Raila Odinga

Category: press



I am honoured to join fellow citizens at this great conference. It is my hope that when the history of our war on corruption is written, this gathering will feature prominently as the point from which we turned tables on the crime.
I am not here to prescribe what should be done. I am here to share my thoughts and experiences.
My thoughts are not in any way superior to the others that have but shared here.
I wasn’t here yesterday, and others may have said some of what I will say here but that should be an indication of the universality of our experiences.
Over the years, one thing that has intrigued me is our attitude as citizens towards this whole issue of corruption.
I am talking about the sympathetic and apologetic attitude we have developed for corruption and its architects and how we go out of our way to give the corrupt and their activities good sounding names by refusing to call them by their real names.
Most African societies have no word for corruption. In our mother tongues, people who take what is not theirs are called thieves. Occasionally we refer to such people as “wakora”, crooks, conmen but they are generally and simply understood to be thieves and called as such.
That is what we call a person who tricks you of your land, who takes your cow, uses flowery language to get money from you, who charges more than the real cost or who hides part of the proceeds for personal gain. No matter which Kenyan society you ask, such a person is called a thief. And people are warned against such characters.
As children, our parents warned us against being seen with so and so, against marrying in such a family because they are thieves. They are bad people. They were rejects in society.
Over time, there has been a systematic laundering of this crime, its perpetrators and its proceeds.
We launder them in church, at social events like weddings, at harambees and during times of tragedies sometimes caused by the crimes of the very same people.
We view those who steal from us as achievers and as real men and women struggling with life.
Those who steal from us and who then give back partly out of guilt and partly to buy our admiration and silence are seen to be generous or development conscious even when we know they are not.
We welcome them to social and religious events with open arms and cheers and roll out the red carpet for them but frown at the chicken thief and look for tyres to lynch them.
Why have we changed and made stealing something whose nature and dimensions are difficult to understand and whose real name we refuse to pronounce? How has this impacted our war on this crime?

Still on the issue of attitude, there is some sympathy and reverence we have developed for corrupt people; the thieves. We kind of feel sorry for the big shot who has been taken to court for stealing billions using the pen or through electronic bank transfers while we feel nothing for the ragged man accused of stealing a cow or a chicken.
The ordinary citizen looks sorry, the police officer looks sorry and even the judges look sorry. We have contributed to this problem as a society. We need to end it as a society before we even before we bring in the government.
And the issue of attitude features strongly on our idea about the government. We seem to believe that the government is some alien being or institution that grows money on trees and that whoever steals government money has not stolen from us because government money is nobody’s money.
In fact, such a person is seen as a hero who has conquered some enemy. Yet the truth is that the government has no money of its own. It only has our taxes.
For every money stolen from the government, the government will most likely raise more taxes or cut down on services it provides to us.
Then there are our institutions, the courts of law, the anti-corruption agencies, the police, etc. There is every indication that the thieves do not sleep as they look for ways to steal.
They use the stolen money to hire the most crooked lawyers or buy judges and other officers in the chain. We are witnessing very clear cases of collusion in our courts, with investigators and prosecutors.
Consequently, we are witnessing a trend where suspects rush to court to stop DCI and DPP from arresting and charging them with corruption. And the courts are granting such suspects their wishes.
This is curious and disturbing. Am not sure whether a chicken thief out there can go to court and get such a favourable ruling.
If suspects feel that they should not be arrested and be taken to court and the judges agree with them, what are we supposed to do with those suspects?
When a man who has stolen money mean for drugs in a local hospital asks judges to stop his arrest and the judges agree with him, what are the mothers whose children died for lack of drugs supposed to do?
I am equally not sure we can tame graft when we allow those charged with it to be out on bail and return to their work stations, cleanse or interfere with records then return to court a year later. What kind of thief with his or her senses intact would return to office and safely guard documents and contacts they know will be used against them?
I am not sure that we are keen to get to the bottom of the problem or we are just going through motions.
How about the issue of innocence and guilt? Who is on trial in our courts or rather who should be on trial? Is it the prosecutor or the suspect? The trend here is that it is the DPP and his team that are on trial.




Once again, the devil has struck at the heart of our country. We wish to express our deep shock and disgust at the abhorrent acts of terror that occurred yesterday, January 15, 2019 evening. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families at this extremely difficult time. We stand firmly on the side of Kenya and all people of goodwill in this war with evil that terrorists represent.
We condemn in the strongest terms possible this dastardly act of cowardice perpetrated by enemies of human civilization.

We commend our security forces for the robust, rapid and coordinated response to this evil that saw lives saved and the country reassured. We commend our citizens for being each other’s keeper and responding to appeals for blood donations and we appreciate the professionalism of our care givers and first responders.

We thank the international community for standing with Kenya at this critical juncture. We saw a global coalition against terror in action in this attack. We assure the international community that we will stand with the Government of Kenya and all forces for good in the global campaign against terrorism.

All indications are that as a nation, despite persisting challenges with regard to securing our homeland, we are learning and getting wiser and better with every unfortunate attack. Our goal must remain the ability to completely keep these forces of evil out of our borders and weeding them entirely out of our mist. As a nation, we must reject divisions of all sorts be they religious, ethnic, regional or even political.

Such divisions are what terrorists thrive on. Where we have closed ranks, terrorists try to plant fear and suspicion to create space for them to thrive. We must reject all such attempts. The terrorists who attacked us this past day did not seek to know the tribes, religion, party affiliation or region of origin of the victims.

Their mission was to cause pain and fear and they proceeded to do so without seeking details. Our survival depends on standing together against these agents of doom. We appeal to Kenyans to continue being each other’s keepers and continue offering help where it is needed.

We appeal to the international community to continue standing with Kenya. As citizens, we must continue working with security agencies during this operation and well into the future in order to secure our land.
To the terrorist-take note that you shall never intimidate nor destroy the spirit of the people of Kenya by your beastly acts.

Kenya shall continue discharging its obligations to its citizens and commitment to the civilized community of nations without looking over its shoulders.
The fallen victims are our heroes in the war against international terrorism. God Bless Kenya.

JANUARY 16, 2019.


DECEMBER 31, 2018.

The end of one year and the beginning of another is always a hopeful time. As we wind down 2018, I join you fellow Kenyans in your hopes and wish you a rewarding 2019. While 2018 began as a difficult year, we end it on a hopeful and sane note. I am confident that brighter days are ahead of us.

If we learnt anything in 2018, it should be that as a people, we are as good as the choices we make. We can divide or unite our nation, setting ourselves against one another along tribal lines or coming together as one people with one destiny.

We can unite against corruption and impunity that have long ruined us, or tolerate them and let their purveyors divide us and hold us at ransom. We can create a conducive environment for business and investment or we can make this impossible through endless rhetoric and ethnic balkanization.

Whenever we feel we have lost our way, we can start over and retrace our steps or we can continue down the same wrong path and face its ugly consequences. It is all within our power to make these choices.

In 2018, we chose unity over division. We chose to let the corrupt carry their baggage and pay the price of their sins. We chose a peaceful environment that allows trade and businesses to thrive and jobs to return. We did this by retracing our steps and agreeing to start over again.

We have a long way to go. But if we carry the spirit of difficult but positive choices we made in 2018 into 2019, we shall triumph and be a happier and better country at end of 2019.

Across our borders, many countries in Africa are going to face elections in 2019. They too will have critical choices to make. We wish them peaceful, transparent and democratic processes.

I commit to stick to those difficult positive choices of 2018 and to make more of such so long as they carry Kenya and Africa forward in 2019. Let’s make the choices together.

Happy New Year, fellow Kenyans



H.E Hon Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya.
The Chancellor, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, Dr. Vimal Shah
The Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Education, Amb. (Dr.) Amina Mohamed;
The Vice Chancellor Prof. Stephen Agong’
Distinguished Guests

Mr. President, let me take this opportunity to most sincerely thank you for honoring the university’s request to be part of this great celebration today.
I want to congratulate the graduands who through dedication and hard work have made this day a great success. I thank and commend the parents and guardians who have come to witness this day for their sacrifices, support and prayers for the graduands. I also commend the University Administration for the hard work and sacrifice to realize today’s achievement. Again, congratulations to all the graduands and may you apply the knowledge that you have acquired for the good of our great country.
I would also like to appreciate all friends and development partners who have come to celebrate with us today. In particular, I recognize the H.E. Behgjet Isa Pacoli, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Kosovo. I would also in a special way appreciate our Chinese friends led by Prof. Wang Rufa who have travelled long distance to be with us in this graduation ceremony.
This University is strategically located at the serene beaches of Lake Victoria. I applaud its focus on the development of Kenya’s cultural heritage.
The location of the University is not only friendly for pursuit of academic excellence and scholarship but also suitable for the high profile research as well as community outreach. It should excel in these.
I want to encourage the University to work closely with the neighboring by counties in establishing an enabling research and outreach agenda that will boost the socio-economic profile of the region. It is my advice that the knowledge being generated in the University should be used to support and train farmers, fishermen and other artisans on the relevant skills that can stimulate growth and development.
This institution was not an isolated initiative throughout the modern history of this country; families and communities have invested heavily in education. They view university education as the means to escape poverty, to obtain gainful employment, to create wealth and to raise the standards of living; and to empower the next generation to lead a better life than themselves. And it is rightly so. The surest way to empower an individual is to give him or her education. Education enables people to take care of themselves and to understand the society in a broader way. Thus, education and by extension knowledge are fundamental and foundational in the realization of sustainable development.
We realize now more than ever that the World is evolving rapidly, technology is changing and human beings are investing in new technological advances as a ways of life. We must therefore not lose focus of innovations and research that is geared towards making education globally competitive.
Ladies and Gentlemen, today marks a special turn of event in the actualization of the “Handshake” that changed the direction and mood of our nation in March this year.
The Handshake and the support for it that followed, was a demonstration of our determination as a nation to learn from past mistakes and missteps and prepare to be great.
It indicated our determination as a country to figure out what has worked and what has not worked in the past and perfect them.
I am glad that our academic institutions recognised it and this university has moved fast to honour it. When we look into our past, we will notice that what have worked for us are unity, focus and determination.
When we wanted independence from colonialists, we united and focused on it. And we won.
When we wanted a new Constitution, we united and focused singularly on it. We applied faith and fortitude towards this goal and, again, we won.
With unity and determination, we can never fail.
Today, we are within reach of a new era of prosperity and greatness as a nation. We only need to rediscover the determination and unity of the past and then seek the support of our friends to realize our goals and get to the Promised Land that we set out for. We are glad that this university recognizes that reality and that is why it has hosted us here today.
As a country we must never again agree to be divided by politics and tribe.
With my brother President Uhuru Kenyatta, we have agreed that we must do whatever it takes to help Kenya move forward by addressing the issues that we believe have been holding us back.
We are agreed that nations are judged by how they navigate turbulent and challenging times like the ones we have gone through in recent years and particularly at election time.
We have agreed to focus on building resilient institutions, resilient democracy and a resilient economy that works for everyone.
Resilient democracy will ensure that we can compete for power openly and even disagree strongly, but we don’t lose sight of our goals as a nation.
We have agreed that politics, party, tribe, race, religion, region, should never prevent us from seeing the common purpose that informed our struggle for independence.
We are agreed that building a nation requires that we mingle our different faiths, tribes, beliefs and desires in a way that promotes the wellbeing and survival of the nation.
We came together because we realized that that this grand social contract on nationhood and statecraft has been fading and must be rediscovered.
We need your support, fellow Kenyans. Let us not oppose each other and turn against neighbours because of party, tribe, religion or mother tongue. Let’s oppose or support depending on what is good for our country.
And we are agreed that fighting corruption, tribalism, impunity, ending divisive elections and ensuring shared prosperity is good for our nation. Let us support these.
Kenya was and continues to be looked upon as a possible source of inspiration for Africa and other Third World countries. Our success or failure is not ours alone. Let us always have this in mind and do all in our power to make this country an inspiration to our people and our continent again.

Thank you and may God bless you!
It is now my pleasure to invite H.E. the president to address the congregation



This afternoon, H.E Raila Odinga had the opportunity to meet with the members of the Kenya Women Parliamentarians Association (KEWOPA) Executive to discuss the Two Thirds Gender Bill.
The delegation was led by Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary Prof. Margaret Kobia. The Women Leaders sought the support the ministry in preparation for debate on the Two-Thirds Gender Bill. The Bill is set to be tabled for the second time by the National Assembly on Tuesday, 20th November 2018.
The women leaders expressed concern that the Punguza Mizigo campaign being led by a section of politicians targeted women seats.
Hon Odinga pledged unequivocal support for the Bill and appealed to all members of the National Assembly to back their female counterparts.
He congratulated the women leaders for finding a formula to fill the gap and asked them to unite behind the proposals as they lobby their male counterparts.
He further expressed concern that Kenya is falling behind other countries like Rwanda, Ethiopia and Mali on gender equity and the country needs to stand with its women.
“The Gender Rule was a casualty of the tampering with the Bomas Draft that took place first in Kilifi then in Naivasha, but we have another chance to get it right. You can take my support as given,” Mr. Odinga said.



In recent couple of days, the Government of Kenya has mounted a commendable crackdown on corruption and the culture of impunity on which it rides.
This crackdown and the support by the public were unthinkable at the start of this year with Kenya torn down the middle by ethnic politics, elections and impunity until the MoU in the Building Bridges to a New Kenyan Nation happened with a very clear agenda on how to address our ages old problems.
Thanks to the bipartisan support, public lands whose recovery started then stalled under the NARC regime in 2003, has kicked off, with the grabbers denied the ethnic and political party sanctuaries they usually hide in. The political atmosphere has enabled us to look at our problems minus the usual ethnic lenses. Attempts by suspects to appeal to their ethnic bases have therefore generated near zero support.
As the crackdown continues, as it must, we need to see similar energy and speed directed at recovery of assets that were acquired from the proceeds of corruption and impunity.
It is fair to expect that the business premises that were set up on public land generated some private gain for the illegitimate owners in the same way stolen public funds generated income in the form of bank interests and property for the suspects. The Asset Recovery Agency must move with speed and ensure that the suspects, both those out on bail and the ones facing arrest, do not hide their ill-gotten wealth or access and use them to undermine justice and frustrate the war on corruption and impunity.
Kenyans need these monies seized and returned to the public to finance the many gaps being experienced in the development plans, including repayment of the ever-rising foreign debts. Partly because of wanton theft of public funds including those from donors, taxes are going up on virtually everything. Ordinary Kenyans must not continue to bear this burden while the corrupt keep their loot.
Asset recovery must be seen and felt in our anticorruption crusade. Depriving corrupt actors of these ill-gotten wealth and returning them to the public will support development and economic growth. It will restore confidence in the current crackdown. Corruption must be made a painful crime.
The Asset Recovery Agency must move out of boardrooms and be seen to be acting publicly in unison with the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.
It is equally important in the process of asset recovery to work together with the Kenyan public. Many people in this country want to contribute to this war and are looking for a way in which they can assist the anti-corruption agencies to remove this scourge from our society. It is the people who know better who is living beyond their means. The public is the best source of information. The Asset Recovery Agency needs to urgently set up a platform through which the public can share this information with the government.
All branches of the government; the Legislature, Judiciary and Executive must pull in the same direction if the corruption networks are to be overcome. The public currently feels cheated by Parliament, which has become the weakest link in this war, with reports of money changing hands for adoption or rejection of reports. This is a major shame to the nation and deserves urgent and thorough investigation by multi-agency team from the EACC, DPP and DCI.
In the March 9 MoU, we agreed to fight corruption from a wide and common front by strongly supporting whistleblowing from all Kenyans. The MoU mandates the public to report corruption whenever they witness it. Kenyans must take up this role and also pressure their elected representatives to fight corruption or resign.
This is also the time for our international partners, who have long lamented about the culture of corruption and impunity in Kenya, to play ball, open up their institutions and help trace Kenya’s assets and monies hidden in their countries.
About three months ago, the DPP appealed for the collaboration of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in the fight against corruption. We are anxiously waiting for that support, preferably in more practical ways than routine capacity building and training. Already, Switzerland has promised to probe their banks and trace Kenya’s assets and fund hidden there. All our other partners should do the same.
AUGUST 12, 2018



It’s always a great pleasure meeting with one of Kenya’s most famous sons, President Barack Obama. He spoke very passionately about his foundation and particularly the empowerment of the youth and I commend both him and his sister Auma Obama for the commendable job they have done in building the community in Kogelo.

Always a champion of democracy, President Obama threw his support behind the Building Bridges initiative and pledged his support in helping bring the country together and fighting corruption.

Finally we spoke about ending the stalemate in South Sudan and finding peace for our neighbours. I join the rest of the nation in saying welcome back home Barack!

Tribute to Professor Douglas Odhiambo

Tribute to Professor Douglas Odhiambo


Prof Douglas Odhiambo who died last week belonged in the increasingly outnumbered lot of scholars who believe their role in society is to search for, generate and disseminate knowledge until they believe their last.

It is not a surprise that Prof was still studying as he was taken ill never to recover.

In his death, Kenya lost an exceptionally brilliant and serious academic who had much to brag about but chose a humble, behind the scenes life from where he argued for more support for and less interference with our public universities.



Ladies and gentlemen;
Once again, we meet at an interesting time both for our party and our country.
Some say these are confused and confusing times because of the “handshake” and the developments that have followed. I disagree.
There is no confusion in our politics and our country. What has happened is that our country and our politics have changed since the 9th of March.
Those who have refused to see and embrace the change and those resisting the change and trying to rewind the clock are the ones wallowing in or creating confusion.
They embrace the “handshake” in the morning and oppose it in the afternoon. They embrace the war on corruption today, and display its proceeds tomorrow.
They embrace national unity this week, and sow the seeds of discord the following week. ODM is not in that league.
From across the world, Africa and our country, the message I continue to get is that this is Kenya’s last second chance and that not many nations get second chances.
Kenyans know in their hearts that this time, the future must be different.
Kenyans know that they are preparing for a future in which they are not just going to be voting robots for parties and individuals but for their hopes and aspirations and their country.
The message ought to get to everyone that Kenyans are getting ready to take this country in a fundamentally new direction. I see this new group that is mobilizing for a new brand of politics and a different country becoming the new majority going forward.

As a party together with the NASA coalition, we must align accordingly. We remain committed to the vision and spirit of NASA coalition which we believe is as strong as it constituent parties. This meeting today is part of ODM’s determination to strengthen itself as our partners do the same.
For ODM, these are interesting and fulfilling times because all the issues we stand for are at play and the country is watching how we play our cards.
The most critical issues that have finally come to play are corruption and national unity. We have been at the forefront sounding the trumpet that corruption is eating our nation from inside out and corrupting our politics and our moral values.
Unfortunately, the corruption cartels used our very alarm bells to shield themselves from prosecution.

They used our alarm to politicize the war on corruption and to scare the government that we are agents of foreign masters out to bring down the President. They used our protests to build war chests out of public coffers ostensibly to fight a plot by ODM to bring down the government.
This year, we changed tact and assured the government that we are together in the war on corruption. We are no longer whistle blowers. We are one with the government in executing the war on corruption.
We remain in Opposition. But we have taken a principled position that what is good for Kenya is good for ODM.
The war on corruption is good for Kenya. We are in it fully. Lifestyle audit on leaders is good for Kenya. We are in it fully. Personally, I am ready for it. The vetting of procurement officers is good for Kenya. In fact, we pioneered it when we came to power in 2003 as NARC. We support it fully. And now, the corrupt are lost.
Today, we are asking the State to go a step further and enjoin external agencies and experts to boost local capacity in the war on corruption. The number of corruption cases are rising almost daily. The figures involved are mind-boggling. The suspects include the high and mighty. Soon, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations will come under severe challenges with regard to capacity and the rings ran by corruption cartels.

Since our inception as a party, we have advocated unity of the nation through equitable sharing of power and resources and a re-examination of our systems of governance, ethnic relations and the conduct of elections. These issues have been brought to the table and will soon be taken to Kenyans to debate and agree on.

As the handshake provides a lifeline to the long stifled war on corruption, ODM must do everything to enable its impact spread to the other areas stifling our nation and public life. If the handshake has enabled the war on corruption to take off, it must enable unity of our nation, end divisive elections and help us discover our national ethos. We need to agree on how.

There is a Kenya that has been and continues to be. That is the Kenya of corruption, tribalism, marginalization, nepotism, election violence and all the other evils that have defined our country over the past fifty five years.
And then there is a Kenya that is possible and which Kenyans sense is in the horizon since the 9th of March.

It is a Kenya that is united against corruption and that embraces and appreciates every citizen regardless of tribe, race, faith or gender and a Kenya where people live by certain moral values that they are not willing to sacrifice on the altar of politics, power and money.

Kenyans want our politics to take a new dimension and be more purposeful and people-centred. Kenyans are tired of the politics of more of the same that yields hate, tension, division, pain and even death every five years. Kenyans are yearning for politics that heals not one that hurts.
Kenyans are tired of politics that thrives on corruption and that gives way to more corruption and impoverishes the nation every five years.
That is the message that has come through in response to our 9-point agenda signed on March 9th.
In the past couple of weeks, you have seen me meeting Kenyans from diverse backgrounds including former enemies who fought it out in the streets and slums of Nairobi.
They all have the same plea: Help us build a country because we have none.
Help us reimagine our politics because what we have right now is toxic and dangerous.
Stand together as Opposition and government and slay the dragon of corruption because soon we will have very little for ourselves and nothing for our children.
Give us a country with morals and values otherwise we are failing as a nation.

Only last week, Father Joachim Gitonga, a member of the Kikuyu Council of Elders who attended a rally in Muranga as a young man in 1959 and listened to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga rally central Kenya behind the struggle for Uhuru and the release of Jomo Kenyatta asked me, how do we get back to that kind of politics and that kind of country?
How do we get back to electing leaders who are honest, sincere, committed and who put the country first? I am today putting Father Gitonga’s question to you.
As a party, we have never been shy to imagine and explore new horizons.
We must not be shy to leave the old Kenya and its old ways to those stuck in it and walk side by side with other Kenyans to the new Kenya that they yearn for and which they have seen is possible.
We must lead Kenyans in retracing our steps and returning the country to the brand of politics that puts country first.
We must refuse to be distracted by succession politics and concentrate on building a brand new nation within this window of opportunity before it closes.
Are you worried that some people have started campaigning in earnest? Worry not. A transition is underway in Kenya as the handshake bears tangible results in war on corruption and unity of communities.
Everything is going to change. In the process, we will change the factors that voters take into consideration when picking leaders and those who think they are ahead will find themselves behind.
Let those with ears hear and those with eyes see. But let’s also make it our role to make the politically blind and politically deaf see and hear that Kenya is changing and they must not stand in the way.
Thank you.




MAY 17, 2018.


I am greatly honored to be at Oxford University as a guest of the Oxford Union, one of the oldest debating societies in the world.

I come here a few days after speaking at Cambridge University as a guest of the Cambridge Union. Together, you make for two of the greatest institutions whose footprints are found everywhere on every subject, across the globe.

Oxford and Cambridge universities have been part and parcel of Africa’s vision of education as an indispensable ingredient to the achievement of a vibrant democracy; sustained and equitable economic growth, good governance and eradication of poverty.

I must therefore recognize and applaud this university for the continued commitment to providing sound education to Africa’s youth through scholarships like that administered jointly by Oxford and Cambridge Society of Kenya to undergraduate and graduate students.

I also recognize your joint research projects with Kenyan universities. Research is the weakest link in Africa’s universities largely due to funding challenges.

With ties that bind like the colonial heritage, education and cultural links that broke language barriers, Europe and Africa should be enjoying greater and more mutually beneficial relations.

The reality however is that Europe has a problem in Africa. It is what I wish to speak to you about.

As signature institutions like this great university have strived to maintain the ties with Africa, their efforts have been undermined by European politics and attitudes.

Africa is feeling the impact of the inward-looking, populist regimes emerging across Europe that are also steeped in old images of European grandeur towards a supposedly dark African continent of wars, poverty and pestilence.

The ties between Europe and Africa have failed to change with the times, making our two continents miss the opportunities that have emerged over time.

There is minimal language and transport barrier between Europe and Africa. All the major European languages -English, French and Spanish- are spoken in Africa. Geographically, Africa is closer to Europe than to Asia and North America.

Because of geography and history, Europe remains Africa’s leading trade partner.

But Africa and Europe have not leveraged these very clear advantages.


Europe has taken either these ties or Africa for granted. At some stage, Europe appeared to embrace the idea of Africa being a “Hopeless Continent” as Economist magazine once referred to it. Europe got content with occasional and predictable reports about corruption, civil wars, stolen elections, Al Shabab, Boko Haram, Female Genital Mutilation and starvation because these are in line with the thinking in European capitals about what Africa is.

In the process, Europe failed to see the emergence of this long suffering but immensely resilient and endowed Continent.

Yes, Africa continues to experience fundamental socio-economic and political challenges.

The Continent continues to be plagued by poverty and political crises that make it to media headlines and shape the general perception even among policy makers here.

Unfortunately, this has kept Europe stuck on sending troops and occasional aid to struggling countries. In the process, they made Europe fail to be a genuine partner with an emerging and booming Africa that has experienced sustained high economic growth of around five per cent, over the past decade.

Africa is today looking for partners in Europe who can combine better the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity that fueled the French Revolution and which must now be realized in the context of modern day regime of human rights, the rule of law, economic prosperity and democracy. Unfortunately, these now appear to be getting sacrificed at the altar of European political, economic and strategic considerations that work against Africa.

Africa is looking for partners who believe in win-win relationships. We are keen on greater practical, politically backed engagement with the private sector and civil-society actors, on both continents to fuel democratization and economic prosperity.

One area in which Africa feels most cheated by Europe is trade. Africa is feeling the pressure by Europe on African governments to sign trade deals that would work against Africans. To date, Economic Partnership Agreements remain points of great disagreement and suspicion between Africa and Europe. These agreements need to be concluded once and for all in a way that is fair and beneficial to both parties.

Africans are equally getting increasingly apprehensive over Europe’s immigration policies. Africa is outraged over the number of its citizens who die while trying to reach Europe. Young Africans resort to boats and other unorthodox means to access Europe because legal avenues have become too complex or simply unavailable. Europe has failed to enact EU-wide common asylum and immigration law that offers safe transit routes and is fair and efficient for asylum seekers.

Instead, immigration and fear of immigrants is being used as means to rise to power in Europe. These developments are quietly entrenching the feeling in Africa that racism remains real in Europe. Suspicions over trade and immigration make our citizens and leaders view Europe as an unreliable partner for Africa.

Even more disturbing is Europe’s ambivalence on democracy today.

As we meet here, many pro-democracy activists in Africa are no longer sure they have the support of Europe. It is not clear if it is still Europe’s policy to stand only with regimes that promote open, free and fair elections and respect human rights. That ambivalence is itself a source of conflict in Africa.

We see democratization as key to the economic and political empowerment of Africa. On paper, the EU development aid includes an important component supporting democracy, good governance and rule of law. The EU has also become an important partner in election observation and democracy assistance, on paper. In practice, the EU has become part of the growing trend in the west where elections in Africa are judged only by how peaceful they are and whether they create room for trade and war on terror.

We see this this attitude in your diplomats and election observers across Africa and it is not helpful even to your desired goal of stability.

While Europe and its diplomats are interested merely in stability and trade, we in Africa know that only a full embrace of democracy will give us the momentum we need to take off and provide for our young generation who are currently forced to cross into Europe because of lack of opportunities in Africa.

The wind of change that blew across Africa in the 1990s proved that only democracy ensures that public goods and resources are put too much better use by the government.  It is the wind of change that resulted in six of the world’s ten fastest-growing countries being in Africa.


This was a monumental leap considering that from 1974 through the mid-1990s, Africa’s growth was negative, reaching negative 1.5 percent in the 1990-94 period.

With the wind of change, life expectancy in Africa increased by about 10 per cent and child mortality rates started falling in most African countries. Real income per person increased by more than 30 per cent. In the previous 20 years, it shrank by nearly 10 per cent.

Where Europe has dithered, emerging economies have moved in and seized the new opportunities.

The western world is lamenting about China’s deep roots in Africa today. But China is not alone. India, Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Japan and South Korea are equally developing deep roots in Africa, taking advantage of the doubts Europe seems to have about the Continent.

As new players move in, Africa is also moving away from just lamenting about diminishing donor funding and trade opportunities. We are coming up with ambitious strategies to mobilize own domestic resources. We are determined to harness high potentials from natural resources and to invest in industrialization, security, healthcare, agriculture, infrastructure and institutional reforms.

The ‘hopeful continent’ will continue to be frustrated and disillusioned by missed development goals.

But we are no longer waiting for the reluctant world to help us out of our political and economic challenges. Because we have a better understanding of our problems and their dynamics, we are turning to ourselves to resolve the problems.

That is why in Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta and I shocked the world by closing ranks after a bitter election contest that left the nation torn down the middle.

As leaders, we came to the acceptance that solutions to our problems must result from an honest assessment of objective realities prevailing in the nation and the best interests of our people.

We are determined to address ages-old problems of ethnic antagonism, lack of national ethos, marginalization, strengthening devolution, divisive elections, safety and security and corruption. We will need partners, not patrons on this journey.

We very much appreciate the speed with which the EU and the rest of the western world have embraced the handshake and offered support. But I must emphasize that Kenyans are prepared to walk it alone if it comes to that.

It is our hope that the Handshake between the President and I can inspire other African nations struggling problems similar to Kenya’s and make them seek home-grown solutions based on mutual understanding.


The indifference of the external world has also inspired the creation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

We are determined to encourage intra-Africa trade that stood at a mere 16 per cent of Africa’s total trade in 2016.  We are determined to move Africa away from simply being a place where the powerhouse economies of the West and East come for raw materials.  Africa has triumphed against monumental odds before. Africa will triumph again.