Rt Hon Raila OdingaPrime Minister, Republic of Kenya
Raila Amolo Odinga, born January 7, 1945, is currently serving as the Prime Minister of Kenya in a power sharing, Grand Coalition Government. He has served as a Member of Parliament for Langata Constituency since 1992, was the Minister of Energy from 2001 to 2002, and the Minister of Roads, Public Works and Housing from 2003 to 2005.
Mr. Odinga was the main opposition candidate in the heavily contested 2007 presidential election. Following a post-electoral crisis plagued by ballot irregularities, Mr. Odinga took office as Prime Minister under the Kofi Annan mediated National and Reconciliation Accord and has served as a supervisor and coordinator of a grand coalition government since April 2008.
Mr. Odinga is the son of Kenya’s first Vice President and one of the Independence heroes, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. His father’s prominent role in the nation’s political history meant that he grew up within the struggle for justice and equality. From an early age, he played an active role in the fight for the liberation of the Kenyan people from poverty, disease, ignorance and poor governance.
Mr. Odinga received his early education at Komulo School in Kisumu, on the shores of Lake Victoria, and then at Maranda School in his ancestral home area of Bondo. He completed his secondary education at the Herder-Institut, Leipzig, in what was then the German Democratic Republic. After having learned fluent German, he received a scholarship in 1965 that sent him to the Magdeburg College of Advanced Technology (now Otto-Von-Guericke University) where he graduated with a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering.
On returning to Kenya in 1970, Mr. Odinga joined the University of Nairobi, where he taught until 1974. During this period, he was active in the growing movement for political reform in Kenya. In 1982, Mr. Odinga was arrested and detained without trial for his work in agitating for the restoration of political pluralism in a country that had a one-party system. Mr. Odinga spent six years, mostly in solitary confinement and in harsh conditions, before being released – only to be detained twice more in quick succession thereafter, for another two years.
He was finally released in 1991, but was under a constant threat of assassination, which led him to spend a brief period in exile in Norway, where he was granted political asylum. On December 10, 1991, the Kenyan government bowed to the inevitable, and multiparty democracy was introduced. Mr. Odinga returned to Kenya to rejoin the political battle. Despite exile and being jailed for nearly 10 years, Mr. Odinga remained committed to far-reaching constitutional and institutional reforms to promote justice, equality, prosperity and progress in Kenya, for which he fights till today.
Most recently, in December 2010, Mr. Odinga was appointed by the African Union to lead its mediation efforts in resolving the political crisis in Ivory Coast.