Oginga Odinga was born in Bondo,Nyanza Province. In his autobiography, Not Yet Uhuru, Odinga estimates the date of his birth to be October, 1911. Christened Obadiah Adonijah, he later renounced his Christian names and became known as Oginga Odinga. Little Odinga attended Maseno Secondary School and Alliance High School, finishing his formal education with a diploma in education from Makerere University College in 1939.
From 1940 to 1942 Odinga taught mathematics at the Church Missionary Society School at Maseno, and from 1943 to 1946 he was headmaster of the Maseno Veterinary School.
Later in 1947, the father of seventeen moved to the business world, founding the Luo Thrift and Trading Corporation where he served as its managing director until 1962.
His efforts earned him admiration and recognition among the Luo, who revered him as Ker (spiritual leader) – a position previously held by the fabled ancestral Luo chief, Ramogi Ajwang, who reigned 400 years before him. Vowing to uphold the ideals of Ramogi Ajwang, Odinga became known as Jaramogi (man of the Ramogi people).
According to Luo tradition, a Ker could not be a politician, so Odinga relinquished his position as Ker in 1957 and became the political spokesman of the Luo.
The same year he was elected member of the Legislative Council for the Central Nyanza constituency, and in 1948 he joined the Kenya African Union (KAU).
In 1960, together with Tom Mboya he formed Kenya African National Union (KANU). When Kenya became an independent Republic in 1964, he was its first Vice-President.
As Vice-President he did not agree with Jomo Kenyatta’s government, and he resigned his post and quit KANU in 1966 to form the Kenya People’s Union (KPU).
The friction between Odinga and Kenyatta continued, and in 1969 Odinga was arrested after the two verbally abused each other publicly at a chaotic function in Kisumu.
He was detained for two years, and was consigned to political limbo until after Kenyatta’s death in August 1978.
Kenyatta’s successor, Daniel arap Moi, appointed Odinga as chairman of the Cotton Lint and Seed Marketing Board. He did not last long in the post, presumably because he was still outspoken against Kenyatta’s policies.
Odinga attempted to register a political party in 1982, but when the then Attorney General Charles Njonjo amended the constitution (which made Kenya a de jure single-party state), his plans were foiled.
In 1991 he co-founded and became the interim chairman of Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD). The formation of FORD triggered a chain of events that were to change Kenya’s political landscape.
FORD split before the 1992 elections. On his part Odinga vied for presidency on Ford-Kenya ticket, but finished fourth with a share of 17.5% votes. However, he regained the Bondo Constituency seat after being forced out of parliamentary politics for over two decades.
Odinga died in 1994 and really the country had lost a great son, a nationalist, and a patriotic citizen.