Fidel was the glue that bonded our family together, says sister Rosemary Odinga


NAIROBI: Fidel was a loving brother. We grew up together and were very fond of each other. He taught me many things and was always protective of me. I remember it was Fidel who taught me how to read. He was such an avid reader. Like daddy (Raila Odinga), Fidel was a disciplinarian.

I remember when we were growing up and our father was detained. Children were often advised by their parents not to play with us. (Raila and his family were considered pariahs, rebels and anti-Kanu who you needed to keep a distance from). My brother loved football and because there was nobody allowed to play with us, he recruited me as a footballer and taught me how to be a goal-keeper.

 But pretty soon, he needed to be challenged on the field and he allowed me to become a centre forward and I really played that role well. That is how my goal-keeping role dissipated over time.

Fidel made me love football. Like daddy, Fidel was an ardent Arsenal fan. In fact, I am the odd one out in the family because I support Manchester United in the English Premier League. During the 2014 World Cup finals, I was supporting Germany and Fidel was supporting Brazil. When we beat them at the semi finals, it was my turn to celebrate.

But I always remember that we were inducted into the football culture by daddy. Before he went into detention, he had lots of merchandise from the teams he loved, including Brazil.

Fidel introduced me to Gor Mahia and would tag me along to matches time and again and when I could not accompany him, I would watch from home and keep texting him until the match was over. Such is how close we were. He was good with making toys. He would make military toy vehicles and we would ride them to Kibera. In fact, it was Fidel who first took me to Kibera on a tour.

The most important thing is that Fidel was a very loving brother. He was passionate about anything he was doing. He didn’t talk much but was a great listener always. I am more calm than he was. He could get very animated and emotional and I would talk to him softly and calmly. He was very time conscious and he made all of us time keepers. Most of the time Fidel talked about our plans as a family and investment opportunities.


Fidel was very passionate about politics. I don’t know how to put it but he often debated politics and offered dad invaluable advice. Some are political secrets which I cannot divulge but he was instrumental in the backroom operations of Mzee’s politics. He kept the Kibera network alive and knew all instrumental persons in the campaign machinery. Family relied on him much to secure Kibera politically as dad engaged in national campaigns or those for the party and coalitions.

He grew up loving revolutionaries among them Thomas Sankara and Che Guevara. He loved watching soldiers march and parade. If we did not come from a political family I am sure Fidel would have been a soldier. He kept Kibera supporters guessing about when dad was going to run for the presidency. Many pundits thought he would take the plunge.


Fidel liked different kinds of food. I remember one time while we were on holiday, he would be on the seafood menu. But his best was traditional food and Ruby Cut was his favourite restaurant.


Fidel loved reggae so much. He was a fan of Bob Marley; his messages and composition resonated well with him. But he also loved dholuo music a lot.


He was a loving man who cared and remained protective of each family member. Fidel loved children. He loved his wife Lwam. He loved home and built a beautiful house in Bondo. When his baby was born, he would regularly send me photos of how the baby was doing. This became more intense when I delivered my baby as we would compete on exchanging photos. Fidel didn’t talk much. He was relatively quiet but very observant and would see things we couldn’t. But he had the memory of an elephant. He would never forget people he met and even when I couldn’t remember their names, he would remind me when and where we met.


He was the star of the family, the glue that bonded us together and the bridge that connected us to the world of politics and business. I will miss him so much. I think it is only mum (Ida Odinga) who has come to terms with the reality. The rest of us including dad are still in shock and pain, imagining he will wake up alive.