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Talk about ageing graciously and you are perhaps referring to Siaya County’s longest serving politician, James Obiero Otare.

With his slight figure and casual manner of dressing it is easy to lose the Siaya Township Ward MCA in a crowd. But give him a microphone and allow him to ply his trade in Dholuo and nobody gets close to James Obiero Otare’s oratorical powers.

Surprisingly even with his limited academic background Otare is highly prominent in the Siaya County Assembly Hansard Report. Teaming up with Leonard Otieno Oriaro and Sylvester Madialo, Mr. Otare was known in the past assembly as a stickler for details and a rouble-rouser who was best Whipped to support a motion rather than left to oppose it on the floor of the Assembly.

His eloquence earned him the respect and love of members of Bunge la Mwananchi where he cut his teeth in politics.

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Having been a youth Bodaboda bicycle rider in Siaya town in the early 80s Mr. Otare mastered the art of marshalling youth to do his bidding such that he can create and dismiss potential crowds with the speed of a magician. He has led more than three quarters of all recorded demonstrations staged in Siaya town over the last three decades.

“Huyu jamaa furaha yake huwa ni kukamatwa na kulala cell. Saa hii tumemgundua atalala kwake nyumbani”, said a former Officer in Charge of Siaya Police Station when Otare was arrested for convening an illegal gathering at Ahindi Gardens on October 18, 2017. He was leading protests over the outcome of the 2017 General Elections when Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta was declared the winner over opposition doyen Raila Amollo Odinga.

When George Okode was first elected Speaker of Siaya County Assembly in 2013 he faced hostility from residents who picketed outside the Assembly for days on end and would only disperse when ordered to do so, not by the police, but by Otare. Similarly beginning with the Chairman of dissolved Siaya County Council (Aggrey Onyango) to former Governor (Cornell Rasanga Amoth) leaders have learnt that you can control the Siaya County Government but Otare controls the herd mentality of the residents of Siaya town.

Otare has used these influence to great advantage, positioning himself close to power. His frugality in matters finance has made the secret of his wealth and assets a well kept one, although it recently emerged when he challenged Junior Oluoch Oluanda and even the notoriously wealthy Mijesh, at a funeral attended by Governor Orengo, that he was far much ahead of them in riches and was best suited to act as Deputy Governor.

In his second term as Councillor of the old Siaya County Council he ousted Ochiam as Mayor.

Little is known about his family life although he publicly confesses to being in a polygamous marriage.

James Obiero Otare was born in Urim village of Obambo sub-location of Central Alego Ward in Siaya County. 

He proudly confesses to being a student of veteran politician Castro Peter Oloo Aringo.

His buffoonery and diminutive figure notwithstanding, Mr. Otare has been a mentor to many politicians and for the first time has openly indicated he covets the office of Deputy Governor come 2027!

 

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