Jaramogi Oginga Odinga

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Jaramogi Oginga Odinga was first introduced to Jomo Kenyatta in June 1952 by Ochieng Oneko, shortly before the state of Emergency was declared on October 20, 1952. He was to be arrested together with Kenyatta and other freedom fighters but survived because he was the chairman of Luo Union of East Africa. Rather than be cowed, he was emboldened to become a vocal crusader for the release of the Kapenguria Six.

When he was elected as member of the Legislative Council, which was previously exclusively white, Odinga intensified pressure to demand Kenyatta’s release. He used his platform as the chairman of African Elected Members Organisation (AEMO), while Tom Mboya was the secretary. Other members of AEMO were Daniel Moi, Bernard Mate, Masinde Muliro, Lawrence Ogunda and Joseph Muimi.

When Kanu was formed in 1960, Odinga was elected vice president, deputising James Gichuru, while Mboya was the Secretary General. It was at Odinga’s insistence that Kenya should only be granted freedom after Kenyatta and his Kapenguria colleagues were released.

After independence, Odinga became Kenyatta’s vice president but their relationship soured due to political and ideological differences, leading to the former’s exit from Kanu in 1966.

In 1969, when President Kenyatta’s motorcade was stoned in Kisumu, and scores shot dead in the melee, Odinga was detained.  He was later released but things were never the same again.

And for the next 28 years, until his death in January 1994, Odinga served as the nation’s moral compass.