Raila Odinga , in full Raila Amolo Odinga (born January 7, 1945, Maseno, Kenya), Kenyan businessman and politician who served as prime minister of Kenya (2008–13) following the contentious presidential election of December 2007.
Of Luo descent, Odinga was the son of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, the first vice president of independent Kenya. After earning a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in East Germany in 1970, Odinga returned to Kenya to become a lecturer at the University of Nairobi. During his time at the university, Odinga also engaged in engineering-related business ventures, including one that would later become East African Spectre, Ltd. He left the university in 1974 and was soon employed by the Kenya Bureau of Standards, where he attained the position of deputy director in 1978.
In the 1970s and ’80s Odinga was politically active and supported government reforms in Kenya. In 1982 he was accused of plotting against Pres. Daniel arap Moi and was imprisoned without trial for six years. After Odinga’s release, he was twice arrested for campaigning against one-party rule, and in 1991 he sought refuge in Norway. He returned to Kenya in 1992, however, and was elected a member of the National Assembly that year under the banner of the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy–Kenya (FORD–K), the party led by his father. After his father’s death in 1994, Odinga became embroiled in a leadership struggle within the party and in 1996 left FORD–K and joined the National Development Party (NDP).
In 1997 Odinga stood unsuccessfully as the NDP’s candidate for election as president of Kenya but was able to retain his seat in the National Assembly. He and the NDP thereafter gave their support to Moi and the ruling Kikuyu-dominated Kenya African National Union (KANU). Odinga joined Moi’s cabinet as energy minister in 2001, and the NDP was absorbed into the ruling party the following year, with Odinga becoming secretary-general of KANU.
Odinga’s hope of succeeding Moi as KANU’s candidate for the presidency in the