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Raila family in mourning as eldest son found dead in bed after night partying

Sunday January 4 2015

Cord Leader Raila Odinga arriving at Lee Funeral Home in Nairobi on January 4,2015 where the body of his son Fidel Odinga lies. Fidel was on Sunday morning found dead in his House in Karen. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

From left: Mathare MP Stephen Kariuki, Mr Mabior Garang de Mabior, Mr Amor Thige and Mr Thomas Mariwa during the farewell party and fundraising for Fidel Odinga Trust at Cedars Club in Nairobi on Tuesday. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

A grieving ODM leader Raila Odinga on Sunday mourned his eldest and most politically active son, Fidel, who was found dead in his bed after a night out with friends.

Fidel Castro Odinga, 41, was found unresponsive early yesterday morning by his wife, Lwam Getachew Bekele, in a spare bedroom at their Karen home in Nairobi.

Ms Bekele called Mr Odinga and his wife Ida, who rushed to the house barely four kilometres from their residence. On arrival, Mr Odinga called a doctor to attend to Fidel, but it was too late.

The Cord leader and former Prime Minister was so overcome by the loss of his eldest son that he could not speak. He spent the whole day by the bedside of his son until the body was taken to the mortuary last evening.

In his autobiography, Flames of Freedom, the ODM leader, says Fidel was a gentle soul despite his imposing height.

The sudden death united leaders from across the political divide in consoling the bereaved family. Among those who sent messages of condolences were President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and former President Mwai Kibaki, who all had a common thread in their messages — there is no pain like losing a child. Kenyans also joined the family in mourning, sending their messages through social media.


Police immediately launched a full-scale investigation into Fidel’s death, seeking out and interviewing the friends he had spent his last moments with during their night out in various Nairobi clubs.

Fidel left his father’s residence in Karen some minutes before 2pm on Saturday.

CID Director Ndegwa Muhoro was among the first to arrive at Fidel’s home, together with forensic detectives.

The government chief pathologist, Dr Johansen Oduor, was also present as was a family pathologist who could not be immediately identified. They all spent hours examining the scene where the young Odinga died. It was not until 6.15 pm that the body was taken to the Lee Funeral Home.

Kilimani Police Station CID boss Peter Mungai said three people had recorded statements about Fidel’s movements. He said several people, including Fidel’s friends will be interrogated to establish exactly what happened.

“It is too early to give information based on what we have so far,” he said. 

Wiper Democratic Party Kalonzo Musyoka described Fidel’s death as a terrible blow, not only to his family but to the Cord fraternity and the entire country.

“Many of us are asking questions. You remember Mutula Kilonzo, and recently Kajwang’ and now Fidel even though he was not a politician,” said Mr Musyoka, who was Mr Odinga’s running mate in the 2013 presidential election. “As you all know, police are on this matter and I have met CID director Ndegwa Muhoro and told him he has a heavy duty to perform. We expect very thorough investigations into this unexpected death”.

Friends of Fidel told the Nation that he partied with friends into the early hours of Sunday before going home.

ODM Chairman John Mbadi, who addressed the Press from Fidel’s residence also in Karen, said Mr Odinga’s son had spent the better part of Saturday morning to early afternoon at his parents’ home. He was to have lunch with the rest of the family but he excused himself because he had a prior engagement.

Fidel later met several of his friends including Robert Gichuru, the son of former Kenya Power and Lighting Company boss Samuel Gichuru, at Art Caffé off Ring Road in Westlands where they had lunch. From Art Caffé, the group left for Capital Club off Westlands Road, where they had drinks.

After that, they drove to Sankara Hotel, also in the same suburb. According to Mr Gichuru, Fidel made a call to Mr Mabior Garang, son of the late South Sudan President John Garang, who joined them later.

But before Mr Garang arrived, Fidel had a brief chat with an unidentified brother-in-law whom he had bumped into at the hotel.

“I saw him seated at The Champagne Bar accompanied with a few friends. Although I did not serve them, I noticed they were in a cheerful mood,” said a bartender who preferred to remain anonymous.

Fidel left Sankara shortly after midnight and sought the services of Smart Fellows, a taxi company that specialises in driving people home in their own cars to help them avoid Alcoblow checks mounted by the police. One of the drivers drove Fidel’s black Range Rover while another followed in a separate car. When he arrived home, according to Mr Mbadi, Fidel did not want to disturb his sleeping wife and child, so he let himself in and slept in a spare bedroom.

His wife woke up at 6am and went to check on him, only to find him unconscious.

On Friday, Fidel had been at Ruby Cut, where he met Mr Tom Alila and his brother Hilary, an independent candidate for the Homa Bay senate by-election slated for next month. They were with a friend identified as Mr Robert Tongoi and four other people.

They enjoyed a meal of fish and Ugali for lunch, but when Hilary offered a drink, Fidel turned it down, saying he could not take alcohol because he was recovering from food poisoning.

Yesterday, there was a brief commotion after a group of mourners from Kibera demanded to view his body.

The group of about 30 youths waving twigs said that they would not allow the body to be taken to the mortuary unless they were told the cause of his death.

“We must be told who has killed our hero Fidel,” they chanted. It took the intervention of ODM lawmakers to cool them down.  

Reported by Peter Leftie, Zaddock Angira, Njoki Chege and Stella Cherono