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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Until 2010, Kenya comprised eight administrative units known as provinces. Nyanza was one of Kenya’s provinces, located on the Equator, around the shores of Lake Victoria. The largest ethnic group in the province, the Luo, traditionally featured a stateless, decentralized, segmentary lineage system, with neither a single overall leader nor a hereditary leadership system. Yet by the 1960s, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga had welded Luos into a fervent and united support base. Moreover, when Jaramogi died in 1994, his son, Raila Odinga, took over Luo leadership. It is puzzling how Jaramogi—a mere carpenter’s son—and his son, Raila, successively managed to galvanize this segmentary society behind them. This chapter re-conceptualizes Odingaism as a philosophy, retraces its socio-cultural and political roots, and examines its influence on Luo politics. It also provides a short overview of the clan-based politics of the region’s second largest ethnic group, the Gusii, and considers the influence of devolution on the politics of Nyanza.

Keywords: elections, Gusii, Luos, Nyanza, Odingaism, Odinga dynasty, politics, Raila Odinga

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