Kenya: Citing Political Struggles, Odinga Says He is a Strong Believer in God

President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga (file photo).
28 January 2021

ODM leader Raila Odinga on Thursday told off critics who regard him as a politician who does not believe in God, saying he is a staunch Christian.

Addressing religious leaders at Ufungamano House in Nairobi, at a meeting to promote the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), Mr Odinga said he is a beneficiary of God's mercies and miracles, and that he believes in God's work.

"So many times, I'm left speechless when holier-than-thou people say Raila Odinga does not believe in God. Who would not believe in God and his miraculous ways after going through what I have, personally and with my family?"

He added that the men and women he fought with in struggles have been assassinated and caused to disappear without trace or immobilised and eventually subjected to slow and painful deaths arising from torture.

"I have witnessed all this. I have gone through all this. I believe I am alive today because my God lives and walks with me and I seek to walk with him," he said.

"As you all know, in one of my famous escapes from this country, it was the Catholic Church that came through for me and helped me avoid what I had been warned would be my last arrest after as I would not live again."

He went on: "How would one not respect the Church or the Almighty after such miracles?"

Life in detention

The Orange Democratic Movement leader further said that, at some point in his life, the Bible was the only book available to him.

"Those were my years in detention. In that period, when everyone else had choices on what to read and who to listen to, I had no options. The Bible, the prison chaplain and occasional letters from my wife and children were all I had, day in, day out and for years, not days or weeks ... years," he said.

"The chaplain would come with the Bible and other religious publications, including old religious newspapers, and move from block to block. In a situation where you are deprived of freedom, the Bible becomes a great solace. It offers a very valid hope that there is life beyond the present circumstances. It did for me back then. It continues to do that for me today."

Mr Odinga's speech seemed targeted at Deputy President William Ruto and his allies, whom he said view him as a "mganga and mtu wa vitendawili (a witchdoctor and a man of many riddles). "

Reopening of churches

The ODM boss also used the occasion to urge the government to fully re-open churches, which are undergoing a phased resumption of operations following closure after the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

He pointed out that with the schools re-opened, the government should also consider houses of worship.

"Churches should also be opened fully while observing Ministry of Health guidelines," he said.

He promised to ask the government to consider the clergy's request.

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