President Barack Obama embraces his sister Auma at the Moi International Sports centre in Nairobi on July 26, 2015. PHOTO | AFPPresident Barack Obama embraces his sister Auma at the Moi International Sports centre in Nairobi on July 26, 2015. PHOTO | AFP
By JUSTUS OCHIENG, @justusjavan [email protected]

Former Kisumu Deputy Governor Ruth Odinga has slammed former US President Barack Obama’s half-sister Auma over her “handout” remarks during a live television interview on Thursday.

Ms Odinga said Auma was not justified to “insinuate that Kenyans or Luos are known for handouts.”

During an interview on Citizen TV, Dr Auma had criticized the practice of “handouts” and urged Kenyans to be part of the change and development needed in the country.

“People are impatient. This issue of ‘gonya gonya’ (give me, give me) should stop guys! Stop! Come on guys!” Dr Auma said.

‘WHAT’S YOUR LEGACY?’

She went on: “I want to ask Kenyans, any time that Obama has been President, up until now, what have you done? What have you done to make a difference in your life? In your country and in your community? Because you cannot sit and wait for Obama. Ask yourself what is your legacy.”

She said that the change of mindset is what “I want people to start doing”.

“If we do something including Obama, including myself, imagine how far we will get. Imagine how far we would have gotten already. We cannot say that now that Obama has come today or tomorrow, things will change. If you are not doing anything it won’t change,” Dr Auma said.

Dr Auma’s Sauti Kuu Sports, Resource and Vocational Training Centre will be opened on Monday by President Obama.

But speaking to Nation on the phone, Ms Odinga said Dr Auma’s statement borders on “insults to the Luo community.”

“It was wrong for Auma to talk of handouts. Have they offered job opportunities before linking out people to handouts?” she questioned.

‘FIGHTING FOR DEMOCRACY’

Ms Odinga went on: “Where were they when election was rigged as our people were fighting for democracy?”

She faulted the events programme and criticized plans to lock out key leaders from the Sauti Kuu Resource Centre inauguration.

“It is wrong for Obama to come and fail to meet local leaders and members of the public,” she said.

Joshua Odhiambo Nyamori posted on his Facebook page: “I know my people. They love their heroes. They will sing and dance to Barack Obama. They will go down on their knees before him. But there is just one thing that wuod Kogelo (Son of Kogelo) will have to do, and that is to remove his sister Dr. Auma Obama from the gate keeping post she has given unto herself.”

“Obama should engage the community through their recognized cultural, political, civil society and professional leaders. Auma can remain to handle private Obama family affairs. She lacks humility and tact and is bound to create more friction between the people and Brand Obama,” Mr Nyamori wrote.

‘ECONOMIC RENAISSANCE’

On his part, Andy Ojwang’ posted: “Gonya gonya phenomenon must end in Luo land. If that is why some people are attacking Dr Auma Obama, then they are dead wrong. This is not a political propaganda but economic renaissance for the Luo community. Let’s look at the bigger picture of the investors and investment opportunities.”

 

Alego Usonga MP Sam Atandi said: “I hope there will be an opportunity for him (Obama) to engage his kinsmen through the local leadership. I will be present together with the four invited MPs in Nyanza.”

He however, said that apart from launching the Sauti Kuu Resource Centre, he was not privy to other activities Mr Obama will be engaged in.