With the death of former President Raila Odina’s son, Fidel, Kenyan politics were turned on their head. An autopsy was conducted but offered no information as to the cause of death. Odinga was found dead in bed by his wife on the morning of Jan. 4, 2015. Politicians across Kenya and Kenyan allies expressed condolences for the family’s loss, and the mystery of his death goes on. Here are 12 things you didn’t know about the life of Fidel Odinga.
Sources: The-Star.co.ke, StandardMedia.co.ke, FreeRepublic.com, HekaHeka.com, MagazineReel.com, BuzzKenya.com, Ghafla.co.ke, NairobiChronicle.Wordpress.com
Odinga had three siblings – one brother and two sisters. He was the oldest by several years. Fidel was born in 1973, his brother Raila Junior was born in 1979, and his sisters, Rosemary and Winnie, were born in 1977 and 1990.
Rumors surfaced that Odinga would refuse to use knives, forks and spoons made of steel or aluminum, and would bring gold spoons with him when he went out partying, which he was known to do frequently.
In 2001, Odinga was studying in the U.S. when he was caught with marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was fined $305 USD. The incident was kept under wraps until 2009.
Odinga’s father, Raila, named his first son after former Cuban Marxist leader, Fidel Castro. Fidel’s youngest sister, Winnie, was also named after a prominent figure in politics – former South African first lady Winnie Mandela.
Among his investments, Odinga is said to own a four-star hotel — the Parkview Hotel in Kisumu — along with several others. He is also part owner of a building of more than 350 units in Migosi. The project cost more than $21 million USD to construct.
In 2007, Odinga married Veronica Wanjiru Ng’ang’a, a Kikuyu woman. At the time, Odinga’s father, Raila Odinga, was running a presidential campaign based on very strong anti-Kikuyu sentiments. Many thought Fidel’s marriage was politically motivated to help secure votes in the Central Province district, an idea that was further embraced when he and Ng’ang’a divorced in 2011.
Odinga often earned media attention for his love of the nightlife, and was often photographed at clubs around Kenya.
After his divorce, he married an Eritrean woman named Lwan Gatachew Bekelle. Kenyan gossip magazines said that Odinga’s second wife had an affair with one of his best friends. The rumors were printed in the daily newspaper, The Star, but Odinga, along with his wife, went public denying the claims.
President Barack Obama’s father came from the same Luo community as Odinga, but there is no known blood relationship. Obama’s paternal uncle said, “Odinga’s mother came from this area, so it is normal for us to talk about cousins. But he is not a blood relative.”
In 1982, Fidel’s grandfather, Oginga Odinga, attempted an unsuccessful coup on the Kenyan government. A Marxist-Leninist revolutionary and former vice president under the Jomo Kenyatta administration, the grandfather collaborated with his son, Raila Odinga. Raila was later charged with treason and detained without trial for six years.
In 2013, there was talk that Fidel planned on running for the Langata parliamentary seat. He was one of several high-profile names that would have been on the ticket. Fidel did not run, but many thought he would be launching his own campaign before the next election.
Odinga’s son, Allay, was born in August 2013 to him and his second wife, Lwam Gatachew Bekele. Odinga and his second wife dated for nearly two years before they married in August 2012 at an invitation-only event.