, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 4 – When Raila Odinga launched his autobiography The Flame of Freedom in October 2013, he described his late son Fidel as a, “gentle soul” despite his imposing height and broad frame.
“When I went to visit him in the college in the United States and we went into a restaurant, the first question was does he play basketball and when I’d say no they’d say what a waste,” Odinga then recalled to laughter.
A height that again came into focus when political scientist Mutahi Ngunyi proposed Fidel as Raila’s natural political successor following his failed 2013 presidential bid.
“Fidel has the height of what the Jews would call a good leader. He’s a tall six point something guy and I think he also has the rhetoric of his father and grandfather. Groom the young guy. Let Fidel be the one to take on Uhuru and Ruto.” Now that, Ngunyi stated “would be magical.”
Whether or not Raila was grooming Fidel to be his political successor, he was often at his father’s side. Including when Capital FM News secured an exclusive interview with the former premier on the day he launched the referendum drive: Okoa Kenya.
In photos, he can be seen sitting at his father’s desk and at the heavily guarded rally thereafter, running around, ensuring the sound was up to scratch.
Fidel was named after revolutionary Cuban leader Fidel Castro and was nine-years-old when his Socialist leaning father was detained on suspicion of involvement in the 1982 attempted coup.
“As a child this was a bit overwhelming for me as this stranger with a heavy beard picked me up and gave me a big hug. I wondered to myself what was going on. What’s all the fuss about? Who is this man who everyone is so interested in?” Fidel’s younger brother Odinga Junior said of his father’s release during the launch of The Flame of Freedom.
The 41-year-old Fidel, at the time of his demise, was the first born of Odinga’s four children and is survived by Rosemary, Odinga Junior and Winnie.
Fidel himself was a family man and only recently celebrated the birth of his one-year-old son with the now widowed Lwan Getachew Bekele.
He was previously married to Wanjiru Ng’ang’a but they parted ways due to what was described in court documents as, “irreconcilable differences.”
Outside of politics, business and family, Fidel was also an avid soccer fan and on occasion financially supported the sport.
As a descendant of the Odinga political dynasty, Fidel was no stranger to controversy and his security team was on occasion accused of using brute force in carrying out their duties.
Fidel himself was one of a number of high-profile individuals to face charges for drink-driving following the re-introduction of the randomly police-administered breathalyser this year.
He otherwise kept a low profile and occasionally made the society pages for events at which he’d made an appearance.