Next chair of Luo Council of Elders to be unveiled next month, Raila says

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga (C) after a meeting with Luo Council of Elders at Mama Grace Onyango Social Hall

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga (centre) after a meeting with Luo Council of Elders at Mama Grace Onyango Social Hall in Kisumu on May 23, 2023. Mr Odinga said a decision on who will succeed the late Ker Willis Opiyo Otondi as the Chairperson of the Council will be announced next month after the elders conduct final rites at his gravesite. 

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group

The next chairperson of the Luo Council of Elders will be known after June 10, 2023, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition leader Raila Odinga has said.

Mr Odinga, who is also the patron of the council, spoke after attending the first council meeting in Kisumu following the demise of the former chair, ker Opiyo Otondi.

He said that members from all the Sub counties in Luo Nyanza will make the decision on who will succeed Ker Otondi next month.

“On June 10, we will go to pay the final burial rites to the departed in accordance with the traditions and rites of the Luo people after which we will be free to fill the vacant position,” said Mr Odinga.

The Azimio leader said that the position of the chairman of council remains an important institution in the society as it involves choosing a leader of the community in matters culture and traditions.

He said that the ‘throne’ is a respected institution that cannot be taken lightly or given to prominent pretenders.

“We have shared views of this issue and agreed that we will meet after the final respect to the late Ker Otondi, have a general assembly known as, wi pinje ‘head of states ‘to discuss the way forward.”

Mr Odinga was speaking in Kisumu at the Mama Grace Onyango Social Hall after attending a meeting with the council of elders on the planned elections.

The successor will take over from the late Ker Otondi who died after a long illness in March 2023 at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital.

Ker Otondi who took the leadership mantle from Meshack Riaga was the ninth Ker of the Luo Community.

“This is an institution with representatives from all the Luo sub clans and communities that deals with issues not limited to marriage systems, deaths and burials,” said Mr Odinga.

The Luo council of elder’s chain began in 1945 with the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga as the first Ker to lead the Luo community.

New Ker

The process of electing the next Ker has, however, took longer dragging for over two months following the death of the chair and Mama Grace Onyango who was a member of the council.

While the process had seemed to remain quiet, a few individuals revealed that there has been intense lobbying of the next chairman.

More than four candidates have already shown interest on the seat including former Mzee Jaramogi Oginga Odinga’s longtime friend  Mzee Odungi Randa, the council’s current secretary-general Mzee Adera Osawa and Mzee Owino Nyadi.

According to the council members, the elected successor must be at least 60 years old, be in a position to articulate the community issues well and not use the position to solicit funds.

Mr Odinga said that the council is one way of strengthening the cultural heritage and identity of the Luo people.

He insisted on the need for the community members to teach children on the customs of the community to ensure that the culture is not eroded.

“We have got a diversity of cultures in our country. It is the diversity of our cultures that makes the Kenyan community,” said Mr Odinga.