Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga
ODM party leader Raila Odinga has survived many political storms since he ventured into politics in the early 1990s.
Friday’s ODM National Delegates Convention is one such occasion where he is expected to draw on his political expertise to ensure the party he expects to use as his vehicle in the next presidential poll remains united following the emergence of two camps.
Mr Odinga is an accomplished grassroots mobiliser, with a huge political clout and forceful personality to match.
And, although he has continued to influence Kenya’s political agenda, his detractors say he is a ruthless politician who will crush those he views as working against his interests.
His earliest brush with Kenya’s turbulent political landscape was in the early 1990s after a fallout in the then pro-equality Forum for Restoration of Democracy that was later converted into a political party, Ford.
Following differences between two factions, one led by his father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, and another by former detainee Kenneth Matiba, the younger Odinga and other youthful politicians, dubbed Young Turks, teamed up with the doyen of opposition politics to form Ford Kenya.
The other splinter group led by Martin Shikuku and Kenneth Matiba registered its own party, Ford Asili.
However, when Jaramogi died, Mr Odinga found himself fighting for control of Ford Kenya against another group led by then Vice-President Kijana Wamalwa.
When supporters of the two factions converged at Thika Stadium on April 13, 1996 a fracas erupted after disagreement arose over certain delegates.
Each faction later conducted its own elections and sought to be declared the bona fide office holders. A protracted legal battle ensued, resulting in Mr Odinga leaving Ford Kenya and launching the National Development Party (NDP).
In 1998, the NDP entered into an alliance with Kanu which resulted in Mr Odinga and several other members of the party becoming ministers in the government of President Daniel arap Moi.
Earlier, Mr Odinga, a mechanical engineer, would be accused of masterminding the 1982 coup against President Moi’s government and was charged with treason and detained without trial for six years before fleeing to Norway in 1991.
In early 2002, Kanu held internal elections where Mr Odinga became secretary-general.
Mr Moi was to surprise Mr Odinga when he endorsed Mr Uhuru Kenyatta as the Kanu flag-bearer in the polls.
Mr Odinga led a walkout and teamed up with Kalonzo Musyoka to take over the little known Liberal Democratic Party.
Come 2007, he crafted the Pentagon team ahead of the General Election. However, he suffered a major setback when current Makueni MP Daniel Maanzo handed over the ownership of ODM-Kenya to Mr Musyoka, leaving Mr Odinga in a dilemma.
Lawyer Mugambi Manyara came to his rescue and surrendered ODM to him, which he used to contest the 2007 polls.On September 1, 2007, he was nominated ODM presidential candidate at the Moi International Sports Centre with Musalia Mudavadi as a running mate.
he sports Centre is a familiar ground for Mr Odinga where he has fought many political wars, won some and lost others.