My personal tribute to the fallen Hon. Otieno Kajwang’

November 20, 2014 OPINION/NEWS




Joe Khamisi

If there is one week I would want to forget quickly it is this. A single tragedy turned what could have been an ordinary week into one that left me in shock, sadness and nostalgia. The sudden death of ODM legislator Otieno Kajwang’ at the prime of his political career stunned me.

As one who doesn’t believe in everything I read in social networks, I had to wander to alternative sources to confirm news that indeed the king of mapambano had exited the stage. And being away from home and cut off from purveyors of instant information, it took me time to consume the news and accept the inevitable.

I knew Kajwang’ in 2002 when I joined the Liberal Democratic Party straight from the corridors of the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. Even then, he was a dogmatic oppositionist. Always energised and ready for any type of kerfuffle – whether of a verbal or physical nature – Kajwang’ was the engine of the party when we battled Mwai Kibaki after he reneged on the power-sharing agreement with the LDP. He ranted and harangued, but Kibaki never budged.

Except for the period in Kibaki’s second term when he held a Cabinet position, Kajwang’ was always the vanguard of opposition ranks both in and out of Parliament, playing his role with copious enthusiasm until death suddenly found him. He was an ebullient debater; and  an argumentatively stubborn back-bencher in the August House. His stint in the Senate was short and undramatic.

I am convinced Kajwang’ loved politics more than anything else. He was thoughtful and calculated behind closed doors, but noisy and vivacious before crowds. When he spoke, he was proverbial but not sententious; blunt but not condescending; contemptuous and bombastic most of the time, but not to an extent of wishing harm to anyone.

Kajwang’ was just Kajwang’. Many didn’t take him seriously because of the way he clowned in public. He had an innate sense of personal pride like so many of his kinsmen from the lake region, but who says pride is odious. If he appeared somewhat obstinate it was because he didn’t care much about what others thought of him.

Yes, he was a political irritant to the ruling élite but he was also a patriot, a democrat and a principled and consistent leader, one of few politicians whose support for party leader, Raila Odinga, remained intact to the end.

Those who expected more from this son of Mbita were disappointed.

But if there is one disillusionment Kajwang is taking to the grave is the fact that he never lived long enough to enjoy a Raila-led Administration, something he fought so hard, and for so long, to achieve.

May God rest his soul in eternal peace.





Joe Khamisi

Joe Khamisi is a former journalist, diplomat and Member of Parliament. He is also the Author of the Politics of Betrayal:Diary of a Kenyan Legislator, a political memoir about the situation in Kenya between 2001, when the ruling party of President Daniel Arap Moi, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), merged with Raila Odinga’s National Development Party.

The book also narrates cases of corruption in Parliament and in the Media and records Senator Obama’s visit to Kenya in 2006. As a friend of Barack Obama Senior, the author also remembers the times and tragedies of the American-educated economist.

Joe Khamisi’s second book, a biography, ‘Dash Before Dusk’, is currently awaiting publication.

In addition to the above books, Joe Khamisi blogs at , and for media enquiries can be reached at [email protected]

(This article is courtesy of Joe Khamisi and was originally published at the above blog on 20th November 2014)


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