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Kenya: Unity calls steal show at Jaramogi Odinga memorial

Calls for unity dominated speeches during an event to mark the 25th death anniversary of Kenya’s first Vice President Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

ODM leader Raila Odinga called on the church to pray for the truce deal and peace in the country, saying it is a sure way for development.

The African Union High Representative for Infrastructural Development noted that the country also needs a working justice system to thrive.

“Without truth we cannot have justice; there can be no justice without reconciliation. Where there is no reconciliation, we cannot have peace; and that is why we need peace for development,” Mr Odinga said Sunday.


His vision and that of President Uhuru Kenyatta is to unite the country as it was in 1961 when Kenyans came together to fight and demand the release of political prisoners.

“In 1961, we were united when we wanted all political prisoners released. Jaramogi was the champion of this initiative and he paid a price for it. We are happy Kenyans have come together and this is what we want to build on,” Mr Odinga said.

More would be told about Jaramogi’s history in the fight for independence during the main memorial service set for February 17 in Kisumu.

The presence of Mr Muhoho Kenyatta, the President’s younger brother, caught the attention of many at the modest ceremony.

Mr Odinga, the son of the doyen of opposition politics Oginga Odinga, led guests and family members in a prayer service at Nyamira ACK Church in Bondo from where they left to the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Mausoleum to lay a wreath.


The President’s brother praised the ‘handshake’ as the best thing that has ever happened to Kenya.

“In the spirit of our founding fathers, Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta have done something that has united the country. This is what our forefathers would have loved. They wanted our country to unite and prosper,” he said.

Mr Muhoho’s declaration that it was his first visit to Bondo took the congregation by surprise.

“Most of you do not know me because I am not a politician. I do business and you only see me once in a while. It is my first time here but I will come back,” he said.

Mr Odinga later took Mr Muhoho for a tour of the mausoleum at Kang’o ka Jaramogi, after which they laid wreaths on the tombs of Jaramogi, Fidel Odinga and Jaramogi’s wife Mary Ajuma.


Unlike other church services where the ODM chief is usually flanked by politicians, no elected leader from Siaya or Nyanza was present.

However, businessman Sam Wakiaga, who unsuccessfully vied for the Homa Bay gubernatorial seat, was present.

Jubilee secretary-general Raphael Tuju, who has curiously been closer to Mr Odinga than his usual allies after the March 9, 2018 handshake between the President and Mr Odinga, accompanied Mr Muhoho.

He praised Mr Odinga for the move, saying it had ended divisive politics.

“I would like to congratulate him for his courage and leadership to do what is right for this country, and that is the ‘handshake’. We are all committed to the pact,” Mr Tuju said.

The ripple effect of the deal, he said, was being felt beyond the borders in East Africa, the continent and globally.


Mr Tuju added that many of his friends abroad just want to talk about how the country managed the miracle of ending divisive politics.

Mr Odinga said Jaramogi’s memorial will be held on February 17 in Kisumu County.

He said the fete will be preceded by a public lecture by Mr Ahmed Muhidin on February 16 at the Tom Mboya Labour College and later a meeting of local leaders will be held.

“I do not want to pre-empt [it] but the lecture will be a good one and will give a rich history of Jaramogi,” he said.

The Bondo event came a day after President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga attended the funeral of former National Youth Fund chairman Bruce Odhiambo, where similar calls of unity were made.

By Daily Nation

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