“I Shed Tears During My Speech Because of Kenya’s Hypocrisy,” PLO Lumumba Speaks
He is popularly known as PLO Lumumba but the number of people who know what the initials PLO stand for can be counted on one hand.
His full name is Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba and he is one of Kenya’s finest legal minds. He is best known for his excellent oratory skills and a stint as Chairman of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
He spoke to The Nairobian about his oratory skills, state of Kenyan politics, his time at the EACC, his trademark Mao suits, family and more.
Is your admiration of Congolese freedom fighter Patrice Lumumba the source of your name?
Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba is my name. Remember Patrice Emerile Lumumba was an active pan-Africanist who died in 1961 and I was born a year later.
Quite a number of people were named after Lumumba just like many others were named after Nyerere, Obote, Nkrumah. My father could have been impressed by the credentials of Lumumba of Congo at that time. I am not sure.
Your love for Mao Suits is an open secret. Why?
I wonder why they should not be called Lumumba suits (laughs). I began wearing them in my second year in the university and the reason I do is because they are very comfortable and suited to my slight built.
They are designed specifically on order by a tailor in Hong Kong, hence I feel very comfortable in them.
When and how did you learn to speak the way you speak and how do you always manage to deliver long and colourful unwritten speeches?
The reason why I don’t need to read my speeches is because they come straight from my heart and they don’t need to be written down for me.
As the saying goes, “he who speaks the truth does not need to remember what he said”. It is only liars that need to remember what they said lest they contradict themselves.
Is that the way you speak in the house with your family or during social gatherings with friends?
This is a question that I find on daily basis. Of course, I am not addressing an audience in the house.
But what I believe is people should speak grammatically well whether they are in the house or in official gatherings.
Some people have said that PLO is too elite to be successful or elected in competitive politics?
I only contested in the year 2000 in Kamukunji Constituency and there were no elections that year.
And I have always said that people like me, who holds the view that I hold and articulate them the way I do, are not attractive to the Kenyan electorate which is influenced by ethnicity and corruption.
The reason why Africa remains in Third World and a scar on the conscious of the earth is because of consistently electing the wrong people. So I am a victim of ethnicity and corruption.
If I was a candidate anywhere in Europe or America I would be a serious candidate. There are many people who have the abilities to serve this country but cannot be elected because they don’t worship at the altar of ethnic demigods.
What about your family… is there a childhood aspect that has influenced your adulthood?
I have a wife and two daughters who are adults and graduates but I prefer not to expose them to the glare of the vicious Kenyan media.
They will come out when their time comes and rest assured it will. I was personally influenced by my family, particularly my uncle who died last month.
He taught me how to be focused and to have values in life. These are the first people I interacted with before the external influences of the likes of Gandhi and Mwalimu Nyerere
There is a speech that you delivered so passionately that you shed tears uncontrollably…?
It was a speech on the day of commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr and perhaps the tears rolled down on their own motion because I was looking at the hypocrisy of this country.
That this country is so hypocritical that when Barack Obama is elected they say he is Kenyan but I said then that if Barack Obama was to come to this country he would not even be elected a Councillor.
The Luos would say he is not Luo enough and other Kenyans would say that he is Luo. The tragedy of this country is one is judged by his ethnic extraction rather than the content of his mind.
We always wait for the white man to put a dot on the foreheads of the likes of Lupita Nyong’o and Wangari Maathai for us to celebrate them.
There are those who claim you were a sell-out as a student leader at the University of Nairobi, and that you went to bed with the administration.
I belong to a unique group of student leaders who had ideals and believed in something.
I believe the role of a student leader is to articulate and create an environment where academic excellence can be achieved.
In the perverted mind of undisciplined students, they think that the role of a student leader is to lead riots and condemn the government.
That is not my style and that’s why I am one of the most enduring student leaders to date. Just look at the history of most of the other student leaders, even those who hold public office today.
They still remain adolescent in behavior with the addiction to riots and chaos still intact.
Do you have any regrets for the time you worked at the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, considering that your exit was un-ceremonial?
I never regret. I made my contributions.
I am on record as someone who was fighting corruption and fighting it visibly…the tragedy now is the individuals we named as corruption suspects have now become media darlings.
They are praised as liberators. It’s a pity that Kenya celebrates thieve and demonises its saints.
One of your thesis is dedicated to Hezekiah Oyugi. What was your relationship with him? Was he your benefactor?
Hezekiah Oyugi was my friend and client. I first met him when I was in high school and he was a district commissioner.
Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) was my benefactor in the university. My benefactor was my uncle MT Onono whom i lived with.
My law firm represented Oyugi in diverse legal matters.
You are the founder and patron of PLO Lumumba Foundation. What does the organization do?
It’s actually involved in philanthropy and some of the things we have done in the last twenty years we have been in existence range from education and social issues like health, youth development, and sports.
We are engaged with several schools like Masinga, St. Angela’s in Kitui and St. Paul’s University.
Are you active on social media?
I can confirm to you here and now that I am not on any social media at all. I am not on Twitter, I am not on Facebook.
Any person’s purporting to be me on these platforms those are identity thieves.