Kenya: Raila Odinga - I Couldn't Believe Jakoyo Midiwo Was Dead

ODM leader Raila Odinga yesterday recalled his last moments with his cousin, Jakoyo Midiwo.

Mr Odinga said he did not believe the news of Midiwo's death until he saw the former legislator's body in a ward at Nairobi Hospital.

"He was more of a friend than even a younger brother," the former Prime Minister said.

He said this month, the Odingas have had several deaths in their family, revealing they had lost a grandmother, grandfather, an uncle and a sister (Jakoyo's elder sister).

The former Prime Minister said on the evening of Thursday, June 10, he had talked to Jakoyo and they had agreed to meet at a later date. He revealed they had talked about the cloud of death that hung over the Odinga family and Jakoyo expressed his views on how the funerals should be handled.

Mr Odinga, who was away from the capital, promised to contact him upon his return to Nairobi.

"And that was my last conversation with him," Mr Odinga said.

They had agreed that once normalcy returned, the Odingas would organise a fitting memorial for all of their departed family members.

News of Midiwo's death

However, on Monday, June 14, when the former PM arrived from Mombasa, he was greeted with the news of his cousin's death.

"I couldn't believe he was dead," Mr Odinga said.

"Midiwo had advised that I limit my attendance of funerals given the Covid-19 situation in the country," he recalled.

"Jakoyo was cautioning me against attending funerals because my presence would attract uncontrollable crowds. He felt given the rising Covid-19 infections, it was risky."

The ODM leader recalled he was in his office in the evening when a relative called with the news of death "that bore Jakoyo's name".

The caller, Mr Odinga's cousin, was sobbing, he said. On probing further, he was told of Jakoyo's death.

"Relatives had visited him at the hospital. They talked, bade him farewell and left. Three minutes later, on their way out of the ward, they were asked to go back. The doctor then revealed their patient had passed on," he narrated.

Mr Odinga recalled his shock at the news.

He couldn't believe his cousin was dead. So he rushed to Nairobi Hospital. He found Jakoyo lying in the intensive care unit. Lifeless.

Clear vision for Kenya

"He was actually smiling, and I thought I could talk to him. But he was dead," he reminisced. "I didn't even know how to conduct myself."

Midiwo's death came just days after his elder sister's. Mr Odinga termed the loss "very emotional for us as a family".

"He had a very clear vision of what Kenya should be. He used to express it sometimes very emotionally. Sometimes very strongly. And he was not one to be pushed back or cowed," he said, adding that it is a genetic trait of the Odingas.

"Jakoyo was not just a politician. He did much more beyond politics. He united the people from various communities. He was a true Kenyan," the former Premier told the mourners.

The ODM leader said even before Midiwo joined active politics and successfully vied for the Gem parliamentary seat, he was always active in Raila's political affairs.

"During his stay in the US, Jakoyo organised the Ford-Kenya branch in DC. Later it changed to NDP. Eventually, it became LDP and then Narc branch in DC," Mr Odinga revealed.

Jakoyo Midiwo's body will be flown to Gem today and buried tomorrow.

"Just as Jakoyo had wished funerals should be conducted, we are going to make sure that all the Covid-19 protocols are adhered to," Mr Odinga said.

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