After having come close to beating Mwai Kibaki in the December 2007 presidential election, Raila Odinga looks to be favourite to win the next one, the first round of which is set to take place in March 2013. Son of historic opposition leader Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, he joined the opposition to the Daniel arap Moi regime but later rallied to it. His early political career was marked by imprisonment and exile and he fell only just short of election to Kenya’s supreme office in the 2007 election. The result of the election was widely contested and resulted in several months of inter-communal violence.


At the start of 2008, he was appointed prime minister at the head of a coalition government. He has taken up the mantle of his father and, with it, his political enmities: just like his father with the first Kenyan president, Jomo Kenyatta, Raila Odinga is engaged in a constant running battle with Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.

Although he followed in his father’s footsteps in going into politics and founding his own party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) in 2005, he is a self-made man where business is concerned. He has set up a number of companies: East African Spectre operates a factory producing gas canisters; Spectre International, which took over a decrepit state-controlled company, runs an ethanol-producing plant and Pan African Petroleum imports oil. With such prosperous companies under their control, Odinga and his wife figure among Kenya’s wealthiest citizens. Today, these businesses have become a family affair, with several members of the Odinga clan involved in running them.

Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu, having had two terms of office, Odinga considers that it is time for a Luo like himself to take over the presidency rather than the Kikuyu Kenyatta. But political alliances are volatile in Kenya and Odinga will not be certain of becoming the fourth president of Kenya until the very last minute, even with current vice president Kalonzo Musyoka as his running mate.