Odada Orinda is a 3rd-year Telecommunication and Information engineering student, a former School of Electrical, Electronics and Information Engineering Representative and the current Jomo Kenyatta University Students Association (JKUSA) Academic Secretary. He is a testimony to what resilience, passion, defiance to conformity and hard work can do.
His journey to leadership has not been smooth just like many prominent national politicians today. In fact, in his high school, he vied thrice for different positions but failed. Nonetheless, with resilience, he soldiered on to where he is today. As a matter of fact, this is just the beginning – he hasn’t yet achieved what he wants as a leader!
We caught up with him, and he had the following to say:
Briefly, tell us more about yourself.
Odada Orinda is someone passionate about everything. I like being the best in almost everything. This is why I have written “Perfection” in my WhatsApp about. Because I like things to work well, that obsession has brought me to leadership. If you have a solution to a problem and then you never get a chance to solve it, it will live to kill you. I always want to try solving every single problem in my life.
Have you ever been a leader before?
Oh yeah, I was a perfect partly in class 4 and 6. In class 8 I became the head boy. In high school, I was a class governor in Form 3 and eventually a deputy president in fourth. I came to compass I became a class rep, school rep and now academic secretary.
What advice would you give to a person assuming a leadership position for the first time?
All I can tell that person is that he/she should not have a lot of expectation. When you expect a lot, you will be disappointed. Naturally when a person becomes a leader huwanga anaexpect a lot of advantages, privileges, and opportunities to better themselves. Don’t expect anything in return, leadership is a sacrifice. You should sacrifice, serve people and put their interests first without expecting too much.
Can you name someone who has an impact on you as a leader?
Oh yeah! Former USA president Barack Obama. He is an eloquent speaker. Besides that, he has the best leadership skills. In fact, he disapproved to the world – no one expected a black to become a US president.
As a leader, have you ever done something that you regretted later?
Yes, there is a time I canceled a punishment given to prefects by a teacher on duty. Mwalimu alipeana punishment kwa maprefects saa mimi nikawambia wasifanye. I was almost suspended!
What are you most proud of and what are your priorities in campus?
Becoming an academic secretary in less than three semesters since I joined the university. My priorities right now are getting a good grade, exuding good leadership in campus, and attaining the highest level of office in university leadership.
Do you make friends with fellow comrades and how do you maintain trust amongst them?
Yeah, I make a lot of friends with comrades naturally. To maintain trust with them, I don’t promise them unrealistic things. If you promise comrades things that you can’t deliver, do you think that they will trust again?
Do you think our JKUAT academic docket is healthy and excellent? If not, what would you do to change that?
I don’t know whether there can be an excellent docket. However, there is always room for improvement. Our academic docket is slightly below standards but has the potential of being improved.
I understand that there issues to do about transcripts processing. The problem is mainly contributed by laziness and reluctance of some departments. In others, it might even take two years to process only one transcript. They just need to be kept on toes to remind them of their work.
If you could change one thing in JKUAT, what would it be and why?
I’d change the infrastructure of everything in the university. I’ll do away will everything and have new things. The infrastructure we have is a 20th-century setup, and we need to renovate them. We need new classrooms, library, pavements, and labs so that the institution can look better.
Say something about academic trips.
We pay an activity fee each semester which is meant to cater for academic trips and other stuff. These trips mainly depend on numbers. For instance, there are some departments which have many courses. Since the students are many and cannot be managed, the administration often looks for excuses.
Basically, if you want academic trips, you must follow up. Work with the school reps and deans, insist on having one because the school has so many buses. I think serious follow-ups and consistency may help.
What kind of leaders does JKUAT deserve?
JKUAT needs smart leaders. People think that we are smart academically. People say, “nyinyi ni machopi na uko JKUAT tunasomanga sana.” We need to reflect the same in the leaders we have. We deserve leaders who reflect what others think of us. Si lazima mtu afanye exam ndo ujue ye ni chopi. There is a way you can tell if someone is sharp by just talking to them. We need Leaders who show what we are as an institution. Like UON ni watu wanapenda kelele, so leaders wao lazima warepresent kelele zao. JKUAT is entirely different so we need people who can represent the sharpness in us.
What’s your opinion on national leadership and devolution?
We have been brought up to think that if you become a leader, you are supposed to be rich. Probably it’s true coz kuna madooh mingi huko. But the main problem that national leadership faces is that people go there with a lot of expectations which they must accomplish. Like for example, an MCA anaingia huko and within one or two years anabuy gari na anajenga nyumba kubwa. These people are just going there to benefit. They are selfish and aren’t service oriented.
Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
If all things go well, in one or two years, I will vie for the chairperson of JKUSA position. Later, I’ll consider becoming the KUSA (Kenya University Students Association) chairperson. I will also do a few kinds of stuff as an engineer. Lastly, I aspire to become a Member of Parliament in the near future.
Finally, Odada what’s your advice to leaders who didn’t make it?
I always say that people who hold a specific position at a particular time are not exactly the best for that position. At one time a hundred people cannot hold the same leadership position. Lazima kutakua tu na mtu mmoja. If a person happened to convince people that he/she is the best and then he/she won, unafaa tu kuappreciate useme let that person lead. The fact that you lost in an election does not mean that you are incompetent. It only means that people thought that your opponent could perform better than you could. Losing doesn’t imply that you cannot be a good leader. The whole of high school I vied three times and lost in all. That didn’t mean I can’t be what I am today.
Interviewed by Engineer Koech Rantich, a Bsc. Control and Instrumentation engineering student