The Flame of Freedom

The launch of Flame of Freedom

The interview on the Flame of Freedom

This is a great effort on the side of Prime Minister Raila Amollo Odinga.

Its crucial to pen ones experience especially those who have been fighting for our freedom.

People take things for granted. In fact there are some who were in diapers when Raila was fighting for our freedom who want to compare themselves with him.

I’m yet to get a copy of the book but once I do I will return to report my minds in this thread.

Bravo RAO.

12 comments on “The Flame of Freedom

  1. The Rt Hon Raila Odinga will be the chief guest at the official book signing of the Flame Of Freedom at the Text Book Center in Sarit Center, Westlands, Nairobi on Saturday, November 30th from 11:00am to 3:00pm. ONLY COPIES PURCHASED AT THE TBC ON THE DAY WILL BE SIGNED. The first 50 books will have official dedications from Raila Odinga.

    Thereafter, there will be a book launch and signing in Mombasa on Friday, December 6th from 2:30pm at a venue to communicated at a later date.

    Friday, December 20th will see Raila Odinga at the Tom Mboya College from 2:00pm to 5:00pm for another Flame Of Freedom launch and signing.

    More launches and signings across the country will be announced at a later date.


    • What people say about Dr. Nyairos critique


      Here we are, in a moment of profound historical value to Kenyans. A moment when history with a capital H really matters.

      A time like now demands the telling of the heroic exploits by men and women who made this country what it is today.

      This is a time when I was expecting a sea of Mau Mau tales.

      I was also hoping for new book releases by Kenyan politicians, who have been in and around and with those who have wielded power.

      This context underlines Joyce Nyairo’s tirade at Raila Odinga’s memoirs, The Flame of Freedom last Saturday.

      For sure, I wasn’t counting on historical revisionism; even though there is some history that needs revising in this country.

      Urgently so. For instance, Nyairo’s essay raised the interesting question of historical victimhood in Kenya. The question of who can complain in Kenya today about alienation, discrimination, repression, suffering etc is one that we should discuss openly in this country.

      What is wrong with Raila crying about the pain that his father, his family and himself endured under the Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki regimes?

      People write memoirs because they seek sympathetic listeners to their stories. Raila has a right, just like those who have always apportioned themselves the master victimhood narrative, to say that he has really been badly hurt by post-colonial regimes in Kenya.


      Ooh, on the Russia hospital deaths, the jury is out.

      Growing up in Kisumu I heard stories of a ‘“state massacre” at that hospital. Up to now there are those in Kisumu who believe the hospital is haunted by the souls of those who were senselessly killed on its grounds.

      The question of whether recasting that story today is only offering a (sub)version of the “state” version is horrendous revisionism.

      For the mothers who lost their children in Kisumu — I am sure that Nyairo has read MacGoye’s Coming to Birth and pretty well appreciates Paulina’s loss of her son, Okeyo, who was “harvested” by state bullets — the only true version is that it was a state massacre of innocent victims, period.

      There is no other sub-version here. Clever postmodernist subs — and — versions don’t make much sense to the victims of the Kiambaa church fire, for instance, or do they?

      On the question of “land grabbing”, would two wrongs make a right? If you steal and I rob, aren’t we both thieves?

      Undoubtedly philosophers can spend endless time debating about who between us carries a heavier moral burden. But a child can pronounce on this case very easily: the two parties are thieves, end of story.

      Of course I don’t mean to pursue the case of whether Kenyatta grabbed land or if Oginga skimmed off plots here and there for himself.

      I also don’t wish to defend Raila over the Kisumu Molasses plant land.

      But it should go on record that the dark dealings over land in this country, irrespective of who is the beneficiary, has bequeathed us a very “unhappy valley”, a horrendously combustible central Kenya and a caustic coastline. Merely equating ‘grabbing’ won’t begin to (re)solve this national crisis.

      I attended the launch of The Flame of Freedom and the best speech was by Charles Njonjo, who said to write an autobiography one has to be conceited.


      He was explaining why he hasn’t written his memoirs. But Njonjo didn’t add that conceit presumes some courage. One has to be bold enough to offer himself to the public for forensic examination the way Raila has done in his book.

      Inevitably, one will only talk about his experiences, encounters, friends, foes, failures, achievements selectively if they do record their “memories.” But literary critics naturally spend hours hopelessly poring over autobiographies looking for what the author didn’t include, but which they presuppose he should have.

      But wait, isn’t that what critics are paid to do? Speculate on conceit and the obvious. Obviously Raila has paraded himself to us.

      Where is Kenyatta’s biography; where is Kibaki’s autobiography; why hasn’t Moi bothered to tell us about his life?

      Certainly many of Raila’s friends will be disappointed that he “hogs” the success stories; that he doesn’t account for the endless hours his aides put in to produce policy documents and programmes when he really only signed those documents and read them at public functions.

      But isn’t that what aides are paid to do or what they get for associating with the big man/woman?

      I guess where it concerns Raila, even his enemies will be disappointed that he doesn’t go far enough in painting them negatively!

      And then there is that small matter of revising Raila’s role in Kibaki’s campaigns for the presidency in 2002.

      So, Nyairo trots out the line that Raila and his group had nowhere to go, which forced him to declare Kibaki tosha, consequently betraying one Simeon Nyachae, as some have suggested? Sounds quite familiar, “Mother, I am full, what is the granary for?”

      If it is true Raila and company had nowhere to go but join Kibaki’s group, isn’t it also true that his team galvanised the country to vote for a man who was generally aloof and didn’t have much pull in the rest of the country?

      Raila’s move then was political pragmatism. Of course the son of Odinga burnt his fingers badly; he hadn’t learnt from his father that politics is about betrayal.

      It dawned on him when you know who declared that the gentlemen’s memorandum of understanding was useless since ‘their’ man was in power.


      Need we say more about who have been at the forefront of keeping alight nationalism in this country and who might have to account for perennial infidelity to patriotism!

      On tribalism, Nyairo indicts Raila as telling his story in a manner that “makes it hard to believe that he does not single out Kikuyus and blame them for all his suffering.” Raila is accused of “profiling Kikuyus in a position of authority.”

      Well, Githu Muigai has a polite compact essay entitled “Kenyatta and the Rise of the Ethno-nationalist State in Kenya.”

      It is a telling critique of when the rain that ended any pretence to nationalism began to beat us.

      It would be a good reference point for a national discussion on when people started talking about “my people” and refusing to name the “others”, and hogging public office and claiming ethnic exceptionalism.

      After we are done with it, we can then seriously call Raila a tribalist!

      Where is cultural magnanimity in Nyairo’s critique of Raila, especially since she designates herself a cultural analyst?

      Three whole pages are more than enough to first review the book and then stamp on it, the way Nyairo does, if readers are to assume that this is a purely disinterested review.

      Instead we have below the belt jabs, “warped sense of justice”; “pointless lawlessness”; “proclivity for congregating with Luos” etc.

      Well, historical revisionism thrives on such insistence of the primacy of one’s narrative in relation to others.

      Could Nyairo be suggesting that there is something like a normative true Kenyan story that Raila should have told in The Flame of Freedom, really?


      Raila is human

      This is a very good article, obviously written by one who isn’t a supporter of Raila Odinga. I haven’t read the book myself, so I will refrain from commenting on the so-called memoirs.

      What I see from your writing is how human Raila Odinga is.

      In the process of trying to point out his many weaknesses and inconsistencies, you have just made people like me realise that the man is just like us.

      Subject to corruption, always looking to cut a deal for himself and family and doing his best to defeat all perceived rivals for power. He is also a master politician, knowing how to twist the truth to his advantage.

      This is the advantage we Raila supporters have over those who follow other more “digital” politicians: we don’t see him as a god but as a mere mortal who is able to influence a whole nation.

      Jubilee supporters are still at the adoration stage, they worship their leaders with religious fervour.

      Hence the reason many people invoke God’s name when speaking of the current administration. All obstacles in their path are deemed to have been placed by enemies of God.

      Even The Hague court is portrayed as a demonic entity, whose downfall will be brought about by God’s own intervention.

      We will only go forward as a country when we stop our excessive deference to political leaders.

      We give them too much power and forget they are mere men and women.

      Lastly, you have done the best marketing anyone could have for Raila’s book. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

      Moses Otieno


      Nyairo, where were you?

      A book is usually critiqued for its content and style, structure, and examined in its propositions and successful/or lack of success in attaining its arguments, rather than ridiculed for its absences.

      Unless this is not a critique but a personal opinion piece?

      In which case can that be made clear for purposes of intellectual honesty? From this article, it is impossible to even know what the book is about.

      Where were you when the country was afraid, and lost, and did not dare to dream of a new constitution?

      Where were you when Press freedom was an illusion?

      Where were you when a Kenyan man who has dared to live and die for this country was in detention over the very same rights and privileges we hold so dear today?

      It is so easy to criticise things from the comfort of other people’s achievements, isn’t it?

      To negate their gifts so that one can feel better about one’s special mediocrity. Do not take away from the gift of courage that this man has given Kenya.

      Indigo Blu


      Hate-filled portrayal

      Dr Nyairo lacks intellectual honesty in her almost totally hate-filled portrayal of the Odinga family, especially Raila, as “no good”, dishonest and may be harmful to Kenya’s “peaceful state”.

      This lady reminds me of so-called personalities whose cheap fame is built by creating wild and shocking allegations, half truths, stretched truths and lies about leaders or celebrities to gain viewers or readers… we have many in the US with huge TV or book contracts to entertain their supporters, tearing down their opponents with lies and half-truths with no shame.

      The sad thing about Dr Nyairo is that she is a very smart woman, therefore seeing her throw this hate-filled hail Mary ball on Raila is shameful and truly sad!

      What happened to balancing and verifying facts?

      An article like this belongs to the gossip columns, unless there are facts to back up some of your allegations.

      Did Raila publish his book before Dr Nyairo did hers on Raila?

      A. Oriri


      Eye for detail

      Dr Nyairo, you have one great eye for detail.

      This man Raila Odinga takes too much credit for things not necessarily achieved by him or him entirely.

      He barely gives a pat on the shoulder of people he worked with on his path to greatness, yet they should be the ones he acknowledges.

      Great read anyway.

      Waithaka Muna


      Raila’s here, accept and move on

      I may not have liked Raila in the past but I changed over time and give him credit for all his fights to expand the democratic space in the country.

      I also know he has a better view of Kenyans and their interests more than many current public figures.

      This is a fact that is in public domain — whether one likes him or not.

      And in his book, just like all other autobiographies, he writes the way he looked at things from his perspective.

      If Miguna writes, he writes from his perspective; Moi the same. And when Kibaki will, he will do it from his perspective.

      It is ridiculous to expect one to write from another’s point of view.

      Rather, we should even appreciate that he is one of the few public figures to pen their autobiographies.

      Dr Nyairo can be encouraged to live on Raila’s work by further writing a book criticising his work.

      Vivi Kalenga


      Nyairo doing her work too well

      Joyce Nyairo is not amazing — she did what any journalist can do: pick a piece of work and chew it, and spit it out in pieces for vultures like us to peck and swallow.

      There is nothing to believe in this piece — we are divided right down the middle as always when it comes to Raila the man, the politician, the nationalist, the Luo, the intellectual, the rubble-rouser, the ‘vitendawilist’… you shall never convert Railaphobists into anything if you try!

      Neither will you convert Railamaniacs into anything else if you try… so why don’t we all agree — just like we have all agreed unanimously that we shall never be anything other than what our mothers brought us up to be?

      You were brought up a Luo, or Kikuyu, or Embian or Kamba — you’ll never be anything else if you try a hundred years.

      Why don’t you then write a book like Raila, or pen provocative articles like Joyce?

      Joyce is doing what she is trained to do and doing it well.

      Mwaniki Njue


      Raila is a liberator

      I am not a supporter of Raila Odinga but fully agree with him on the issue of fighting dictatorship in Kenya.

      A clear example is what Parliament did recently by passing a draconian media Bill that seeks to reduce journalists to mouthpieces of the government of the day.

      This tells Kenyans that many of our politicians are not yet alive to the new constitutional dispensation and that they would do whatever they can to return this country to the old dark days.

      I was personally harassed and badly intimidated by the then Special Branch at their Kapsabet office in 1991 for writing articles critical of the government way of handling IDPs that had been evicted from the forests.

      This went of for about four hours and were it not for the church, I just do not know what could have happened to me.

      I will jealously guard the gains Kenyans have made and be against anything or anybody trying to take Kenyans back to the cave (read Plato’s allegory of the cave).

      David J. Ndegwah
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  2. Minneapolis, USA: Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has challenged Kenyans to be prepared to make sacrifices for their country and to protect the gains already achieved while they seek for more.

    Speaking at the launch of his recently published autobiography at the University of Minnesota in the United States of America Raila called on young Kenyans to build on the gains achieved so far and learn from America’s experiences especially in the field of protection of rights and decentralization of power and resources.

    He described the book as part the story of his personal life, part his dream for Kenya and part the country’s history.

    “I have been a witness to history. In my own small way, I have contributed to the history of our country. I have been a witness as the tide of history turned in our country as a prisoner in torture chambers, as a detainee in some of our country’s worst prisons and as a participant in some of the events that changed our nation as Kenyans pushed forward toward freedom and I can tell you nothing comes easy, and surrender cannot be an option. I have put all that in this book. What you do with that information is up to you,” Raila told his audience of mostly young Africans at the University of Minnesota.

    “We have had people who willingly went to jail or died to protest unjust laws. That was the spirit of people like George Anyona and Martin Shikuku. That was the spirit they carried with them like a torch and flame of conscience and courage. We cannot let that flame flicker and die.

    “Waiyaki wa Hinga was made to dig his own grave, then he was buried in it, alive. He did not have to die that way. He had the option of giving up and working with the colonialists. But that would have meant we remain captives much longer.

    “In the era of the single party dictatorship, I saw people who could easily have bought their freedom by giving up choose to die instead, being thrown from the top floor of Nyayo House to their death downstairs and then it was said they committed suicide. They did not have to die. But these people knew that freedom is not given; it must be won through struggle, persistence and faith in the future. I have documented those struggles in this book, but more importantly I am asking you to carry on with that struggle. That is why I am calling this book the flame of freedom,” Raila said.

    Raila also said CORD would resist actions that make it harder for the youth and minorities to vote and attempts to frustrate devolved units.

    “When you see me pushing for these things, I hope you will understand where I am coming from. I have seen freedoms taken away and opportunities frustrated and killed and I have learnt that if we sit back, nobody will apologise and say sorry. The powerful just move on while the poor and the weak suffer.”


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