policies to the right. He openly challenged the government’s use of private and foreign investment capital and its close ties with the West.
Within KANU a coalition formed against Odinga. He was left out of decision making, and in 1966 a KANU reorganization conference abolished his post of party vice-president.
In April 1966 Odinga resigned from the government and party to form an opposition group, the Kenya People’s Union (KPU). The KPU faced government harassment, and some of its leaders were jailed.
In October 1969, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was jailed by the government on the charge of organizing a demonstration which turned into a riot. The KPU was banned, and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga stayed in prison for 15 months.
In 1969, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was arrested after him and then President Jomo Kenyatta abused each other verbally publicly at a chaotic function in Kisumu – at least 11 people were killed and dozens were injured in riots. He was detained for two years and was consigned to political limbo until after Kenyatta’s death on August 1978.
Kenyatta’s successor, Daniel arap Moi, appointed Jaramogi Oginga Odinga as chairman of the Cotton Lint and Seed Marketing Board. He did not last long in the post, presumably because he was still outspoken against Kenyatta’s policies.
In 1982, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga attempted to register a political party but when Attorney-General Charles Njonjo amended the constitution (which made Kenya a de jure single-party state), his plans were foiled.
Following the failed coup of 1982 against Moi’s government, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was placed under house arrest in Kisumu.
In 1990, he tried in vain with others to register an opposition party, the National Democratic Party.
In 1991 he co-founded and became the interim chairman of Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD). The formation of FORD triggered a chain of events that were to change Kenya’s political landscape, culminating in ending KANU’s 40 years in power – eight years after Odinga’s death.
FORD split before the 1992 elections. Jaramogi Oginga Odinga himself vied for the presidency on Ford-Kenya ticket but finished fourth with a share of 17.5% votes. However, he regained the Bondo Constituency seat after being forced out of parliamentary politics for over two decades.
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga died in 1994.
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Family, Wife and Children
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was polygamous and had four wives: Mary Juma, Gaudencia Adeya, Susan Agik, and Betty Adongo. With these wives, he had seventeen children. Mary is the mother of Raila Odinga and Oburu Odinga . Mary died in 1984.