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Kenyans today joined the Odinga family in commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Death of their patriarch Ajuma Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

The original doyen of Kenya’s opposition politics, Ajuma was born on January 20, 1911.

His youthful background is shrouded in mystery as historians have taken liberty with embellishments to suit their whims and inclinations.

Ajuma was otherwise a commonplace individual who rose to prominence by properly utilizing the opportunity to become one of the leading figures in Kenya’s pre-independence struggle.


He had a short stint at Maseno School, a fact he would belabour whenever the opportunity presented itself and later had some advanced training as an adult.

Together with Argwings Kodhek, Makasembo and Achieng Oneko, they belonged to the first crop of urbanized Luos who would fraternize the Kaloleni Social Hall. Those who are still alive to tell the story remember a humourous East Africa Railways Clerk who was also a sharp dresser, with hair parted at the centre before he joined the labour union and then politics and donned the indubitable bearded fez.

Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was at the centre of independence politics and although popular lore blames him for relinquishing the opportunity to become Head of State instead of Kenyatta who was in custody at Kapenguria, records show otherwise.

With his leanings towards socialist ideologies, the outgoing Governor Sir Humphrey Slade considered Oginga a radical not befitting to hold the venerated office of Prime Minister in a former British Colony.

Events would conspire against Oginga such that three years after independence Johnstone Kamau Kuria (later to be known as Mzee Jomo Kenyatta) would allow mistrust fostered by his nephew Mbiyu Koinange to overcome him and thereby set in place a systematic intelligence machinery targeting Jaramogi and by extension his tribesmen.

For the next five decades of his life, Jaramogi would enjoy all the trappings of power but never be allowed to step into the highest office in the land. Along the way he learnt a lot of lessons on how to make money out of politics and by the time of his death in 1994  he was a millionaire.

The Luo’s are never allowed to discuss a shadowy establishment called the Luo Thrift Company which skimmed all employed Luo’s in East Africa a monthly donation of 1(one) Kenya Shilling for an unspecified period. Similarly today it’s anathema to broach the subject of monies collected by the community to rescue the Kisumu Molasses Plant which ended up becoming the sole property of an individual.

Ajuma Jaramogi Oginga Odinga together with George Nthenge and Bahmariz formed the original FORD (Forum for Restoration of Democracy) and were the fathers of modern-day civic rights agitation in Kenya.

Before he bowed out, never to return, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga wrote several chapters in the history of Kenya’s second liberation side-by-side with fellow millionaires Stanley Njindo Matiba and Charles Rubia.

Jaramogi Oginga Odinga left behind his younger son Raila Amollo Odinga who took up the baton and has made significant gains in the struggle for civil rights liberation in Kenya.

Jaramogi’s eldest son Dr. Oburu Oginga remains to be Siaya’s best-known orphan.

Today’s memorial was graced by among others Siaya Senator Oburu Oginga, Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o, former First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, Public Service, Performance and Delivery Management Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria and Chairman of Luo Council of Elders Ker Odungi Randa.

Also present was a friend, a confidant and a personal legal advisor to the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, His Excellency Senior Counsel James Aggrey Bob Orengo, Governor of Siaya County.



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