Sep 11, 2015

Living Accordingly; a Lecture by Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga

Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga giving a lecture to Law School students

“That if you want to go into public life, decide at the age of five and live accordingly.”

Former Prime Minister of Kenya, Honorable Raila Odinga based the theme of his public lecture on the above quote by Hellen Thomas. Addressing Strathmore Law School (SLS) students during his lecture on Living Accordingly, he started off by expressing his gratitude to be back at Strathmore. He affirmed that education remains the best chance any nation can give its children and this university does a great job at giving it.

Upon inquiring on what makes learning at Strathmore University different, he mentioned how Grace Dida, a student in third year provided him with the answer that, “Where else would you find a dean who knows all his students by name and has an open door policy with all his students?” He said Dr Luis G Franceschi, Dean SLS, seemed to be doing a great job by keeping in personal touch with students.


Hon Raila reminded the students that they are growing up in a free and more open country than the one he grew up in. He highlighted that the foundation for one to pursue their dreams and succeed has already been laid down, and it is upon the current generation to carry on the journey. He stated that the world had witnessed great revolutions. The Industrial Revolution ushered in the steam locomotive, automobile and the telephone among other inventions. ‘‘Today, we are in the ICT revolution that puts all earlier inventions to shame. It enables us do things we never imagined and his generation never dreamt of. Necessities have now switched from shelter, food and water to mobile phones, battery charge and data bundles.’’ He highlighted it was easier to succeed today because of the revolutions.


By sharing his thoughts in relation to living accordingly, he illuminated that despite the changes around us, certain basics remain constant. Hon Raila stated that to Live Accordingly requires that you set up certain standards; not just basic standards but high standards. It requires one to principles and stick to them. ‘‘Some people observe freedom as a principle worth defending and dying for as did Nelson Mandela. Some, however, view equality and dignity of the human race as worth dying for as did Martin Luther King in his celebrated speech: I Have a Dream.’’ Hon. Raila referred Living Accordingly as having something that you are willing and ready to die for, otherwise you live in vain. That, in his view, is what distinguishes human beings from the beasts of the wild.

The former Prime Minister went on to say that it pays to work hard and play by the rules. Success is a lie when founded on short cuts and deals negotiated in smoke-filled rooms. He mentioned how currently, the world is scoured by new and serious security threats. It is highly unlikely that terrorism will be stamped out in our lifetime. However, he stated that it is possible, through our attitudes and responses, to bridge the gap by ensuring a more equitable, more just and fairer society.


He added that if we build a society in which one section is more likely to be poorer than the other, where some are likely to go to school than others, we are likely to see more of extremism. That is the society we have been building in the last fifty years. He emphasized on the inevitable race against time to reverse it through Devolution. Hon Raila put forth that the current generation did not create the divided and unequal Kenya. But they can use their education to change it and not perpetuate it.


He ended his public lecture by citing the words of President Franklin Roosevelt: “Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.”

Based on this quote, he stressed on how our nation is much better today because some people decided to wage selfless battles. He further asserted that we are where we are because some of our citizens pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their dignity. They lived accordingly. He maintained that it is a life still worth living and challenged the students to live accordingly. He concluded by stating that our country needs people who are prepared to Live Accordingly. 

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