Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader Raila Odinga has apologised over ‘madoadoa’ remarks made in Wajir recently after a backlash.
The former Prime Minister used the infamous phrase on Wednesday while urging locals to vote in a six-piece suit in the August General Election.
“Hatutaki madoadoa katika kaunti ya Wajir, tunataka viongozi wote wachagulie ndani ya Azimio (We don’t want to see patches in Wajir County, we want you to vote in Azimio candidates in all posts),” Raila is heard saying in a video that has since gone viral.
The former Prime Minister apologised just hours after summons by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).
In a statement to newsrooms on Friday afternoon, NCIC Chairperson Samuel Kobia said the slur is, locally, associated with hate speech.
But speaking in Kisumu, Odinga said his remarks were misinterpreted.
According to the presidential aspirant, his remarks were not in any way meant to stir hatred among communities living in Wajir County.
He retracted the remarks and apologised to anyone that was offended by the statement.
“Nilisema kwamba Wajir ni Azimio zone hakuna madoadoa, sikumaanisha ya kwamba hatutaki kabila nyingine Wajir. Kama kuna yeyote ambaye hakunielewa vizuri, ambaye ameona makosa mimi namwambia pole sana. Sisi hatuwezi kubagua Mkenya yeyote kwa misingi ya kikabila,” said Odinga.
Loosely translated, “I said there are no ‘patches’ in Wajir. I didn’t mean that we don’t want other tribes in Wajir. If there is anyone who didn’t understand what I meant and got offended, I’m sorry. We can’t allow discrimination of any Kenyan on the basis of tribe.”
Meru senator Mithika Linturi was arrested for using a similar term in Eldoret in January.
Linturi was forced to retract the remarks after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji directed the Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai to investigate the matter.
A majority of those who criticized Odinga for the remarks and even called for his arrest are Linturi’s colleagues allied to Deputy President William Ruto, Odinga’s main rival in the August race to State House.
The Meru Senator’s file was, however, closed last month after the prosecution failed to prefer charges against him within the allocated time.
The slur is linked to the 2007/08 post-election violence that left more than 1,100 people dead and 600,000 others displaced.