I stand here before you today, a proud son of Kenya, a liberation fighter and servant of the people for the last 50 years.
Today, I boldly declare that I am neither repentant nor regretful of my own experience in the fight for a liberated Kenya. I bear my physical and psychological scars with pride. This is because my country was worth it then; and is worth it now.
I bear the scars of liberation with pride, and embrace the blood, sweat and tears they cost me.
By the way, the tears from the torture chambers are still running, as you can tell from the handkerchief that never leaves my hand!
For years, I was not allowed to speak with other inmates. In fact, for 6 years straight, I did not sleep on a bed.
For months on end, I was either held incommunicado, in solitary confinement or handcuffed and in transit to the next prison or detention camp.
Relatives died, including my beloved mother and my own brother, and I never got the chance to say goodbye.
I would not wish this torment upon anyone, not even my worst enemy. Together with my comrades who endured torture and survived those dark days of despair, we would never let Kenya degenerate down the road of terror.
But there was a positive side to my story. It is about a friend. A ‘Lando’ of legendary beauty, with the brave heart of Luanda Magere.
And this is the woman who stood by me when I was shunned by many. This is the wife of my youth, love of my life and partner to death – Mama Ida Betty Odinga.
In those hard times of long and uncertain incarceration, if I was not reading the Holy Bible, I found deep solace in Mama Ida’s love and support. She became a constant guest of the police cells through constant arrests and harassment. I can’t thank her enough.
What makes a great nation is not the men it produces, but the men it honours. That’s why I would be remiss if I do not pay homage to those that gave us the sacred license to stand tall, to speak freely and to think big on this very day.
And here I am talking about my comrades in arms, both alive and those who have fallen.
I pay homage to those who have gone before us, the fallen heroes of the second liberation.
These include Kenneth Matiba and Charles Rubia. Many do not recall that I was detained at Kamiti Maximum Prison on the same day with two compatriots on the 5th of July 1990 for demanding multi-partyism.
Other fallen compatriots include George Anyona, Jean Marie Seroney, Martin Shikuku, Mukaru Ng’ang’a, Oki Ooko Ombaka and Wangari Maathai.
I also pay homage to all the audacious martyrs who, for the sake of the people, chose constant crucifixion over the relative comfort of conceding to repression.
I hold the deepest respect for living icons like Mukami waKimathi, wife of Dedan Kimathi.
They called her ‘The Wasp’ because, like Kimathi, her husband, Mukami was a fearless General, who mobilised daring bands of women in complex undercover Mau Mau operations. I salute her.
Other liberators include Ngugi Wa Thiongo, whose powerful written work enriched the ideologies of the struggle against the one-party regime; Koigi wa Wamwere whose fearless voice inspired many to action.
I remember Dr. Odhiambo Mbai, the fearless chair of the Devolution committee at the Bomas conference who was brutally assassinated, and Dr. Willy Mutunga who distinguished himself as a selfless champion of Social Justice and a comrade in the detention chambers.
In the course of this struggle, there have been ups and downs, advances and retreats, but we have never lost our direction.
At this point, I must pay homage to my brother His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta for the foresight and sense of patriotism in initiating the dialogue that led to the handshake.
It takes a seasoned statesman to shake the hand of his rival. I thank him. In the course of our discussions, we agreed that Kenya is greater than the two of us.
We agreed that despite years of effort, Project Kenya has not quite taken off the way our founders envisaged.
Where our founders envisaged unity, we have been held back by divisions; tribe against tribe, region against region, men against women, leader against leader. As if these divisions have not been costly enough, there are still massive efforts by some to divide us further, as rich and poor, young and old.
We agreed that where our fathers dreamt of plenty within our borders, poverty has taken deep roots in our land. We agreed that we must deal a deadly blow to corruption before it brings down our country.
We resolved to work together to unite our people in order to realize the Kenyan Dream as coined by the Founding Fathers:
“Justice be our shield and defender, May we dwell in unity, peace and liberty, plenty be found within our borders.” That is the foundation of the Azimio la Umoja.
I must add here that, with this reconciliation, I asked for nothing, and I will never ask for anything except the opportunity to serve.
Peacemaking is not a self-enriching enterprise. It is a calling from God.
Blessed are the peace-makers for they shall be called the children of God.
Let me shift gears now to other stories, those that I witnessed, listened to and collected on my Azimio La Umoja tour of every corner of our great republic over the last three months.
This meeting today is the culmination of the Azimio la Umoja journeys we have taken together. Kenyans spoke from their hearts during the 15 Azimio la Umoja mammoth meetings.
At the Coast, wananchi reminded me that land issues remain a subject of pain.
Many families long for the privilege of possessing ‘family land’ that they can pass down generations. They cried about the huge impact of the Standard Gauge Railway on their businesses.
We travelled into the North Rift and there, I listened to concerns of residents whose livelihoods are being destroyed by cartels in agriculture; people who import maize while farmers are stuck with maize.
They lamented the collapse of the dairy and tea sectors and the high cost of farm inputs.
The communities of West Pokot County wondered why there was a West Pokot when there is no East Pokot! They asked to be.
identified specifically as a community in the national census with their own development projects, and the creation of two more constituencies and five wards.
I have also spent time in Mount Kenya, both West and East. And I can confirm to this congregation that if the mountain was smooth, it would be impossible to climb it. The mountain has to be bumpy for you to scale it.
On this, I am happy to note that I have reached very close to the peak. I have seen the Batian and Lenana peaks, and the people have promised that we shall walk together to the Promised Land yonder if I prove that I understand and shall address their concerns.
Residents expressed concerns about the equitable distribution of development resources within the region and proportional representation. They summarized it in the call for – One man, One shilling, One Vote.
And they want to earn more from their tea, coffee, pyrethrum, vegetables, potatoes and dairy.
Nyanza complained about non-functioning and collapsed cotton, sugarcane, fishing, tobacco, tea, and soapstone industries and the denial of economic opportunities for the region.
In Turkana, the continuing challenge of general insecurity, poverty, drought and famine were raised repeatedly.
In Lower Eastern, the local communities complained of a serious lack of water, recurring famine and a lack of economic opportunities.
Northern Kenya felt profoundly let down by Nairobi. Their children are being denied identity cards by their own country.
Education is collapsing due to insecurity and the livestock sector is severely threatened by drought and disease.
I took note that while our people of Mt. Kenya spoke of One Man, One Vote, One Shilling, northern Kenya spoke of One Man, One Kilometre, One Shilling. Indeed, Kenya is diverse in its needs and in ideas to address the needs.
In Western Kenya, I was repeatedly reminded of local industries like sugar that had been allowed to collapse due to corruption, neglect and mismanagement.
Fisheries and mining are struggling. Young men and women who would have gained from local thriving industries spoke of how they are forced to migrate from home to seek opportunity.
The Maa nation is worried about the lack of livestock and a pastoralist economy. They worry about the environmental degradation upstream which impacts them directly. They have their historical injustices over land.
These are just some of the concerns that I noted, internalized and took on as a personal mission.
Listening to our people made me look back over the last five decades.
It became crystal clear that while much has been achieved, much remains to be done.
I stand here, deeply concerned, indeed horrified, at how our peers at independence left us far behind.
Nations like South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore with whom we were at the same level of development in 1964 have largely vanquished extreme poverty.
Their education systems have dealt a deadly blow to the ignorance and put them in the premier league of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We have to change tact. We have to catch up.
This is the AZIMIO LA UMOJA we have gathered here today to proclaim and uphold in our third liberation for an ECONOMIC
REVOLUTION in our nation.
The first liberation brought us independence in 1963.
The second liberation brought us the people-driven constitution of 2010.
The Third Liberation is for the economic revolution in our nation that must see us emerge as a modern and industrial nation that will consign poverty, ignorance and disease to the dustbin of forgettable history. It must put us on the driving seat of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Africa.
Following the listening tours, and to address the concerns that emerged, we came up with a Ten-Point People’s Programmes as follows:
POINT NUMBER ONE 1: Inua Jamii, Pesa Mfukoni. A nation’s greatness is judged by how it treats its poor and vulnerable. Pesa Mfukoni is a social protection programme that will deliver Ksh6, 000 per month to two million of the country’s most needy families.
It is not a handout but an investment and a foundation for a new transformational value chain that will also trigger massive economic activity and create thousands of localized small-scale businesses and enterprises across the country.
This will lead to millions of jobs and the eventual development of a thriving middle class.
The resulting middle class and SMEs will be a robust market for larger, more national corporations.
POINT NUMBER 2: ‘BabaCare’. Each of us has experienced the all-consuming strain that accompanies the ill-health of a family member.
We know that Health-related calamities do not ask who you voted for! And because Health care is a constitutional right, BabaCare will scale up the Universal Health Care pilot programmes to the rest of the country.
We want a Kenya where no one will ever have to wonder if they can afford to save their child’slife, get treatment for their ailing grandparents or manage a chronic disease.
POINT NUMBER 3: Kazi Kwa Wote. This is about securing the welfare of the people by generating avenues for productivity, through job creation programs, investing in the critical jua kali sector and other macro-and microeconomic stimulation schemes.
POINT NUMBER 4: Uchumi Kwa Akina Mama. This will focus on the true multipliers of wealth in our community; our women.
The programme will unlock access to financing for women-led businesses and provide support for women on other enabling factors such as access to assets for production, land tenure and proportional representation at all Government levels.
POINT NUMBER 5: “Hashtag Inawezekana.” We know that our youth are closer to the future than we are.
But they are exploited as cannon fodder for bad politics. Now more than ever, we need to invest in preparing our youth for that future.
The programme will equip our youth with the mindset, skills, funds and technology to enable them to innovate at par, and even surpass their global counterparts.
POINT NUMBER 6: “Waste not a Single Child”.Education is non-negotiable. This programme will be an aggressive scheme to ensure that all, not some of our children, get rightful access to quality education. We will deploy a new army of teachers to deliver to our children.
For northern Kenya, we will pursue a special affirmative action program in admitting students from ASAL into Teacher Training Institutions and universities to create a local, committed workforce to serve as teachers and education officers in the region. A multi-agency engine will drive the process to ensure no young Kenyan is locked out for any reason whatsoever.
My 7th point: Fukuza Njaa. The aim here is not to merely feed, but to generate the agricultural bounty that Kenya has the potential to produce. We will factor in Climate Change adaptation and mitigation to support and help realise high agricultural productivity across the nation.
POINT NUMBER 8: Maji Kwa Kila Boma. The program will radically reverse the artificial shortages and high cost of water, particularly for the poor.
We shall not allow water scarcity to be an issue in a country like ours where lakes and rivers burst their banks, yet desert nations have found ways to direct every drop to its people for consumption and production. Water must and will be the least of every Kenyan household’s worries.
My POINT NUMBER 9: One County, One Product. I firmly believe that the idea of devolution in Kenya has the transformative potential of rich mineral mines, abundant oilfields and other traditional markers of a nation’s affluence.
“One County, One Product” programme is designed to be a launchpad to a Kenya which consumes its products, exports excesses and registers surpluses, not deficits.
The National Government will support materially and technically towards an ultimate vision where 47 vibrant counties begin industrializing at unstoppable rates.
The tenth pillar of my Vision has to do with The Principle of Administrative Continuity. By continuity, I mean building and improving on the gains that have been made by the administrations that came before.
Africa suffers from a retrogressive mindset of starting afresh, instead of advancing existing accomplishments.
When one administration sets something up, the next knock it down. This makes many countries in the continent stuck in a constant state of ignition, never making it to acceleration and takeoff.
Kenya must not be a ‘start-stop’ nation. This is a waste of time and resources that SHOULD NOT be entrenched in Kenyan political culture.
For example, President Kenyatta’s Linda Mama programme could not have worked without the construction of health facilities and upgrading of transport networks that we undertook during the Grand Coalition Government. The plans for the Rapid Bus and Transit System could not have been operationalised without the construction of Thika and Mbagathi Roads.
The plan for the Lamu Port dates back to 1972 when President Mwai Kibaki was finance minister. It took almost 50 years for it to be launched by Kibaki as President in 2012 as he was leaving office. President Uhuru Kenyatta took it up in 2013, ran with it and has implemented it in 8 years. The Lamu project is one whose ultimate vision I see clearly.
Ignoring it squanders the opportunity, by another 50 years, to have a world-class transhipment hub that will reap exponential economic benefits for our country.
My manifesto will bear a crystallized description of the Ten Point Peoples’ Programme, delving into the workings and plans that will actualize it for the People.
These are just but highlights of new programs that we shall roll out to respond to needs expressed at Azimio la Umoja events. Very soon, I will unveil a detailed manifesto addressing other critical concerns like corruption, public debt, industrialisation, digital economy and promotion and protection of businesses and, particularly, PROTECTION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY.
Our business community deserve protection and they will get it.
At the top of our national government where leadership is exercised to the maximum in governing and changing our nation is the PRESIDENCY.
A president makes a difference in the life of this nation.
Having listened to your calls during our conventions, given my credentials to this congregation and the nation at large; and having spelt out the peoples’ aspirations as I understand them under Azimio La Umoja, and having given my 10-point vision for Kenya:
On this tenth day of December 2021, I Raila Amolo Odinga, having been faithful and committed to building a national, democratic and progressive Kenya in our lifetime, having worked with many patriotic Kenyans to achieve this goal, I do hereby accept to present myself as a PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE at the Presidential Election on 9th of August 2022 following the request and unanimous decision by this AZIMIO LA UMOJA.
I am not running for president to oppose anyone but to propose better policies. I am in this race to mould one indivisible nation. I am not at war with personalities; I am at war with ideologies that would lead this nation in the wrong direction.
Ideologies that divide us instead of uniting us. Ideologies that put the personal above the national good.
To put our country on the path of lasting unity, stability and prosperity, I hereby announce the launch of a movement anchored on the pillars of Utu, Undugu, Umoja, Usawa na Usalizaji (humility, brotherliness, unity, equality and productivity)-AZIMIO LA UMOJA MOVEMENT.
God BLESS you all and God Bless this our LAND and NATION.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.