Why Raila Odinga is shedding off ODM orange colour

Raila Odinga

ODM leader Raila Odinga and his wife Ida Odinga during Azimio la Umoja convention at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on December 10, 2021.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga is gradually shedding off his party's orange colours as he adopts Royal blue - the proposed Azimio la Umoja Movement colour.

 This is even as Mr Odinga insists on a six-piece voting in his strongholds. The ODM leader says the party risks losing political parties funds in the event of smaller parties winning seats in the forthcoming polls.

But Mr Odinga has also been categorical that ODM is ready to enter into a coalition agreement with other parties under Azimio la Umoja Movement.

“The movement will bring together a number of like-minded parties which will have to agree with the principles and policies of Azimio la Umoja.”

 12 political parties

At least 12 political parties including the ruling Jubilee which is also undergoing the process of rebranding have expressed interest in joining the ODM leader's Azimio train, prompting Mr Odinga to focus on new colours.

The ODM leader's campaign team has since produced royal blue caps and t-shirts blazoned with an Orange letter 'R,' his signature for 'Raila'.

Mr Odinga has chosen not to don his party's colours in most of his tours around the country, so as to attract some of the masses particularly in the vote-rich Mt Kenya region who would rather vote for him for the top seat, but not associate with his ODM party which has faced resistance in the region over the years.

"We have to change tact because we want to involve all Kenyans in this journey so that we can bring meaningful change through economic liberation of the country," Mr Odinga says.

"ODM is our party but we want to unite with other parties to form the Azimio la Umoja Movement and bring all Kenyans together as one."

Mr Odinga was in Kiambu County on Sunday, where he attended a Church service at St John’s ACK Church Mwimuto in Kabete.

He donned a blue shirt and a blue cap, just as he did during the launch of the Azimio la Umoja Movement at Kasarani stadium on December 10, 2021.

“We have a duty to fulfill the dreams of our forefathers and that’s why we have formed Azimio la Umoja to bring together all Kenyans,” Mr Odinga told a congregation at the ACK Church on Sunday.

New colours

During his 77th birthday party at the Bomas of Kenya last Friday, an invite to guests by the organisers -  Young Turks Handshake Alliance YoTHA) and Mr Odinga's presidential campaign secretariat advised on the dress code as white, blue and orange signaling the new colours.

ODM National Chairman John Mbadi revealed that even though the party will continue to exist even with the launch of Azimio, the plans for a larger political vehicle had compelled them to change their brand.

"We are not shedding off ODM colours but simply introducing new colours for the upcoming outfit. We cannot just convert ODM into a movement because it's a party with supporters across the country," Mr Mbadi said.

"When you are coming up with a new outfit like Azimio you are opening doors for other political parties including Jubilee and this calls for introduction of new colours and even slogans."

He revealed that Mr Odinga had since settled on blue as the dominant Azimio la Umoja Movement colour, but would have a conglomerate of colours to reflect other party’s presence once it’s finally unveiled as an official coalition party.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga's allied MPs were last Week successful in their push for the amendments to the Political Parties Act paving the way to the formation of coalition parties so as to see the birth of Azimio la Umoja Movement.

Attempts by Deputy President William Ruto’s allies to shoot down the amendments and thus scuttle the Azimio plans were however, futile and the next battle frontier is the Senate.

ODM and Jubilee are looking for such a vehicle (Azimio la Umoja Movement) that can directly sponsor candidates besides the parties so that in areas where the two outfits are facing resistance, voters have another option.

Mr Mbadi says it’s on this premise that new colours - blue - have been introduced in their meetings, as they await the unveiling of Azimio la Umoja Movement.

Suna East MP Junet Mohammed had already applied for the reservation of the name with the Registrar of political parties, whose name has been approved and reserved.

Blue colour

"Politics is about perception, it’s about publicity and image. For the Azimio la Umoja Movement, we must get new colours of which ours is more blue," said Mr Mbadi.

"There will also be some orange colour in it as well as others to demonstrate it’s a movement that includes ODM among other parties."

He went on: "At the moment, Rt Hon Raila Amollo Odinga who is the champion of all these has chosen blue for it so that’s what we have at the moment."

"The moment the Azimio movement is finally unveiled, it may come up with a conglomerate of colours – ODM colour may be there but there will be a dominant colour which is likely to be blue," the ODM Chairman added.

President Kenyatta's Jubilee party has also begun the process of rebranding ahead of its National Delegates Convention (NDC) expected in the coming weeks.

The yellow and black colours have been dropped; the clasped hands have been replaced by a flying dove carrying an olive branch; and the motto “Tuko Pamoja” is now “Mbele Pamoja”.

Yellow and black were colours associated with United Republican Party (URP), a party that was headed by DP Ruto and which was dissolved while joining forces with President Kenyatta’s The National Alliance (TNA) party among other parties to form Jubilee Party in 2016.

Jubilee Deputy Secretary General Joshua Kuttuny told Nation.Africa that the party plans a “total rebranding."

"You will see a new Jubilee, a new face, because we are starting afresh. You know, it represents a new beginning because remember some of our friends had to leave. So the party has to remain for the owners,” he said.

"...you will see that they have run away with some of the colours. So, clearly, we are starting afresh with another slogan and colours and the rest. We retain a few, but you will see something completely different. This should be completed by mid-January. So, by the end of January, we should be launching the new party."

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