By Faith Nyambeki
The art of public speaking is inherent in some people while others take courses offered in colleges to learn the process of engaging a demanding audience. A good number of orators also learned this skill through practice, and practice makes perfect. This writer looks at the best orators in Kenya and a few from other countries in Africa. Enjoy the read and feel free to add names of individuals we may have left out on the comment section.
Note: the individuals listed below may have the gift of the gab but it doesn’t necessarily mean what comes out of their mouths is sensible.
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No orator comes close to Patrick Loch Otieno (PLO) Lumumba when he is in his element. The lawyer is eloquent, delivers his message in a manner that leaves his listeners spellbound. Born on 17 July 1962, the staunch Pan-Africanist has delivered speeches across the world. The Kenyan law professor was denied entry to Zambia in 2018 where he had been scheduled to deliver a talk on Chinese influence in Africa at Eden University. The government cited security considerations as the reason for denying entry to the country. PLO is the current director of the Kenya School of Laws and has served in the past as the head of the director of the anti-corruption commission.
Dr William Ruto
The current deputy president of Kenya William Ruto has a way with words that has endeared him to the masses. The DP knows how to answer his detractors especially during state functions. His speeches are witty and calculated to impress on the struggling Kenyans who are the majority voters. He coined the ‘hustler nation’ clarion call that many Kenyans relate to.
The former prime minister of Kenya will remain a formidable politician in Kenya as long as he is alive. Raila Amolo Odinga speeches are laced with vitindawili (riddles) and he has a razor sharp memory. He tells events of yesteryears in great details especially when recalling old friendship during funerals and other events. He is funny and knows how to engage the crowds.
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The Health cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe passes serious information the best way Kenyans understand. He has been the subject of memes and video mixes by creative Kenyans. He ranks among the best communicators.
His talks are hilarious if not for the gravity they hold. Ogot was addicted to alcoholism which almost ruined his life and those who mattered to him. He has made it his business to create awareness on addiction which he does extremely well thanks to his storytelling gift. Ogot is always willing to help and you can find him on Facebook by the same name (David Ogot).
Dr. Ayub Ntenga PhD
One of the few Kenyan speakers who holds his audience attention from the start to end of his presentations. His voice is full of conviction and the way he spews words is the work of an artist at work. Dr. Ayub is a director at Global Gap, a company offers trainings to organizations.
The Tanzania Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Palamagamba Kabudi wowed Kenyans with his powerful speech during the BBI launch. The eloquent Kabudi told on issues touching on tribalism and other ills bedeviling the country in rich swahili.
The MP for Kapseret in Eldoret is among the legislators who has never uttered a word at the floor of the August House. Away from the Plenary, Oscar Sudi is fireworks. He knows how to engage his constituents with remarks that at times border on disrespect of powerful people who cross DP William Ruto.
She is a big asset in DP Ruto camp. Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa Katana is a fiery politician who has the gift of the gab. She knows how to work the crowd with her witty speeches. Aisha is best known for her kiuno (waist) remarks and referring to herself as a V8 when combative COTU secretary general Francis Atwoli said she wasn’t her type. Atwoli told workers last year of Aisha Jumwa’s waist:
Achana na huyo mama, hata sio type yangu, huyo hata si taste yangu. Anacheza sana na jina yangu. Mpime na ruler, hata hana kiuno (Loosely translated: Ignore this woman. She’s not even my type and she should stop playing with my name. Measure her with a rule, she doesn’t even have a waist).
And her rebuttal was swift:
“Juzi nilisikia mnabweka bweka ooh Aisha Jumwa si type yangu… Atwoli mimi type yako naijua…wewe umezoea kupeleka machine ya probox ,V8 utaiweza” (The other day I heard you were barking Aisha Jumwa is not your type….Atwoli am not your type…you are used to driving probox machine, will you manage a V8”
The phrase tialala and tibim became part of Kenya’s lexico thanks to Babu Owino. The Embakasi East MP mastery of public speaking is undeniable. The former SONU chairman understands the language of the masses and will drop a vocabulary for dramatic effect. He has in the past used unprintable words to pass his message across.
The public policy analyst and a former consultant with the United Nations and the World Bank was ranked by the Daily Nation among the Best communicators of 2016. To quote the leading newspaper, Obonyo “is an authentic storyteller who is able to masterfully weave youth policy ideas with his own life story that began in the informal settlements of Korogocho, Nairobi.”
The president of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is seen as a divisive figure by his detractors while his supporters see him as a true Pan-Africanist. His oratorical prowess was exhibited when he gave a powerful speech titled ‘“Mama am waiting for a signal” during the funeral of Winnie Madikizela Mandela.
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